Good News Friday

Another week has rolled around so fast, and it’s time for my next Good News Friday installment.

The engraving found on a 3,000-year-old clay jug in Jerusalem

We start with one of my favourite subjects – archaeology.  An ancient jug from the First Temple period has been discovered. This might not be so uncommon but for an amusing angle: the engraving on the jug has been deciphered, and it is a complaint about lousy wine:

An ancient eight-letter inscription — dating back to King Solomon’s reign in Jerusalem some 3,000 years ago — was deciphered by a researcher from the University of Haifa, shedding light on the Solomonic kingdom’s impressively sophisticated administrative system.

The carving was discovered on a clay jug in the Ophel area, near the southern wall of the Temple Mount, by a Hebrew University archaeological team headed by Dr. Eilat Mazar. It is considered the most ancient Hebrew engraving to emerge from the archaeological digs in Jerusalem to date.

However, the meaning of the cryptic inscription eluded researchers until Professor Gershon Galil of the University of Haifa interpreted it as a classification of a type of wine stored in the jug. He published his findings in the journal “New Studies on Jerusalem.”


Galil estimated that the carving was written in the middle of the tenth century BCE, after King Solomon built the First Temple, his palaces, and the surrounding walls that unified the three areas of the city — the Ophel area, the city of David, and the Temple Mount. These tremendous infrastructural projects contributed, Galil said, to the sudden need for copious quantities of poor-quality wine.

“This wine was not served on the table of King Solomon nor in the Temple,” Galil wrote. “Rather it was probably used by the many forced laborers in the building projects and the soldiers that guarded them. Food and drinks for these laborers were mainly held in the Ophel area.” His theory is shored up by pottery fragments found in Arad, Galil wrote.

Not only does this discovery reinforce the Jewish People’s claim to Jerusalem and prove our connection to the Temple Mount (as if any proof were needed!), but it goes a long way to proving our genetic link to this land’s ancient inhabitants. After all kvetching is a hereditary trait! 😀

Kol hakavod to Dr. Eilat Mazar who heads the team at the Ophel dig, and kol hakavod to Professor Gershon Galil for deciphering this engraving.

Flying across the centuries and arriving back in modern-day Israel, we hear the good news that the Arrow 3 missile system completed a successful flight trial:

The Israel Missile Defense Organization (IMDO) and the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) have announced a successful flight of the Arrow-3 interceptor missile.

This is the second flight test of the Arrow-3 interceptor. It was conducted at Israeli test range over the Mediterranean Sea.

At 08:00 on Friday, the Arrow-3 interceptor successfully launched and flew an exo-atmospheric trajectory through space, according to the test plan.

The Arrow-3 interceptor was designed to provide another layer of defense against ballistic missiles, to add interception opportunities to the joint US Israel Arrow Weapon System and to improve the active defense architecture of the State of Israel against the missile threats.

IMDO says that the successful test is a major milestone in the development of the Arrow-3 Weapon System and provides confidence in future Israeli capabilities to defeat the developing ballistic missile threat.

It might not be particularly good news that Israel needs such an anti-ballistic missile defence at all but it is greatly reassuring for all Israeli citizens and friends of Israel that our military and aerospace industry have succeeded in developing a solid defence. Kol hakavod to all those involved in this great project.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird introduces Vivian Bercovici as Canada’s new ambassador to Israel on Wednesday.

Defence comes not only in military form but also on the diplomatic and political front. In this case there is excellent news from Israel’s best friend Canada (h/t Henry).  Vivian Bercovici, a Toronto lawyer and columnist for the Toronto Star, has been appointed as Canada’s new ambassador to Israel:

Just days before Stephen Harper makes his first visit to Israel, his government has reaffirmed its deep friendship with the Middle East nation with the appointment of a new ambassador who is a strong backer of Israel and has been critical of the Palestinian leadership.

And as he made the announcement Wednesday, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird underscored Ottawa’s close ties by pointedly refusing to criticize Israel’s controversial new plans to build in the West Bank.

“We’re not going to pile on,” Baird said.

Just minutes earlier, Baird had highlighted Canada’s relationship with Israel as he announced that Vivian Bercovici, a lawyer and former contributor to the Toronto Star, would be Canada’s new top diplomat in Israel.

Bercovici, who studied at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University in the early 1980s, said she was “honoured” to take on the role and praised the Conservatives’ approach to Middle East issues.


Writing in a monthly column in the Star – which ended just prior to her appointment — Bercovici focused on Middle East issues and sometimes took aim at the Palestinian leadership for its views on Israel’s right to exist.

In one piece, she wrote that the Palestinian Authority “and just about every government in the Middle East make no secret of their collective ideological commitment to the total destruction of the state of Israel, which they regard as a blasphemous blight on the Arab and Muslim worlds.”

This is excellent news for Israel, to have an ambassador who understands the region and doesn’t automatically side with the underdog in the Israel-Palestinian conflict. It is also very good news for Canada to have someone on the ground here who can report back realistically, and not what people wish to hear. Mazal Tov to Ambassador Bercovici and Brucha Haba’ah – welcome to Israel!

To conclude this week’s installment, here are a few items all connected to Israel’s vaunted hi-tech industry.

