Celebrate the Old and the New

We will shortly bid farewell to the old Jewish Year 5773 and welcome in New Year 5774.  It is a good time to look both forwards and backwards at some of the latest innovations and discoveries that are making an historic impact on our lives.

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem was established many years ago, but its new BioDesign program is a revolutionary production line for medical innovation. Student teams take clinical problems from Israeli and American hospitals, evaluate the commercial potential and design a solution that can be marketed almost immediately.  In its first year, BioDesign has generated:
- The GuideIN Tube robotic device to fix an air tube safely for enabling patients to breathe.
- The Sagiv device for inserting intravenous tubes into small veins.
- A tool to take measurements for dentures, replacing a 100-year-old long-winded method.
In the “olden” days, torn knee ligaments and damaged cartilage were “end-of-story” events for sports men and women.  Now, following recent European approval and promising trials, two Israeli devices - Tavor’s Knee-T-Nol tendon implant and CartiHeal’s Agili-C regeneration implant – are literally rebuilding the lives of injured athletes. 
Israel’s Technion Institute is over 100 years old but its graduates are positively flowing with inventions.  One of the latest is the surgical glue Seal-V that will stop the unwanted flow of blood following operations.  Seal-V is fast bonding, safer than protein-based or synthetic-based alternatives and has just received the European CE mark of approval.  Technion students certainly got “stuck in” inventing a new way to perform the traditional Jewish New Year activity of dipping apple in honey.  Using an ancient weapon – a crossbow – suitably updated, they shot a piece of apple at a balloon filled with honey, high above Israel Technion’s campus.  Why?  To show that the Technion aims higher!


Chess is another old traditional activity that Israelis have enhanced using modern technology. Deep Junior, a program written by Israelis Amir Ban and Shay Bushinsky, and running on a Dual 12 core Intel Xenon I5 2.7 GHz computer, won the World Computer Chess Championship in Yokohama, Japan.  Junior has now won six of the last eleven tournaments.  The world’s ancient coral reefs are also benefiting from Israeli technology. The Technion’s Particle Image Velocimeter (PIV) laboratory measures the ocean flow to analyze the health of the ecosystem that lives on these fragile colonies. And ancient man may have invented fire, but when the flames get out of control, Israeli technology is needed to put them out.  Following the Carmel forest fires last year, Israel’s Ministry of Public Security used theoretical models and live feeds to develop the Matash Fire Forecasting System - the first operational system of its kind in the world.  It has already helped to control and extinguish forest fires in Israel.


Man has been growing crops for many millennia, but only now have Israeli scientists discovered how to turn previously inedible plants into new food crops to feed an ever-hungry world.  And isn’t it amazing that almost every week Israel is discovering ancient resources of natural gas close to its coastline.  This energy supply has just begun to add significant new power to the Israel economy.
Simultaneously, as our peace negotiation “partners” deny any Jewish connection to our country, Israelis are digging up thousands of artifacts pertaining to ancient Jewish settlement in the Land of Israel. At the City of David excavations in Jerusalem, archaeologists unearthed a 2700-year-old Hebrew inscription on a pottery fragment from the first Temple period. It contains a name that matches the Biblical figure Zechariah son of Benaiah.  Meanwhile, in Ashdod harbor, a wall from the same period of history has been excavated that was built during the time that the Assyrian king Sargon II was destroying the local Philistine army.  The prophet Isaiah (see chapter 20) warned Judah’s king Hezekiah to stay out of the fight – advice, which Hezekiah heeded.
The Arabs expelled the ancient Jewish communities of North Africa long ago, but those Jews that resettled in France are now immigrating to Israel in increasing numbers. A 10% increase in Aliya since the beginning of 2013 is expected to swell to 2500 new immigrants by the end of the year – almost double the rate for previous years.  And a total of 331 North Americans landed at Ben Gurion Airport on August 13, 2013 to start new lives in the Jewish State.  The flight marked the 50th Nefesh B’Nefesh charter flight since the group began mass Aliya flights to Israel in August 2002.
Finally, Israelis are actually redefining the term “old”.  Whilst Israeli humanitarian organization such as Tevel b''Tzedek are extending life expectancy in countries such as Nepal, Israel itself has been recognized by Bloomberg as having one of the best healthcare services in the world.  The average life expectancy in the Jewish State is now 81 years.  So the final item should not really be a surprise. Yitzhak Pundak fought in Israel’s War of Independence. He then commanded the Nahal Brigade and the Armored Corps after the War. In 1971 Moshe Dayan appointed him Governor of Gaza, but his 1954 promise of promotion was not fulfilled.  Now at one hundred years of age, Yitzhak at last received the rank of Major General.
Israel - Where even the old are young.
Michael Ordman writes a free weekly newsletter containing Good News stories about Israel.
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