Israel through the Ages

This week I am focusing on how Israeli technology, innovations and humanitarian work touches the lives of young and old and everyone in between.


A new report published by Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics states that the average life expectancy in Israel, has increased by 2.6 years over the last decade.  Israeli males can now expect to live to the age of 80 and females to 82.6 - both being two years longer than the OECD average.  Almost every day there is news of another Israeli treatment that promises to extend life even further.


Cancer is now the biggest threat to longevity.  The IceSense3 tumor-freezing technology from Israel’s IceCure is already destroying breast cancer and clinical trials will test if this can be extended to lung cancer tumors  New treatments for blood clots and strokes will also save millions of lives, so we eagerly await the outcome of new Phase II tests of THR-18 from Israel’s D-Pharm.  In a groundbreaking development, scientists at Israel’s Weizmann Institute have effectively reversed time by being the first in the world to transform adult cells into the earliest form of stem cells.  Stem cells have been re-engineered previously but those were limited to be specific to certain parts of the body.  The new Israeli stem cells have been completely “reset” and have the potential to be grown into any organ whatsoever.

The “age of innovation” makes it possible to manage patients’ health more effectively by using technology such as digitized health records and distance medicine.  These were among many solutions discussed at the Mobile Health Israel Conference in Tel Aviv.  One innovation in this space is the Tyto, a personal diagnosis device that can gather information straight from a patient’s mouth and throat, eyes, ears, heart, lungs, and skin. It includes a camera and microphone to take measurements, uploading the results to a doctor or health management organization.


Wounded Syrians of all ages have been brought to Israeli hospitals for treatment.  Ziv Medical Center in Safed treated a 9-year-old boy injured in his eyes as the result of an explosion.  Also two Syrians were brought to Western Galilee Hospital in Nahariya in moderate and critical condition, with head, chest and limb injuries.  Also in the Galilee, Israelis are fostering coexistence between young Arab and Jewish citizens. Nazareth is to be the site of a new campus of Texas A&M University to be known as the "Peace University".  Meanwhile, Israel’s Technion is a key member of the iPodia Alliance, which is implementing a new age of learning.   This new video describes the aims of “Classrooms without borders” – i.e. learning together for a better world.


Israel is full of young talent.  One of the latest innovations from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has just been commercialized.  It is a clay-based mineral developed by Dr Yael Mishael.  The mineral is modified with polymers to absorb organic polluting chemicals and is even better than active carbon.  Multinational companies have been quick to recognize Israeli business opportunities.  Facebook’s Vice President Nicola Mendelsohn told Israel’s President Peres, “It was a momentous decision for Facebook to open its first Research & Development center outside the US.  We chose Israel in the knowledge that the best talent is found here.”  AOL is also hiring employees for its Israeli development center. And IKEA is assembling its 3rd Israeli site, near Haifa.  No wonder Israel’s unemployment rate fell again to 6.1% in the third quarter, from 6.8% in the second quarter.  Participation in the workforce went up, as did the percentage of full-time employees.

Even the international celebrities visiting Israel recently crossed the age spectrum, comprising Rihanna, Paula Abdul and the ageless Tom Jones who treated the baby-boomers in the audience to a rendition of  “My Yiddishe Momme” during his two concerts at the Nokia Arena in Tel Aviv.


Rounding off our journey through the ages, thousands of Ethiopian Jews gathered in Israel’s capital, Jerusalem, last week to celebrate the festival of Sigd that links their historical connection to the Jewish State.  The Biblical holiday was originally observed in Ethiopia 50 days after Yom Kippur to repent for sins, pray for their return to Jerusalem, the coming of the Messiah and a Third Temple.  On a lighter note, an Israeli entrepreneur has conceived an original and entertaining use of our heritage to attract young and old. Grant Crankshaw is using Crowdfunding to raise funds to build a Bible-themed mini-golf park in Raanana.  You apply for discounted tickets and your contribution is only collected if the campaign reaches its investment target.
Finally, in a young, modern State it is recommended to listen to those wise old heads that have had an excellent track record.  Aged 78, Dr. Eli Fischer doesn’t plan to retire any time soon. He is a scientist, successful industrialist, philanthropist and head of the international “Dr Fischer” brand. Having just published his autobiography, he now wants to do more in the area of anti-aging. His most important tip - “Do not stand still. You will learn all the time and even if things look pretty good, still strive to improve.”
Timeless advice that we should all follow – whatever our age.
Michael Ordman writes a free weekly newsletter containing Good News stories about Israel.
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