Good News Friday

After the roller-coaster week that we’ve just gone through, I feel the need to post a Good News Friday installment to ease our ragged nerves! 🙂

Solar eclipse 20th March 2015. Picture taken from space

Solar eclipse 20th March 2015. Picture taken from space

First, a sign from the Heavens!  A solar eclipse took place a couple of hours ago, around midday Israel time, although it was barely felt since only 6-8% of the sun was covered. I went down to our carpark with my very own highly sophisticated, state of the art “eclipse projector”: 2 pieces of paper. 😀

Actually, I had 2 pieces of paper: one with a pinhole cut through it, and another piece of paper held underneath to view the sun’s eclipse. At its height the eclipse resembled the Apple logo (an apple with a bite taken out) but it was so small it was hard to detect unless you were looking for it – which I was. There are those who think this is a bad sign for the nations and/or Israel, and those who think it is good.  Similarly a “blood moon” – a full eclipse of the moon, when it appears reddish and blood-like – is to take place on Seder night in 2 weeks’ time, and there are similar omens or good forecasts. The Times of Israel has a good round-up of the varying religious opinions.  I received the picture accompanying this item from my brother. (No, he did not travel to space himself!)

From the heights of the Heavens to the depths of the earth, here is a beautiful, bittersweet story about a man who needed a minyan to say Kaddish for his late wife. An Israeli website heard about his dilemma and posted the story on Facebook. The result: Beautiful Israel in all its glory. The cemetery was flooded with people who came to help the bereaved man mark his wife’s yahrzeit.

מי כעמך ישראל! Who are like Your people Israel!

Fix your car using Engie

And now, in another 180° shift from the sublime to the material, you could hardly find something more earthly than car maintenance! A new Israeli app, Engie, has been designed to take the stress out of fixing your car:

Have you ever suspected, like most of us do, that you might be overcharged by your car repair shop? A new car maintenance app that detects car problems – and the exact cost to repair them – could save car owners hundreds of dollars. Engie, a smartphone application launched in Israel last year, is hoping to disrupt an industry that has barely changed over the past century: auto repair shops.

The app is connected to the on-board car computer, and sends the owner notifications about issues and problems. The owner can then get price quotes from mechanics in his or her area. After identifying the problem, the application invites nearby auto repair shops to bid for the repair job. CEO Yarden Gross tells NoCamels that Engie’s app can detect 60-70 percent of auto problems. Ultimately, Engie founders want to create an empowered driving community, one that would shop around for the best price through their app.

Launched in December 2014, six weeks later the app had over 17,000 users. Engie’s service, which works with a bluetooth-enabled, on-board diagnostics device (which is separate from the app), interprets the codes from the car computer to inform the driver about everything from engine problems to maintenance updates to their true gas mileage. Engie provides users with the device for free, charging $5 for the shipping.

I think this is absolutely brilliant! Unless you know something about car maintenance, or have an excellent garage and a good relationship with the mechanics you can never be sure you aren’t being ripped off, or simply not getting a good repair job. Judging by the huge and rapid success this app has received it is going to prove highly popular. I might even get one myself. Kol hakavod to CEO Yarden Gross and his colleagues Gal Aharon and Alon Hendelman. May they continue growing from strength to strength.

Rosh Chodesh Nissan, the 1st of Nissan

Returning to this post’s starting point: the moon and the Heavens – tomorrow is Rosh Chodesh Nissan, the 1st of the month of Nissan, which according to the Torah is “the first of the months”:

הַחֹדֶשׁ הַזֶּה לָכֶם רֹאשׁ חֳדָשִׁים, רִאשׁוֹן הוּא לָכֶם לְחָדְשֵׁי הַשָּׁנָה

“This month shall be for you the head of the months, the first of the months of the year for you”. (Exodus, 12:2)

We will read this chapter as an extra Torah portion in shul tomorrow as it marks the beginning of our preparations for Pesach (Passover) in 2 weeks’ time.  As the first of all the months it is also a Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year) of sorts, one of 4 in the Jewish calendar. The 1st of Nissan is the Rosh Hashana for Kings, the day from which the years of their reign are counted.  How appropriate then that this week marks the beginning of a new “reign” – even if it is the same Prime Minister (or “King” in Biblical terms).  The news of the victory of Binyamin Netanyahu, the Likud and the Right in the Israeli Elections is of course excellent, but much hard work lies ahead for all of us.

On this Rosh Hashana for Kings, may Hashem grant that our new government be formed without delay, may it be populated with wise and generous souls, may Hashem grant them the wisdom and the courage to make the right decisions for the country and the people of Israel, and may He help us to heal the rifts in our society.

On that hopeful note, I wish you all Shabbat Shalom and Chodesh Tov.

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8 Responses to Good News Friday

  1. Reality says:

    Amen. What a lovely thought that at the begiining of this new month our leader(definitely not a king!!) will bring about a new govt. A lovely post as always ,soothing after this fraught week. May the new month bring us good tidings, new growth , spiritually and economically. May Hashem give our new & old leaders wisdom & courage to stand up to our foes:
    ובכל דוד ודור עומדים עלינו לכלותינו
    In every generation arises up an enemy out to destroy us, but G-d takes care of us, and helps us to destroy them.
    This we will repeat at our seder tables in 2 weeks on Pesach
    Shabbat Shalom

  2. Pete says:

    Anne

    I hate to introduce a negative thought on Good News Friday. One of the things that I admire about you and your blog – is your commitment to emphasizing the good news in the world.

