Good News Friday – Shabbat Chanukah edition

It’s that time of the week again, and this being the eve of Shabbat Channukah as well as erev Rosh Chodesh (the start of the month of) Tevet, a big dose of good news is just what we need. With that in mind, here is this week’s Good News Friday edition.

Despite the fact that Chanukah centers around fire, flames and oil, my first items are about water! (via Arlene Kushner):

Israeli startup company Lishtot has developed the TeStraw: a personal water-purity testing device:

Jerusalem-based startup Lishtot won a place on CNBC’s list of the 20 hottest startups of 2015 for its inexpensive, reusable green light/red light device that takes about two seconds to tell you if water is pure or contaminated.

TeStraw, the personal water purity testing device

“Lishtot products identify changes in water electromagnetic properties resulting from the presence of problematic materials in drinking water. Its TeStraw is a personal water-testing device that will allow anybody, from Manhattan to Kathmandu, to check their water for drinkability,” reads the entry.

This is simply brilliant and I’m sure will become a vital necessity for world travellers who can’t always be sure about the quality of the water they’re drinking.

Another Israeli company, Ayala Water * Ecology, has developed a waste-water purification system using only plants!

Unleashing the power of plants to purify wastewater — without pipes, pumps or anything else manmade — has proven a winning proposition for Israel’s Ayala Water & Ecology for the past 26 years.

Graywater from a Tel Aviv apartment house is treated for reuse in this Ayala landscape element on the grounds.

Ayala’s phytoremediation systems are built into the landscaping at hundreds of industrial, residential, agricultural and recreational sites in Israel, India, Chile, Mexico, France, Germany, Greece, Singapore, the United States and Canada, with future projects planned for the Philippines and the United Kingdom.

<…> CEO and founder Eli Cohen tells ISRAEL21c that many of the visitors seeking information on using plants to clean water came from California, where a severe drought has spurred intense interest in Israeli water technologies.

<…> We call it ‘active landscaping.’ You can treat your own sewage in the park or garden and use the purified water to irrigate,” says Cohen. “You can produce high-quality water from nature if you create the right environment of plants, gravel and soil, and special natural additives for specific problems such as heavy metals and radioactive elements. If you do it in a natural way, it can last forever.”

Where would the world be without Israel’s brilliant researchers, scientists and developers?

Next we move to the world of natural gas. Well… gas… flames… Chanukah… get the connection? 🙂

Gas rigs in the Tamar oil field

Two quite startling items caught my attention, both related to Egypt and natural gas. The first item is from last week. The background is the raging political debate in Israel about what to do with our natural gas bonanza and how to make the most of it economically while preventing the gas companies from forming a cartel. There were those who worried that while Israelis were debating the Egyptians would simply find themselves another source of gas.

However, an Egyptian company has said it wants Israeli gas as soon as possible:

An official at Egypt’s Dolphinus Holdings told Channel 2 news that the company is seeking to become a major player in the gas market and is interested in buying around 6 billion cubic meters of natural gas from Israel in the coming years.

Currently, the Tamar gas field’s single pipeline to the Israeli coast is the country’s only source of natural gas, and development of the remaining fields has stalled over regulatory troubles.

The Leviathan find, thought to contain 18.9 trillion cubic feet (535 billion cubic meters) of gas, is considered a gold mine for the state, turning it into a potential major natural gas supplier and providing hundreds of billions of shekels for state coffers, according to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

That is the first part of the good news. The second part is that an international arbitrator has decreed that Egypt has to pay Israel’s electric company $1.76 billion in damages for halting their natural gas supplies to Israel in recent years:

Egypt stopped selling natural gas to Israel in 2012 after months of attacks on a pipeline by militants in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. The Israeli electric company sued the Egyptian providers EGPC and EGAS for $4 billion in damages. The company said it suffered heavy damages after gas supplies were halted and that it was forced to buy more expensive fuel to generate electricity, raising its costs

The very fact that an international body found in favour of Israel is already good news. The added bonus that Egypt, which still holds to a cold peace (although it is warming up in places)  will compensate Israel is more or less unheard of in these parts and is quite extraordinary.

