Fridays always seem to run away with me, and I’ve just about got time for a Good News Friday post.
Let’s start this week’s post with some light: Israel’s iAID international aid organization is providing solar panels to a Yazidi refugee camp in Iraq in order to provide them with electricity:
“Persecuted Yazidi families living in horrible conditions in remote regions on the mountains of northern Iraq will receive [solar panels] which will be used to help provide lights in over 330 family tents and in bathroom and shower structures so to prevent gender-based violence,” Shachar Zahavi, founder of iAID, said in a statement.
The solar electricity will also help charge mobile phones and other appliances.
Kol hakavod to iAID on their wonderful initiative, helping the Yazidis who have been so terribly persecuted. May they go from strength to strength.
Water shortages are a problem the world over, certainly for refugees, so it is of vital importance that Israeli researchers have discovered a sponge bacterium that can absorb huge amounts of arsenic, the main pollutant of fresh water, thus purifying water for human consumption: (via Hadassah):
Arsenic is the leading freshwater contaminant on the planet, affecting millions of people worldwide and causing an untold number of deaths every year. Removing arsenic from groundwater and freshwater is a major challenge still facing scientists and policymakers. Now a new Tel Aviv University study published in Nature Communications sheds light on a unique biological model of arsenic detoxification.
According to the new research, the Entotheonella bacterium that inhabits the Theonella swinhoei sponge is one of the only known cases of a bacterium protecting its host from metal poisoning. Entotheonella safeguards these sponges against the dangers of arsenic and another common toxin, barium.
“To render this unique detox method applicable to other situations, we need to somehow get rid of the sponge,” said Prof. Ilan. “In other words, there is a lot more work to be done before we, human beings, can capitalize on this.”
The researchers are currently researching the mechanism the bacterium uses to control the mineralization of the elements. “Once we identify the enzymes involved in the process, we can either look for them in bacteria in polluted water or find a way to grow Entotheonella in polluted areas,” said Dr. Keren.
What a fascinating discovery! Kol hakavod to all the researchers involved in this important project.
And now, from futuristic scientific discoveries, let us go back to the past. The son of a high-ranking Nazi has returned the art that his father looted from a Jewish family (via Sylvain B):
The son of a high ranking Nazi official has returned three valuable works of art that his family stole from the Polish city of Krakow during World War II.
Polish officials said they hoped the gesture by Horst von Waechter would inspire other Nazi descendants to follow suit.
Von Waechter returned an 18th-century map of Poland, built into a small table, and two historic drawings that his father Otto von Waechter looted shortly after had become governor in the southern Polish city occupied by Nazi Germany during the war.
The handover took place at the office of the Krakow provincial governor and was the result of efforts by Polish historian and politician Magdalena Ogorek.
Ogorek told The AP that she spotted the art work at Von Waechter’s castle in Austria, while she was doing research there about his father. His father died in 1949 at the Vatican while waiting to be smuggled to Argentina to avoid facing justice for his crimes.
Ogorek said von Waechter returned the objects to Krakow for no compensation.
“He gave a good example to others and we should be happy about this,” Ogorek said.
“This is probably the first time that the member of a family of one of the most important Nazi occupiers is giving back art that was stolen from Poland during the war.” said Ryszard Czarnecki, a member of the Polish Law and Justice party.
“I hope that the return of this painting will encourage other families in possession of looted art to return them instead of trying to sell them at auction,” Czarnecki said.
Von Waechter said he had attempted to return one of the paintings to the family it was stolen from in the past, but they “did not want to have anything to do with me as the son of a Nazi.”
What an incredibly moving and heart-warming story! Kol hakavod to Horst von Waechter on his integrity, and to Magdalena Ogorek on her assiduous research and eagle eyes. May this be an example to others on the proper way to act with looted possessions.
And one final historical posting for today: This week, on the 2nd Adar, was the 31st anniversary of the release of Natan Sharansky from Soviet prison. Read Sivan Rahav Meir’s post below:
Natan Sharansky is an inspiration to all of us: how he withstood the perils of solitary confinement and the torture and mistreatment of the Soviets; his persistence in maintaining his Jewish identity, and his insistence on making Aliya, and always his little book of Tehillim (Psalms) in his pocket. Who can forget his crossing the bridge from East to West on that historic day?
We wish him continued long life and health, and success in his political and diplomatic career, together with his lovely family, here in his – and our – homeland, Israel.
And with these heartwarming thoughts I wish you all Shabbat Shalom!