Israel Matters! – October 2023

Sabra Celebs!

Too frequently, what the world sees, hears, and thinks about Israel is negative (frequently with a not-so-accurate and anti-Israel slant). But on the other end of the public opinion continuum, Israel has a number of internationally-known “celebs” (a “celeb” or “סלב” in Hebrew is just what you might expect – a celebrity), who routinely shine a bright spotlight on the country. Israel Matters is proud to devote this month’s issue to highlighting a few of these famous folks of Israeli descent who, through their exemplary work, bring a positive feeling about the State of Israel to many around the world. (more…)

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Israel Matters! – September 2023

More Israeli Weird Science!

In the February 2022 issue of Israel Matters we introduced you to a goldfish that could drive its fish tank around the campus of Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Tel Aviv research that detected liars based on the movements of facial muscles, and 3D-printed meatless meat inspired by research at the Technion Israel Institute of Technology. A year and a half later, and just in time for Rosh Hashanah when we should be inspired by fresh ideas and new thoughts, Israel Matters is proud to present an encore edition of Israeli Weird Science. (more…)

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Israel Matters! – July/August 2023

Reflections On A “First” Visit to Israel

I consider May’s TBS tour of Israel led by Rabbi Scolnic to be my first time in Israel. In actuality it was my second as I did spend two nights in Tel Aviv attending my nephew’s wedding back in 2012. That visit consisted of a quick afternoon visit to Jaffa, a couple of wonderful meals alongside the Mediterranean Sea, and the aforementioned wedding ceremony and celebration. (more…)

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Israel Matters! – June 2023

Just before Israel marked seventy-five years of independence, it lost two literary giants who defined in their work and in their lives the best of modern Zionism.  Meir Shalev and YehonatanGeffen, both born in the legendary cooperative village (moshav shitufi – מושב שיתופי) of Nahalal shortly before Ben-Gurion declared the founding of a Jewish state in Palestine, exemplified the hopes and the distresses of their generation of “new” Jews.  Secular, socialist, and critics of the rise of messianic Zionism, their death in the days in which democratic Zionism is fighting back, reminds us that the values of the founding generation of Israel are alive and kicking. (more…)

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Israel Matters! – May 2023

Israel has been in world news headlines for several months
now, but not for reasons involving conflict with neighbors.
Instead, the world has witnessed four consecutive months
where Israelis have participated in massive anti-government
demonstrations, as well as a smaller number of gatherings
in support of the current government. What is happening
on the streets of Tel Aviv and other major Israeli cities?
Understanding Israel’s Political System. (more…)

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Israel Matters! – April 2023

Matzo Madness! Celebrating Passover in Israel

It’s that time of year again! Jews everywhere have cleaned out their pantries and refrigerators and cooked up a storm for Pesach. As you might guess, the ‘concepts’ are the same no matter where in the world you celebrate: Clean out the chametz, have a Seder and tell the story of Pesach, eat a lot of special foods, eat even more of those special foods, drink 4 cups of wine, pour some for Elijah, celebrate with friends and family. However, there are some things that we’ve discovered that are unique to Israel during Pesach. IM is happy to share some of these with our readers! (more…)

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Israel Matters! – March 2023


The title of this month’s column is not a typo – with artificial intelligence (aka AI) at the top of the news these days, we decided to take the heralded large language model ChatGPT for an Israel-oriented spin. That is to say, we typed in queries to and received answers from a computer program! The interview below reports verbatim our Israel Matters questions (IM) and the computer program’s responses (BOT). Fasten your seat belts for an amazing AI ride! (more…)

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Israel Matters! – February 2023

Israel by the Numbers (not Genesis or Exodus) 😉

In last month’s Israel Matters!, we shared that Israel is ranked as the 5th safest country to visit in comparison with the world’s most popular tourist destinations. That’s certainly not what many people think! Besides being the 5th safest, there are a lot of other numbers that you may find surprising, interesting and/or impressive about Israel. We’ve included some of them here. (more…)

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Israel Matters! – January 2023

Israel – One of the Safest Places to Visit in the World!

This month we revisit a stubborn topic that always seems to surface whenever one talks about visiting Israel: how safe is it to go there? Many friends, family, and colleagues remain under the impression that Israel is just a dangerous place due to the constant risk of terrorism. So we are pleased to present a just-published comparative study of the risks posed to visitors across many popular travel destinations. The analysis was conducted by The Swiftest, a San Francisco-based start-up created by experts from the insurance and travel industry to better compare and purchase insurance. These folks focus their data analytics expertise on important societal and environmental issues, and have developed proprietary risk analysis tools to better understand the messages in the data they study. (more…)

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Israel Matters! – December 2022

The Israeli Election: Aftermath

Well, the Israeli election of 2022 is in the books, and here we are at Israel Matters to address the aftermath. It is fair to say that among many American (and European and everywhere-elsean and even some Israeli) commentators, the results have been reported as a seismic shift of Israeli voters to the right with the return of Benjamin Netanyahu, the Likud, his ultra-orthodox supporters, and the extreme right-wing parties Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) with their former Kahanist leader Itamar Ben Gvir and the Religious Zionism party led by Bezalel Smotrich. There is no question that many of the policy positions taken by these latter parties, ranging from bringing the judicial system under Knesset control to anti-LGBT measures to anti-Reform Judaism measures all the way to annexation of the West Bank and possible deportation of Arab citizens deemed anti-Israel, fly in the face of what one should expect from a liberal democracy. BUT, hold on. (more…)

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