Thand goodness it’s Friday – time for another Good News Friday post.
I want to start this week’s installment with some heartening news for youngsters with special needs.
Alyn Hospital has opened an innovation center to create cutting edge devices for special needs children:
Israel’s ALYN Hospital has opened an innovation center for entrepreneurs and researchers to develop devices and technologies for children with special needs. The Jerusalem hospital, founded in 1932, is considered a world leader in pediatric rehabilitation for physical disabilities.
The lab has two arms: PELE (which in Hebrew means “wonder,” and is also a Hebrew acronym for Solutions for Children of ALYN), and ALYNnovation.
PELE seeks to help individual children solve a particular problem that does not have an off-the-shelf solution. For example, PELE recently helped a 13-year old boy without the full range ability to use his arms lay tefillin (Hebrew script worn by observant Jews for prayer) on his head for his Bar Mitzvah. “There aren’t that many kids around the world that want to lay tefillin and can’t reach their head,” Mann tells NoCamels. “There is no off-the-shelf solution for this.”
PELE constructed a contraption that enabled the boy to pull a string, bend his head down, and put the tefillin up on his head. “For a child like this, every inch of independence that is given to him is incredibly empowering,” Mann says. “It gives you the chills to see the expression on this kid’s face when he realizes that he just did this by himself.”
After children and parents present their challenge, ALYN’s PELE team will try to solve it for $55 or less. “These solutions are customized, personalized solutions at affordable prices,” Mann tells NoCamels.
While PELE provides solutions to specific problems, ALYNnovation works as a startup incubator, identifying innovations that can benefit a broader audience of children with special needs, and then commercializing the product to bring it to a global market.
ALYNnovation enables the hospital to reach a wider audience, but it will also help ALYN to become self sustainable. “We are designing a new model of philanthropy where the donations that we receive now are helping us to establish activity that will generate its own revenue,” Mann says. “This is the model we came up with, I think it gives donors the assurance that our motivations are aligned.”
What a brilliant idea is this innovation center. Kol hakavod to the Alyn Hospital and to all the doctors, researchers, therapists and philanthropists who support it.
On a related theme (via Reality), IDF soldiers have taken part in a unique collaboration to help children with autism:
Soldiers, parents of autistic children, high school students and random volunteers joined forces in Tel Aviv to make life easier for people with autism and their caregivers.
Some 85 people took part in a 24-hour hackathon last month organized by OFEK, the computing unit of the IAF. Held jointly with ALUT, the Israel Society for Autistic Children, people worked in groups to put innovation in the service of disability by creating an app or computer program for the benefit of the children.
“Until recently, the only treatment available for autistic children and adults in Israel was admission into psychiatric hospital,” said Arkady Gurevich, chairman of OFEK Alumni Association. “Even the necessary equipment or tools required to diagnose a patient as autistic are minimal or of poor quality due to costly-budget issues.”
The project also helped OFEK soldiers meet the three goals they abide by: “networking, working better together and contributing to society,” said Gurevich, who was in charge of ensuring the smooth running of the collaboration. “This is important for our soldiers as it allows us to put our knowledge into practice, all while continuing to learn at the same time, creating a lasting legacy of productive work.”
Gurevich explained that the hackathon’s 24-hour time frame “provides an indication of how quickly we can respond to a need through technology.”
This project with ALUT “is the first of many to come, as OFEK intends on using its soldiers’ powerful skills and knowledge to help one non-profit organization a year,” Gurevich said. “While the project took place in the form of a competition, the real prize was to bring attention to the autistic community of Israel and eventually develop what could be life changing technology for many.”
What a wonderful way to integrate autistic children into society while at the same time making the IDF an even stronger part of Israeli society. This is what differentiates the IDF from other armies, and we can be proud that the army views its contribution to the weaker sections of society as equal to its defense and security contribution. Kol hakavod to all those involved in this wonderful project.
Now let’s move underground to yet another incredible archaeological find, a rare 2,000 year-old stone vessel used in Jewish rituals:
A rare 2,000-year-old workshop for the production of chalkstone vessels, dating to the Roman Period, was recently unearthed by archeologists from the Antiquities Authority during excavations in Reina, in the Lower Galilee.
The excavations took place in a small cave in which researchers found thousands of chalkstone cores and other production waste, including fragments of stone mugs and bowls in various stages of production, the authority said on Thursday.
The ancient site is the fourth workshop of its kind to ever have been discovered in Israel. It was uncovered during the course of construction work at a municipal sports center conducted by the Reina Local Council.
According to Dr. Yonatan Adler, senior lecturer at Ariel University and director of the excavation on behalf of the Antiquities Authority, during the first century of the Common Era, Jews throughout Judea and the Galilee used tableware and storage vessels made of soft, local chalkstone.
“The reason for this curious choice of material seems to have been religious, as according to ancient Jewish ritual law, vessels made of pottery are easily made impure and must be broken,” Adler explained on Thursday.
“Stone, on the other hand, was thought to be a material which can never become ritually impure, and as a result, ancient Jews began to produce some of their everyday tableware from stone.”
Although chalkstone vessels have been unearthed at many Jewish sites throughout the country, Adler said it is extremely unusual to uncover a site where such vessels were actually produced.
While similar finds have been recorded in other parts of the country, Yardenna Alexandre, an archeologist at the authority specializing in the study of the Galilee during the Roman Era, described the most recent discovery as an unprecedented opportunity.
“Throughout the years, we have been discovering fragments of these kinds of stone vessels alongside pottery in excavations of houses in both rural and urban Jewish sites from the Roman Period, such as Kafr Kana, Tzipori and Nazareth,” said Alexandre.
“Now, for the first time, we have an unprecedented opportunity to investigate a site where these vessels were actually produced in the Galilee.”
What a fascinating find! And yet another proof – if ever such proof were really necessary – that Jewish habitation of Israel goes back thousands of years. Kol hakavod to all the archaeologists who made this remarkable discovery.
And one more item before we go, from under ground, let fly up in the air, to a beautiful aerial video of the north of Israel:
Enjoy the view!
Shabbat shalom everyone!