Good News Friday

While we’re still basking in the reflected glory of Prince William’s historic royal visit to Israel, there were a couple of additional items I found which I thought suitable for this week’s Good News Friday post.

First, we have a great short video which shows all the highlights of his visit, including stuff that I omitted:

And here is an interview with a British barmitzvah boy whose ceremony at the Kotel was interrupted by the arrival of the Prince. But he took it in good spirit and seemed very happy to have been interrupted by such a dignitary:


Let’s now move back to our more traditional subjects. First, more good news from Israel’s hi-tech field. Israeli startups are going to aid India with health and agriculture technology (via Reality):

Six Israeli startups with innovative technologies in the fields of healthcare, agriculture and water management have made it to the final stage of the Israel Innovation Authority’s “Israel-India Bridge to Innovation” program, launched over the past year during bilateral meetings between the prime ministers of both countries. The 18 companies that were initially selected to participate in this program presented their technologies to CEOs and investors from Israel and India in a Demo Day held last week at the Urban Place complex in Tel Aviv. Six companies were chosen to continue to the final stage where they will pilot their solutions in India.

Among the notable participants taking part at the Demo Day were representatives of India’s Invest India agency. The keynote speaker was Rohtash Mal, Chairman of EM3 Agriservices, renowned in India as the “Uber of farmers.” The company rents out equipment to farmers based on time or acres farmed, doing away with the need for farmers to purchase expensive equipment and giving them access to advanced technology at low costs.

This is wonderful news for both countries: Israel gets to export its excellent hi-tech products, and India gets to benefit from Israel’s knowledge. This in turn will help strengthen the friendship and ties between the two countries.

My next item talks about an upgrade to the Orcam MyEye system which enables the blind and sight-impaired to read and generally navigate the world around them. i wrote about Orcam a few years ago, but this upgrade is really excellent:

Amnon Shashua and Ziv Aviram, the founders of Mobileye, one of Israel’s biggest companies acquired by Intel for $15.3 billion for its groundbreaking vision-based driver-assistance system, have also been advancing another vision-based assistive product, which Aviram told Reuters earlier this year “has the potential to be even bigger.”

It’s a game-changer for the visually-impaired who want to be able to freely move about with everyday tasks without calling attention to themselves, says OrCam Director of Media and Communications Rafi Fischer. The Jerusalem-based company is “return[ing] independence to the user,” Fischer tells NoCamels. “This is the world’s most advanced artificial vision device for people who are blind, partially sighted and have reading difficulties,” he adds.

OrCam’s Rafi Fischer models MyEye 2.0

… OrCam debuted the second-generation MyEye 2.0 in December 2017, after compressing the original MyEye, which was the size of a smartphone and came with a wire, head unit, and base unit, into a small, compact, self-contained device. The newer device has a camera in the front and a speaker in the back. After attaching it with a magnet to the side of a user’s glasses, the AI-powered device incorporates pioneering computer vision and machine learning to read printed text from books, newspapers, product labels, and restaurant menus. The device is gesture-motivated, says Fischer, so the user only has to point to the piece of text to activate the device or hold their hand out to stop the audio of the reading.

“This is the only assistive technology device in the world that responds to intuitive gestures,” Fischer says, but if you don’t use the hand gesture to stop the text, “you can put the text down, walk away, and OrCam will still be reading.”

OrCam’s R&D division has also established a unique and innovative facial recognition algorithm that can distinguish faces when programmed by the user.

Watch this video to see all the clever innovations in this brilliant device:

Kol hakavod to Rafi Fischer and the developers at Orcam for making life so much better for the sight impaired.

Moving now to some feel-good stories, as we read earlier this week, Israel has been making friendly overtures to the Iranian people to show that we are not their enemies. Well, our gesture was reciprocated at the World Cup in Moscow, where Iranian and Israeli football fans got together in friendship (via The Israel Project‘s facebook page):

During the World Cup tournament in Russia, fans from Israel and Iran send a message of peace and hope. Beautiful! The people of Iran and Israel are not enemies!

