I haven’t posted a Good News Friday installment for a while, what with travelling and then chagim, so it’s a pleasant change to return to my (almost) regular Friday spot.
This week’s post starts with the three amazing, courageous mothers of Eyal, Gil-Ad and Naftali, the kidnapped teenagers from last summer. The mothers want to use their tragic loss for the most positive of goals – to generate more of the incredible unity amongst the Jewish people that was created during the whole episode:
The families of the 3 boys, Iris and Ori Ifrach, Rachelli and Avi Fraenkel, and Bat-Galim and Ofer Shaer, the parents of Eyal Ifrach, Gil-ad Shaer and Naftali Fraenkel. write about their proposed Unity Day:
During that period of uncertainty we all shared an intense sense of unity unlike anything our people had experienced in recent years with the message of “Bring Back Our Boys” reaching people from so many different backgrounds and places. The feeling of togetherness, of belonging and caring for one another only increased in its fervor during the funerals and the shiva. And today we are incredibly inspired by the actions people have taken to continue this spirit in memory of our boys.
During the shiva, our homes overflowed with visitors seeking to offer us comfort, and so many conversations stood out.
But in one interaction with Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, who made his way to each of our homes, a seed of an idea was hatched that we knew needed to be developed. He said that we needed to find a way to harness that spirit of unity and keep it alive because this would serve as the ultimate legacy for our sons.
And so the idea of the Jerusalem Unity Prize was conceived.
Together with Barkat and working with the Gesher coexistence NGO and a professional team of organizers, we formed a not-for-profit organization named the Memorial Foundation for the Three Boys intended to highlight and promote the concept of Jewish unity that defined that period. Since announcing the establishment of the prize in January, we have received more than 200 applications. On June 3, three prizes for unity will be presented in an historic ceremony hosted by Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin. The award winners from Israel and the Diaspora were chosen for best reflecting those ideals of bringing Jews of different backgrounds and perspectives together for the common purpose of building a stronger Jewish community.
But we also began to appreciate that as powerful as the message of the prize might be, this concept deserved to be shared with the entire world. With that broader vision, we embarked on the concept of Unity Day. June 3, 2015, the one-year anniversary of the kidnappings, will serve as the first-ever Unity Day where Jewish communities all over the globe stop and consider the value of unity and how to work even harder to bridge the obvious divides that exist within our society.
I cannot adequately express my admiration and awe of these wonderful mothers, their husbands and families. Kol hakavod to them all, and may their efforts be fruitful and bring blessing upon them and upon all of Am Yisrael.
Preserving life is of the ultimate importance in Judaism, but unfortunately in Israel, road safety leaves an awful lot to be corrected. In fact we lost a good friend and neighbour just last week when she was run over, in a moment of of distraction by a driver, on a zebra crossing not 100 yards from our house.
Therefore it is wonderful to see this great road safety video created by children for children at Karnei Shomron’s Atid Lemetzuyanut program (gifted children) (h/t Hadassah). If even one life can be saved by showing this video to your children, they have earned their place in Olam Haba. Watch and share it!
Speaking of saving life, what is more important than water to the existence of life? Israel has become world-famous for its water-conservation techniques and now Israel, together with the great state of Texas, has won a prize for their joint desalination plant:
One of the fruits of that collaboration — a joint desalination project involving researchers from the Technion in Haifa and the University of North Texas — has won the $125,000 Desal Prize competition sponsored by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) as part of the Securing Water for Food Grand Challenge, with support from Sida, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Israeli and American winners of the award announced that they will use the prize money to help build a water treatment plant in Jordan.
Researchers at the Technion’s Stephen and Nancy Grand Water Research Institute joined the competition at the request of researchers from the electrical engineering department at the University of North Texas. The American researchers, who focused on developing a solution to the alternative energy aspect of the competition, asked Prof. Carlos Dosoretz and Prof. Ori Lahav, researchers from the Technion Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering, to design a solution for the desalination component of the project, and to submit a joint proposal. Other researchers from universities in Jordan, Nepal and Brazil worked on other components of the project.
Kol hakavod to all the researchers involved and mazal tov on their wonderful win. May they continue to bring the blessing of water to the entire world.
And one last item – just because. :-) Because it defies all the preconceptions we (including myself) have about the haredim, and because it warms my heart, and because I think it will bring a smile to your face for Shabbat (h/t Chaim):
Shabbat Shalom everyone!