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Good News from Israel

This Week’s Sanity Report from Israel Sept. 13, 2020

This Week’s Sanity Report from Israel Sept. 13, 2020

Many articles in this week’s positive Israel newsletter are connected with renewal – the main theme of the Jewish New Year. Israeli medical treatments and innovations have given new life to many critically ill patients. Israeli synthetic corneas have renewed the sight of the blind. Israeli conservationists have propagated endangered species and revived previously extinct ones. Israeli technology is recycling waste in Europe and generating renewable energy in some very novel places.  There are articles about new Israeli New Year stamps; renewing ancient prayer books, rediscovering ancient inscriptions, the renewal of Russian Jewry and the extraordinary union of two new Jews.  Finally, history is being made by new diplomatic relations and the return of nations to Jerusalem.

The photo is of Methuselah – the first (previously extinct) Judean Palm tree grown at Kibbutz Ketura from a 2000-year-old seed found at Masada. A second tree grown from those seeds has now produced dates.

The highlights include:

  • An Israeli prospective treatment for Alzheimer’s.
  • Israeli brain surgeons save a South African doctor.
  • Bahrain is the 4th Arab country to make peace with Israel.
  • Israeli flexible solar panels can generate electricity on any surface.
  • 2000-year-old seeds from extinct Judean palm trees have produced dates.
  • The EU is funding nine Israeli organizations combatting Covid-19.
  • Israeli drones are delivering goods for Walmart.
  • More countries are moving their embassies to Jerusalem.


Radiation to reduce Covid-19 inflammation. (TY Hazel) Doctors at Israel’s Sheba Medical Center are to test the use of low-dosage radiation on 30 severe Covid-19 patients. It is expected to reduce the inflammatory cells that invade the lungs of coronavirus patients and prevent them from oxygenating the blood.

More success for Covid-19 antibody treatment. 11 of the 12 trial patients treated with the IgG Covid-19 treatment from Israel’s Kamada (reported here previously) have now recovered and been discharged from hospital. https://nocamels.com/2020/09/early-trial-results-kamada-covid-19-antibodies/

A national lab to study viruses. The Israeli government is to set up a new national laboratory at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem for the study of viruses. It will help Israel counter pathogens after the Covid-19 pandemic. It will have special air conditioning, advanced testing tools and high-level protective gear.

Sheba’s “Gulf” initiative. (TY UWI) Sheba Medical Center has launched its “Gulf” initiative with the first agreement between an Israeli hospital and an organization in the United Arab Emirates. Sheba will work with UAE’s APEX National Investment on key medical challenges from COVID-19 to the future of hospital care.

On stream. More details about the development of StreamO2 – the low-cost breathing machine for Covid-19 patients built by Israeli fizzy-drinks maker SodaStream (reported here previously). StreamO2 was the idea of Hadassah ICU doctor Akiva Nachshon, and recently tested successfully at Hadassah Ein Kerem in Jerusalem.

Antibody for Alzheimer’s. (TY Yehoshua) Israel’s ImmunoBrain Checkpoint aims to begin trials of its IBC-Ab002 treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. The antibody, developed by its Chief Scientist EMET Prize-winning Weizmann Institute Professor Michal Schwartz, boosts the immune system to induce brain repair processes.
https://www.jpost.com/health-science/israeli-revolutionary-alzheimers-treatment-to-launch-phase-1-trial-641848  https://www.ibcheckpoint.com/

Cornea and Glaucoma treatment news. The synthetic cornea from Israel’s CorNeat is beginning human trials, as reported here in July. This has become vital due to shortage of human corneas during Covid-19. CorNeat will soon begin trials of its EverPatch for Glaucoma surgery and is developing the eShunt to reduce eye pressure.

Detecting prostate cancer in Puerto Rico. (TY Hazel) The CorePlus pathology lab in Carolina Puerto Rico is the first in the Americas to detect prostate cancer using the AI-based software from Israel’s Ibex Medical Analytics (reported here previously). The system is already in use in the UK and in France.

