Good News Friday

Today is a special Friday, being erev Shabbat Hannukah, so in honour of the holiday I bring you a bumper pack of good news in today’s Good News Friday installment.

Line of the Iron age I Canaanite City wall, student is next to the wall and inside the city. (Sam Wolff, Tel Gezer Excavation Project)

My first item for this week is about yet another amazing archaeological discovery in Israel: underneath the ruins of the Biblical city of Gezer in central Israel, ruins of an even older city have been discovered. (via Dad).

An ongoing excavation in Israel has uncovered new evidence of an ancient city buried beneath the King Solomon-era metropolis of Gezer.

An international group of archaeologists has been working together for several years on the dig, located between modern-day Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, according to a statement released by the Israel antiquities Authority (IAA). An important historical city in its own right, Gezer is mentioned in both the Old Testament and in Egyptian historical accounts as a stop on the highway connecting ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia.

This summer researchers unexpectedly had a breakthrough while examining a known part of the city dating back to the 10th century B.C., reports Israeli newspaper Haaretz. Led by Steven Ortiz of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, and Samuel Wolff of the Israel Antiquities Authority, the team discovered traces of a walled city beneath those 10th-century (B.C.) ruins. The newly discovered remnants appeared to have been occupied 200 years earlier, during the Iron Age I period (between 1,200 and 1,000 B.C.), per a statement from the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.


“It’s not surprising that a city that was of importance in the biblical kingdoms of Israel and Judah would have an older history and would have played an important political and military role prior to that time,” Andrew Vaughn, biblical scholar and executive director of the American Schools of Oriental Research, told LiveScience. “If you didn’t control Gezer, you didn’t control the east-west trade route.”

Israel’s archaeological findings never fail to amaze and move me, bringing our history and the history of the region to life. Kol hakavod to all the archeologists and students involved in this exciting dig.

3,700 year old wine jars discovered at Tel Kabri (Eric H. Cline, George Washington University)

An even more exciting archaeological discovery (h/t Hadassah) found this week in northern Israel was an ancient wine cellar, still with some traces of wine remaining:

Archaeologists say they have discovered a 3,700-year-old wine cellar in Israel, a finding that offers insights into the early roots of winemaking.

The large wine cellar was unearthed in the ruined palace of a Canaanite city in northern Israel, called Tel Kabri, not far from the country’s modern wineries. The excavations revealed 40 one-meter-tall (about 3 feet) jars kept in what appeared to be a storage room.

No liquid contents could have survived the millennia. But an analysis of organic residue trapped in the pores of the jars suggested that they had contained wine made from grapes. The ancient tipple was likely sweet, strong and medicinal—certainly not your average Beaujolais.

“We were absolutely surprised,” said Eric Cline, archaeologist at George Washington University and part of the team involved in the excavation. “We thought we were digging outside the palace walls when the jars came up.”

The Algemeiner adds:

“The wine, the honey and the various botanical ingredients all look like they come from the Galilee and Golan region, with the resin oils coming from the famous cedar trees in nearby Lebanon,” he said.

The earliest-known wine production dates back nearly 7,000 to 8,000 years in modern-day Iran and Georgia. Archeologists have uncovered numerous ancient wineries in the Middle East and Mediterranean region.

Koh said that what makes this find unique, other than its size, is that it provides a “completely different glimpse into ancient feasting and drinking.”

“The find gives us an insight in the cultural and economic aspects of near eastern Canaanite culture in the Middle Bronze Age. For instance the palace, in this case, acted very much like a large household,” he said.

The palace itself stood for more than 300 years and covered an area that encompassed 1.5 acres and was two stories high. In previous years, excavators also discovered a massive banquet hall that could hold more than 500 people.

Koh said that the jugs of wine likely belonged to a king or ruling elite, and that they would be used to throw a large communal party for family and local elites.

“It looks like they would all be having a really good time there,” Koh joked.

I’ll drink to that!  Lechaim!. Lechaim! And kol hakavod once again to the archaeologists working at Tel Kabri.

Moving from ancient history to the hi-tech of modern-day Israel, (h/t Reality) we can be proud that Israeli technology built Bob Dylan’s latest music video:

Bob Dylan doesn’t do videos, at least not gimmicky MTV-type videos with dancers and little dramatic playlets. The closest Dylan has come in the past to music videos is footage from his concerts.

So it took a little effort to sell him on the idea of a music video for his classic “Like a Rolling Stone” — but even though the video produced by Israeli video tech company Interlude is as gimmicky as they come, “the Dylan team was extremely excited about the final video,” said Yoni Bloch, CEO of, which created the video. In fact, Bloch added, they’re even more excited “as the video has gone viral.”

And other artists who have seen the unique video want some of the Interlude magic for themselves. Inspired by the tech in the Dylan video, “we are getting a lot requests from well-known TV talent who want to create a channel too,” Bloch told The Times of Israel in an email interview.

Read the rest of the fascinating article to learn about the almost magical technology involved in creating the video and learn more about this unusual company. Kol hakavod to Yoni Bloch and for their creativity and ingenuity. And kol hakavod to Bob Dylan for knowing where to find the best technology!

Israel receives European gender equality prize

From the (almost) ridiculous to the (nearly) sublime, we read the fantastic news (h/t Debi Z) that Israel received the Gender Equality Prize from the European Parliament:

The European Parliament intends to give Israel a prize Wednesday, recognizing it as the leading nation in the Middle East and North Africa in terms of gender equality.

