Good News Friday

One terrible week follows another, each with their own crises and tragedies. But Shabbat comes around once a week (thank G-d!) to heal our souls. In that spirit I present this week’s Good News Friday installment.

UPDATE just before posting: another terrorist attack is under way against a Jewish target in France, so contrary to my usual habit of not posting anything else after my Good News Friday post, I’m going to post another short blog after this one, for which my apologies for ruining the good mood.

We’ll start with Israel’s biomedical industry once again. An Israeli development has come up with an anti-cancer “vaccine” (h/t Reality) which is looking very promising:

… an Israeli biotechnology company is developing a vaccine for cancer, which is not designed to treat the disease – but to prevent it from returning.

Vaxil BioTherapeutics, based in Nes Ziona, Israel, has spent over half a decade developing ImMucin, a prophylactic cancer vaccine, which can trigger a response in about 90 percent of all types of cancer, according to the company.

“Vaxil is developing a drug to keep the cancer from coming back,” Julian Levy, Vaxil’s CFO, tells “We are trying to harness the natural power of the immune system to fight against cancer by seeking out cancer cells and destroying them.”

Levy explains that ImMucin is not a replacement for traditional cancer treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation. Rather, the company is targeting a different stage in the patient’s battle against cancer, specifically the early stages of the detection, as well as during remission. That’s why, unfortunately, the drug won’t be helpful to many cancer patients – specifically those who are in advanced stages of the disease – because it requires a relatively healthy body to be fully effective.

Even though ImMucin is a vaccine, it is given to people who are already sick, unlike traditional vaccines. So, while ImMucin’s scientific mechanism is one of a vaccine, from the point of view of the patient, it acts exactly like a drug that has physiological effects when introduced to the body.

Vaxil BioTheraputics has promising technology and initial clinical success, especially since ImMucin has the potential to treat 90 percent of cancers found in patients. Certainly, this kind of immunotherapy for an illness previously thought of as incurable, gives hope to millions of patients and their families.

Watch this video which explains how the vaccine works:

This new technology sounds brilliant if it works. Most of us know people who have suffered from cancer, especially recurring cases. If this vaccine is successful, how many lives could be saved! Kol hakavod to all the developers and researchers of this marvelous new technology.

I now move to the massive winter storm currently lashing Israel. This week we’ve had sand-storms, extremely high winds, followed by rain-storms of almost Biblical proportions, with snow falling in Jerusalem, Gush Etzion, the highlands of the Shomron, the Golan Heights and the Galilee – i.e. almost everywhere except Tel Aviv and Petach Tikva 😦   (Update: it’s just started sleeting in Petach Tikva!)

Efrat as seen from Elazar (photo by Vered)

While this might not sound like good news to those of you outside of Israel, for us Israelis this is excellent. Who doesn’t like seeing the landscape dressed in white? Who hates snow days off school? 😛

2 Flamingos were killed in last year’s storm by falling trees

In preparation for the storm Jerusalem’s Biblical Zoo scrambled to prepare suitable conditions for their animals:

Having suffered the loss of six animals during a highly unusual snowstorm that walloped the city in December 2013, the keepers are determined not to leave any winter weather-sensitive creatures out in the cold this time.

Since early this week, the staff at The Tisch Family Zoological Gardens in Jerusalem, as the zoo is formally known, have been hard at work preparing the animals’ habitats to protect them from freezing temperatures, high winds, pounding rain and possible snow. They have also been double-checking food stores and making plans for some of the keepers to stay at the zoo around the clock during the storm, as well as afterwards, in case road access is cut off.

“We have been checking the heating systems in all the animal houses, and we’ve installed backup generators for the areas housing the reptiles,” said Nili Avni-Magen, the zoo’s head veterinarian and zoological director, as she showed this Times of Israel reporter around the 62 acres of grounds on the western edge of Jerusalem on Monday.

Last year, the zoo lost power for several hours. Electrical heating systems in the animal houses that are down for any longer could prove fatal for reptiles, which cannot regulate their body temperatures and must be kept warm.

Being holed up inside their warming houses is apparently not an unusual experience for a considerable proportion of the zoo’s 2,000 animals. Even when there is no snow falling, many of them spend all night, every night, indoors during the winter. Some, like the chimps, which hail from tropical climates and are susceptible to similar pathogens as are humans, must remain indoors whenever the temperature drops below 10 degrees Celsius.

The keepers work to keep the animals from becoming stressed over being confined to the indoor spaces. For instance, they often do puzzles with the primates and various “enrichment activities” with the elephants.

“On one occasion, several years ago, when we had to keep the chimps inside for a prolonged period during cold weather, we put a TV on and played ‘Baby Mozart’ tapes for them,” recalled the zoological director.

Some of the animals, such as the kangaroos, zebras and rhinos, as well as species native to Israel like the oryx, gazelle and fallow deer, are expected to fare fine outdoors. For them, the issue is not so much the snow and cold as the wetness. For these creatures, the zoo staff has put out extra straw in the covered shelters in the outdoor exhibit areas to help keep them dry.

The zoo staff will be keeping a close eye on the youngest and oldest animals.

“At least the red panda will be very happy. She can’t stand the heat and sits in her air-conditioned house all summer long,” said Avni-Magen. “She’ll be very happy to be outside in the snow and cold.”

This story is so heart-warming, it brings a smile to my face.

Talking of animals, Israel has had a spate of runaway animals lately. Last week it was the rhinos of Ramat Gan Safari, this week it was a runaway emu!

The poor bird was very alarmed but was caught near a shopping mall (!) and returned safely to the farm from which it had escaped.

Last week I couldn’t embed the video of the runaway rhinos, but now I’ve found a Facebook video for your weekend enjoyment. 🙂

Would that we could all run away from reality like these rhinos and emus.

Let us hope for better news and pray for a safe and peaceful conclusion to the shootouts and hostage crises currently taking place in France.

Shabbat Shalom everyone.

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3 Responses to Good News Friday

  1. Reality says:

    as I’m watching the unfolding developements of France’s terror attacks,this post put a smile on my face.
    Hoping to hear only good news
    Shabbat Shalom &may all our prayers help these poor hostages &those injured in these awful attacks.

  2. LL Cheung says:

    Our TV station did show the emu running immediately in prime time news, and I thought: wow news from Israel on HK TV not about war or PA conflicts for the first time. Then not a few days had passed before France terror attacks came all over the news. Still it is so true that Shabbat comes around once a week (thank G-d!) to heal our souls. Shabbat Shalom!

    • anneinpt says:

      Well, they say that in the media “if it bleeds it leads”. So bad news is always more interesting. But the emu story was very funny as were the runaway rhinos. 🙂

      But the terror attacks were just horrific. I’m now catching up again after Shabbat.

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