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Israel Action Committee

tzofimThis committee keeps us up-to-date on action we can take to support Israel. The committee sponsors events and hosts the Tzofim Friendship Caravan.

For further information and to get involved, please contact the synagogue office at 203-268-6940.

Good News from Israel

The following are highlights of good news out of Israel.  To stay up-to-date follow along at the Good News Israel blog.

In the January 29, 2017  edition of Israel’s good news, the highlights include:

  • Israeli surgeons saved an Arab baby born with her organs on the outside.
  • UK Prime Minister says Israel is a beacon of tolerance.
  • Israel is giving a home to 100 Syrian orphans.
  • An Israeli team is one of only five finalists to attempt a moon landing.
  • Renault-Nissan is opening an Israeli R&D center.
  • 3 airlines are adding new scheduled routes to Israel.
  • An Israeli won the world youth windsurfing championships.


Israeli doctors save Arab baby with a serious birth defect. Ibtihaj from Arab village of Kfar Kassam was born with her intestines outside her abdomen. After birth, surgeons at Jerusalem’s Hadassah hospital put her organs back in place. They closed the wound with the Israeli TopClosure Tension Relief System (see here).


50 patients cured of essential tremor. (TY Karen) Haifa’s Rambam medical center has now used the non-invasive focused ultrasound brain treatment to cure 50 patients of essential tremor. This video features Haya Mandelbaum – a baker, who celebrated “getting her life back” by making Hanukkah donuts for hospital staff.


Golf event saved 16 lives. I reported previously (Jun 19) on the “Hole in One” golf event that Israeli charity Ezer Mizion uses to raise money for its bone marrow registry. Funds pay for specific genetic tests and the subsequent bone marrow donations are monitored. In 2016, 16 people were saved thanks to these donations.


Israeli tech cuts down prescription errors. (TY Nocamels.com) I reported previously (see here) about Israeli tech that prevents medical errors. Here now is an article about Israel’s Medaware that alerts doctors about mistakes when writing out prescriptions. A Harvard Medical School study proves Medaware saves lives.


https://www.youtube.com/embed/NzWTFbUdSbc?rel=0 http://www.medaware.com/

US approves media for growing stem cells. (TY Atid-EDI) The US FDA has approved the application from Israel’s Biological Industries for its NutriStem hPSC XF Medium to grow stem cells. The kibbutz-based company has over 30 years’ experience in cell culture media development and manufacturing.

http://blog.bioind.com/fda-drug-master-file-acceptance-nutristem-hpsc-xf-medium/ http://www.bioind.com/

US approves suturing system. (TY Atid-EDI) I wrote previously (Oct 10) that Israel’s Gordian Surgical had received CE (European) certification for its innovative TroClose1200 system for closing wounds after keyhole surgery. The system has now received US FDA approval and Gordian has received a $2.25 million investment.


Advanced gene editing. Researchers at Israel’s Weizmann Institute have combined two powerful research tools to advance the search for genetic breakthroughs. First, they use CRISPR gene editing to make changes to DNA molecules. Then they use single-cell genomic profiling to confirm the outcome of changes.


Detecting disease in “healthy” people. (TY Karen) Recent video by Israeli-Arab Professor Hossam Haick of Israel’s Technion who invented the Na-Nose breath test to detect diseases such as cancer.


Predictive analytics health research institute set up. Israel’s Maccabi Health Services has set up a $6 million digital health research institute. It has already developed technology for predicting colon cancer among Maccabi patients who never considered going for a scan for this purpose. And it is not stopping there.


Migraine treatment for South Korea. (TY Meron) Israel’s Redhill Biopharma and its Canadian co-development partner, IntelGenx have signed a definitive agreement with Korea’s Pharmatronic, granting an exclusive license (initially for 10 years) to market the acute migraine treatment RIZAPORT® in South Korea.



UK PM hails remarkable, tolerant Israel.   In a speech to the Conservative Friends of Israel, Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May called the State of Israel “a remarkable country” and “a beacon of tolerance”. She said UK ties with Israel were “crucial,” and promised to raise the bilateral trade relationship to new heights.


