Good News Friday

As always, despite the bad news during the preceding week, it’s time for another Good News Friday post to cheer us up for Shabbat.

Delight: From left Daniel Smyth, five, Bethany Watson, and Charlotte Taylor, both three, gave the invention their seal of approval Read more at Daily Mail

The first item is  a wonderfully heart-warming story (h/t Mark) of the Israeli mother of a child with cerebral palsy who invented an ingenious harness to enable the child to walk:

An Israeli mom of a child with cerebral palsy has invented a walking harness that changes the way special-needs kids navigate the world.

Debby Elnatan designed a support harness to allow her wheelchair-bound young son Rotem to stand upright. By cinching the top of the harness to her own waist and slipping specially designed sandals on their feet, the device permits mom and child to walk together while keeping their hands free for other activities.

“When my son was 2 years old, I was told by medical professionals that he didn’t know what his legs are and has no consciousness of them,” Elnatan recently told the Daily Mail.

Elnatan said that was especially difficult thing for a mother to hear, so out of “pain and desperation” she came up with the idea for the Firefly Upsee Harness.

Elnatan chose Irish company Leckey to mass produce the Upsee and make it available to other parents of physically disabled children. For the past three months 20 families from all over the world have been trying out the device.

Stacy Warden and her 5-year-old son Noah are one of the lucky families who have been test driving the harness. Noah lives with spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, a condition that has left him unable to crawl, sit, stand, walk or feed himself. Warden told ABC News that using the Upsee has been a life-changing experience.

Just read the rest of this article here or at the Daily Mail and look at those smiling faces to understand the brilliance of this invention.

Kol hakavod to Debby Elnatan for her initiative and persistence. As one of the Daily Mail commenters said, this was a case of a mother being the invention of a necessity.

An Ecoppia robot cleaning crew system

Since we are rapidly approaching Pesach with its marathon of cleaning, it is very interesting to read about the world’s first self-cleaning solar park, in the Arava Valley (h/t Brian Goldfarb):

Amid the prospect of cheap natural gas for electricity production, thanks to the major gas finds off Israel’s coast, demand for solar energy here has dulled. But this week, solar got a big boost as the Kibbutz Ketura solar park, jointly owned by Siemens AG and solar energy pioneer Arava Power, became the world’s first autonomously-cleaned solar energy production facility.

Each night, the 20-acre facility is cleaned by 100 Israeli-made robots, which brush and clean the hundreds of solar panels, generating 9 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year. It’s a technical breakthrough, said Eran Meller, CEO of Ecoppia, which built the robot cleaning crew, that could encourage more use of solar power.


Cleanliness – or a lack of it – has proven to be one of the biggest impediments to wider adoption of solar energy. Most solar energy farms are located in deserts (as is Kibbutz Ketura, which is in Israel’s southern Arava desert) where the sun is strong, and the spaces are wide open. Both are important factors to take into consideration when building a solar energy farm, which consists of hundreds or thousands of solar panels.

Besides a lot of sun, however, deserts have lots of dust, and as that dust settles on the solar panel collectors, it reduces the panels’ efficiency – by as much as 35%, said Meller, in a process called “soling.” To clean them, park managers use water, a very scarce commodity in the desert. “Due to the expense of traditional, labor-intensive, water-based cleaning, Ketura Sun’s solar panels were only cleaned some nine times a year,” he said. “This manual panel cleaning would take up to five days, during which time the field operated sub-optimally and work crews endangered sensitive equipment. In the interim between cleaning cycles, the park suffered significant electricity production degradation due to soiling.”

Enter Ecoppia’s robot crew. Instead of using water to clean panels, the robots are equipped with microfibers, with each robot assigned to a row of PV panels. Using controlled air flow, the robots push the accumulated dirt off panels, as they glide along the surface of panels on their polyurethane-coated aluminum frame using wheels. Each robot can cover about 100 square feet of panel each minute, saving water and time. The robots are controlled by a central control panel, and can operate in tandem (starting and finishing at the same time) or autonomously, based on the instructions given by park staff.

What a clever development! Kol hakavod to Eran Meller and his Ecoppia device. Now I wonder if he could be persuaded to develop a self-cleaning machine for my house…? 🙂

Hugh Laurie

Moving to the world of the arts, continuing Israel’s upcoming summer of culture with visiting artists, it looks likely that Hugh Laurie, TV star, comedian and, unknown to many, a gifted musician – he of Dr. House and Blackadder fame – will be visiting Israel in July: (h/t Reality).

Is Doctor Gregory House on his way to Israel to give us a piece of his mind? Well, if by “House” you mean acclaimed English actor/comedian/musician Hugh Laurie, and if by “giving us a piece of his mind” you mean performing his music before Israeli audiences — well, in that case, the answer is a resounding…maybe.

When asked if he is really going to come to Israel, Laurie answered in a rather unusual manner:


I wonder where he learned Hebrew? Gotta love that answer! ❤

Let’s hope the visit really takes place. Hugh Laurie is such a huge talent, Israel will be greatly honoured – and entertained – by his visit.

I hope all this good news leaves you with a smile on your face and good cheer in your heart for Shabbat.

Shabbat Shalom everyone!

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3 Responses to Good News Friday

  1. OyiaBrown says:

    Reblogged this on Oyia Brown.

  2. Reality says:

    What a great invention Debbie Elnatan has created. I hope she succeeds in retailing this all over the world. As for the solar cleaning robots-my husband just said he always thought he should invent on!! Too late-i want one to clean my trissim(blinds) or house plus do the washing up! Seriously its a great invention which every houselhold really could do with here in the mediterranean climes.
    Gotta love Hugh Lauries response. Just for that we should all go-I hoep the tickets will be cheaper thatn Rolling Stones.
    Shabbat Shalom

  3. I think the walking harness can help mothers of typically developing kids, too.
    Shabbat shalom!

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