It is indeed wonderful to see that at the grass-roots level we can be friends. Now if only we could convince the Ayatollahs…

And now two stories which are sure to bring a smile to your face and a lift to your heart. Both are in Hebrew so I will give a rough translation.

The first is a beautiful story about an elementary school class in Modiin who raised and donated money to a very good cause:

מרגש עד דמעות: ילדי בית הספר היסודי אופק שבמודיעין הביאו מבתיהם משחקים, ספרים וחפצי נוי שאותם מכרו ביריד אביב במטרה לתרום את הכסף.

לאחר היריד קיימו התלמידים בחירות דמוקרטיות שבסופן בחרו לתרום את הכסף ל”בית אלמוג שילוני” – בית לחיילים בודדים שפתחו הוריו של סמ”ר אלמוג שילוני הי”ד שנרצח על ידי מחבל שדקר אותו בתחנת הרכבת בתל אביב.

אחד החיילים, המתגורר בבית, דיבר עם הילדים המקסימים והודה להם. הילדים שהתרגשו מאוד השיבו לחייל “תודה שאתה שומר עלינו”.

הילדים שהתרגשו לדעת שהכסף שאספו הולך למטרה טובה, רוצים להפוך את התרומה למסורת ולחזור על כך גם בשנה הבאה.

ככה נראית אהבת ישראל אמיתית

The children of the Ofek School in Modiin who raised money for the soldiers’ home, and their certificate of honour

Moved to tears: Children from the Ofek Elementary School in Modiin brought their toys, books and ornaments which they sold in a fair in order to donate the proceeds.

After the fair they held democratic vote and it was decided to donate the money to “Bet Almog Shiloni”, a home for lone soldiers which was opened in memory of First Sgt. Almog Shiloni Hy’d who was murdered by a terrorist at the train station in Tel Aviv.

One of the soldiers who lives in the home spoke to the charming children and thanked them. The children, who were themselves very moved, thanked the soldiers for looking after them.

The children were very excited to know that the money they donated went to a good cause and want to turn this into a tradition to be repeated every year.

This is what real love of Israel looks like.

This story is just so moving and wonderful, I want to give a big hug to every one of those children. Kol hakavod to them all, to their teachers, and to their parents who obviously gave them such a good grounding in gratitude and caring.

And one last item, by my favourite writer Sivan Rahav Meir. This time her post is in Hebrew but the accompanying video has English subtitles. The story is about Kerem Shalom, a non-religious kibbutz on the Gaza border (there is a crossing by the same name) that decided to dedicate a synagogue. The video shows them bringing a Sefer Torah to the synagogue.

Watch this beautiful video:


UPDATE: The back story to this Sefer Torah appears in this week’s Besheva newspaper (Hebrew link only). They report that the Sefer Torah was donated by Chezki Portowitz (who with his father (our friend David Portowitz), runs the Jaffa Institute), who together with two friends, Yechiam Fleishman and Uri Yaakobovitch, decided when they were 30-ish that they were going to get a Sefer Torah written, and put away 200 shekels every month for this purpose. Now they are 40, and they fulfilled their promise. They looked for a shul which would use the Sefer Torah, not just take it out every Simchat Torah, and found Kerem Shalom! Isn’t that amazing? What fantastic young men! Kol hakavod to them.

What a perfect way to conclude this post before Shabbat. 🙂

May Hashem protect the kibbutz of Kerem Shalom and all the other kibbutzim and villages around the Gaza border area, may He protect all the residents and soldiers, and may we all have a quiet safe Shabbat.

Shabbat Shalom everyone!

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6 Responses to Good News Friday

  1. Reality says:

    What an absolutely beautiful post.Thank you and Shabbat Shalom

  2. Jeff Polaski says:

    Thank you for the best coverage of a British royal we’ve see in a long time.

  3. Linda says:

    Wonderful post…as usual.

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