“Linked to Life” again. I reported previously (twice) on the What’s App group “Linked to Life” run by Israeli charity Ezer Mizion. Here are some more examples of the life-enhancing activities of its thousands of volunteers, taking parents by car to see their sick children in hospital.


The truth about Arabs. Mohammad Darawshe, director at The Center for a Shared Society at Givat Haviva presents some “astounding” statistics. 23% of Israeli doctors are Arabs; 46% of Israeli pharmacists are Arabs; 28% of Technion hi-tech students are Arabs and 16% of the students in all of Israeli higher education are Arabs.


Israelis raise more money for Syrians. (TY Suri) Religious Jews do not remain silent when they see what is happening to Syrian civilians. Beit Hillel – a small, Modern-Orthodox spiritual leadership movement with 200 Rabbis – has just raised $10,000 for the Syrian refugee children.


Israel takes in 100 Syrian orphans. Israel is to absorb 100 orphans from Syria. The children will receive temporary resident status, be placed in boarding schools and with Arab foster families, and later, should their families seek a unification, both they and their family members would be absorbed in Israel. And 1000 Israelis formed a human chain from the Russian embassy to the US embassy to demonstrate support of Syria’s civilians,

http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/us-to-ban-syrian-refugees-israel-accepts-100-syrian-orphans/2017/01/26/ http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/221917


Cooperation deal with Croatia. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Croatia’s Andrej Plenkovic, who was on his first visit to Israel as Prime Minister. They signed a cooperation agreement on disaster prevention and emergency response. http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/israeli-croatian-leaders-sign-cooperation-deal-in-jerusalem/2017/01/24/

Massachusetts police learn counter-terrorism. I reported previously (Sep 2015) on the 13th trip that the Anti-Defamation League arranged for US police to train in Israel. Their 2016 trip included police, FBI and Homeland Security agents from Massachusetts. Many had memories of the 2013 Boston marathon bombing.


Co-operation with Latin American Universities. Some 20 rectors from leading Latin American universities signed agreements with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, in a first-of-its-kind conference signaling growing academic cooperation. They also met with President Reuven Rivlin at his Jerusalem residence.


Working together for a greener world. The Arava Valley Institute for Environmental Studies at Kibbutz Ketura in the Negev brings together Israeli Jews, Israeli Arabs, Palestinian Arabs and Jordanians to study the region’s environmental problems. Their solutions also work in similar conditions worldwide.



Going to the Moon. (TY NoCamels.com) Israel’s SpaceIL is one of only five teams (out of 33 starters) to reach the final of the Google Lunar XPrize competition, which will award $20 million to the first private team to land a vehicle safely on the surface of the Moon. The five teams all now have verified launch contracts. The announcement also coincides with Israel Space Week.

http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/israeli-team-clinches-finalist-spot-in-international-moon-race/2017/01/25/ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CB5nbpj1CIA http://www.space.gov.il/en


Burundi solar field breaks ground. I reported previously (Apr 2015) on the plan by Israel’s Gigawatt Global to build a 7.5 MW solar field in Burundi, East Africa. The $14 million project has now broken ground with a ceremony attended by about 2,500 government officials, investors, religious leaders and diplomats.


A system that can evaluate the truth. (TY Atid-EDI) Israel’s Rootclaim has launched a crowdsourced analysis platform that navigates a sea of evidence and half-truths to arrive at the most likely hypothesis. What happened to flight MH370? Does the MMR vaccine cause autism? Find the (likely) answer on this site.

http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/rootclaim-launches-open-analysis-platform-that-surpasses-human-reasoning-604970666.html https://www.rootclaim.com/

Award-winning smart water meter sensor. Israel’s BwareIT has developed BrighTap, a smart water meter sensor that monitors water quality and consumption. BrighTap beat 1,000 startups from 101 countries to win the 2016 Startup Open competition, run by the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN). It was also one of CNBC’s hottest startups of 2016. http://www.israel21c.org/brightap-takes-first-place-in-gens-startup-open/

http://www.cnbc.com/2016/11/17/10-of-the-worlds-hottest-start-ups-in-2016.html?slide=2 http://bwareit.com/

Cola plant substitute for fizzy drinks. Israel’s Hishtil Nurseries produces the Cola plant (Artemisia abrotanum). Its leaves give a caramel flavor to hot and cold beverages, and even salads, stews and stir-fries. It is one of 250 kinds of culinary herbal plants exported by Hishtil across Western Europe and North America.


