Good News Friday

This week’s Good News Friday is going to start with a slightly bittersweet item for which I beg your forgiveness, particularly as it’s Rosh Chodesh Adar when we are supposed to increase our joy. (Adar is the month in which Purim falls, and is always considered a “merry” month).

Earlier this week Uri Orbach z”l, the well-loved and popular Minister for Senior Citizens, journalist and children’s author, passed away long before his time.  Orbach was an ingenious innovator in his field, always coming up with a clever slogan, a witty poem or a popular event. One of his most brilliant innovations was called “Tuesdays in braces” (or suspenders for you Americans). Shlishi beShleikes (שלישי בשלייקס in Hebrew).  He successfully campaigned to make Tuesdays a special day discounts and assorted benefits for senior citizens at cultural events, shops, entertainment etc.

In his younger days Uri Orbach studied at Kiryat Shmona yeshiva (where incidentally my son-in-law was also a student). In Orbach’s memory, Kiryat Shmona made Rosh Chodesh Adar into “yeshiva in braces” day – Yeshiva be’Shleikes.  Read about it on their Facebook page here (h/t Hadassah):

A rough translation:

Today, Rosh Chodesh Adar, we in the yeshiva held a day of joint studies and sharing experiences with the grandfathers and grandmothers of the 2nd year yeshiva students, who are enlisting into the IDF in March.

We decided to dedicate this day to the memory of our Uri, the Honourable Minister for Senior Citizens, the person who invented the idea of “Tuesdays in Braces”.

During the day there were lessons in his memory and also joint study sessions.

Uri Orbach z”l in braces, ready for Tuesdays

Among the photos you can find an illustration by Shai Cherka who was Uri’s study partner, in honour of this day which expresses “in the deepest and most real way the world of “braces” and you can also find a photo of Uri getting into the role of “braces”.

What a beautiful idea of the yeshiva! Kol hakavod to the Rabbis, teachers and students who came up with this wonderful event. I hope it becomes a yearly event in Uri Orbach’s memory.

Since we’re talking about the merry month of Adar, what better item to discuss than wine? Another Israeli winery, this time the Gvaot Boutique Winery, has won the Gold Medal from the International organization of Vine and Wine for two of its wines. Here’s their facebook post in English and Hebrew.

Kol hakavod to Gvaot Winery on their amazing win – and on their marvellous wines for which, I have been assured by people who know (i.e. certain members of my family 🙂 …) that it is a well-deserved win. As an added bonus this win is a kick in the teeth for the BDS bigots.

Coral to be turned into bone grafts

Turning now to the world of bio-medicine, an Israeli company has invented a way to turn coral into bone grafts:

Far from the ocean, deep in Israel’s Negev Desert, man-made coral reefs are being grown inside large aquariums to be turned into bone grafts.

One company, OkCoral, has been growing coral for over six years in the Negev, and now another Israeli company, CoreBone, is manufacturing bone grafts (bone replacements) from coral grown in the desert – for use in orthopedic and dental procedures.

In 2008, Assaf Shaham, the CEO of OkCoral, started growing coral in his controlled-environment farm near Eilat for aquarium enthusiasts. But three years ago, when he partnered with Ohad Schwartz, the CEO and co-founder of another Israeli company called CoreBone, he realized that he’d been targeting the wrong market. According to Schwartz, the bone grafting market is a $4.5 billion market and the best bone graft substance is made out of, you guessed it, coral.

The main problem with using coral as a bone graft is that they are not bioactive. They don’t have the ability to induce biological activities and ‘communicate’ with the cells of the body,” Schwartz, former vice president of Israeli water-filtering company Tami4, tells NoCamels. He further explains that the effect of bioactivity is attracting new bone cells and creating new bone ingrowth.

So, when Schwartz and his partner, Prof. Itzhak Binderman, the former head of the dental department and hard tissue laboratory at the Sourasky Medical Center, founded CoreBone in 2011, they started developing a coral-based, bioactive bone graft. Bioengineering expert Binderman began combining bioactive substances with the coral’s usual diet, so when they are made into bone grafts they contain the qualities of a biological bone graft without the risk of contracting diseases.

Read the rest of the fascinating article.  Kol hakavod to Shaham, Schwartz and Binderman for their research, initiative and their practical application, all for the good of patients everywhere. (And kudos to Shaham for the clever name of his company!) Once again we see Israeli science and research at the top of their fields.

