Good News Friday

Thank goodness it’s Friday again, nearly Shabbat, and time for another Good News Friday installment.

Hair today, gone tomorrow: Monday’s hair drive yielded 53.1 kilograms of hair for cancer patients |Photo credit: Uri Lenz

My first item for this week is the wonderful news that Israel has beaten the Guinness record for donating hair for cancer patients.

Israel has broken the Guinness world record for donating the most hair to cancer victims in a single drive, producing 53.1 kilograms (117 pounds) on Monday. The previous Guinness record was 48.7 kilograms (107 pounds).

About 250 women, several of them cancer survivors, arrived at Jerusalem’s Malha Mall on Monday to donate their hair.

The Zichron Menachem Association for the Support of Children with Cancer and their Families, working in conjunction with the Pantene company, organized the drive that collected the record-breaking amount of hair.

Among the donors were three sisters whose father is battling cancer, and a young girl who had recovered from the disease and donated the wig she wore during her illness.

Even after making their way into the Guinness records in only five hours, the drive will continue throughout November at hair salons all over Israel. Donors’ hair is cut for free.

Kol hakavod to Zichron Menachem, a wonderful organization whose support has helped a member of my own family. And a huge kol hakavod to all the hair donors, and also to the Pantene company for sponsoring this event. Over the years my niece has donated her wonderful thick hair several times, but I am proudest to tell you that my granddaughter Noa, aged all of 10 years, donated her hair this summer.

May the zechut (merit) of this charitable mitzvah help to cure all those suffering from this dreadful disease.

On a related subject, Israeli biomedical researchers at Hadassah Hospital and Hebrew University have invented a device to ease the administering of IVs and injections without too many pin-pricks, especially important for children:

Administering fluids to patients is generally done through intravenous (IV) catheters, inserting a needle in a vein. However, insert an IV catheter is not always successful on the first try, particularly in children and infants who have smaller veins. This often causes pain, distress and frustration.

To address this need, Hebrew University students and Hadassah Medical Center clinicians, attending the joint Biodesign program, created a semi-automatic handheld device for rapid and safe IV insertion. Called SAGIV, the device uses infrared sights and electrical sensors to identify veins, insert the needle into the correct location, and withdraw it in a single, rapid robotic movement.

“Inserting an IV is a demanding procedure, and many times children need to be pricked five, six or more than 10 times for successful insertion,” said Doctor Yotam Almagor, the group’s clinical expert. “This leads to a lot of pain and frustration.” The group’s prototype, developed by engineering graduate student Lev Lavy, has already been tested successfully on children at the pediatric ward of Hadassah Medical Center. “We had a lot of excited parents asking that we use the device,” said Almagor. “Children who used to be pricked numerous times in every visit can now be connected in a single attempt.”

What a brilliant idea! I’m sure there is a demand out there for such a device for adult patients too, especially those who require many IV treatments and whose veins have collapsed. Kol hakavod to all the researchers and biomedical designers at Hadassah Medical Center and Hebrew University. Once again, Israeli inventions working to make the world a better place for all.

Destruction in Malapascua, Phillipines (Photo: Dov Zingerman)

My last item for this week is from the Phillipines, where it has been a literally devastating week for  the city of Tacloban and its surroundings, still reeling from Typhoon Haiyan, one of the worst typhoons ever to hit anywhere in the world.  The death toll is estimated at 10,000 and countless hundreds of thousands are left homeless. However, help is at hand for the desperate survivors from many international organizations, including from IsraAID, Israel’s renowned foreign assistance and disaster rescue branch.

Israeli assistance has begun to flow into the devastated regions of the Philippines. A search and rescue force, five officers from the Medical Corps and Homefront Command as well as a representative of the Foreign Ministry, landed in Manila on Monday and flew to the disaster zone. Their mission: Evaluate the situation on the ground and determine how to best assist the search and rescue efforts with their expertise and resources.

IDF Homefront Command enlisted search and rescue reservists for the mission, but they received the call-up on short notice. The Medical Corps restocked the medical equipment and supplies expected to be sent with the delegation, as the focus of the Israeli mission will be to set up a field hospital that will treat hundreds of injured survivors who are homeless or separated from their families.

In a heartwarming effort, individual Israelis holidaying in the area tried to assist as much as possible:

Dov Zingerman, a 48-year-old from Zikhron Ya’akov, was in the Philippines for a scuba-diving trip. He was at a resort on the small island of Malapascua when news hit of the impending typhoon, telling Ynet that the preparations he witnessed did not help the locals. “Nothing could prepare a person for wind of that magnitude,” he said.

After the storm passed, Zingerman and the other tourists tried to assist the locals: “We bought things for the store owners. We gathered $300-$400, and sent someone to buy the needed supplies.”

Israeli TV station i24 News gives more details about the Israeli aid delegation:

A 148 member delegation of the Israel Defense Forces left for the Philippines on Wednesday in order to provide search, rescue, and medical services in the typhoon-struck city of Tacloban.

The delegation is made up of officials in the National Search and Rescue Unit of the Home Front Command as well as senior doctors in the IDF Medical Corps.

An advanced multi-department medical facility, equipped with approximately 100 tons of humanitarian and medical supplies from Israel, will be established in the city of Tacloban, according to the Israeli military.

