Good News Friday

Thank goodness it’s Friday and time for another Good News Friday post to counteract all the last week’s bitterness.

I’m going to start with a catch-up of good news that I missed over the last couple of weeks.

A 5th century silver drachm from Persian era Palestine. Above the lion are the Aramaic letters yod, heh and dalet — Judea. (photo credit: Vladimir Naikhin/The Israel Museum

An American donor has given the Israel Museum a priceless collection of coins, including the world’s earliest Jewish coin:

The Israel Museum has acquired over 1,200 ancient silver Persian coins, among the earliest known currency from the area, including what the museum has identified as the world’s oldest Jewish coin.

The coins, dated to the 5th and 4th centuries BCE when the region was controlled by the Persian Empire, constitute “the largest collection in the world of Persian-period coins.” The collection includes a number of previously unknown varieties, the museum said. Chief among the rare artifacts is a silver drachm, an ancient coin based upon the Greek drachma, which, in clearly legible Aramaic script, bears the word yehud, or Judea.

“It’s the earliest coin from the province of Judea,” the museum’s chief curator of archaeology, Haim Gitler, said in an interview with The Times of Israel, calling the 5th century silver drachm the “first Jewish coin.”


The 3.58 gram yehud coin — a hair or two lighter than today’s one shekel coin — was reportedly found in the hills southwest of Hebron and was bought at auction by New York antiquities collector Jonathan Rosen. Rosen, ”one of the world’s most important private collectors of Mesopotamian art” according to The New York Times, agreed to donate his entire collection of Persian-era coins to the museum in March 2013. The acquisition was completed in November. Apollo, an international art magazine, ranked the collection among the top museum acquisitions of 2013.

Although there are a handful of other examples of coins bearing the name Judea, Gitler said the silver drachm was a “unique coin” in its design, and was likely minted in Philistia, the coastal plain encompassing the modern cities of Ashdod, Ashkelon and Gaza, for use in the province of Jerusalem. “Only later did Judea start to mint its own coins,” he said.

This news is marvellous not only for aficionados of archaeology, but once again it is excellent news for Israeli and Jewish historians, as the coin is another proof of the Jews’ millennia-long connection to the Land of Israel.

Kol hakavod to the American donor for his generosity and to the museum for putting this priceless collection on display.

Ayelet Zurer and Yair Lotan take the lead roles in the Israeli television thriller ‘Hostages

My next item comes from, of all places, the BBC! The BBC is going to be screening its first-ever Hebrew language TV series, Channel 10’s “Hostages”:

BBC4 has announced its Saturday night programming lineup will include Israeli drama, Hostages. And while many Israeli TV shows have been acquired by global television channels, this is the first time the original series will be aired abroad in Hebrew. Hostages is a 10-part thriller about the family of a surgeon who are taken hostage in order to coerce the doctor to assassinate the prime minister on the operating table. “Hostages is a taut, spare and authentic Israeli thriller,” said the BBC’s head of programme acquisitions Sue Deeks. The show was picked up by CBS in the US even before it aired. The US version stars Toni Collette and Dylan McDermott. While the BBC could easily have chosen to air the English-language remake, the UK media giant instead chose to air the original – in Hebrew. The Israeli version stars Ayelet Zurer and Yair Lotan.

Production company Armoza Formats was behind the sale. Cassian Harrison, channel editor of BBC4, said: “Foreign language dramas on a Saturday night have become more than a cult success; they actually sit at the heart of the BBC4 offer. “You have always got to offer the audience something new and fresh, and what we have got here is a selection of things with the same high production values, and really good stories, but with a different flavor.”

This is amazing. Kol hakavod to the creators of “Hostages” and – how I hate to say it 🙂 – kol hakavod to the BBC for their Israeli acquisition. Maybe it will influence their news reporting. We can hope.

Tamar Gas field

Moving now to more current news, Israel’s natural gas revenues will reach over NIS 500 million in 2013:

Israel’s revenues from its natural gas sales stand to amount to 537 million shekels ($153 million) in 2013, a brief presented to the Knesset’s Economics Committee Monday said.

The brief was presented by National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Minister Silvan Shalom, during his annual presentation before the committee.

The ministry’s projections say Israel’s natural gas revenues for 2015 are expected to exceed NIS 1 billion ($285 million).

This amount represents only a fraction of the projected natural gas revenue,” Shalom said Sunday. “I have no doubt that these revenues, on top of the decreasing [industrial] production costs the move to natural gas entails, will lead to a decrease in the cost of living and translate into savings for every family in Israel.”

There’s no need for me to expand further on this excellent news. All I can say is kol hakavod on all those who never gave up on the search for oil and gas in Israel’s waters and who persisted in the face of mockery and negativity. I look forward to receiving a much reduced electricity bill!

There is more good news from the social-media GPS app Waze which was acquired by Google for $1bn back in June: Not only is it going to remain in Israel but  it will be doubling the number of its employees:

Corporate giants often reduce the number of employees at companies they acquire, but that doesn’t seem to be the case at Waze that was bought earlier this year by Google Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOG). The traffic navigation app developer plans expanding its workforce.

Waze CEO Noam Bardin says that since the exit the company has expanded its workforce by 20% to 120 employees and plans hiring more staff in 2014. The company plans having 200 employees by the end of 2014. Bardin was speaking at the Start-up Stadium event organized by Canaan Partners, managed by Izhar Shay.

Kol hakavod to Noam Bardin and the board of Waze for insisting that the company should remain in Israel, and now for expanding its work force. May Waze’s success be repeated at every Israeli start-up.

Start-Up Israel site, run by the Times of Israel

Start-Up Israel site, run by the Times of Israel

On the subject of Israeli hi-tech, the Times of Israel has introduced its new Start-Up Israel website

The Times of Israel was launched on February 14, 2012, and in the 22 months since then we have established ourselves as the fastest-growing website in the Jewish world, with millions of unique visitors each month. We’ve also drawn a community of bloggers that now comprises a frankly staggering 1,500 writers and counting. At last month’s Jewish Federations’ General Assembly in Jerusalem, there were no fewer than 200 Times of Israel bloggers in attendance.

Now, in the first of several new projects in the Times of Israel pipeline, we’re introducing our StartUp Israel website, edited by our thoroughly plugged-in high-tech editor David Shamah. Israel is one of the world’s leading high-tech hubs, and Shamah is the leading English-language reporter in the field.

The Start-Up Israel site, which you can access via the Times of Israel homepage or directly here, features cutting edge content by Shamah and the rest of the Times of Israel news team.

Read the rest of the article which describes the various features of the site.

Ever since the Times of Israel opened I’ve been a big fan of its reporting and many of its bloggers. Kol hakavod to David Horovitz for making this online paper one of the leading voices in Israeli and Jewish news today, and now for taking it one step further into the 21st century.

May this week’s good news put you in a great mood for Shabbat. I wish you all Shabbat Shalom!

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3 Responses to Good News Friday

  1. tzfonit rechoka says:

    happy birthday!

    • anneinpt says:

      Thank you. 🙂 I prefer to celebrate as late as possible, so I’ll ignore my Hebrew b’day and wait till my English birthday to celebrate. Nearly another month still. 🙂

  2. peteca1 says:

    Really love those ancient coins … Thanks for posting 🙂
    Pete, USA

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