Your voice is your fingerprint. (TY Atid-EDI) I reported previously (several times) on Israel’s VocalZoom and its amazing voice recognition software that eliminates noise. It has now put the system onto portable sensors so it can now be used as a biometric method for authenticating someone – just like a fingerprint.


Mystery of super flash solved. Weizmann Institute scientists have determined the cause of a heavenly flash of light, on June 14 2015, that was double the intensity of any previous supernova. They ascertained that it was a star being swallowed by a massive black hole, rotating close to the speed of light.



First US basketball team to use Israeli tech. (TY Nevet) I’ve reported previously (several times) on Israel’s Playsight and its Smart Court tennis training system. The system has now been adapted for basketball and installed by NBA Champions Golden State Warriors in Oakland California.

http://www.sporttechie.com/2016/12/09/sports/nba/playsight-smartcourt-expansion-into-basketball-starts-with-golden-state-warriors/ https://www.youtube.com/embed/8KH_-o6xykM?rel=0

Renault-Nissan to launch Israeli R&D center. The Renault-Nissan Alliance is to establish an independent Technology Innovation Center in Israel. The information was revealed at the Cars 2017 conference in Tel Aviv. Renault-Nissan is the latest carmaker looking to exploit Israel’s leading smart car capabilities.


Startup’s Artificial Intelligence helps to launch startups. Israeli startup Dragonera uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to automate up to 70% of a startup’s early development phase. Dragonera uses blocks of code (microservices) to produce the prototype of any startup’s new app.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/dragonera-slays-product-time-to-market-with-ai/ http://www.dragonera.com/

Eddy can help feed the world. Karen Kloosterman, of Israel’s Flux, has developed Eddy – a foot-high plastic robot that communicates the growing conditions of your hydroponics unit (pH level, temperature, humidity, pollutants etc.) via a smartphone app. It can even control the nutrients in the plants, revolutionizing agriculture.



Economic indicator soars upwards. I often report the monthly increase in Israel’s Composite State of the Economy (CSE) indicator. It usually rises by 0.2 – 0.3% but in December it shot up by 0.45%. Factors include higher consumer spending, increased industrial production and more revenue from trade and services.


Internet support for peripheral firms. Israeli website builder Wix.com, Google and the nonprofit Atidim are helping 10,000 businesses far from Israel’s financial center to set up websites, and use social media platforms. The Digital Starter project is supported by the Israeli government and some 250 trained volunteers.


Learn to innovate in Israel. Israel has the greatest number of startups per capita in the world, prompting entrepreneurship courses at universities and colleges throughout the country. Ben Gurion University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Technion, the IDC and ORT all aim to combine theory with practical help.


Buy for Good. Israeli startup Buy for Good only sells products produced in vocational training centers that offer rehabilitation and employment opportunities for people with disabilities and from underprivileged communities. Soaps, tea, dolls, Judaica items etc. are sold via the website and shipped locally and overseas.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-online-store-makes-feel-good-buying-easier/ http://buyforgood.biz/

Formula 1 team adopts Israeli 3D printing. Israeli 3D printing company Stratasys is now the official supplier to the McLaren-Honda Formula 1 racing team. Stratasys will supply McLaren Racing with its latest 3D printing solutions and cutting-edge materials for visual and functional prototyping, and production tooling. http://www.globes.co.il/en/article-stratasys-teams-with-mclaren-racing-1001173473

Israeli crime-busting software sells big in USA. (TY Harold G) Israel’s Cellebrite has sold its phone and computer forensic software to police agencies in at least 20 US states. Revenue from the sales exceeds $4 million including $2 million from the FBI alone.


