On a recent return visit to Israel this summer, I couldn’t help but notice its beauty; the land and seas of course but also the people.
While Israel is known for its brains (more PHDs per capita than any other country) and military brawn, youth and beauty abound. Along with that fountain of vitality is an amazing abundance of energy among the people due to a smart diet, high level of fitness and to top it off, well, they’re darn good lookin’.
The Greeks might have had Aphrodite, Ares and Athena, but with a oneness philosophically embedded in its religious DNA, The Jewish State singularly embodies that mythic trifecta.
Walk along the Tel Aviv promenade and it’s hard to avoid the onslaught of runners, bikers and walkers with a stride that personifies the chai (life) medalion they wear around their necks.
Right outside our hotel and directly on the pathway near Gordon Beach was an outdoor gym (one of several) where the runners, bikers and athletes of every age would stop and cross-train. Next door the volleyball nets were constantly occupied and to dodge the matkot games was itself an exercise. A block away was Krav Maga Tel Aviv where I stopped in to workout and not a block from there is Gordon Pool open to anyone.
But it’s not just Tel Aviv, a city on the sea known for its style and hip youth. In Jerusalem too, to be a walker in the city was to imbibe sights, sounds and smells of a revitalized youth (and adults with vigor)–whether dancing at the Kotel (Western Wall), hiking the Judean Hills or navigating The Shuk on a bustling Friday afternoon.
While back in the States there’s an obesity epidemic, with more than one-third of U.S. adults (35.7%) designated as obese according to the CDC, Israel’s population is younger, lives longer and is less obese than those of other OECD countries as reported in The Jerusalem Post last year (although there’s evidence showing an ongoing battle of the bulge now being waged.)
For my parent’s generation, if asked to free associate and come up with an Israeli woman, the great Prime Minister Golda Meir would probably have come to mind. Today, Bar Refaeli is Israel’s female pop culture icon. And while everyone knows her to be a pretty face, she also embodies brains and even some brawn for her tough and intelligent stand speaking out against Roger Waters’ recent BDS BS.
Indeed what Bar demonstrated, with her Hebrew tweet, was a personification of Israel’s deeper beauty – an inner beauty of fortitude, courage and strength.
Am Yisrael Chai.
Abe Novick is a writer and communications consultant and can be reached at abebuzz.com. This article was originally published in the Jerusalem Post.