    However, the recent exchanges between the White House and PM Netanyahu have taken a very serious turn. I cannot accept the interpretation that this is simply a “cold wind blowing between Jerusalem and Washington DC”. I really do think it is more aptly described as … US-Israel relations falling off a cliff. Or at least, Obama-Netanyahu relations taking a nosedive.

    I have seen many commentaries in the US news. They are rather myopic viewpoints. It seems to me that when Bibi made the address to Congress, this was his last major attempt to try to adjust the Iran negotiations so the outcome was “more favorable” in his eyes. Clearly, this was a failure … the Obama-Kerry camp has rejected Bibi’s overture.

    Bibi’s response, to cancel the Two-State solution for the Palestinians, is a major broadside into the political hopes of Pres. Obama. This move really shoots down everything that Pres. Obama has been working for in the ME since he started his presidency. The US response – that America will no longer support Israel at the UN … is also a major shift.

    Things have fallen off a cliff. I wont be at all surprised to see a sharp curtailment in other areas of mutual cooperation between the USA and Washington DC.

    I did say here on your blog – before Bibi went to Washington. His speech was likely to have serious negative ramificiations … unless the purpose was clearly though out. Those ramifications have arrived!

    Pete, USA

    • anneinpt says:

      I agree that relations between Israel and the US are “falling off a cliff”, but I would rather phrase it as “Obama is pushing Israel-US relations off a cliff”. Israel has extremely strong bipartisan support – i.e. from BOTH parties in Congress and in the American people in general. It is Obama and his small coterie fo hangers-on who are creating all the tension and magnifying it.

      I’m going to write about this in another post coming up in the next couple of hours, but I just want to emphasise that Bibi’s speech to congress was not a cause of the tension but a symptom of it, in the light of Obama’s utter disregard of Israel’s security needs, indeed of America’s security needs. Why, even the FRENCH are objecting to the Iran deal now!!

      Re Bibi’s “cancellation” of the two-state solution, he wasn’t declaring he will never approve of it. He was simply stating a fact that it’s not going to happen on his watch for the simple reason that circumstances do not allow it at this moment. What Obama and his mates should have done was look at Bibi’s statement objectively and see that it is indeed true. Who the hell is Israel going to make peace with?? Who the hell is Israel going to hand over valuable strategic ground to? To Hamas? To ISIS? Because that is what a two state solution in the current constellation is going to look like. No sane responsible leader would agree to do this, and SHAME on Obama for demanding that Bibi do such a thing.SHAME on Obama for hinting he won’t back Israel on the UN.

      Excuse my rant, but I’m letting you know loud and clear how I feel and how many Israelis feel so that you’re not operating under any illusions.

      I’M FURIOUS!!

      • Pete says:

        Anne – thanks for the honest feedback. No I’m not worried personally. But if US-Israel relations don’t fall off a cliff, they are certainly at a major lowpoint.

        I notice that Bibi is trying to downplay some of the differences in the media this weekend. But I’m not sure that it is credible. There is clearly a major change that has occurred. Bibi’s relationship with Pres. Obama reminds me of “the man who wants to divorce his wife – but he cannot afford to move out of the house”. HAHAHA!!!

        Although Jerusalem and Washington DC are trying to “control the media” on the new public spat, I cannot help but feel that this will impact cooperation between America and Israel. That is pure personal speculation – I could be completely wrong. I have no sources to back up that impression.

        But there is definitely an icy chill in the air now.

        Pete, USA

        • anneinpt says:

          Pete, thank you for your forbearance in tolerating my rants. 🙂

          I just feel the need to make things totally clear. Bibi didn’t “recant” the 2-state solution, as I said above, and he certainly didn’t make the statement in reaction to Obama’s rejection of his Congress speech. He said it in the framework of an election campaign and was an appeal to rally his supporters. And as I said, it didn’t state anything new, just clarified his position and Israel’s position at this moment.

          You’re right that Bibi is trying to downplay his comments now, but you’ll note that the White House certainly are not. In fact they’re inflaming the media frenzy by constant leaks, “anonymous” quotes and interviews, and spokesmen reiterating that the White House needs to “reassess” its relationship.

          The icy chill is going from West to East only.

          I’ve got a new post going up in a couple of hours on this subject.

  3. Pete says:

    Ooops … send=to-last paragraph should have said … Things have fallen off a cliff. I wont be at all surprised to see a sharp curtailment in other areas of mutual cooperation between the Israel and Washington DC.

  4. Paddy O'p says:

    All Jews throughout the world know that Obama is a Muslem, and is a jewhater from way back. Do you remember how he treated Bibi when he went to visit him in the White House and then left him
    Sitting there alone while he went to have hi dinner ? Is that the way one treats a visitor, especially one who is a Prime Minister of a friendly and allied country ? The man has no decency and certainly lacks good upbringing – hardly surprising for a Muslim. He hates Jews and particularly Israel . Yet he doesn’t seem to realize that Israel as a strategic partner is worth more than stationing an aircraft carrier in the Med that provides all the info that the U.S. needs for evaluating
    The risks and dangers for America in this volatile part of the world. He really needs his brains examined if he were to throw Israel off the cliff !

    • anneinpt says:

      I actually don’t think it’s important whether Obama is Muslim or not. He may have been brought up as one but he attended church as an adult – an antisemitic church led by Rev Jeremiah White.

      We can agree he’s an antisemite and that’s quite enough.

      I think he realizes Israel’s value very well but prefers the company of Iran and other extremists. I think he’s anti-West, and not just anti-Israel or anti-Jews.

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