A painless bandage. Israel’s Inteligels has developed a wound covering that can be removed without pain. It is made from a special smart transparent polymer that can be triggered to liquify and does not need to be pulled off. It is based on the work of Daniel Cohn, Professor Emeritus of Chemistry at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University.
https://www.geektime.com/inteligels-israel-startup/  http://chem.ch.huji.ac.il/casali/cohn.htm

Doctor, heal thyself (with Israel’s help). Durban pediatrician Dr Thesi Reddy (non-Jewish) was diagnosed with a brain tumor earlier this year and was given nine months to live. South African Friends of Sheba Medical Center got him to Israel, where Sheba surgeons used advanced techniques to remove the entire tumor. Amazing.


Painting by mouth. When Israeli artist Bracha Fischel became paralyzed from rheumatoid arthritis, Sheba Medical center taught her how to use her mouth to write and hold objects. Bracha was able to continue her hobby painting. She now paints with 14 others in Israel’s branch of MFPA – Mouth and Foot Painting Artists.

The 3rd best country for vegans. Israel was third on Chef’s Pencil’s top countries for vegans in 2020 and the only Asian country listed. “Unique to this newly formed country is the mix of the traditional Mediterranean diet of the area and the strict dietary laws of kosher food” Chef’s Pencil said. Tel Aviv was the 12th best vegan city.
https://www.jpost.com/israel-news/israel-ranks-3rd-on-list-of-2020s-most-popular-countries-for-vegans-641412   https://www.chefspencil.com/top-most-popular-countries-and-cities-for-vegans-in-2020/

A women-only investor club. Israelis Orit Alperovitz and Inbal Polak were sick of being the only women in the room, so, they started a women-only investor club. NEOME was founded for the explicit purpose of getting more women involved in investments. It has 50 members, meets every month and has made major investments.

Israeli Covid-19 volunteers honored. Four of this year’s 12 winners of Israel’s Presidential Awards for Volunteerism were recognized especially for their Covid-19-related work. President Rivlin said “Volunteerism is part of Israel’s DNA- a bit of chutzpah, a bit of warmth and always, always happy to help.”

Baby turtles get a helping hand. Endangered Mediterranean green and loggerhead sea turtles lay their eggs on Israeli beaches in May and they hatch Aug to Oct. Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority protects nests from predators and brings hatchlings to safety, even digging in the sand to find babies left behind. Beautiful video.

Lionel Messi has a vision. Israel’s OrCam Technologies (reported here previously) has engaged soccer legend Lionel Messi to help promote its AI-based wearable devices to help the blind and visually impaired read texts. Messi will give free MyEye devices to the visually impaired and increase awareness of the plight of the blind.

Peace signing at White House. Israel and the United Arab Emirates will sign their historic deal normalizing relations at a White House ceremony on 15 Sep. The delegations will be led by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Emirati Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayad, brother of the Abu Dhabi crown prince.

Bahrain makes peace with Israel. Significantly, on the anniversary of 9/11, the Kingdom of Bahrain became the 4th Arab country to agree to a peace deal with Israel. Like the agreement with the United Arab Emirates, the Bahrain-Israel deal will normalize diplomatic, commercial, security and other relations between the countries.


Robotic arm for Covid-19 testing. (TY CTech) The Israeli R&D center of Japan’s Yaskawa Electric has built a robotic arm that can conduct around 2,800 Covid-19 tests a day and has been installed in the IDF’s main Covid-19 testing lab. The arm is faster than human testers, less error prone and can free up staff for other tasks.

Micro satellites for research and rescue. Israel Aerospace Industries is partnering Israel’s Technion Institute in its ADELIS-SAMSON project, to develop 3 new micro satellites to be launched this year. Their purpose is to help search and rescue operations, conduct remote sensing, and carry out environmental monitoring missions.

Helicopter drones. (TY UWI) Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has unveiled its new MultiFlyer non-military unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) squadron of small helicopters. It will be used to monitor disaster areas, guide rescue missions, help with traffic control in large-scale events, and track agriculture or marine areas.

From pilot to programmer. After 10 years in the IAF and 4.5 years as an El Al pilot, Stav Nemirovsky retrained as a computer programmer. Thanks to an IAF veterans’ association, he landed a job in the professional services department of Israeli cybersecurity company Guardicore.

