Good News Thursday – pre-Pesach edition

Since tomorrow is erev Pesach, I won’t be posting my usual Good News Friday installment. Instead I decided to give you a pre-Pesach boost today with a slightly earlier Good News post.

My first item is a delightful article by Adele Raemer in the Times of Israel (h/t Brian Goldfarb). Besides being an unofficial spokesman for Israeli residents of the Gaza border area, Adele is also a medical clown. “It’s all about the nose” tells us of some of her experiences in Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon:

Yesterday, however, with school out for the Passover vacation, I had spent the morning working from home. There was no need to get dressed in the hospital, so, instead, I made the 45-minute drive to Ashkelon already kitted up and decked out in my clown attire: the striped underwear-cum-hat, rosy-sparkly cheeks and recycled shiny nightgown from our second-hand store, my uniform since starting medical clowning, five years ago. The drive was eventless. Nobody really looks at who’s driving the car they pass. However, upon my arrival at the hospital parking lot, I donned the humongous clown shoes and finally, the pièce de résistance: the red nose…and presto! Magic!

The woman in the wheelchair with the plastic tube sticking out of her nose waves me over to wish me a Happy Passover.

…The Ethiopian cleaning woman with the huge gaps between her teeth who rarely smiles, usually, sees me and laughs. She gives me a big hug, kisses me on both cheeks and asks where I’d been (being really busy lately, I’d not gotten there for a while).

A mature Arab woman, apparently accompanying her daughter and baby granddaughter, with whom I have no language in common, waddles after me, asking me in mime to blow soap bubble balloons at her. The language of smiles and silliness transverses communication barriers.

This is such a beautiful feel-good story, I challenge you not to be grinning soppily by the end. Kol hakavod Adele, you are one of the best that Israel has to offer! Long may you continue clowning and making the sick feel better – one of the most important mitzvot that we have.

My next item is from Israel’s fascinating archelogical past: A recent discovery shows that Judea was a leading glass producer during the Roman Empire:

The oldest glass kilns ever discovered in Israel were unearthed at the foot of Mount Carmel near Haifa – exposing an ancient, global glass-production center which serviced the entire Roman Empire.

The extraordinary archaeological discovery was revealed during an Israel Antiquities Authority excavation prior to the construction of a road being built at the initiative of the Netivei Israel Company. During the excavation, carried out as part of the Jezreel Valley Railway Project between Ha-‘Emekim Junction and Yagur Junction, remains of the oldest kilns in Israel were discovered, where commercial quantities of raw glass were produced.

Fragments of glass found at the site

These kilns are roughly 1,600 years old (dating to the Late Roman period), and indicate that the Land of Israel was one of the foremost centers for glass production in the ancient world.

The excavation of the kilns has caused great excitement in recent weeks among glass researchers throughout the world, some of whom have come especially to Israel in order to see this discovery first hand.

Professor Ian Freestone of the University College London, who specializes in identifying the chemical composition of glass, described the find as “a sensational discovery.”

“It is of great significance for understanding the entire system of the glass trade in antiquity,” Freestone said. “This is evidence that Israel constituted a production center on an international scale; hence its glassware was widely distributed throughout the Mediterranean and Europe.”

It was a sharp-eyed building inspector who spotted this unusual discovery:

This enormously important site was discovered by chance last summer by archaeologist Abdel Al-Salam Sa‘id, an inspector with the Israel Antiquities Authority. While overseeing infrastructure work being conducted on the new railway line from Haifa to the east, Sa’id suddenly observed chunks of glass, a floor and an ash layer inside a trench. He immediately halted construction work at the site and began preparations for an archaeological excavation, the important results of which are now evident.

According to Sa‘id, “We exposed fragments of floors, pieces of vitrified bricks from the walls and ceiling of the kilns, and clean raw glass chips. We were absolutely overwhelmed with excitement when we understood the great significance of the find.”

According to a price edict circulated by the Roman emperor Diocletian in the early fourth century CE, there were two kinds of glass: the first was known as Judean glass (from the Land of Israel) and the second was Alexandrian glass (from Alexandria, Egypt). Judean glass was a light green color and less expensive than Egyptian glass. The question was: Where were the centers that manufactured this Judean glass that was a branded product known throughout the Roman Empire, and whose price was engraved on stone tablets so as to ensure fair trade?

The current discovery completes the missing link in the research and indicates the location where the famous Judean glass was produced.

