Good News Friday – and Happy New Year 2016!

Since New Year’s day coincides with Friday this year, it seems all the more appropriate to write a Good News Friday installment to start the year on the right foot.

Let’s start with a real feel-good story, almost miraculous in nature. (h/t Hadassah):

The story (with first names only), which can also be read in Arutz Sheva (Hebrew only) is about Daniel, a young Israeli man, who was very seriously injured in a terrorist attack in Tel Aviv last year. At that time, Talia, a young Israeli woman, was given Daniel’s name to pray for his recovery. (It is common practice amongst the religious to pass around lists of names of the sick or wounded to pray for their recovery). Daniel began his slow road to recovery, despite losing a kidney, and asked to meet the person who had prayed for him. In a fairy-tale happy ending, Daniel and Talia got married this week.

Heartiest Mazal tov to the young couple, and kol hakavod to both of them for not giving up in the face of hardship and sickness. Truly we see Hashem’s hand in guiding this young couple towards the Chupa. May they continue to build their home in Israel and enjoy continued blessings throughout their life!

Since it’s out with the old year and in with the new, it’s time for some interesting statistics.

This year Israel saw the highest aliya figures in a decade!

Over 30,000 people made aliyah to Israel in 2015, the highest number in over a decade.

Statistics published by the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption and the Jewish Agency on Tuesday showed an increase in aliyah of around 10 percent from 2014 and the highest number of arrivals since the 2003 peak in immigration.

The biggest proportion of olim came from France, with around 7,900 French immigrants arriving in Israel in 2015. This is the second time that France has topped the list of countries of origin for olim, a fact attributed in part to a string of terror attacks that have recently hit the country.

Aliyah from Ukraine has also increased once again, with 7,000 olim arriving from the troubled country – a rise of around 15 percent from 2014 and around 230 percent from 2013.

A further 6,600 immigrants arrived from Russia. In total, the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption and the Jewish Agency recorded 15,000 arrivals from eastern European countries, a 25 percent increase from to 2014.

Welcoming reception for new immigrants

Meanwhile, around 9,330 olim arrived from Western Europe, a six percent increase on 2014’s figure. A slight decrease in aliyah from the US was registered, with 3,768 arrivals in 2015 compared to 3,871 the year before.

Tel Aviv proved the most popular destination for new immigrants, with 3,620 olim making their way to the central Israeli city. Close behind Tel Aviv were Netanya, Jerusalem and Haifa.

[…]  Minister for Aliyah and Absorption Ze’ev Elkin said that the figures show Israel has a “wonderful window of opportunity.”“While we were all busy with day-to-day problems in Israel, we didn’t pay attention to the most meaningful event this year: the number of olim crossing the 30,000 mark for the first time in more than a decade,” Elkin added.

“The number of immigrants has increased by 50 percent in the last two years and the year hasn’t even finished.

We’ll allow Minister Elkin some poetic license since the year was all but finished when he said those words.   🙂   Nevertheless it is indeed wonderful news for Israel and for the Jewish People as a whole to see these figures. When you take into account the current volatile security situation in Israel it is even more heartening to realize that Jews want to come home no matter the situation.

Bruchim Ha’baim! Welcome to all the new immigrants! May you have an easy absorption and a successful future in your new-old homeland.

Amongst those new immigrants this year was the oldest couple to ever make aliya  – both of them in their 90s!

Phillip and Dorothy Grossman, ages 95 and 93, respectively, are probably the oldest married couple ever to immigrate to Israel.

couple

Phillip and Dorothy Grossman, the oldest olim to Israel

The couple from Baltimore, Maryland, who have been together for 71 years, were greeted at the airport by their family and immediately taken to their new home in Jerusalem.

“Phillip and Dorothy are probably the oldest olim couple that the State of Israel has ever absorbed, and they are proof that it is never too late to fulfill your dream and make such a significant decision in life,” said Erez Halfon, vice chairman of Nefesh B’Nefesh, a group that facilitates Jewish immigration to Israel. “We congratulate them and wish them many more years of health and happiness living together with their family in Israel.”

The Jewish Agency for Israel and the Immigrant Absorption Ministry also assisted in organizing their flight.

Before he retired, Philip Grossman earned a living as an accountant, while Dorothy was a housewife. They have three children – one already living in Israel and a second child who will make aliya in the summer – five grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.

“We love Israel and we are very excited about our aliya,” said Dorothy Grossman. “We are also extremely happy that we can live close to all our family in Israel.”

Yosef Segel, their 22-year-old great-grandchild, was one of those who was waiting for them at the airport.

The yeshiva student said he felt blessed to have greatgrandparents, and that his great-grandfather was relatively tech-savvy for his age.

“He doesn’t have a Facebook account but he does a lot of work on the computer writing letters,” he said.

That is just astounding! To think that this grown young man has great-grandparents still living and in good health is a rare blessing. That this elderly couple have lived long enough to finally make it to Israel and join their family is a double blessing! May the family continue to grow and enjoy the addition of the eldest generation to their circle.

