Good News Friday

Another week has rolled round and it’s time for some Good News Friday.

Let’s start with some very sweet news, honey sweet in fact: Honey from wildflowers produced by Kedumim won first prize in the “Black Jar Honey tasting contest” in North Carolina (via Zvi et al). The link is in Hebrew so I’ll give a rough translation:

This year the participants came from the US, Spain, Italy, Turkey Canada, Greece Slovenia, the Canary Islands, Israel and more. The judges examined the anonymous numbered black jars. The judges included chefs from top restaurants, restaurant reviewers, the director of a cooking school, as well as bee-keeping experts.

In the category of international wildflower honeys, Kedumim Honey, owned by Yael Farbstein, won first place. Honeys from Greece and the Canary Islands won second and third places respectively.

Collecting honey at Dvash Kedumim

Collecting honey at Dvash Kedumim

Farbstein, the owner of Kedumim Honey, told the 360 News site “there is no greater gift for Tu Bishvat. The honey that was gathered from wildflowers in the Shomron, both from trees and bushes, gains international recognition. This is further proof that we live in the Land of Milk and Honey”

Kol hakavod to Kedumim Honey, (Dvash Kedumim) and to Yael Farbstein on this excellent win. May you go on to ever-sweeter glory.

The Land of Milk and Honey leads us inexorably to our own history in this wonderful country. The Temple Mount Sifting Project discovered shells of snails that were used to make the blue dye – the Techelet – that coloured tzizit – fringes of garments:

Murex trunculus, a rock snail shell, believed to have been used in the process of making tehelet, the blue dye for the tzitzit-fringes was discovered by the Singer family from Jerusalem, who participate in the Temple Mount Sifting Project (TMSP).

Making tehelet requires special skills as well as a lot of snails, according to the TMSP blog. Dye can be collected by crushing the snails, or by laboriously milking the snails and collecting the excretion. 12,000 snails might yield 1.4 grams of dye, which is only enough to color the trim of a single garment. Though, according to the Tekhelet site, approximately 30 snails are needed to make one set of strings. The production of the Royal Blue or Royal Purple dye was very expensive, making it an almost exclusive sign of kingship and royalty. Interestingly, the color of this dye becomes more vibrant when left in the sun, and it is possible that different versions of the color can be made by making the dye in the sun or in the shade.

Watch this fascinating video about the snail and the dying process:

Kol hakavod once again to the Temple Mount Sifting Project which is carrying out such vital work to save our priceless heritage from destruction by the malicious Waqf. And kudos to the Singer family who made this very important discovery.

While we’re on the subject of archeology, Israeli archeologists were shocked to discover a gateway at Bet She’arim – the “House of Gates”. Why would they have been shocked? Read on:

With a name like Beit She’arim, Hebrew for “House of Gates,” it seems obvious that the UNESCO world heritage site would have ancient portals. Still, archaeologists from the University of Haifa were surprised to stumble across a massive gateway during recent excavations at the site in northern Israel.

The Roman era gateway discovered at Bet Shearim

The Roman era gateway discovered at Bet Shearim

Half of an impressive northeast-facing gate built of limestone blocks, with postholes for doors and locks, abutting a circular tower, along a road leading into the ancient town, turned up during a dig in the fall of 2016, the school announced Wednesday.

Despite its outsize cultural significance as the headquarters of the Sanhedrin, the chief Jewish judicial and scholarly council, and the birthplace of the Mishna, Beit She’arim was a relatively small town — not a likely place for fortified city walls.

An emblem of a menorah carved in the stone, inside a structure at Beit She’arim National Park, an archaeological site in the Lower Galilee. (Doron Horowitz/Flash90)

An emblem of a menorah carved in the stone, inside a structure at Beit She’arim National Park, an archaeological site in the Lower Galilee. (Doron Horowitz/Flash90)

“As far as we were aware, a settlement of this type wasn’t supposed to be ringed by a wall, and therefore it was almost obvious that the name Beit She’arim wasn’t connected to the word ‘gate,’” archaeologist Adi Erlich, who headed the dig, said.

In the decades since the first excavations at the site in 1936, most scholars assumed Beit She’arim’s name was derived from some other origin, since no city gates were found.

“In the beginning, it appeared in [first century Jewish historian] Josephus Flavius in Greek as Besara, so [scholars] thought that maybe it was Beit Sharay, which is another name for a court, the Sanhedrin,” Erlich said. Others suggested the gates referred to the entrances to massive rock-hewn tombs leading into the hillside.

The town was a major center of Jewish life and culture in the Land of Israel during the Roman and Byzantine periods. It was there that Rabbi Judah the Prince compiled the Mishna, the basic text of Jewish oral law, in the mid-second century CE. Its necropolis of Jewish tombs was recognized by the United Nations’ culture and education body in 2015 as “a treasury of artworks and inscriptions in Greek, Aramaic, Hebrew and Palmyrene.”

The actual discovery is so typically Israeli:

The gate turned up in the even tinier town of Beit Zaid, a moshav founded by Jewish pioneer Alexander Zaid, who discovered Beit She’arim right next door. Tali Zaid, his granddaughter and one of the 74 people who live in the community, happened upon some ancient-looking stones in her yard a few years ago during renovations on her home.