The facility will be contain a children’s department, a women’s department, an ambulatory care department, and a general admission department operated by IDF doctors, nurses, paramedics, pharmacists, mental health professionals, x-ray technician, and lab workers.

A similar field hospital was assembled in Haiti following the 2010 earthquake there, equipped with an intensive care unit and a maternity ward.


Members of the IDF’s Home Front Command and of the Foreign Ministry already arrived in the Philippines on Sunday to evaluate how Israel can most effectively provide aid, by assessing the situation and the country’s infrastructure.

The Israel Forum for International Humanitarian Aid (IsraAID) — an Israeli-based humanitarian organization that responds to emergencies all over the world with targeted help — also dispatched a rescue team on Sunday to assist local emergency services in the treatment of the casualties of the disaster and the many thousands affected by it.

Program Director Navonel Glick (Voni) told i24news on Sunday that the first team sent to the field included five medical personnel. Once the organization better understands the scope of the disaster, it will also deploy trauma professionals and child protection specialists. The subsequent teams will focus more on humanitarian needs.

Watch the Israeli humanitarian delegation arrive in the Phillipines (h/t “All the truth about what is happening in Israel” facebook page):

Amazingly, the Israeli field hospital is already up and running after such a short time in the country.

Earlier this morning, the IDF spokesman Peter Lerner announced the birth of the first baby in the Israeli field hospital – and the mother named her baby Israel. Mazal tov!


Of course it would be so much better if such aid wasn’t necessary in the first place, but I am so proud of my country that we are amongst the first to rush in to disaster areas with relief and rescue. Moreover, our field hospitals are known to be amongst the finest in the world and the way our military and medical personnel drop everything to help the needy half a world away is truly inspiring.

To quote the Philippine Ambassador to Israel Generoso D.G. Calonge:

… expressed appreciation on Tuesday for the assistance Israel has offered to his country, saying it made him “so happy.”

“I can’t describe the feeling right now… that my host country cares about our stricken people,” he told The Jerusalem Post. “I hope the people of Israel will maintain their attitude of people who are stricken with this crisis and who are on the losing end of natural disasters.”

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor said Israel was supporting the Philippines “not only in words but also in actions,” and added the IDF was sending two Boeing 747’s with 234 Israeli doctors, nurses and paramedics.

Israeli Ambassador to the Philippines Menashe Bar-On stated that “the Philippines and the Filipino People are close friends with Israel and the Jewish people,” adding that “at this moment, our urgent task is to extend help to the Philippine government.”

Although a terrible tragedy has occurred in the Phillipines, may the assistance that Israel is extending to them ease their dreadful situation. May the future of our two nations hold only happy times ahead.

With these inspiring words, I wish you all Shabbat shalom!

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11 Responses to Good News Friday

  1. cba says:

    Thank you (as always) for bringing us some positive items to counteract the misery of so much of the news at the moment.

    And כל הכבוד to your niece… and even more so to your young granddaughter!

  2. ealha3 says:

    At a time we are experiencing the senseless extinction of American Jewish identity, (see, Commentary, How America’s Embrace is Imperiling American Jewry, November 2013) the world remains intentionally oblivious to the exceptionalism of Jews and of Israel, leaving the thought of a new meaning given to “the chosen.” Before, we were given to focus on “chosen by…” and now, it seems more relevant, given what the world has experienced from the “gift” of the Jew and of Israel, that we realize we have been “chosen for …” And the silence and the blindness of the world to the benevolent and valued charity of the Jew only serves to magnify not only the significance of the services rendered but the nobility of those who rush to offer their sacrifices in relative anonymity. To paraphrase … “Here “is” a Caesar when comes such another?”

  3. PeteCA says:

    I really want to thank Israel for the aid to the Philippines – awesome work guys!!! that was a terrible disaster.
    Pete, USA

    • anneinpt says:

      Thanks Pete. Of course Israel isn’t the only country sending aid but she is always one of the first, if not the first, to be on the scene of a disaster, and Israel is usually the one who gets their field hospitals up and running almost immediately. Unfortunately we have lots of experience with disasters, but the silver lining is that we have been able to put our experience to good use to help others.

      • cba says:

        the silver lining is that we have been able to put our experience to good use to help others

        And there will always be at least ONE person to claim it’s all just a PR effort. On the ToI article about the first baby born in the IDF field hospital in the Philippines, one Wes Sesniak posted:

        In 2010 after Haiti earthquake I wrote on another forum commenting Israel’s hasbara show: “In days like those after the earthquake every help is appreciated but nothing is more humiliating to the victims and disgusting than taking an advantage of human misery for self promotion and personal gains. This could have been a beautiful gesture if it wasn’t for the motives behind it, you just couldn’t help yourself and turned this chance to a shameless hasbara spectacle” ,…

  4. Reality says:

    Kol hakavod to Noa for donating her hair. What a great post. Have you noticed that however quick the Israelis send their HUMANITARIAN supplies & help we are condemned & reviled in the UN humanitarian conventions & many bills are passed against us. How many Arab states sent their help to the Phillipines?Th UN should be disbanded & re started with just a few choice countries allowed in.

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