Energy everywhere under the sun. Israel’s Apollo Power’s flexible solar panels produces cheap electricity anywhere the sun shines. It operates without any construction. It is unbreakable and can be placed on any surface, on water, uneven terrain and vehicles. Apollo is working with Audi and Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi.
https://www.apollo-power.com/   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9awnRqbe_Fg

Storybook app for educating children. Israel’s Amit Tishler is one of the co-founders of PopBase – an award-winning tool for producing interactive content with minimal effort. PopBase is developing Woodland Fables – a storybook game that helps kids make healthy life choices such as balanced nutrition, sleep, and physical fitness.
https://jewishbusinessnews.com/2020/09/01/welltech1-invests-in-part-israeli-winner-of-global-wellness-startup-competition/   https://www.pop-base.com/  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h0J8xw1oajI

Recycling waste in the Netherlands. Israel’s UBQ Materials (reported here previously) is to open its first full-scale production facility in the Netherlands. It will convert landfill waste into some 70,000 tons of sustainable, thermoplastic material for producing pipes, floors, bins, shipping pallets, crates and more.

A date with history. The Judean date palm was extinct. But 2000-year-old seeds discovered at Masada in 2005 were planted at Kibbuts Ketura by Drs Elaine Soloway and Sarah Sallon (see here). The resulting trees were named Methusala and Hannah. Their dates were just harvested, linking the State of Israel to its ancient roots.


Currency reserves break another record. Israel’s reserves of foreign currency rose by another $4 billion to a more than $161 billion – the fifth consecutive month they have reached record levels.

Israel joins car makers’ club. Despite having no vehicle manufacturing companies, Israel has been accepted as a member of the International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers (OICA). Israel’s advanced auto-tech industry was sufficient qualification.

EU Covid-19 funds for 9 Israeli organizations.  Nine Israeli organizations have been selected for EU funding under the Horizon 2020 program designed to combat Covid-19. A total of NIS 18 million was allocated for them to work in eight of the EU’s 23 collaborative projects.

Generating startups. The Tel Aviv Municipality along with Google and Microsoft and others are to hold Israel’s “biggest 24-hour online bootcamp” on 15th & 16th Sep. The aim is to turn the ideas of at least 100 of the 500 participating fledgling entrepreneurs into new startup companies.

UAE minister on trade with Israel. The Southern California Israel Chamber of Commerce is publicizing a webinar (Mon 14 Sep) featuring the UAE’’s new Minister of Economy, Abdulla bin Touq Al Mari, on the business implications of the historic Abraham Accord.

Opening shoe shops in the UAE. (TY JBN) Israel’s Scoop Shoes is opening five stores in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the first such endeavor for an Israeli retailer. Scoop’s owners, brothers Ronnie and Freddie Insaz, partnered with Bethlehem businessman George Bassus, who has offices in Dubai, to establish the venture.
https://www.israel21c.org/in-first-israeli-shoe-store-to-open-shop-in-uae/  https://scoopshoes.co.il/

The first UAE investment. UAE-based private equity and venture capital fund KEN Investments has led a $5.8 million investment in Israel’s Salaryo, which provides credit and digital banking services to small businesses in the U.S. It is said to be the first time an Emirati fund has openly invested in an Israeli company.

We are hiring. Israeli fintech company Payoneer (reported here previously) is recruiting 300 new employees, half of them in Israel and the other half across its dozens of branches around the world. There has been a huge demand during the Covid-19 pandemic for Payoneer’s online money transfer and digital payment services.

Investing in wellness. Israel’s Joy Ventures seeks out and supports organizations that are actively working on wellness solutions to help those suffering from the ‘new world’ brought on by Covid-19. Its portfolio includes Sanga (meditation) and virtual personal fitness coach Vi Technologies (reported here previously.
https://www.calcalistech.com/ctech/articles/0,7340,L-3846357,00.html  https://www.sanga.app/

Flexible payments during Covid-19. Israel’s Melio helps small businesses to better manage their cash flow during the pandemic. It allows them to transfer and receive payments in a faster, easier way. Melio’s workforce has increased from 35 to 125 since the start of the year and its volumes increased 700% in the last 6 months.

Walmart trialing delivery by Israeli drones. (TY Hazel) Walmart is launching a drone delivery pilot programme in partnership with Israeli drone startup Flytrex (reported here previously). Walmart branches in North Carolina will trial deliveries to customers’ yards.
https://corporate.walmart.com/newsroom/2020/09/09/walmart-now-piloting-on-demand-drone-delivery-with-flytrex   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bUOZRbUxsW0

Israeli ice cream in New York. (TY Janglo) After debuts in Australia and Puerto Rico, Israeli gelato chain Anita (reported here previously) has finally arrived in New York. Its store, near Central Park, brings unique flavors from the Holy Land, some specifically for the Big Apple.

