From Israel: “For the Sake of Sanity”


My sanity, certainly, and perhaps yours too.

Yesterday was April Fool’s Day.  I don’t do April Fools shtick, but I found someone who does: US astronaut Scott Kelly, partnering with SodaStream.

For myself, I decided that it’s a really appropriate day for a good news posting.  Do we need it!

I know I had said I would report again after Shabbat concerning the situation in Gaza. But that report will have to keep a bit longer.  That is not only because (as usual) matters are still in flux; it is, even more so, because the information I have acquired makes me sick to my stomach. We are not at war.  This is obvious.  But what I want to say is, “What the hell is going on?!


So…for the moment we will focus on the good. It is there, if we seek it out. And here we have a chance to achieve perspective:

“Two exciting new discoveries made during archaeological excavations in the City of David, Jerusalem, were released to the public on Sunday (March 31). The finds—a blue agate seal and a clay seal impression—are circa 2,600 years old and were uncovered by Israeli archaeologist Yuval Gadot’s team during the ongoing Givati Parking Lot excavation.

“…the burnt clay seal impression has attracted the most interest. The inscription reads: “Belonging to Nathan-Melech, Servant of the King.” The name Nathan-Melech appears only once in the biblical account (2 Kings 23:11)—he was an official in King Josiah’s royal court. The bulla dates to the same time period.” That is seventh century BCE.

This is the bulla:

Credit: Eliyahu Yanai, City of David

And it was found here:

Credit:: Kobi Har’eti, City of David


“Israeli researchers revealed on Thursday (March 28) that an area near the Dead Sea is home to the world’s longest salt cave…

“…an international group led by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HU)’s Cave Research Center (CRC)…along with 80 cavers from nine countries, say they have successfully mapped the Malham salt cave in Mount Sedom,..170 meters below sea level at the southwestern tip of the Dead Sea.

“At 10 kilometers long, the Malham salt cave is now the world’s longest salt cave…

“’The Malham Salt Cave is a river cave. Water from a surface stream flowed underground and dissolved the salt, creating caves – a process that is still going on when there is strong rain over Mount Sedom about once a year,’ said Professor Amos Frumkin, director of the CRC at HU’s Institute of Earth Sciences. In this way, the Malham Salt Cave is ‘alive’ and continues to grow.

“In addition to its length, the Malham Cave contains a stunning array of salt stalactites and salt crystals within its chambers.”

Credit: Russian Paul


I thought this was interesting:

It was discovered not so long ago that children in Israel had fewer peanut allergies because of the ubiquitous Israeli snack Bamba, which has a peanut component. For the last 12 years, it has been Israel’s most popular snack, used regularly by 90% of Israeli households.

Credit: Alan Jones via Flcker

The snack started getting serious attention when it was mentioned in health reports, such as the Learning Early About Peanut Allergy (LEAP) study. Its findings were supported by the very prestigious National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

It was found that exposing infants to peanuts within their first year (usually via Bamba) helped prevent peanut allergy by as much as an astounding 81 percent.  Bamba, which has a maize base, is soft, easy to handle and to ingest.

The results have the potential to transform how we approach food allergy prevention,” Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, Director of NIAID, said.

Now Osem, which manufactures Baba, has opened in new factory in Kiryat Gat, which is producing a million bags a day to meet the international demand.


“Researchers at Tel Aviv University will join a group of European academics in a four-year, €7 million effort to create a robot — the GrowBot — that can climb like ivy or a vine plant to overcome hurdles…

“The low-mass and low-volume robots that the consortium hopes to develop will adapt to their surroundings, as do climbing plants, and will be able to negotiate voids and maneuver on uneven surfaces where existing robots would get stuck or fall, the consortium says on its website.

“’Robots with wheels or legs that exist today, many of which have been inspired by animals, are able to move across surfaces, but have difficulty dealing with obstacles – such as stairs, rocks, fissures and pits,’ said Tel Aviv University’s Yasmine Meroz of the George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences, who will lead the Israeli team in the consortium.”


Israel is now one of the leading countries in the world for nature accessibility,” says Yuval Wagner, president of Access Israel, an advocacy and awareness nonprofit he founded in 1999.  Paralyzed in a 1987 helicopter accident, he is now able to enjoy a variety of sites in his wheelchair.

Facilities for greater accessibility have been installed in approximately 70 national parks, archeological and heritage sites administered by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority (INPA) as well as in 300 forests managed by Keren Kayemet LeYisrael-Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF).

Accessibility covers everything from parking to trails, restrooms to picnic areas.

Courtesy KKL-JNF

Some of the most ambitious adaptations took place even before the 2008 accessibility laws came into effect, says Zeev Margalit, director of conservation and development at INPA.

“The first two sites prepared for people with disabilities were Masada and Tel Dan, 20 years ago. This was very challenging but it was a great thing.”

This is fantastic news and should be shared broadly.


Newsweek Magazine has ranked Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, Ramat Gan, as the 10th best hospital in the world.

The magazine explains that the Medical Center

“is a leader in medical science and biotechnical innovation, both in the Middle East and worldwide…”

The hospital,

“affiliated with Tel Aviv University, includes centers for nearly all medical divisions and specialties, and serves over 1 million patients per year.”


We end with a song – Matisyahu’s “One Day” – as produced by Koolulam: 3,000 people, Jews, Christians and Muslims, gathered in Haifa, to sing together.

This material is produced by independent journalist Arlene Kushner. . Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.
Arlene from Israel website.
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