The Future is in Israeli Hands

The rituals that accompany the Jewish festival of Sukkot (Tabernacles) almost require us to have an extra pair of hands.  Holding 4 species of plants together, assembling a booth, carrying food up and down stairs etc.  So it is appropriate that many of the recent positive news items from the Jewish State can be connected to our hands.

We begin in Haifa, where medical experts at the University of Haifa and Rambam Medical Center have developed a non-invasive handwriting analysis technique to detect the onset of Parkinson’s disease.  Changes in handwriting occur years before a clinical diagnosis can be made, providing early treatment options.  In a similar vein, a finger is all that diabetics need in order to receive an accurate, painless reading of their blood-sugar levels using the TensorTip Combo Glucometer from Israel’s Cnoga.

One day, stem cell technology will be able to regenerate damaged limbs and organs.  Thanks to the handiwork of Israeli scientists at the Weizmann Institute, that day is now much closer. They discovered that removing the protein MBD3 from adult cells re-programs them into stem cells in just 8 days instead of the current 4 weeks.  Israel’s depth of expertise in this technology can be seen in the speaker list for Jerusalem’s 5th International Stem Cell conference in October. It includes 22 Israeli professors and six specialist Israeli doctors.

The technology development arm of Cancer Research UK has received a hand from Israel’s Teva Pharmaceuticals with the signing of a multi-project alliance agreement to research and develop first-in-class cancer drugs. Whilst this was happening, the US Food and Drug Administration handed out approval for two of Teva’s cancer medications - for the treatment of secondary cancers and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Patients with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Parkinson’s disease often cannot control their hands. The Deep Brain TMS treatment from Israel’s Brainsway is having much success in this area.  Trials at Sheba Medical Center have shown a 27 percent improvement in OCD patients that had previously failed to respond to both pharmacological and psychological therapy.  Meanwhile, more wounded Syrians have been waking up in Israeli hospitals to find themselves in safe hands. 

Israeli technology is transforming farmers in the developing world from their previous “hand to mouth” existence.  Israeli brothers Gilad and Yonatan Shilo founded Israel for Africa (IFA) to promote better sustainable agriculture in Kenya.  And in Brazil, Israel’s Evogene has successfully completed three years of field trials to transform castor beans into bio-fuel.  The crop is sown after the soybean harvest, when rainfall is insufficient for other crops, providing farmers with “handy” extra revenue.  However, farmers everywhere would like to get their hands on Tal-Ya trays, now that the Israeli innovation has gone into production.  The agricultural trays achieve a dramatic increase in crop yield and prevent weed-growth, whilst saving farmers over 50 percent in water and 30 percent in fertilizer resources.

Research institutions and science museums across the country handed the Israeli public hundreds of opportunities to participate in this year’s “Night of the Scientists”.  Space exploration was the theme, as 2013 is the tenth anniversary of the flight of the first Israeli astronaut - Ilan Ramon.  The event was entitled “Israelis touch the stars” and included “hands-on” activities for all the family.

The marketing message for the new plug-in from Israeli start-up Curiyo is that it “puts the data you want at your fingertips”.  Curiyo will display a subtle link to instantly available details about interesting subjects in any web page you visit.  And Israel’s “invisible touchscreen” maker SnapKeys has updated its SI Revolution keyboard app to fit your fingers.  Say goodbye to the QWERTY keyboard.  One-finger typing just got even easier.

We should use our hands to applaud two exceptional individuals.  In Acre, Uri Jeremias’s single-handed determination has been responsible for the reconstruction of two abandoned Ottoman palaces and their transformation into a handsome boutique hotel.  On the other hand, Maestro conductor Zubin Mehta is used to waving his hands around more than most of us.  But he put his fingertips together Indian style in gratitude for being bestowed with an honorary Technion doctorate.  Professor Lavie, President of Israel’s world-class innovation university, described Dr Mehta as an exceptional man who has made a unique contribution to the betterment of Israel and the entire world with the magic of music.

Returning to the festive season, and although they missed out on a world record, many hands made light work of Haifa youth’s Sukkot project to make Israel’s longest paper chain. Decorated paper chains are a popular feature of the booths built for the festival of Tabernacles / Sukkot. 

Finally, prominent Israelis shook hands with some of the thousands of Christian supporters of Israel from over 100 countries who made sure they were on hand in Jerusalem this week to celebrate the most inclusive of Jewish festivals.  It is a handy reminder that the last time Israel’s capital city saw more representations from nations of the world was in King Solomon’s time.

More people need to know what is truly happening in the Jewish State.

Please give a helping hand!

Michael Ordman writes a free weekly newsletter containing Good News stories about Israel.
For a free subscription, email a request to

Hidden Treasure

In summer excavations Hebrew University of Jerusalem archaeologists discovered a treasure trove barely 50 meters from the base of Temple Mount.  The items included a 7th century gold medallion depicting a menorah (Temple candelabrum), a shofar (ram’s horn) and a Torah scroll - a valuable reminder of Jewish historical links to the holy site.  To accompany this, I have brought to the surface some more of Israel’s recent “nuggets” of positive news and ask you to help ensure they receive appropriate international exposure.

