Although Israel only officially became a state in 1948, the young country has confronted more than its share of struggles, not least of which is integrating millions of immigrants from dozens of nations. Like the United States, Israel is often described as a melting pot. Its culture and identity have deep Jewish roots, but immigrants from Europe, North Africa, Russia, and Ethiopia contribute to an unexpected and inspiring national character. The evidence is in the cuisine, the chatter of different languages in public squares, and the large number of festivals and holidays celebrated throughout the year—both religious and secular.