Time to shape up

Just look at what’s going on in the international media and it’s easy to imagine that the world is degenerating into chaos. But take a closer look at what is happening within the Jewish State and you will see a country determined to get the planet and its inhabitants into good shape.
The Book of Ecclesiastes states, “what is twisted cannot be straightened” but don’t quote that to Israeli scientists. Israel’s ApiFix has developed a unique implant and technique that allows minimally invasive surgery to correct Scoliosis – deformity of the spine. This innovative device and procedure will change the lives of thousands of young people. 


Deep in the twists of the colon, scientists at Israel’s Weizmann Institute have managed to trick the immune system into targeting a key enzyme involved in the autoimmune process. The method has the potential to treat Crohn''s disease and opens up novel treatments for many other diseases. In other medical news, Israel’s Medi-tate Ltd. has obtained European certification for its mechanical Benign Prostate Hyperplasia (BPH) device for a minimally invasive procedure to reshape the urethra. 15 million men have the BPH symptom in the USA alone. Finally, the risk of opening blocked arteries has been reduced by successful trials by Israel’s InspireMD of its innovative MGuard coronary stent. Wrapped in an expandable mesh, the stent prevents life-threatening rupture and embolization both during and post surgery.
Israeli technology continues to shape the future of the planet. The Israeli investment group Trendlines is providing the USA with a glimpse of the shape of things to come by bringing 13 Israeli hi-tech start-ups (including ApiFix above) on a five-day road show to Chicago, Houston, Atlanta, Baltimore and New York. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal has designated Tel Aviv as Europe’s (yes Europe’s) top technological city. According to the paper, the statistics show that Tel Aviv beats London, Berlin and every other European city. It hosts 600 early stage companies. Access to venture capital is double that of the USA and 20 times that of Europe.
Israel’s economy is still in good shape and further positive news emerged when Delek Group announced the discovery of their largest deposit of natural gas (1.2 trillion feet) in the offshore Tanin 1 well, 120km northwest of Haifa. Dependence on foreign oil will be a distant memory when Israel reaches its target of 10% renewable power by 2020. The 120 MW thermal solar power plant to be built outside Kibbutz Zeelim and the 60 MW plant outside Kibbutz Mashabei Sadeh, both in the Negev Desert, are estimated to be operational by 2014. At the same time, the Jewish State continues to positively shape the lives of its minorities. Israel’s Public Utility Authority has issued the first license for a solar power facility on Arab Beduin land, approving the Tarabin family’s application to build an 8-megawatt photovoltaic field on their property in the Abu Basma region in the north-western Negev.
Some interesting artistic shapes were revealed recently. Over 120 pieces of sculpture by 60 different artists are being exhibited for free viewing in Israel’s biggest sculpture exhibition outdoors in Jerusalem’s Mamilla Avenue. Meanwhile, Upper Nazareth Mayor Shimon Gapso unfurled the world''s largest Israeli flag, proudly flying it over his hometown. The flag is 16 meters wide by 8 meters high (48 ft. by 24 ft.) and is visible for kilometres around. Mayor Gapso said, “It''s about time that Israelis are proud to be Israeli”.
But it is our Torah that has shaped the Jewish people over the millennia. So it was appropriate that during the week in which excavations uncovered a first Temple period fortress in Ashdod, Israel’s national airline El Al initiated a Torah scroll for Jewish Unity. The scroll will accompany flights of national significance. 
To celebrate, here is a photo from the journey that shaped my own future – the Nefesh b’Nefesh El Al flight that carried me and my better half “on the wings of eagles” to the Land of Israel on our Aliya in August 2007.


Onwards and Upwards!
Michael Ordman writes a weekly newsletter containing Good News stories about Israel.
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