New flights from Israel. Low-cost airline Ryanair is to commence flights out of Tel Aviv. Its first route is to Paphos, beginning in March. More European destinations are expected soon. Cypriot airline TUS is adding Athens, Rhodes and Kos to its Haifa route. And Iceland’s WOW Air is to go daily from Tel Aviv to Reykjavik.




TaxiBot pulls Airbus 320. (TY Atid-EDI) I reported previously (three times) about TaxiBot from Israel Aerospace Industries, which has been towing Lufthansa Boeing 737 jets at Frankfurt airport since 2014. It has just completed tests on towing Airbus 320neo jets at Airbus facilities in Toulouse, France and is now in the final stages of certification. http://www.iai.co.il/2013/32981-48158-en/MediaRoom.aspx


Darom Adom (Red South) festival. The Darom Adom Festival, throughout February, follows the rainy season, when the ordinarily green landscape of the northern Negev is covered with a magnificent carpet of scarlet red anemones. This year the festival features mountain bike marathons, poetry readings, concerts by Israeli artists every Thursday, and much more. https://www.touristisrael.com/darom-adom-festival/9365/

Jerusalem’s Winter Festival. (TY Israel21c) February in Jerusalem sees the annual Shaon Horef (Winter Noise) cultural festival. On each of the four Monday evenings, Jerusalem’s streets are transformed into art and music venues. Events include street theatre, night tours, dance classes and videos screened on buildings.

https://www.itraveljerusalem.com/evt/shaon-horef/ https://www.youtube.com/embed/tHX5F44EWlY?rel=0

Bonnie Tyler concerts in Tel Aviv. Welsh singer Bonnie Tyler, famous for “Total Eclipse of the Heart”, is performing at three concerts in Israel – Feb 4, 6 and 7.


Wonder woman in Super Bowl ad. Israeli actress Gal Gadot, of Wonder Woman fame, is starring in this year’s Super Bowl advert for Israel’s Wix. The ad, cost NIS 13 million to produce and over $10 million per minute to broadcast. http://www.globes.co.il/en/article-gal-gadot-to-star-in-wix-super-bowl-ad-1001172867

Australian Open runner up. Israeli tennis prodigy Yshai Oliel reached the final of the boy’s singles at the Australian Open, beating the number one seed. Oliel won the junior Orange bowl twice and last year won the boys doubles at the French Open. At last year’s US Open, he reached the semi-finals of the boys singles.

http://www.israellycool.com/2017/01/27/guest-post-israeli-yshai-oliel-through-to-australian-open-boys-singles-final/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2017_Australian_Open_%E2%80%93_Boys’_Singles

Israeli windsurfer wins youth world title. (TY Bennett) Israel’s Yoav Omer won gold in the boys’ RS:X race of the Youth Sailing World Championships, held in Auckland, New Zealand. In addition, Israel’s Ido Blik and Ofek Shalgi won silver in the 420 boys class race and Katy Spychakov won silver in the RS:X girls class race.


https://www.youtube.com/embed/UodsQaUWBYA?rel=0 (includes Hatikvah – Israel’s national anthem)


The JNF is 115. Keren Kayemet Le’Israel-Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) has planted some 240 million trees in Israel since its founding in 1901. And it has undertaken massive projects in sustainability, conservation, education, tourism, agriculture, roads and reservoirs. It also works in Kenya, Colombia, Italy, Australia and even Indonesia. https://www.youtube.com/embed/pno6FjZonWI?rel=0


400 feet of Zionism at Ben Gurion Airport. To commemorate the 120th anniversary of the first Zionist Congress, the World Zionist Organization has installed a 400-foot long exhibition of posters at Ben Gurion Airport. They comprise photos and compositions depicting milestones in the history of the Zionist movement.