Good News Friday Part II

As I mentioned in my previous post, this week you’re getting a double portion of good news, so without further ado, here is your second helping of Good News Friday. ☺.

My first item comes once again from Israel’s biomedical industry:

An Israeli developed system enables customized antibiotics for the patient:

In 2014, antibiotic resistance has claimed the lives of more than 700,000 people worldwide, in addition to a combined $ 35 billion a year in the US alone.

According to established estimates, every hour of delay in the treatment of antibiotics reduces the patient’s survival rate by 7.6%. Therefore, in order not to leave the patient without protection, many doctors provide their patients, while awaiting results, “broad” antibiotics in large doses. This phenomenon accelerates the formation of bacterial resistance to antibiotics and also affects microbiota – the population of “good bacteria” found in the human body and protects it.

In this context, the importance of technologies that can predetermine the resistance of a specific bacteria to specific antibiotics is understood. Here comes the innovative system developed by the Technion: SNDA-AST.

This system quickly analyzes the sample of the biological material obtained from the patient (urine, for example) and produces information on the population of the bacteria in the sample and their level of resistance to specific antibiotics. This enables the staff to choose the most effective antibiotic.

The research was led by the Dean of the Faculty of Biomedical Engineering at the Technion, Prof. Shulamit Levenberg, and was carried out by three researchers in her lab: doctoral student Yonatan Avisar, postdoctoral student Dekel Rosenfeld and doctoral student Tom Ben Aryeh. The research was conducted in cooperation with Prof. Moran Berkovitz of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering at the Technion and the doctoral student Marianna Truman-Rosentziv, in cooperation with Dr. Yuval Geffen, head of the microbiological laboratory at the Rambam Medical Center. It was funded by a grant from the Innovation Authority and I-CORE.

The device developed by the Technion researchers is a chip with hundreds of nanoscale holes inside, each containing a few bacteria and a particular antibiotic. Detection of the bacterial response is done using a fluorescent marker, image processing tools and statistical analysis of the colors obtained from bacteria in all tiny holes.

In an experiment in which 12 strains of the antibiotic bacterium tested, the results achieved in a short time were accurate and allowed for early and efficient treatment of the infectious bacteria. “The use of the technology we developed reduces the size of the required sample by several orders, reduces the scanning time by 50 percent, significantly reduces the laboratory space needed for testing and reduces the cost of each test,” Avisar said.

Kol hakavod to Technion Prof. Shulamit Levenberg and her research team for this excellent discovery which has the potential to save thousands of lives. May they continue on to much success.

Since we’re on the subject of medicine, here’s some more very good news:

A new school of medicine is opening in Ariel University:

The cornerstone ceremony was held for the new Sheldon and Miriam Adelson School of Medicine at Ariel University Wednesday afternoon.

Laying the cornerstone for the new medical center set to open at Ariel University in Samaria. (Photo: David Michael Cohen/TPS)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke at the event and said that “the university is an open and pluralistic institution. This is the true spirit of the State of Israel. The School of Medicine in Ariel will strengthen Israel’s prestige in the world.”

He added that “Ariel will always be part of the State of Israel, and I hope that graduates of the medical school will help with the development of medicine in countries which approach Israel [for medical assistance], such as India and China. We love the city of Ariel and will continue to build it.”

Education Minister Naftali Bennett expressed the hope that “the physicians who graduate from the medical school in Ariel will heal patients for many years – and that the medical school will heal the open wounds in Israeli society and between us and our neighbors.”

“This is not just a place of achievement, but a place with a soul. The Ariel medical school will train doctors – and it will be a fertile ground for dialogue and interaction between Israelis. All of this is due to our connection with the land of Israel. We are here to stay forever,” Bennett said.

Israel Hayom report adds:

The decision to go ahead with the new medical school was made at a meeting between the chairman of the Forum of Medical School Deans and professionals from the CHE, and has demanded intensive work by Ariel University’s Planning and Budget Committee in recent weeks.

Ariel University

The building that will house the school is being constructed as part of a general plan for the expansion of Ariel University. The building is expected to cost some 100 million shekels ($28 million), most of which the university intends to raise through donations. Bennett will undertake to have the faculty’s curriculum approved by the relevant authorities.