The “Reducing the Gender Gap” prize will be given at Women in Parliaments Global Forum Annual Summit in Brussells, which is expected to bring together over 9,000 international female parliament members.

Supreme Court Judge Dafna Barak-Erez will accept the prize for Israel. Various female MKs will represent Israel at the conference, and MK Shuli Mualem-Rafaeli (Jewish Home) will speak about her life story.

Israel was found to have the best record in the Middle East based based on extensive research conducted by the World Economic Forum among 135 nations.

Considering that this prize is coming from the usually cold-to-hostile Europeans, this is nothing short of a Hannukah miracle. Beyond that, Israel can be proud of its record although of course there is still much that needs to be improved, as the rest of the article mentions.

Saying goodbye and thank you to the IDF aid mission to the Phillippines

My last item for today can make us all undilutedly proud of our country and our army. The Israeli IDF aid mission to the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan will be returning home having treated 2,686 patients:

The Israel Defense Forces said its humanitarian mission treated 2,686 patients, including 848 children, in the Philippines, where the IDF has been operating field hospitals for two weeks to aid those injured by a major typhoon, as well as those needing urgent medical care for chronic conditions.

In a statement, the IDF said its troops would return to Israel on Wednesday. The delegation included medical professionals and Home Front Command search and rescue experts who focused on providing medical treatment and repairing damaged infrastructures, such as schools and water facilities.

The delegation returning to Israel will also include two Filipino children who will be transferred to the Schneider Hospital, in Tel Aviv, for further medical care. Upon the delegation’s arrival in Israel, a military ceremony will be conducted at the Ben Gurion International Airport, during which Hanukkah candles will be lit, the IDF said.

Just a little local patriotism here: Schneider Hospital is in Petach Tikva, not Tel Aviv.


The IDF said, in addition to the many types of routine care that was provided, some 60 surgeries were performed, including cancerous tumor removals and eye surgeries, but mostly were for urgent life-saving procedures. In addition, the IDF Gynecological team was involved in approximately 36 births, it said.

Parts of the IDF medical and rescue equipment, including eight tents, generators, various medicines and an X-ray machine, will remain in the Philippines to be used by the German-Austrian delegation.

The numbers are quite staggering when considering that the mission has only been in place for about two weeks. Kol hakavod to everyone of the medical, military and logistics personnel involved in this amazing endeavour.

The IDF Spokesman’s blog has a series of heart-warming articles on the aid mission to the Philippines, including a soldier’s first-person account, and a live-blog of the mission.

The IDF blog also has a page and a map listing all the places around the world where the IDF has sent aid and rescue missions.

Kol hakavod to IsrAid and the IDF for these fantastic aid missions. As our Rabbis said “He who saves a single life is as if he saved the whole world”. How many worlds have we saved, yet we are excoriated daily in places like the UN.

May the IDF, and we Israelis, continue to save lives, building and not destroying. May we always be on the side of the aid-givers, and not have to be at the receiving end.

On that inspiring note, I wish you all Shabbat Shalom and Chanukah Sameach!

!שבת שלום וחג אורים שמח

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6 Responses to Good News Friday

  1. Simon Cobbs says:

    I love ‘Good News Friday’ I actually look forward to seeing some good news for a change. Every Saturday we (Sussex Friends of Israel) stand in defence of a small Israeli shop and in support of Israel in Brighton, UK. We used to have to suffer two hours of pretty nasty anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. Im incredibly pleased to say that ‘the tide has now turned’ and THEY have to listen to US but to know that every Friday I get to see more good news is a great fillip. Well done Anne and keep it up, we count on you for a smile before we ‘once more into the fray!’

    • anneinpt says:

      Oh wow! I feel so honoured to have such a distinguished guest on my blog! Welcome Simon, and thanks for stopping by.

      Thank you for your kind words. I’m glad I can be of help in giving you a positive charge before you charge into the fray. There’s so much bad news out there that I feel at least once a week we need to focus on all the good that flows out (and back) from Israel.

      I follow your group on facebook and twitter and I stand in awe of your courage and your commitment. Kol hakavod to all of you – and it’s fantastic news that you’ve achieved so much and turned the battle around in such a short time.

      May Israel’s supporters all learn from your example and take inspiration from your brave stand.

  2. Reality says:

    What an amazing amount of historical &present day information you’ve packed into this grear Good Friday blog!I’m so proud to be living in this wonderful country of ours &proud to be Israeli(after over 30 years here I consider myself Israeli!) Let the hostile NGO’s rant and rave at Israel but no Arab country has been given the Gender prize & yet again proof has been found that Jews were here way before Palestinians were ever invented.I know that doesn’t bother anyone at the UN but …just saying!
    Shabbat Shalom &Chanuka Sameach.

    • anneinpt says:

      We need to be careful about that “Jews were here before the Palestinians” thing. You just wait. They’ll be claiming they’re really the original Canaanites or Mesopotamians, and they want their wine back. 🙂

      I reckon they’re closer to Amalek but shhh…

  3. Brian Goldfarb says:

    “…Israel received the Gender Equality Prize from the European Parliament:

    The European Parliament intends to give Israel a prize Wednesday, recognizing it as the leading nation in the Middle East and North Africa in terms of gender equality.”

    Very good news indeed, but there’s hardly much competition is there, given the refusal to create genuine democracies and actually provide proper education all round outside Israel.

    Sorry for the sourness re everyone else in the region.

    • anneinpt says:

      Yes, I know we didn’t really have much competition. But still, that the EU should actually recognize something positive about Israel is almost a miracle.

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