Illustration by Denis Shifrin
It is not known who compiled the list of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Herodotus (5th century BCE) may have been the first to do so, although his list has not survived except in references. Later lists date from the 2nd century BCE through the 5th century CE. The seven structures that we accept as the definitive list are the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, the Statues of Zeus at Olympia, the Mausoleum of Maussolos at Halicarnassus, the Collossus of Rhodes and the Lighthouse of Alexandria. Only the Pyramid of Giza remains standing.
However the 'seven wonders tradition' does not stop here. Lists were produced both during and after the Middle Ages, that included structures such as Stonehenge, the Colosseum, the Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal, Hagia Sophia, the Leaning Tower of Pisa; there is no uniformity as to origin, content or name.
Modern lists include one produced by the American Society of Civil Engineers (Empire State Building, Channel Tunnel, Panama Canal, etc.), lists of tourist travel wonders, natural wonders and underwater wonders. A 'New Seven Wonders List' competition is being promoted by a Swiss organization, and the results are due to be published in July this year.
Whatever others have done, we in Israel can certainly do too. I propose the following candidates for the seven wonders of our own little world:
THE KNESSET – a unique assembly of self-important under-achievers devoted to the preservation of their own jobs at all costs;
THE GOVERNMENT – the only other assembly of self-important under-achievers devoted to the preservation of their own jobs at all costs;
THE ISRAELI ELECTORATE – an extraordinary body, responsible for the creation of the first two candidates, and forever disappointed with the results of its own handiwork;
THE STOCK MARKET – an institution capable of reflecting all-time highest optimism after military failure and worst ever existential threats to the country:
THE ROAD ACCIDENT TOLL – a phenomenon that does a better job of curtailing our lives than all our enemies combined, and which we accept as normal and inevitable;
OUR TOGETHERNESS – the fact that super-secular Sheinkin and super-religious Bnei Brak can co-exist in the same metropolitan area;
THE FACT – that despite all the attempts and threats to destroy us, we wake up each morning and face another normal day with no more concern than those waking up in New York, London or Rome;
THE FACT – that such a tiny pool of human resources can produce Nobel prize-winners international sports champions and cutting-edge technology;
THE FACT – that we can handle the uninformed, often bigoted criticism of Western liberalism, whose darling we once were, without succumbing to chronic depression;
THE FACT – that sixty-five years after Judaism's darkest hour, we exist as a modern, prosperous, thriving, independent community in our own land.
You are welcome to choose seven or add your own. Wonders indeed.