Itamar Medical’s Watch-PAT in action

An Israeli biotech company has developed a lightweight apnea detector which could save may lives:

PAT technology involves monitoring the arteries to check on how hard the heart is working. Increased blood flow in the arteries is very often the result of breathing problems, a PAT monitor developed by Itamar Medical – called WatchPAT – keeps track of the flow. When it reaches a pre-programmed level, an alarm goes off, and an attending nurse or doctor can intervene to help the patient overcome the incident. According to the company – and the FDA, which has approved the device – WatchPAT produces similar results to polysomnography studies (comprehensive studies of the body’s activities while an individual sleeps, considered the most accurate means of checking for breathing problems, among other things).

And here’s the icing on the cake:

And the story of Itamar Medical and WatchPAT is also the story of a homecoming. “I took this job because I believe I can help get the word out about this product, because I worked with many of the top people in the cardiovascular community in the U.S. for 20 years.” Glick lived in California until very recently, working as a top executive for pharma giant Johnson and Johnson. “I left that job, though,” Glick said. “I have three kids – 10, 7 and a half, and a year old – and I wanted them to live in Israel and get a Zionist and Jewish education. I enjoyed working for J&J, but when it comes to the kids, they come first.”

Kol hakavod to Itamar Medical on their excellent innovation and to Gilead Glick both for  his entrepreneurship and for his Zionism. May their device go on to save many lives.

Staying with the biomedical field, an Israeli company has developed a futuristic back implant to replace damaged spines:

Bend. Flex. Extend. Rotate. Though these words are ordinary to most people, they (literally) send shivers down the spines of the millions around the world who suffer from chronic lower back pain. Premia Spine is an Israeli company looking to once again render these words innocuous to patients with their revolutionary spinal implant.

The Israeli company is offering an alternative treatment for patients who have been prescribed spinal fusion operations. Rather than attach a rigid structure of bolts and rods to the patient’s spine, Premia Spine’s TOPS (Total Posterior Solution) system is a spinal implant that recreates the natural motions of the back, giving patients not only a greater range of motion, but also claims a more reliable and faster recovery.


“What we’re doing is allow the surgeon to do the decompression, clean up all the nerves, and use our device to contain the motion in a normal range.” The device’s internal construction limits the degrees of motion in each direction to specific degrees, preserving all of the back’s movement without compromising any one direction.

Read the whole article to gain an understanding of how this ingenious invention works. Coming from a family of back-pain sufferers it is clear how this device could be of enormous help.  Watch this video to see it in action:

Kol hakavod to Dr. Ron Sacher and the rest of the team at Premia Spine involved in the development of TOPS.

An Accel Voyager integrated with Mobileye data

Last but not least for this week, the Israeli road-safety company Mobileye has developed a device to almost  literally scare Israeli drivers straight:

The Mobileye road safety alert system has help tens of thousands of drivers avoid collisions, alerting drivers through a series of cameras and sensors working in tandem with advanced software when they are too close to the vehicle in front of them.


But the system is only useful if someone is paying attention – so to make sure that all the relevant parties are aware and informed on what is going on, Israeli company Mobileye has hooked up with Accel, the Israeli maker of the Voyager car smartphone, to relay messages about potentially dangerous road situations to both drivers and those keeping an eye on them.


The Accel, introduced in 2013, is a true “car phone” – a mobile device made specifically for drivers, with big, easy to access keys, special noise filtration and cancellation to allow clearer conversations, voice activation for calls and commands, enhanced volume to ensure that drivers can easily hear conversations, and a built-in copy of Waze.


With the new Mobileye connection, information on “near misses” will be recorded by the phone and can be transmitted back to dispatchers, parents, or even insurance companies. That alone, said Litman, could be a big motivator in encouraging safer driving. “Integrating Mobileye’s Collision Avoidance systems with Voyager is an elegant solution that allows both the driver and a third party to receive Mobileye’s life saving alerts in real time, which is a real need for fleet managers, businesses, families and more,” he said.

Marc Seelenfreund, Accel’s CEO, said that the inclusion of his device in the Mobileye safety universe would enhance the effectiveness even further. “The integrated Voyager-Mobileye solution will add an additional layer of driver safety via remote monitoring of Mobileye alerts.

This is an excellent development for all Israeli drivers, especially given the terrifying way that Israelis drive. Let us hope that this device will go on to save countless lives. Kol hakavod to Mobileye and Accel on this clever innovation.

With all this good news I wish you all Shabbat Shalom!

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6 Responses to Good News Friday

  1. Reality says:

    What a great post as usual.Thank you and Shabbat Shalom

  2. Reality says:

    I should never need it but if so at least I know there’s hope for people like me with terrible back problems.Well done Ron Sacher. My hubby just laughed when I showed him the complaint/translation on the wine jug!

  3. PeteCA says:

    “the engraving on the jug has been deciphered, and it is a complaint about lousy wine:”

    MY HERO!!!
    Who was this great person from ancient Israel?
    If only they had lived for another 3,000 years. I would have passed a message to King Solomon … Clean up all of the bad wineries in the world today!! No wonder he was such a wise king.

    Pete, USA

    • anneinpt says:

      LOL Pete. You are too funny. 🙂

      It is funny though how nothing seems to have changed in 3000 years. Human nature is still the same, only the technology has moved on.

  4. PeteCA says:

    Anne … I hope you will add some thoughts next week on Ariel Sharon.
    I would like to hear what you have to say.
    Pete, USA

Comments are closed.