This is the blog that highlights the Jewish State’s achievements. Last week we were provided with some classic examples of events that are energizing the Jewish people in their homeland. Israelis have been putting their unique skills to good use.
The economy is certainly well managed and some of the growth can be attributed to healthy competition due to investment in Research & Development. Business is definitely on the “up”; two new high-rise office towers planned for Kiryat Atidim in Tel Aviv, which will make it the biggest business park in Israel. But how have the recent successes of the Jewish State been achieved in reality? Our sages said "the world is sustained by three things: Torah, work, and good deeds." And examples of all of these fundamental principles were clearly visible in last week’s news.
Firstly, our strongest support mechanism has always been The Torah - the Jewish Bible. Last week, Biblical scholars at Bar Ilan University reported that they have developed a computer algorithm that decodes historical writings. This will help verify the identity of previously unknown authors of historical texts. We are the definitely the ‘people of the book,’ so it is great news that more than 200 cafes around the country have signed up to the project ‘Same Old Story,’ which consists of selling second-hand books to customers for under NIS 20 ($6 / £4).
Torah study and the memory of the Jewish people are of fundamental importance. Weizmann scientists have been performing research on memory and have proved that social pressure from our peers can play tricks on it. The Prime Minister has recognized the importance memory last week when he signed a 32.5 million-shekel plan containing over 150 initiatives designed to ‘rehabilitate and strengthen national heritage sites in order to preserve the Jewish People''s heritage in its country.’ The Land of Israel by itself regularly strengthens our memories by ‘popping up’ with reminders of our historical and religious bonds. Last week, Haifa University archaeologists unearthed a 3000-year-old house from the Kingdom of Israel. They also excavated a 2400-year-old Persian settlement and a 1500-year old Byzantine house. These discoveries will no doubt one day be added to Israel’s heritage database.
Appreciation of our more recent history is also necessary in strengthening our connection with the Jewish State. Buildings. Magnificently designed properties, including the UNESCO-recognized Bauhaus architecture were on display during the International ‘Houses From Within’ weekend. This ‘open house’ event allowed tourists and local residents to visit some unique properties in Tel Aviv’s architectural heritage centre.
Moving into the work arena, the hi-tech boom has been driven by cutting-edge research at Israel’s world-class academic institutions, such as Weizmann, which was again named “the best place to work in academia” in The Scientist magazine’s annual survey. It also had the most scientific citations in the decade. The effect of the boom is that demand for hi-tech workers has soared consequently in Israel during the last six months. The work aspect was also highlighted last week by the services to our nation performed by some really dedicated people. History was made at the recent Israel Air Force’s graduation ceremony, when the Jewish State’s first religious female pilot received her wings. Then some of our citizens are really ‘special’ and it made us feel particularly proud to see them bring home 51 medals, including 17 gold, from the 2011 Special Olympics in Athens. Then if they had only looked to the sky from their events they may have seen other Israelis in service, training as helicopter pilots with their Greek counterparts.
Good deeds were definitely recognized last week when the government passed legislation to give foster families and those adopting children similar maternity leave rights to those of new mothers. We are frequently strengthened by the good relations that are fostered by bringing communities together. A unique religious event will be held in northern Israel: A joint Jewish-Druze celebration to mark the anniversary of the death of Rabbi Ishmael Ben Elisha, who was revered by both Druze and Jews alike.
Further South, in Jaffa, 200 Israeli and Palestinian Arab boys competed in a ‘Mini World Cup’ tournament. When ‘exciting intellectual leaders and shakers’ gave up their time to organize and speak at the recent Israeli President’s Conference in Jerusalem, recognition came from an unexpected source. Finally, the young people that defend our nation also need as much help as we can give them. A tiny device that fits behind the ear will alert army commanders to any life-threatening problems with their soldiers during training. Civilians can use it too.
However, the sages also understood the importance of physical sustenance in order to sustain the world. This may explain why so much interest has been stirred by the culinary activities of four top New Orleans chefs who have been touring Israel, serving up classic dishes from the USA’s famous Southern state city. Some of us will also be strengthened by the strong brews on offer during the Netanya Beer Festival. It warms the heart to know that the Garden of Eden now contains ample supplies of the amber nectar. L’Hayim!
Michael Ordman writes a weekly newsletter containing Good News stories about Israel.