About 4,000 students are currently studying medicine at Israel’s five medical schools, at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv University, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, and Bar-Ilan University’s Faculty of Medicine in the Galilee, from which the first class graduated in 2016. Beginning from the 2017-2018 academic year, the number of students accepted to medical schools will increase by about 100 per year, enabling more Israeli students to complete their studies in Israel and making more Israeli-trained doctors available to the health care system, which is facing a shortage of doctors.

“There is a shortage of medical school graduates in Israel, and about two months ago I passed a decision to increase the number of places in medical schools, and I intend to increase this further,” Bennett said.

This is of course excellent news on so many levels. Firstly, Israel is in dire need of another medical school. There is a dire shortage of doctors, and without adequate training facilities the shortage will only worsen. Secondly, this medical school will raise the profile of Ariel University both on the academic level and the diplomatic stage.

Kol hakavod to Sheldon Adelson on his generosity, and to Israel’s academic authorities who had the foresight to encourage this new medical school. May all the new medical students enjoy great success!

And now, to conclude this “second helping” of good news, here is a selection of pictures and videos from the opening of the 2017 Maccabiah, otherwise known as “the Jewish Olympics”:

The opening ceremony of the Maccabiah games

From the opening ceremony of the Maccabiah Games

. The Times of Israel’s Yaakov Schwartz has an amusing report:

Disarmingly soft-spoken and standing a scant five feet tall, the Israeli representative of the Russian delegation Josef Roytman says he still participates in the games to this day — as a wrestler. Given the series of moves he proceeds to display on an unsuspecting reporter, the claim is not hard to believe. If there was any room for doubt, Roytman showboats the point home by making his chest dance.

From right to left: Josef Roytman, Vadim Polianski, and Georgian sports announcer Jamlet Khukhashvili. (Yaakov Schwartz/Times of Israel)

The pummeling by the overeager octogenarian is far from the only surreal element at play in the lobby of the upscale Kfar Maccabiah Hotel in Ramat Gan, where, on the eve of the 20th Maccabiah Games — also known as the Jewish Olympics — athletes, administrators, and heads of delegations from all over the world crisscross the floor, warmly reconnecting after years apart.

Rodney Sanders, adviser to the director of the Maccabi World Union, immediately pounces when he senses a reporter. The Times of Israel was treated to a long-winded history of the games — along with histories of any other sporting events that happened to come to mind along the twisting, tangent-filled monologue.

Kfar Hamaccabiah luxury hotel

Sweeping his arm before him grandiosely, Sanders illustrates the scope of the operation in an elegant South African staccato.

“Here in the hotel are just the senior officials of each delegation. You’ve got 208 suites, 143 rooms — it’s a considerable hotel. And wherever you go there’s names on these things like it’s Hadassah hospital,” he says, cutting himself off to point a finger at a man walking by. “Michael, my fellow warrior. Keep that shirt. Even if you don’t have an official function… oh, you do? Oh okay, cool, so you do have a job.”

In fact, Sanders informs me, as the third-largest sporting event in the world, housing 10,000 athletes and attracting over 20,000 additional fans, the 20th Maccabiah Games is nothing short of a logistical masterpiece.

“You need to understand,” he says. “For example, the largest touring delegation in the world of sports is the US Summer Olympic delegation. What is that, 600 people, including athletes, coaches? This [Maccabiah US delegation] is 1,200. Logistically, it doesn’t make any difference what you’re moving, man. These are by far the largest delegations in the history of sports.”

Here’s a little bit of the history of the Maccabiah:

The Maccabiah Games were the brainchild of 15-year-old Yosef Yekutieli, who got the idea for an international Jewish sporting event after hearing about the Stockholm Olympics in 1912. Nearly two decades after the games were conceived of, 390 athletes from 18 countries participated in the first Maccabiah Games in Tel Aviv in 1932, competing in a stadium — the first of its kind in what was then Mandatory Palestine — that was completed just prior to the opening ceremony.

Seventy-five years later, a record-breaking 10,000 athletes from 85 countries are participating in 45 sporting events. Past competitors have included Olympians, including four-time Olympic gold medalist Jason Lezak, and players of major professional sports.

The Maccabi World Union is comprised of six confederations: Maccabi Israel, the European Maccabi Confederation, Maccabi North America, Maccabi Latin America, Maccabi South Africa, and Maccabi Australia. There are 50 countries in the Maccabi World Union representing 400,000 members.

