For The Times of Israel, this year actually only started in mid-February — the 14th, to be precise — with our launch. Since then, we’ve been working 24/7 (with the exception of Yom Kippur) to cover Israel, the region and the Diaspora with accuracy and flair.

Choosing pieces for an end-of-year “best-of” wasn’t easy. But here, with no further ado and in no particular order, are 10 of our favorite stories from our staff’s first 10 and a half months’ reporting on the fascinating, out-of-the-way corners of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world.

Stay healthy, keep reading, and spread the word in 2013.

1. Ankie Spitzer’s 40-year quest for Olympic justice

In 1972, Ankie Spitzer watched on TV as terrorists pushed her husband toward a window in Munich’s Olympic Village and then pulled him away. She never saw him again.

Israeli Ankie Spitzer, widow of the Israeli Olympic fencing coach Andrei Spitzer killed by Palestinian gunmen at the 1972 Munich Olympics, talks to the media during a news conference ahead of the 2012 Summer Olympics, Wednesday, in London. Relatives of the victims are calling on spectators to stage a silent protest during the opening of the London games, but the International Olympic Committee says the opening ceremony is not an appropriate arena to remember the dead, despite pressure from politicians in the United States, Israel and Germany. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

Israeli Ankie Spitzer, widow of the Israeli Olympic fencing coach Andrei Spitzer killed by Palestinian gunmen at the 1972 Munich Olympics, talks to the media during a news conference ahead of the 2012 Summer Olympics, in July (AP/Lefteris Pitarakis)

2. In a remote corner of Europe, a Jewish quest for quick salvation

A day spent looking for redemption in Bulgaria with a kabbalistic rabbi of questionable reputation and several planeloads of his followers

Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto leads the pilgrimage to the gravesite every year (photo credit: Times of Israel/Matti Friedman via Instagram)

Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto leads the pilgrimage to the gravesite, in September (photo credit: Times of Israel/Matti Friedman via Instagram)

3. Of vintners and rabbis

Torah, grapes, and the unlikely rise of Israeli wine.

Harvesting grapes (photo credit: Rahim Katib/Flash 90)

Harvesting grapes (photo credit: Rahim Katib/Flash 90)

4. For the last Nazi hunter, the inevitable comes into focus

When you’re the last person on earth whose job is tracking down German war criminals, retirement is not to be taken lightly.

Efraim Zuroff in 2009 (Photo credit: Yossi Zamir/Flash 90)

Efraim Zuroff in 2009 (Photo credit: Yossi Zamir/Flash 90)

5. The latest ‘novel’ idea: Jewish vampires

He may be undead, but at least he’s Jewish.

An ultra-Orthodox Jew waits for the bus in a station with a vampire billboard in Jerusalem. (Photo credit: Nati Shohat /Flash90)

An ultra-Orthodox Jew waits for the bus in a station with a vampire billboard in Jerusalem. (Photo credit: Nati Shohat /Flash90)

6. In the exceptional rise of a gutsy Arab kid from the Galilee, many harsh truths for Israel

The journey of Forsan Hussein — from an Israeli construction site to Harvard and back home again — is both an inspiration and an indictment.

Forsan Hussein (photo credit: Courtesy)

Forsan Hussein (photo credit: Courtesy)

7. Prisoners, still: The ongoing trauma of the Yom Kippur War POWs

“There are scars,” fighter pilot Ori Shahak says, “and sometimes you forget you have them until they start to bleed.”

Israeli prisoners of war in Syria (Photo credit: Wiki commons)

Israeli prisoners of war in Syria (Photo credit: Wiki commons)

8. Hacker: We have Iran’s nuke secrets now

An Israeli hacker says that he and his friends have thousands of documents on Iran’s nuclear program — and that they plan to give them to the IDF and CIA.

An illustrative image of a hacker on a computer. (photo credit: CC-BY-SA HackNY, Flickr)

An illustrative image of a hacker on a computer. (photo credit: CC-BY-SA HackNY, Flickr)

9. On Ammunition Hill, almost half a century later, fighters from both banks of the Jordan find a kind of peace

A group of Israelis and Jordanians return to the place where they tried to kill each other as young men.

Israeli soldiers tour Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem (photo credit:Orel Cohen/Flash90)

Israeli soldiers tour Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem (photo credit:Orel Cohen/Flash90)

10. A funny thing happened on the way to Netanyahu’s UN speech

A Times of Israel reporter was trying to get to the United Nations to hear an important policy address. Fate had other plans

Israeli journalists stranded on FDR Drive, about to board a school bus to take them to the UN (photo credit: Raphael Ahren/Times of Israel)

Israeli journalists stranded on FDR Drive, about to board a school bus to take them to the UN (photo credit: Raphael Ahren/Times of Israel)

And finally:

After eight days of fighting, ceasefire is put to the test

The Times of Israel live-blogged Operation Pillar of Defense last month from soon after its inception until its end, using our innovative platform to keep readers up-to-the minute with what was unfolding on the battlefield and on the home front. Here is the final live blog in the series — a unique portrait of the conflict fed minute-by-minute by our entire staff of reporters and editors, which drew record numbers of readers.

An apartment building in Rishon Lezion that was hit by a Fajr rocket from Gaza on Tuesday evening (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

An apartment building in Rishon Lezion that was hit by a Fajr rocket from Gaza on Tuesday evening (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)