Good News Friday

After the week that has just gone past it’s very hard to find any good news to write about at all.   However a short scan of the press and social media rarely fails me, so here is another Good News Friday installment.

My first item dates back around 2,000 years ago: An Israeli family living in Jerusalem discovered a 2,000 year old mikve (ritual bath) under their floor when started renovations! (h/t Hadassah):

A two thousand year old ritual bath (mikve) was recently discovered beneath a living room floor during renovations of a private home in the Ein Kerem neighborhood of Jerusalem.

The opening to the ancient mikve in the Shimshoni’s lounge in Ein Kerem

The mikve, fully complete and quite large, is rock-hewn and meticulously plastered according to the Jewish laws of purity. A staircase leads to the bottom of the immersion pool.

Pottery vessels dating to the Second Temple period (first century CE) and traces of fire that might constitute evidence of the Temple’s destruction between 66-70 CE were discovered inside the bath.

In addition, fragments of stone vessels were found. Stone was a common material used during the Second Temple period because it cannot be contaminated and remains pure.

Tal Shimshoni stands in a first century Jewish ritual bath found under his home in Ein Kerem,

On Wednesday, the owners of the house were presented a certificate of appreciation by the Israel Antiquities Authority for exhibiting good citizenship by reporting the discovery of the mikve and thereby contributing to the study of the Land of Israel.

According to Amit Re’em, a Jerusalem District Archaeologist, stressed that “such instances of finding antiquities beneath a private home can happen only in Israel and Jerusalem in particular.”

“Beyond the excitement and the unusual story of the discovery of the mikve, its exposure is of archaeological importance,” Re’em explained. “Ein Kerem is considered a place sacred to Christianity in light of its identification with “a city of Judah” – the place where according to the New Testament, John the Baptist was born and where his pregnant mother Elisabeth met with Mary, mother of Jesus.

“Despite these identifications, the archaeological remains in Ein Kerem and the surrounding area, which are related to the time when these events transpired (the Second Temple period), are few and fragmented.”

“The discovery of the ritual bath reinforces the hypothesis there was a Jewish settlement from the time of the Second Temple located in the region of what is today Ein Kerem.”

The Times of Israel has more on this important archaeological discovery:

Starting in the 6th century, Christians began associating the “town in the hill country of Judea” mentioned in the Book of Luke as the birthplace of John the Baptist, the mentor of Jesus, with Ein Kerem. The village is home to the Catholic Church of St. John the Baptist, dedicated to his birthplace.

“All these events took place 2,000 years ago in the days of the Second Temple [in Jerusalem] but until now we didn’t have archaeological evidence supporting the notion that there was a Jewish community in Ein Kerem” during that period, he said, standing next to the gaping maw of the mikveh in the Shimshonis’ living room.

Previously, archaeological remains in Ein Kerem from that time period were “fragmentary,” limited to a handful of graves, bits of wall, an olive press and a mikveh. “The discovery of this mikveh strengthens the hypothesis that in the area of Ein Kerem today, there was a Second Temple Jewish settlement,” he said.

Oriah Shimshoni, who owns the house with her husband Tal, said they’d bought the home several years ago and, like many of the old Arab houses in Ein Kerem, it required some fixing up.

“We started work, getting rid of layer after layer of flooring and pipes,” she said. “And at some point while the workers were breaking up flooring, the jackhammer disappeared. It just plunged downward.” It had broken through the ancient limestone ceiling of the mikveh.

What a fascinating find! Moreover it goes to prove (as if proof were really needed) that Jerusalem was a Jewish city long before Islam had even been thought of, and of course showing more clearly than ever the Jewish roots of Christianity.

Kol hakavod to the Shimshoni family who resisted the temptation to ignore the find because of the bureaucracy involved, and instead brought in the authorities so that this ancient mikve can take its rightful place in the Jewish history of Jerusalem.

Mankai, the world’s smallest veggie-protein

Moving now back to the present day and Israel’s latest cutting-edge technology, Israeli researchers have managed to develop a sustainable strain of the world’s smallest vegetable protein, Mankai:

Hinoman recently announced its new protein product, Mankai, a vegetable whole-protein ingredient with high nutritional value and rich in vitamins and minerals. The product’s official launch is scheduled for the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), Chicago, July 11-14.

The Mankai plant, a native of Southeast Asia that has been enjoyed in Thailand, Laos and Vietnam for generations, is an aquacultured source of vegetable protein with exceptional nutritional value.

Hinoman’s hydroponic technology enables it to grow the product faster, and in large quantities, without pesticides, while guaranteeing a high protein content of at least 45 percent by dry weight.

“All the protein parameters are high in Mankai,” says Ron Salpeter, CEO for Hinoman. “With its high PDCAAS rate of digestibility—0.89—it is more potent than super vegetables, such as spinach, spirulina and kale. Mankai has a light vegetal flavor, superior to algae-derived ingredients in the market.”

Mankai is the world’s smallest vegetable—0.5 mm (less than 1/5 inch). Due to its small particle size, it can be easily added in its natural form to food or beverages.

The Hinoman team invested eight years in research and development to create the sustainable strain and cultivation method for year-round harvest of the Mankai super vegetable.

Kol hakavod to the Hinoman team for their ingenuity and resourcefulness in developing such a useful food for the benefit of all mankind. (I just hope it tastes nice…)

To conclude this week’s slightly shorter post, here are a couple of family announcements.

Firstly, we are just delighted to be welcoming my cousin Suzanne and her family who will be making Aliya this Tuesday!  They have been talking of Aliya for ages, but we never thought the actual day would arrive. 🙂  We are so excited to see them, and there will be a large, very noisy family contingent (including yours truly) waiting at Ben Gurion Airport to meet them.

Suzanne, look out for the balloons! (We haven’t yet decided on the marching band… 😛  )

Noa's batmitzvahAnd finally, yesterday we celebrated the Batmitzvah of our eldest granddaughter Noa. It was a very moving occasion for all of us: for us as her grandparents (I remember her mother’s Batmitzvah so clearly. Surely it was only yesterday?!), for my parents and in-laws who had the privilege of seeing their great-granddaughter celebrate, and of course for Noa’s parents, her siblings, and the entire community.

We wish Noa all the blessings that can be bestowed on a Batmitzvah girl: that she should grow in her faith and mitzvot; that she should enjoy continued success in school, good health, happiness, and success in all that she does.

Mazal Tov! 

Wishing Shabbat Shalom to all my readers.

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