The games take place in stadiums all over Israel, and Maccabiah Village — or Kfar Maccabiah, as it is known in Hebrew — is on elaborate grounds lush with greenery and containing numerous sporting facilities, administrative offices, and a luxury hotel.

i24 TV has an overview:


The opening ceremony was high-energy – and held a huge surprise within it – a surprise wedding!

It was a night of celebration, as some 10,000 athletes from 80 different countries, marched into the center of the stadium by delegation, against a backdrop of dozens of undulating images of each of their flags.

Jewish athletes participating in the 20th Maccabiah Game, wave their national flag during the opening ceremony in Jerusalem on July 6, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The name of each nation was announced, from countries like Albania with three athletes, Jamaica with two and Morocco with one, to China and Puerto Rico, each participating for the first time, or the US and Israel, each with the largest delegations of 1,061 and 2,400, respectively.

In addition to the singing and dancing celebrating the games as well as the diversity of Israel, the opening ceremony included Canada’s Avi Steinberg proposing on stage to his girlfriend, Rachel, who had recently completed her conversion to Judaism. After she accepted, the hosts of the opening ceremony pulled out a wedding gown and huppah, and the couple’s rabbi, Avi Poupko, whom they knew from Canada, officiated at a ceremony in front of the beaming athletes and spectators.


In fact many Jewish athletes met their match romantically at the Games, or came in search of love as well as victory:

TA — Danny Janel first noticed Allison Silfen’s smile in July 2013. They were hanging out with other athletes in a hotel room a few evenings after arriving in Israel. He was smitten.

Janel and Silfen had come here to play for the basketball teams representing the United States at the Maccabiah Games, the quadrennial sports competition dating back to 1932. The 20th Maccabiah opens Thursday night in Jerusalem’s Teddy Stadium with a festive procession of approximately 10,000 athletes from 80 nations. It will run through July 18.

Allison Silfen and Danny Janel met at the 2013 Maccabiah Games. (Hillel Kuttler)

Now, four years into a promising relationship and as newly minted college graduates – Janel from Connecticut College, Silfen from Maine’s Bowdoin College – the two New York City-area residents are back to compete in the Maccabiah.

They aren’t the only couple who met at the Games.

Silfen’s coach here, Sherry Levin, said she knows of 10 pairs brought together by the Maccabiah. Levin recalls chairing the 2001 US women’s basketball team when one of her players, Leslie Carlson, met Jordan Schlachter, a member of the men’s team. They married in 2003.

Another basketball couple here is Robbie Feinberg and Hayley Isenberg, Maccabiah teammates of Janel and Silfen. They met at Harvard’s freshman orientation for athletes two years ago. Discovering that the other was a Jewish ballplayer sparked a friendship and, eight months later, romance.

Robbie Feinberg and Hayley Isenberg, Jewish athletes from Harvard, make up one of the many couples participating at the 2017 Maccabiah Games. (Hillel Kuttler)

“We’ll be able to talk about this forever,” Isenberg said of the two reaching the Maccabiah.

The gold medalist in the Maccabiah-romance pantheon is hoopster Todd Schayes, who at the 2001 opening ceremony displayed a placard publicizing his search for an Israeli wife. He didn’t land a native, but an American, Diane Lipner, contacted him. They were married in 2003 and are in Israel now: Todd, a nephew of the late NBA Hall of Famer Dolph Schayes, coaches the American men’s over-45 basketballers; Diane is playing masters-division tennis.

“I truly wanted to find that one special person – and what better way than to mix athletics and Judaism? The Maccabiah and Israel will always be part of the story,” Schayes said of his stunt.

I’m sure you all join me in wishing the 10,000 athletes huge success in their sports and in love. 🙂

And with these happy thoughts I wish you all Shabbat Shalom!

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1 Response to Good News Friday Part II

  1. Reality says:

    This is a marvellous post.Thank you.What a great discovery re antibiotics.Regarding the new medical school to be opened in Ariel University ,what can I say except for about time and hooray.Now to make sure they reduce the ridiculously high psychometric results needed to get in ,thereby stopping the brain drain when non accepted students go overseas to study and stay there.
    Good luck to all athletes in the Maccabiah.Another way to show the world how wonderful Israel is,and when Jews weren’t allowed to compete in the Olympics,they turned around and said ok we”‘ll create our own Olympics just for Jews!And what a success it’s turned out to be.
    May this be the beginning of a good week for all of us

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