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Israel’s Year in Review: 2021 Notable Events

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December 15th, 2021

Thanks for joining us for a year review of 2021 in Israel! We look back at the past almost 12 months to see what we can be grateful for and what to learn from.

Some of us may have a hard time remembering where 2020 ended and the next year began. National restrictions and government elections in Israel spread over the two-year period like soft butter. And yet, they brought very different results! 

So, without further ado, let’s all take a look at what we will remember 2021 for!

Israel 2021 Year in Review

1. The 2021 was a quest for normalcy. 

Finally, halfway through 2021, Israel started seeing some sense of normalcy. Although for most of the year the borders were still closed for foreign passport holders, in-country restrictions started lifting. Israelis even started traveling internationally, and by September schools opened according to schedule. 

After allowing tourists into the country in November, the borders were shut once more in early December. Nevertheless, the nation remains hopeful that before we ring in 2022, tourists will once again flood the land of the Bible. In moderation and following the guidelines, of course.

2. After four elections in two years, Israel has a new government.

In the spring of 2021, the tenure of Israel’s longest serving Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, came to an end. The election results in Israel were starting to feel repetitive and cause a nation-wide sense of exhaustion and bleakness. The party leaders seemed unable to cooperate.

Until unexpectedly, this spring played out very differently. Several parties from both ends of the spectrum were able to form a very diverse coalition. The new Prime Minister is Naftali Bennett, and the seat is scheduled to rotate.

Even though many speculated that the coalition wouldn’t last, the new government managed to pass even a state budget. It is quite the accomplishment, considering that money talk has caused the Israeli government to fall apart in the past. 

3. FIRM gained 4 new ministry partners in Israel.

We are overjoyed to share with you that the Fellowship of Israel Related Ministries continues to grow! This year, FIRM started working with four new local ministry partners, adding them to the list of amazing ministries that are changing lives in Israel with the love of Jesus. And they are as diverse as Israel herself!

House of Generation, based in Tel Aviv, is a congregation focused on building strong families and raising a new generation of leaders, especially among the Ethiopian community. Another congregation, ICF Tel Aviv, shares similar goals while reaching out to the Russian speakers in the greater Tel Aviv area. 

Home of Jesus the King is an Arab Christian community in Nazareth that is helping the disadvantaged in their city while building bridges with their Jewish neighbors. And last but not least, House of Victory in Haifa is helping homeless men in Israel break out of addiction and substance abuse. 

We are honored to support the vision of these ministries and help wherever we can. 

4. Aliyah is up 31% from previous year.

Every fall Israel celebrates Yom HaAliyah – the Day of Jewish people returning to their Land. It falls on the 10th day of Nissan in the Hebrew calendar, which is when the Hebrews entered the Promised Land, according to the Book of Joshua.

This year the date fell on October 13 in the Gregorian calendar. To commemorate this day, the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration and the Jewish Agency for Israel announced that so far, Aliyah to Israel has increased by 31%!

That is over 20,000 people as of October. The largest number arrived from Russia, with 5k+ immigrants, with the USA in second place – with over 3k olim (new immigrants). 

5. FIRM launched The Tribe.

If you became a monthly giver to FIRM Ministries this year or were one already before, from 2021 this commitment comes with a reward. We launched The Tribe to create a sense of community among the faithful supporters of the ministry work in Israel.

All members of the Tribe receive monthly updates on ongoing projects and can track where their money is going. We want you to feel connected to the lives you are helping to transform.

That is why we also created a video series about the impacted people who are the Heart & Soul of Israel. We also hold quarterly Q&As to tell you more about the projects you’re helping to fund and the people you’re helping to touch with the love of Jesus.

6. The 2021 Gaza Conflict came with an aftermath. 

We wish the 2021 Israel Year Review did not have to include this point. But sadly, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict escalated yet again this year, when the barrage of rockets from Gaza hit Israel in May. The intensity was unlike anything the nation has seen before. 

More than a thousand missiles were launched, which resulted in six people dying and many suffering injuries. But the violence didn’t end there. Riots broke out around the country, with angry mobs of both Jews and Arabs targeting each other in cities like Lod, Haifa and more.

The heart of the nation was bleeding. A ceasefire eventually arrived, but it wasn’t until after a lot of damage had been done, both physically and psychologically. We continue praying for peace in the land of Israel. 

7. Abraham Accords in the Middle East expand.

What started as an agreement between the State of Israel, United Arab Emirates and the USA, thanks to the leadership of President Trump and PM Netanyahu, continues well into 2021. Still in 2020, Bahrain followed suit. Many other conversations were started in 2020, but essentially agreements were signed in 2021. 

As of today, Israel has also normalized ties with Sudan, Morocco and Oman. And Abraham Accords strengthened Israel’s ties with Jordan, too. Although the momentum has since died down a bit, Israel remains committed to building cooperation with other nations in the region. 

The effects of Abraham Accords are already noticeable. Apart from official visits and new embassies, the above-mentioned countries have already started business, sport and cultural cooperation with Israel. 

8. Israel has a new President.

Israel’s 11th President took office on July 7 this year. Isaac Herzog was supported by 87 votes (out of 120) at the Knesset, Israeli parliament, making it the biggest win in Israel’s presidential history. It is also worth noting that Isaac is the son of Chaim Herzog, Israel’s 6th President. 

The outgoing president, Reuven Rivlin, felt confident that he was leaving the office in the right hands. “I have no doubt that you are the right man, in the right place, at the right time,” he told Herzog at the President’s Residence during the handover ceremony.  

9. Israel showed up big at the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. 

The Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics may have been still labeled as 2020, but they most definitely happened in 2021, so we are definitely including the achievements of Israeli athletes in Japan in our Israel year review of 2021. 

The Israeli judo team won bronze, and so did their representation in Taekwondo. In gymnastics however, both in the male and female categories, Israel struck gold! Congratulations to Artem Dolgopyat and Linoy Ashram! 

In Tokyo, for the first time at the Paralympic Games, Israel won gold medals! As if that wasn’t exciting enough – they brought home six of them! In total, Israel won six gold medals, two silver and one bronze.

And speaking of gold, swimmer Mark Malyar set a new world record in 400-meter freestyle swim. Another gold medalist, Iyad Shalabi, is Israel’s first Arab citizen to win a medal at the Paralympics. 

10. The FIRM Annual Dinner for Ministry Partners got multiplied by 2!

This year, we were overjoyed to host two regional partners’ celebrations. One took place in Herzliya, on the Mediterranean coast, and the other in Jerusalem. Each year we invite all ministry leaders and representatives to get together, to celebrate everyone’s accomplishments and share prayer requests. 

After another tough year, it seemed like everyone was ready to meet with other believers, socialize and celebrate. Conversations continued long into the evening, even after the formal event ended. We heard some amazing testimonies from several ministries, of how people came to faith or have been impacted in a positive way this past year. 

We feel inspired and ready for what’s ahead. And we cannot wait to share more stories about our partner ministries in Israel in 2022! 

These are our picks for 2021 Year in Review from Israel! 

Is there anything else you would add? Let us know on social media or by email! 

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Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

Estera Wieja
Estera Wieja is a journalist, book author and public speaker, focused on the topics of Israel, Jewish history, and Judeo-Christian culture. Born and raised in Poland, Estera is a regular contributor to "Our Inspirations" magazine in Poland. She holds a Bachelor degree in Communications and Media from Azusa Pacific University (California, USA), and a Master degree in Journalism from University of Warsaw, Poland. Estera has lived in Jerusalem, Israel for several years before joining the staff at FIRM in 2018.
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