Who needs oil when you can produce such beautiful things from the simple sand at the seashore? Kol hakavod to Abdel al-Salam Sa’id on his perceptiveness, and to all the archeologists involved in digging up these priceless artifacts.  Watch the video here:

And now, back in the present day, could we be any prouder of our little country? Israel has once again sent aid workers and relief supplies to Japan and Ecuador, both of whom suffered devastating earthquakes in the last few days:

Israeli volunteers have joined the rescue efforts in Japan and Ecuador following devastating earthquakes that have resulted in hundreds of deaths and widespread damage throughout both countries.

The Israeli humanitarian aid organization IsraAID says that its delegation in southern Japan is helping to distribute much-needed supplies in the affected communities.

IsrAid volunteers distribute food to Japanese earthquake survivors

Around 180,000 people are in temporary shelters after two powerful earthquakes rocked Japan on Thursday and Friday, causing huge damage to roads, bridges, and tunnels. The tremors also caused dangerous landslides. Japanese media reports say more than 62,000 homes remain without electricity and 300,000 homes have no water.

IsraAID’s Japan team is the only foreign organization still on the ground after arriving in March 2011 to provide assistance in the wake of that year’s devastating tsunami. That meant that its volunteers and workers were ready and able to arrive on Sunday in the worst-affected areas to offer emergency assistance.

Meanwhile, IsraAID says that it is “aiming to send a team to assist with emergency efforts in Ecuador.” According to reports, the Israeli team will offer medical treatment, psycho-social outreach and child resources in Ecuadorian affected regions.

The Jerusalem Post adds:

Meanwhile, an IsraAID team was expected to leave Sunday night to assist with emergency efforts in Ecuador after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake ravaged the Andean country, killing at least 272 people.

The Israeli team in Ecuador was prepared to offer medical treatment, psycho-social outreach and child resources.

Kol hakavod once again to IsrAid and all its volunteers and organizers for coming to the rescue to countries so far away, and furthermore, for being first on the scene and the most advanced and organized. It’s good to be able to to repay our friends with kindness, and even better that they can bring such a Kiddush Hashem. May we always be able to be the givers and not have to receive.

I wish comfort and a speedy recovery to the bereaved and injured in both quakes.

And for a final piece, leading us into Pesach, here is a lovely heart-warming story about a surprise organized by President Rivlin’s wife for some lone soldiers in the IDF:

Nehama Rivlin, the wife of President Reuven Rivlin, held a special meeting Wednesday in honor of Passover with five female lone soldiers, in which she recognized their sacrifices in making Aliyah and enlisting in the IDF to defend Israel even as their parents remain abroad.

But Rivlin had a special surprise planned for the five soldiers, as she caught them totally off guard by bringing in their parents who had arrived from abroad to celebrate Passover with them without their knowing.

Nechama Rivlin and the lone soldiers whose parents arrived on a surprise visit

Those taking part in the meeting were Levana Biton who made Aliyah from France and serves in the Combat Intelligence Collection Corps; Chaya Winterfall who immigrated from Canada to serve as a combat medic; Elisheva Rubinstein from Holland who serves as a course commander; Tal Duber of Florida who serves as a combat soldier in the Arayot Hayarden battalion; and Yael Tzubra of Sweden who serves training combat soldiers at Michve Alon.

“This is an opportunity to say a great thank you to all the female and male IDF soldiers for all of your self-sacrifice,” said Rivliln. “I thought of a way to do something for you, and we arranged a little surprise for you all in honor of the holiday.”

Lone soldiers get a Pesach surprise from Mrs. Rivlin

Suddenly a door opened and the soldiers’ parents came in to their great surprise and delight, after such a long time spent apart. They rushed to embrace their father or mother, or in some cases both parents who managed to make the surprise trip.

What a beautiful idea and what a fantastic surprise for those soldiers! Kol hakavod to Mrs. Rivlin on her initiative, and of course, a huge salute of appreciation for those brave and dedicated soldiers who gave up their comfortable life and left their friends and family to serve their country in the IDF.

I hope this Good News installment has put you in the right mood for the upcoming Pesach festival. 🙂

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1 Response to Good News Thursday – pre-Pesach edition

  1. Reality says:

    Wow what a fabulous post.I have tears in my eyes about that last article on lone sldiers.We really are a great country!
    Chag Sameach to everyone

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