Erlich got approval from the Israel Antiquities Authority to dig up the yard this past fall, and uncovered the gate during excavations from September to November.

Though the gate hasn’t yet been dated, the University of Haifa team was certain it was associated with the Roman period.

What a fascinating discovery, and happened upon almost by chance. How can UNESCO deny our connection to Israel yet at the same time grant Bet She’arim heritage status? (Don’t even try to answer. You’ll get a headache at the twisted logic necessary).

And now from our wonderful history, let’s move to our exciting present and future. A revolutionary Israeli device could eliminate the need for follow-up breast cancer surgery:

Israel’s Dune Medical Devices has developed an instrument to help women with breast cancer avoid undergoing dreaded follow-up surgery to remove residual cancer cells after a tumor is removed. The device is already being used by surgeons on patients in more than 100 hospitals in the US and in Israeli medical centers.

Margin Probe device for detecting cancer cells during a lumpectomy

Margin Probe device for detecting cancer cells during a lumpectomy

When women undergo lumpectomies to remove breast cancers, the cancerous tissue is then sent to labs to ensure that the margins surrounding the tumor are clear of cancerous cells, so that the patients are truly cancer-free. Unfortunately, statistics show that when lab results are released, after a process that can take several weeks, one in four women is asked to return for re-excision — secondary surgery — if the tumors tested reveal that the margins are not clear, indicating some cancer cells remain in the patient’s body.

“We have developed the only technology in the world that has a commercial product that allows surgeons in operating rooms, in real time, to check the margins of the tumor, identify cancerous tissue and decide on the spot if more tissue needs to be removed or not,” Gal Aharonowitz, general manager in charge of Israeli operations, told The Times of Israel in a phone interview.

Clinical trials show that the company’s MarginProbe device reduces the need for re-excision by 51 percent, if it is used during the initial procedure, Aharonowitz said. Commercial use of the product has shown a drop of as much as 80% in the need for repeat surgery, he said.

The device consists of a hand-held gadget — a single-use probe that looks like a large pen or ultrasound instrument — and a console. After the tumor is removed, while the patient is still on the operating table, the surgeon uses the probe to check the margins of the just-removed tissue. Sensors on the probe send signals to the tissue, and a signal, both visual and acoustic, gets reflected back, which is then classified as either positive, indicating there are still cancerous cells on the margins, or negative, giving the all-clear to close up the patient.

This is an amazing new development, which can save thousands of lives and also unnecessary surgery for so many patients. Kol hakavod to the research team at Dune Medical Devices. May this device go on to save millions of lives.

And lastly, Israeli students have developed a unique parachute system to help disaster victims receive aid packages safely:

Israeli Students have developed a unique parachute system to help disaster victims: from extremely high altitudes they drop a PANDA “Parachuted Assistance for Natural Disaster Areas” on them.

Technion’s students are testing the parachute with unique guidance system to help disaster victims

Technion’s students are testing the parachute with unique guidance system to help disaster victims

Dropping supplies from the air via parachute is an nowadays way to get supplies to help disaster victims. But traditional, round parachutes cannot be steered after being dropped. And success in getting supplies where they are needed requires a cargo plane’s pilot to drop the supply bundle from a relatively low altitude to prevent the parachute from drifting away on the wind.

The students in the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology Faculty of Aerospace Engineering successfully have tested PANDA late last year.

They dropped supplies from a cargo plane flying at altitudes of up to four plus miles high – and were able to place a 2,000 pound load in a target area pinpointed to within 100 meters of their mark.

The parachute’s unique system guidance could greatly improve the delivery of aid to disaster victims where land-based efforts are not possible and without the risk of traditional parachute supply drops from cargo planes greatly missing their mark.

Project supervisor Associate Prof. Benjamin Landkof, explained “In disaster areas, vital infrastructure such as roads and railroads leading to the affected area are often destroyed or severely damaged, making it impossible for ground-based vehicles to deliver aid. Alternative methods for supplying food and first aid are needed.”

“In addition to the risk to responders involved in dropping items from a cargo plane flying at low altitudes, the margin of error is great,” Prof. Landkof added.  “Sometimes the bundle lands hundreds of meters from the target area. Because of these limitations, remotely controlled parachutes were developed to enable slowing the parachute’s fall shortly before landing. The PANDA guidance system navigates the parachute’s way to the desired target by means of a flight computer, two servo motors, GPS, batteries and various gauges.”

The student team members included Nahum Eisen, Gilad Gotlieb, Amir Baidani, Avihai Ben-Naim, Tzahi Calderon, Amir Yanai, Daniel Potashnikow, Gal Rosenthal and Michal Vahav.

What a brilliant idea! Who thinks about the complications in delivering aid? Kol hakavod to all the students who conceived and carried out this wonderful project, demonstrating the important Jewish value of caring for others less fortunate that ourselves, while using their excellent Israeli education to develop this project.

With these happy thoughts I wish you all Shabbat Shalom!

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2 Responses to Good News Friday

  1. Pingback: Good News Friday – 24/6 Magazine

  2. Reality says:

    A great blog as usual.Thank you

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