Investment in Israeli startups: Snyk raised $200 million; Melio raised $140 million; Pcysys raised $25 million;


Israeli recovers Catalonian Jewish prayer book. National Library of Israel director of rare books Dr. Idan Perez has won a Catalan culture prize for his publication of the “Sidur Catalunya,” the first complete recreation of a prayer book used by the Jews of Catalonia, Valencia and Majorca before their 1492 expulsion from Spain.

New Israeli stamps. (TY JR) Jacob Richman has posted pictures of some beautiful new Israeli stamps. They include Art for the Jewish New Year, Israeli Murals, Israel & Brazil joint issue, and Israeli helicopters.

Israel Festival is live and on-line. The Israel Festival, scheduled for June and postponed due to Covid-19, will take place through Sep 12 in Jerusalem and online. For the first time in its 38-year history, all performances will be filmed for live and later viewing on the festival website. It also encompasses the International Jazz Festival.
https://www.israel-festival.org/  https://www.israel-festival.org/en/

Israel is a nature-lover’s paradise. In these times, it is important to get as much fresh air as possible. Here are four of the top Israeli parks visited by Israeli citizens and by tourists who are lucky enough to be here. Since June, 1.5 million Israelis have visited Israel’s 67 parks. (1.4 million visitors in 2019 included foreign tourists.)

Tonight – a Night of Heroes. This exciting Friends of the IDF event is on Sunday 13th Sep at 7pm EDT.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwQnkn-UYgc https://events.fidf.org/

Israeli helps win MLB game. (TY JBN) Dean Kremer has become the first Israeli pitcher to win a Major League Baseball (MLB) game. He struck out 7 batsmen in six innings for the Baltimore Orioles in a 5 to 1 victory over the New York Yankees. It was his Major League debut and first start.


Jewish soldiers were literate in 600 BCE. Handwriting experts from the Israeli police and Tel Aviv University research archaeologists have examined ancient Hebrew inscriptions made by Jewish soldiers on pottery found at Tel Arad. The multiple varied handwriting proves that most of the soldiers were literate.

Masa programs renew Russian Jewry. Over one million Russian Jews made Aliya in the 1990s.  But Russian immigration to Israel has not stopped, largely thanks to organizations such as Masa. Masa’s Israel programs have awakened a Jewish identity in Russians – some of whom did not even know they were Jewish.

$20 million donation to fund Israel youth trips. The Marcus Foundation has donated $20 million for its RootOne initiative. It will subsidize trips to Israel organized by BBYO, NCSY, NFTY, USY and Ramah. With the subsidies, the groups can lower the cost of the trips by some $3,000 per participant for the 3 to 6-week trips.

The light of Israel and the Jewish People. Rabbi Pini Dunner was in Israel’s Negev for his son’s enlistment in the IDF. At midday, he noticed a bright light on the horizon, but the wrong place for the Sun. He was told it was not a mirage. It was the Ashalim Solar Power station (see here). 500,000 mirrors to power up to 120,000 homes.

An unexpected Jewish wedding. A particularly exciting wedding took place on the beach of Rishon LeZion. Dor Shachar was born Ayman Subah 40 years ago in Khan Yunis, Gaza. He fled to Israel and later converted. Last week he married Edith, also a convert. A very moving story.

They will all come to Jerusalem. Malawi’s President Lazarus Chakwera said that his country will establish an embassy in Jerusalem – the first African nation to do so. Chad may follow. Kosovo too said that its first Israeli embassy will also be in Jerusalem.  And Honduras has advanced its plans to move its embassy to Jerusalem.
https://www.jns.org/malawi-to-move-embassy-to-jerusalem/ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sK8d2x0Bl4c

Shana Tova. (TY JR) Israel’s Jacob Richman has compiled a site containing 70 links about Rosh Hashana, ranging from laws and customs to games and recipes. Site languages include English, Hebrew, French, German, Italian, Portugese, Russian and Spanish. Also, over 780 Rosh Hashana cool videos. Something for everyone.
https://jr.co.il/hotsites/rosh-hashana.htm  https://jr.co.il/videos/rosh-hashana-videos.htm

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