Peter Rosenbluth’s e-book on volunteering for the IDF

Not only immigrants contribute to Israeli society. A less-recognized path for many young Diaspora Jews is to volunteer in the IDF for about a year. One such volunteer, Peter Rosenbluth, has written an e-book, The IDF Volunteer: How to join the Israeli Army, which is can be purchased on Amazon. He was interviewed by the IsraelSeen blog about his service and his book:

Peter tell us briefly about your experience volunteering in the Israel Defense Forces aka the Israeli Army?

It was awesome. As a diaspora Jew living in exile in Europe, I can tell you, it is an amazing feeling! You are living in the Land of Israel where so many important historical events transpired and you are among your brothers-in-arms and sisters-in-arms. You work together with regular Israeli soldiers. This is what others could only dream about. I learned many new things and made eternal friendships with both fellow Jews and non-Jews.

What was your motivation? What inspired you to volunteer for the IDF?

I am a Zionist and a direct descendant of Holocaust survivors and it motivated me to contribute to our ancient homeland where our forefathers fought against Roman invasions and occupations for hundreds of years from 66 C.E. through the 500s C.E. Of course, we fought and lost when the Arabians invaded and conquered the land of Israel in the 600s C.E. soon after the restablishement of our last automonous goverment until the early 1900s.

So, this is significant. We need to give thanks that we have liberated part of the Land which, in fact, international law served that end, to end the foreign occupation of the Land of Israel, which includes Judea and Samaria in the early 1900s. If anyone harbors any doubts, please refer to a map of the Mandate. We,only, have one homeland. I believe that we have a responsibility to contribute to it.

Peter Rosenbluth during his IDF service

Why did you write this book, “The IDF Volunteer”?

When I and others volunteered we faced many difficulties and I wanted to provide a guide how volunteers can prepare better, and to let them know about army life in an IDF base. Besides I want to encourage young Jews to serve. Of course there are books about IDF service men, but they are more like biography, while my book is not my personal story, but the army application process based on my own experience.

Peter continues his altruism by offering to donate a portion of the profits from the sale of the e-book for the benefit of lone soldiers:

What is this about you donating to the lone soldiers?

This is very important to be able to continue helping lone soldiers. These wonderful young men and women left their families behind just to help us. They not only serve for Israel, but for all of us Jewish people. Think of the Holocaust at a time when the Jewish state was not established yet. These soldiers deserve all the respect so we decided to show positive example and donate a percantage of every sale through Payhip.

Kol hakavod to Peter Rosenbluth, both on his service and on his book. I’m sure you all join me in thanking him for his service and in wishing him success with his book, and continued success in the future. May he continue too to be an eloquent goodwill ambassador for Israel.

How could I write a New Year’s post without a survey of the 10 coolest Israeli startups of 2015? Here are a few mentions from No Camels’ list – several of whose items I have blogged about in previous Friday posts:

Last summer, Prof. Hossam Haick of the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology introduced a device that can sense disease on the breath, much like a breathalyzer test. What he calls the SniffPhone uses nanotechnology sensors to analyze the particles on the breath and is able to pinpoint exact diseases, including certain kinds of cancer.[…]

ZUtA‘s pocket printer is a teardrop-shaped robot printer that can be placed on any page and scurries back-and-forth, printing as it goes along. Instead of having the paper feed through the printer in order to print, the small robot runs on the paper and prints while doing so. […]

Israeli startup Pixie promises to put an end to the days of frantically searching for missing valuables when you need them most. Pixie’s technology uses a Location-of-Things platform to derive the precise location of our valuables at all times – taking a step beyond typical Internet-of-Things platforms that connect objects to the Internet, but cannot always locate their whereabouts. […]

G-RO, the ‘smart’ carry-on that charges your phone and laptop on the go, was a huge success on crow-funding platform Kickstarter in 2015. Raising more than $660,000 in just a few says – and over $3.3 million in a course of one month – this slick suitcase could very well be the world’s coolest piece of luggage. […]

Another successful crowd-funding campaign this past year was that of HomeBioGas. Its newly developed biodigester turns organic waste into fertilizers and biofuel for cooking. From six liters of food waste or 15 liters of animal manure, this solar-powered system can produce enough biofuel for at least three hours of cooking.

As has been said innumerable times by wiser people than me – let the BDS bullies try to boycott that! The vast number of Israeli innovations really puts paid to the idea of any kind of boycott of Israel – unless you want to live in the Stone Age.

And now to conclude this week’s post, just watch this fabulous video (via Israeli Side) about Israel.  I guarantee it will leave you with a smile on your face!

Happy New Year to all those celebrating. May 2016 be a year of peace, good health, prosperity and happiness for all of us.

Shabbat shalom everyone!

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2 Responses to Good News Friday – and Happy New Year 2016!

  1. Yves P. says:

    Happy New Year to you Ann.
    Thanks for theses great Good News Friday, in the last few months I became addicted to them. Every week I read them with delight, they are my window to the Jewish world. And Happy New Year to all the Jews of the land, it is each one of you who make the small Israel such a great country.

    • anneinpt says:

      Thank you so much for your very kind words Yves. I’m so glad you like my Friday posts. I really enjoy writing them too!

      Thank you for your beautiful good wishes for us, and I send the same to you.

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