Good News Friday

Thank goodness it’s Friday and time to close another week.  Time too for another Good News Friday installment.

I’ll start this week’s post with another look back into our fascinating past.

A clay tablet from 572 BCE, the earliest known text documenting the Judean exile in Babylonia, displayed at the Bible Lands Museum

A wonderful new exhibit at Jerusalem’s Bible Lands Museum displays a series of clay tablets which bring to life the first Jewish Exile into Babylon (h/t Brian Goldfarb):

We know they sat on the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates, and that they wept. But a new exhibit at Jerusalem’s Bible Lands Museum puts faces and names to the Judean exiles in ancient Babylonia 2,500 years ago.

“By the Rivers of Babylon” showcases a collection of about 100 rare clay tablets from 6th century Mesopotamia that detail the lives of exiled Judeans living in the heartland of the Babylonian Empire. Through these mundane Akkadian legal documents written in cuneiform, scholars have breathed life back into generations of Judeans who lived in Babylon but whose names and traditions speak of a longing for Zion.

The Al-Yahudu tablets are part of a private collection that has never before gone on public display. Their provenance is unknown; they likely turned up somewhere in southern Iraq, but no one knows when. After decades on the antiquities market they ended up in the hands of a private collector, David Sofer, who offered to loan them to the Bible Lands Museum. After two years of labor, the exhibit is opening to the public on Sunday.

“It puts a face on the real people who went through these fateful events,” Dr. Filip Vukosavović, curator of the exhibit, told The Times of Israel. The tablets preserve a wealth of Judean names — including the familiar Natanyahu — of the exilic community, and even include a handful of Aramaic inscriptions

Watch this short promotional clip.

This exhibit is sure to be riveting. I would love to go to see it myself.

Kobi Lichtenstein (center left) leads a Krav Maga training session atop Masada, January 2015. (Courtesy)

From ancient Babylon we cross to modern-day Brazil, where Kobi Lichtenstein, an Israeli Krav Maga martial arts expert teaches the Israeli art of self-defence throughout South America. Kobi organized a visit by a group of Brazilian Krav Maga students to Israel to counter Israel’s negative image in the South American press:

Sitting in a Tel Aviv hotel lobby last week, Marcia Almaida recounted how she managed to escape a knife attack. She wasn’t talking about one of the recent stabbings of Israeli citizens by Palestinian terrorists in Israel and the West Bank, but rather about Rio de Janeiro, where she lives.

“There’s lot of crime in Brazil. It’s safer here in Israel,” said Almaida, a Krav Maga athlete who was wrapping up a 10-day trip to Israel together with 45 other practitioners of the self-defense system initially developed for the Israeli military.

Almaida, 31, credited her Krav Maga physical and mental training with heightening her awareness of her surroundings and preparing her to quickly run away from the knife-wielding assailant she encountered in her hometown.

Krav Maga focuses on real-world situations and emphasizes threat neutralization through aggressive simultaneous defensive and offensive maneuvers. While it draws upon techniques from a variety of sports and martial arts, such as boxing, wrestling and judo, its origin is in the street fighting techniques that Krav Maga founder Imi Lichtenfeld used as he defended the Jewish quarter of Bratislava, Czechoslovakia from Fascist thugs in the 1930s. Following his immigration to Israel in the late 1940s, Lichtenfeld introduced Krav Maga to the IDF, and in 1964 he began training civilians.

Almaida and her colleagues, ages 14 to 82, traveled to Israel to get to know the people and history of the country behind Krav Maga. As a rule, Israel gets a bad rap in Brazilian media.

“These trips by Krav Maga students are one of the most important things for Krav Maga and for Israel,” said Krav Maga master Kobi Lichtenstein, who is responsible for having brought the self-defense system to South America.

“They learn about the history of Israel and of Krav Maga. They get to see Israel as it really is, the truth about what is happening here, so that they can go back home and be ambassadors for Israel against all the anti-Israel bias in the media,” he said.

Over the past 20 years, but especially since 2011, Lichtentein has brought around 1,000 South American Krav Maga instructors and students of all levels. He exposes them to the country through a tightly packed travel itinerary that combines typical tourist sites with Krav Maga-focused activities such as visiting Imi Lichtenfeld’s grave in Netanya and training with Israeli Krav Maga experts at the Wingate Institute.

“Our training at Wingate was the first time that I learned how to face more than one opponent at a time,” said trip participant Carlos Silva, 31, from Florianopolis, an island in southeastern Brazil.

Silva said the trip gave him a new perspective on Israel.

“I changed my mind about Israel,” he said. “Israel is not attacking anyone, as our government was telling us during the Gaza war last summer. Israel is defending itself — just like Krav Maga is about defending yourself.”

“From what you hear in the Brazilian media, you would think that Israel wants to dominate others in the region, but that is not the case,” said Diogo Fonseca, 29, from Brasilia, the Brazilian capital.

“There’s really a lot of social tolerance and free expression of religion here. We saw it in Jerusalem at the holy sites,” he said. “Thank God Israel is taking care of the religious sites here, because if others were in power…”

Kol hakavod to Kobi Lichtenstein not only for having the entrepeneurial spirit and dedication to spreading the art fo Krav Maga, but for taking it further and using it as a goodwill ambassador for Israel.  May he go from strength to strength and may his students continue to spread the good news about Israel on the other side of the world.

My last item comes from the most unlikely source.  Quite astonishingly I found something nice about Israel in the Guardian yesterday, which makes it doubly good news: the video itself and the fact that they posted something positive about our country. Watch this beautiful video and enjoy!

To conclude this week’s installment, once again a family update. Firstly, mazal tov again to my older brother and his family and of course my niece who gave birth last week, this time on the occasion of the brit (circumcision) of her son, which took place yesterday. It was a lovely ceremony celebrated with a simple meal attended by dozens of family members and friends.

Mazal tov Yair!

And the final final conclusion – 🙂 – is another Mazal Tov, this time to my younger brother on the Barmitzvah of his 2nd son Yair. We are all (again, 50+ family members plus a similar number on my sister-in-law’s side) heading to a guest house in Yad Binyamin for Shabbat to celebrate this wonderful occasion.  I’m looking forward to a fun, noisy and emotional Shabbat. Mazal tov everyone!

Wishing Shabbat Shalom to all my readers!

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2 Responses to Good News Friday

  1. cba says:

    Mazal tov! Enjoy!

  2. Reality says:

    Mazal tov to one&all.What a fascinating post about those tablets.This is a must see.I hope it will still be on exhibition when I have a short break.
    As for Kobi .Wow what an achievement.Bringing 1000people here &teaching them krav maga.Such a huge amount of goodwill ambassadors.Well done.

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