In spite of the latest bad news, or perhaps davka because of it, we need a dose of good news to uplift us before Shabbat, so here is my latest Good News Friday installment.
Because the modern day is almost too difficult to dwell on, we’ll start off with some news from thousands of years past – some fascinating archaeological finds.
The Antiquities Authority announced the find of an ancient glass bracelet engraved with an image of the Menorah from the Temple – which rather puts the lie to the claim that the Jews are not indigenous to the country:
A fragment from a glass bracelet inscribed with a seven- branched menorah from the Second Temple was discovered during Hanukka at an excavation in the Mount Carmel National Park, the Antiquities Authority announced Tuesday.
“While examining the contents of one of the boxes, which contained hundreds of glass fragments that had been discarded in the refuse pit, we found to our surprise a small fragment of a bracelet,” they said. “Naturally it was extremely dirty, but still, you could see it was decorated. After cleaning, we were excited to discover that the bracelet, which is made of turquoise-colored glass, is decorated with symbols of the seven-branched menorah – the same menorah which, according to tradition, was kept alight in the Temple for eight days by means of a single cruse of oil.”
The researchers added that they believed the bracelet had been embossed with the decoration while the glass was still hot.
“Stamped impressions of two menorot survived on the small fragment that was found – one a plain seven-branched menorah, of which only the surface of the menorah is visible, and the other one consisting of a seven-branched menorah with flames depicted above its branches,” they said.
This find is fascinating. Kol hakavod to Israel’s meticulous and persistent archaeologists.
Another amazing discovery is an ancient clay tablet which may shed new light on King David (h/t Reality):
AP — Impressions from ancient clay seals found at a small site in Israel east of Gaza are signs of government in an area thought to be entirely rural during the 10th century B.C., said Mississippi State University archaeologist James W. Hardin.
This could indicate that Biblical accounts of David and his son Solomon described real kings rather than the backwater chieftains considered more likely by some archaeologists, said Hardin, an associate professor in the department of anthropology and Middle Eastern cultures.
The artifacts are important, said Israel Finkelstein, an archaeology professor at Tel Aviv University. They “probably hint at” a city-state other than that of Gath on the southern coastal plain during the period, he wrote in an email to The Associated Press. Gath was a major Philistine city-state when it was destroyed in the 9th century, according to archaeologists. According to the Bible, it was the home town of Goliath, the giant whom young David laid flat with stone and sling.
Wow, that puts Gaza in a whole new light as well as King David!
A third archeological find announced this week was that of a synagogue in the Galilee dating from Roman times:
Archaeologists conducting excavations in the town of Magdala, situated on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, exposed a public structure from the Roman period, it was reported Thursday. The structure’s grandeur led researchers to conclude that the site contained the ruins of an ancient synagogue. “We’re still at an early stage of unearthing the structure,” they said. “We found parts of the structure, fragments of columns, parts of benches, the threshold of a door and pottery fragments.”
“The importance of the structure is in direct relationship to its grandeur,” said Michael Osband of the Institute of Archaeology at Bar-Ilan University, who was the excavation director. Osband noted that archeologists had reached the conclusion that the structure was an ancient synagogue after they found embellished columns at the site. “This is a historic and rare finding,” he added.
I wonder if Magdala is modern-day Migdal. I find Israel’s ancient history riveting!
Moving back now to the modern day, Israeli teenager Yishai Oliel won the prestigious Junior Orange Bowl tennis championship in Florida:
Fourteen-year-old Israeli tennis player Yshai Oliel won the prestigious Junior Orange Bowl games in Florida Tuesday, in the Boys 14 and Under category, defeating Taiwan’s Chen-Jui Ho, 7-5, 7-5.
This was the second such win for Oliel, who in 2012 was crowned winner of the games’ Boys 12 and Under category, making him the first Israeli player to mark a double win, and only the ninth player to do so in the tournament’s 50-year history.
The Junior Orange Bowl games are considered the unofficial world championships for teenagers. Players competing in the tournament are widely lauded as prodigies, and past winners include prominent tennis players such as Jimmy Connors, Andy Murray, Steffi Graf and Monica Seles.
sraeli Tennis Federation CEO Shlomo Glickstein said, “This is an even bigger achievement than two years ago. This places Yshai among the top three players in the world in his age group. We have little doubt that if he continues to work hard he could wake his way to the top of world tennis.”
Tennis Federation Chairman Assaf Tuchmayer said, “The Tennis Federation is honored to have such a player within its ranks, not only for his performance on the field but also for his character. He’s a true professional.”
Kol hakavod to Yishai Oliel and a hearty mazal tov on his win. May he go from strength to strength!
A final feel-good video for today is a video promo of the Israeli Hatzalah organization – a parallel organization to Magen David Adom, the Red Magen David rescue organization. The video demonstrates what true coexistence really looks like in Israel, with the organization’s members coming from all sectors of Israeli society.
And on this warm note I wish you all Shabbat Shalom. May the coming week bring better news. Meanwhile please continue to pray for Ayala bat Ruth.