And so from water to gas we finally move to the topic of the day: Chanukah (with as many n’s and k’s as you wish. 😀   )

Yaron Bob, an enterprising Sderot artist, has turned terror into art, forming the missiles that have bombarded Sderot, into sources of light: Chanukiyot – Sderot Menorahs.

As Hamas rockets exploded in Israeli towns in the summer of 2014, blackening the sky and darkening the spirit, an Israeli artist was working hard to brighten up the atmosphere with sparks of light. He has turned the darkness of terror into a source of light – in a very literal way!

Yaron Bob, the artist, lives in southern Israeli village near the border with Gaza. Yaron takes the remains of Kassam rockets and transforms them into beautiful Menorahs. In his words, “I take the Kassam, the instrument of death and I change it, I transfer it into something of beauty.” Yaron’s project is truly a modern-day version of “beating swords into plowshares” (Isaiah 2:4). The idea of turning a symbol of terror into a source of light is especially appropriate during the time of Hanukkah – the Festival of Lights – whose message is all about the victory of light over darkness.

Watch his video:

Do you still have a dry eye? What an inspiring man!

Over the week we’ve heard of candle-lightings taking place all over the world. This has become almost routine nowadays though up till very recently this was unheard of. Chabad are owed a huge debt of thanks for making this possible. Just stop and consider this photo for one small example:

One of the unexpected sites of candle lighting was in Hong Kong (thanks Amy C).


The other even more unusual candle-lighting took place in an Arab country, Bahrain to be precise!

Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa held a meeting at his royal palace in the capital city of Manama this week, welcoming representatives of the various religions.

Representing the Jewish people was Rabbi Moshe Levin, director of the Conference of European Rabbis who was invited by Al Khalifa and was received with an exceptionally warm welcome.

The rabbi lit the Hanukkah candles at Manama’s synagogue on Monday night for the second night of the holiday, together with the roughly 50 Jewish congregants. Many Muslim neighbors came to witness the ceremony, as did representatives of the royal house and the parliament.


“The call to war against terror needs to come from the leaders of all the religions as one,” said the King of Bahrain while welcoming his guests.

“Here in Bahrain members of all the religions live with no fear, and we will continue to allow Jews to live peacefully and quietly, maintaining their lifestyle, their customs and the commandments of their religion without any fear.”

Rabbi Levin was seated next to the king as an open sign of recognition during the special interfaith meeting that was held, in which the various representatives called for a war against terrorism and for true peace between the nations. Only a few dozen Jews live in the gulf kingdom.

The rabbi told the king that the Jewish people are now celebrating the holiday of Hanukkah, which seeks to increase light in the world, and explained that in Judaism there is a concept: “a little light drives off a lot of darkness.”

“Bahrain under your rule is a little light in a dark world of radical fundamentalism,” Rabbi Levin praised the king.

The Rabbi may have gone a bit overboard in praising the king, but this story real is very encouraging considering the anti-normalization attitudes in Arab countries, not to mention their built-in antisemitism.  Watch the video:

For the lighter side of Chanukah, here is a cute, a capella rendering of the Chanukah blessing on lighting the Menorah (h/t Hadassah):


And for you Mattisyahu fans out there, here is his latest Happy Chanukah song for you to bounce along to. 🙂

Shabbat Shalom! Chanukah Same’ach! Chodesh Tov!

May this triply blessed Shabbat bring us a triple load of blessings and good news this coming week.

שבת שלום! חודש טוב! חג אורים שמח!

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1 Response to Good News Friday – Shabbat Chanukah edition

  1. Reality says:

    What a fabulous post.I love all those clips too.
    Thank youShabbat Shalom ,Chanuka Sameach,ve Chodesh tov umevurach

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