Here we go again, time to end the week with a refreshing dose of good news in my latest Good News Friday installment.
As you might have noticed from the frequency in which I use Dry Bones cartoons to illustrate my blog posts, the “Dry Bones” cartoons are amongst my favourite tools to illustrate the frustration, humour and absurdity in Israeli and international politics today. So I was delighted to read that the extremely talented man behind the cartoons, Yaakov Kirschen, has been awarded the Bonei Zion (Builders of Zion) award:
Longtime Jerusalem Post cartoonist Yaakov Kirschen, whose daily strip Dry Bones has run in the paper for four decades, won a 2014 Bonei Zion (Builders of Zion) Prize on Monday for his contributions to Israeli culture and the arts.
Kirschen, 76, was born in Brooklyn and contributed to such publications as Cracked and Playboy before making aliya in 1971 and beginning his run writing and illustrating Dry Bones in 1973. According to Nefesh B’Nefesh, a private organization that runs Israel’s immigration operations in North America and conferred the $10,000 prize, Kirschen’s work “has provided a quintessentially Zionist, satirical and unique view of Israel to the world.”
Yaakov Kirschen is not only an Israeli political cartoonist. He also runs the Dry Bones project, a far-reaching enterprise dealing with combatting antisemitism, educating the Chinese about Israel, producing an illustrated Haggadah and much more. Visit his website to read all about it.
Kol hakavod to “Bones” – you well deserve the Bonei Zion award. May all Israel’s journalists and commentators learn from your example.
My next item is connected to both education and hi-tech: A group of Israeli high school children are building a life-saving satellite!
In a first for Israel, a one-of-a-kind a satellite is set to be launched in April that will provide a much-needed boost to an aging emergency alert system for hikers and travelers around the world who can’t use phone or wifi connections to send distress signals.
Even better – the nano-sized satellite measures just ten centimeters square; once in orbit, it should last for several years, providing services for users of Automatic Packet Reporting System (APRS) compatible devices who need help and are unable to connect with rescue services.
Best of all – the satellite is being built by a group of forty 16 and 17 year old students from Herzliya, who are participating in a unique project, in which dozens of diminutive satellites will be launched as part of an international effort to explore the lower thermosphere, which is largely unmonitored right now.
“We chose to design a satellite that responds to APRS signals in order to bolster a much-needed protocol that needs updating,” said Meir Ariel, who heads Herzliya Science Center High School program, where the tiny satellite, called Duchifat (Hoopoe) is being built. “Our group is very excited to be launching this satellite as part of the QB50 project, which will help travelers around the world.”
Of course, once the satellite is built, it’s got to get up into space, and Ariel has a plan for that, too. “We plan to hitch a ride with a full-sized Russian satellite which is to be launched in April,” he said. “Because Duchifat is so small, it can be easily attached and set into orbit.” The cost for launching it will be 80,000 euros, most of which will be covered by the Israel Space Authority.
This is fantastic! That a group of teenagers are capable of such outstanding and advanced work is amazing in its own right and a mark of pride for their school and for the teachers and the educational system that brought them to this. It is also highly impressive that the school has taken this project one step further and considered the practical side – the launch into space – and its cost.
Kol hakavod to headmaster Meir Ariel and all the students who are participating in this important project. We are proud that you are the future of Israel.
This brings me to my final item of this week. Last night we attended a Bible Quiz (Hidon Tanach) held in Karnei Shomron in memory of Gilad Seri z”l, a fallen soldier, in which our granddaughter and her Abba Ido participated. We were astounded at the competitors’ almost encyclopaedic knowledge of the Tanach, and we are very proud of Noa and Ido who, while not making it through to the final round, made their way through from a difficult starting position all the way to the semi-finals.
The quiz was interspersed with skits by a very funny and talented actor, video clips, and watching the cartoonist Shai Charka in live action drawing cartoon illustrations of Biblical stories. We had a wonderful entertaining and educational time.
Kol hakavod to all the participants, the sponsors, the town and community center of Karnei Shomron. May all of Am Yisrael have as much nachas from their children and grandchildren as we do.
With these happy thoughts in mind, I bid you all Shabbat Shalom!