To conclude today’s post, I just want to make note of our crazy weather. Once again it’s been snowing in Jerusalem, the north, Gush Etzion – and even in Dimona in the Negev Desert (as reported by our intrepid reporter, aka my daughter). It has been causing chaos on the roads, schools are closed but Israelis are happy. Except for us down on the coast where it’s been raining, raining, raining and raining.  Did I mention it’s been raining? :-p   We’ve also had huge thunderstorms and hailstorms, and I challenge anyone to say we have a water shortage now!

Here is the Kotel covered in snow:

Snow-covered Kotel

And here is a Moroccan snowman, complete with Tarbush. 🙂

Dimona Snowman

Dimona Snowman

And one final one, of my doggy nephew, i.e. my brother’s dog Chika, enjoying herself  outside Jerusalem:

Chika in the snow

Chika in the snow

Enjoy the pictures.  Keep warm everyone!

Shabbat Shalom and Chodesh Tov!

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6 Responses to Good News Friday

  1. Pete says:

    very nice article! I always enjoy your discussions about daily life in Israel. the coral is very beautiful – I am impressed that people are growing it. I wonder if someone is taking some of that coral and turning it into jewelry?

    as for the weather – YES, big changes in the patterns of rainfall and snow in the world. The discussions about “climate change” in the USA are often very POLITICAL, and usually badly informed. Here in America, climate change has been kicked around like some sort of political football. This is deeply regrettable, and it is an example of a very BAD BYPRODUCT of the US political system. We have politicians, campaign groups and lobbying groups who are very good at “spinning” the issues in our media. This is always accompanied by a blurring of the truth, and a heavy bias in favor of money and profits. Climate Change has suffered from the same sort of thing. While you are getting snow near Jerusalem … we are NOT getting much snow here in California. And that is VERY, VERY bad. California and the Southwest are experiencing a long-term drought. It has been happening for 20 years now, and it may continue for another 30-50 years. It will be an absolute disaster for our cities, power generation, and our forests. Sadly, we needed to take these changes very seriously. But the constant muck-flinging that happens in Washington DC (and state governments) means that many preparations are gridlocked and not properly funded (or enacted). Too bad. The consequences of a “lack of decisions” are expensive and far-reaching.

    But who cares in Israel?? HAHAHA!! Enjoy our snow and have fun with the snowmen!!

    all the best,
    Pete, USA

    • anneinpt says:

      I’m glad you enjoy my Friday articles Pete. I have great fun finding material for them and posting them.

      But snow in California?! I guess that’s how people react when they hear about snow in Israel. I thought California was a hot place. But I suppose in the mountains it’s not that different to Jerusalem. I have heard abotu your water shortage however. Israel has been suffering for years from a water shortage not only from drought (which we had for a few years) but because our population is outstripping our supply. But Israel’s water conservationists and engineers have succeeded in solving the problem by desalination and recycling, so even in dry years we never need fear a water shortage again.

      In fact Israeli water engineers have been teaching southern states of the US some of the tricks of the trade.

      Meanwhile we had another enormous storm last night, rain, hail, thunder, the works. Everything but snow. 😦

  2. Brian Goldfarb says:

    love the pun in the name of okcoral: just hope that, if they have gunfights there, Wyatt Earp and his brothers are around. Don’t want the Clanton’s having it all their own way!

  3. Reality says:

    What a great article! I love the idea of braces on Tuesdays in the yeshiva. There was also a call to throw sweets in shuls (synagogues) this Shabbat in Uri Orbachs memory – after a book he wrote for children, “Perhaps they’ll throw sweets this week on Shabbat”. This refers to any time a groom or Barmitzva boy gets called up to the Torah & sweets are thrown on them & the kids scrabble around the floor picking up the loot! As for the bone graft idea from Coral -that is so brilliant. Maybe they go from strength to strength . But honestly the best bit about the week was that all news of security & upcoming elections took a backseat to the weather! I love the dog in the snow! & Morrocan Snowman!-or is it Turkish! I was MOST put out that no snow fell here! My kids don’t know what snow is! (except for my eldest ones who happened to be in Jerusalem last year when it snowed & they thought they were in heaven!) One year after great protest our council brought truckloads of snow here for kids to play in so they would understand what this stuff is! By the time we got there though it had melted! & I thought only the British always discussed the weather 😉
    Have a warmer week everyone
    Shavua Tov

    • anneinpt says:

      I was thinking about Orbach’s book “Maybe they’ll throw sweets on Shabbat” today in shul as we threw sweets on a new bridegroom. Everyone was thinking the same thought.

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