Almost every week Israeli scientists and biotechs reveal more of cancer’s secrets.  Last week there were four relevant news items:
-         Discovery of a protein that triggers cell death, which is missing in cancerous tissue.
-         Successful transplant of Gamida’s NiCord stem cells into a leukemia sufferer.
-         BioLineRX’s treatment of acute myeloid leukemia was given US FDA orphan drug status.
-         KAHR Medical plans to trial its anti-lymphoma treatment

In the invisible field of molecular biology, researchers at Israel’s Technion have developed the antioxidant 1-FE that will be invaluable in the fight against heart disease.  Meanwhile, deep under the surface of the skin, two companies are healing damaged joints and bones.  Active Implants, whose R&D center is in Israel, is raising funds for the trials of its polymer knee implant for osteo-arthritis patients either too old or too young for a total knee replacement.  And Israel’s Regenecure has revealed that, following the success of its BoneCure membrane in healing broken bones in animals, it is now working on a similar product for humans.

Israeli Public Service Venture Fund, Tmura, is a real treasure.  It has just distributed one million shekels to each of five youth charities, following its sale of share options in Waze. Israeli start-ups donate options to Tmura when they seek funding, which become valuable if the start-up goes public or gets taken over.

Israel’s Ziv and Western Galilee hospitals have no spare funds, but they are like gold mines to hundreds of victims of the Syrian civil war.  Last week, Ziv treated 12 and 15-year-old brothers who had been wounded by a land mine. And the 15-year-old Syrian girl, whose remaining leg Ziv doctors saved, was all smiles when she was discharged.  I’m pleased that some of these reports are being publicized.

While on this subject, here is a recent fact sheet about Israel’s humanitarian work for Palestinian Arabs that most news agencies try to hide.  And those who have read “Pallywood” propaganda that Israel is depriving the Palestinian Authority of water need to visit this site, which exposes all the hidden PA swimming pools.

Israel’s Netafim knows how much of a treasure water is. Netafim just collected the prestigious Stockholm Industry Water Award for its drip irrigation technology, which is vital for farmers in developing countries.  Drip irrigation was discovered when a hidden leaky water pipe was found to be responsible for a flourishing tree.

Until recently, the Jewish State’s oil and gas reserves were very well hidden, which is why so many Israeli start-ups developed clean energy alternatives.  One of these is Israel’s Ormat Industries, which extracts geothermal energy from deep underground. Ormat will supply California with another 12 years of electricity from its 46MW geothermal power plant at the Heber complex in Imperial Valley.  Here in Israel, the Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) plant under construction at the Hiriya Recycling Park will transform 1500 tons of garbage into usable fuel every day.

So at this time of year, when Jews go from their houses and move into the outside world, with only the partly-exposed roofs of the sukkah (tabernacle / booth) to protect them, it’s appropriate to take the lid off this hidden treasure we call Israel.  You could start by promoting Marcella Rosen's e-book "Tiny Dynamo" about Israeli start-ups that are quietly changing the world. says it’s “a must-read for anyone passionate about entrepreneurship and technology. Acre-for-acre, person-for-person, no place is innovating more than Israel.”   Or persuade your friends to watch CBN’s excellent series “Made in Israel” by Gordon Robertson about Israel's remarkable innovation and ingenuity to produce breakthroughs in products and processes that affect the way we live our every day lives.

Finally, one of the most unlikely individuals came out of hiding recently.  Csanad Szegedi used to be vice-president of Hungary’s far-right, anti-Semitic Jobbik party until his grandmother exposed the fact that he was Jewish.  Csanad abandoned Jobbik and embraced the treasure that is Judaism. The change to his life culminated this year when he made his first visit to the Jewish State.

Come back for more gems next week.

Michael Ordman writes a free weekly newsletter containing Good News stories about Israel.
For a free subscription, email a request to

The Right Connections

According to Avishai Abrahami, founder of website builder Wix, Israeli start-ups have a surprising secret weapon - helpful connections with established companies, even competitors!  Israeli entrepreneurs regularly help newcomers, because these entrepreneurs originally received help themselves.  Nothing exists in isolation in the Jewish State and the theme of “connections” links all of the following recent news articles.

Israel has built links with top hospitals and medical institutions around the world.  Experts from Boston Medical Center trained Israeli surgeons at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa to use surgical robots to perform advanced pediatric surgery.  For the first time, they used Rambam’s da Vinci robot to correct congenital defects on Israeli children.

Israel’s Dr. Nizam Razack also connected with US surgeons and robots when he performed the world’s first robotic brain surgery.  At Celebration Health Hospital in Orlando, Florida. Dr Razack used the Renaissance robotic guidance system from Israel’s Mazor Robotics to perform successful deep brain stimulation (DBS) on a Parkinson’s sufferer.  In another US medical collaboration, researchers at Tel Aviv University and Chicago’s Northwestern University worked together to discover that a mutation in skin cell molecules disrupts the immune response and triggers allergic reactions.

Dr. Ayelet Erez used her connections from studying and working at the Technion, Sheba Medical Center, Tel Aviv University, Baylor College Texas and the Weizmann Institute to uncover the link between the enzyme ASL and Nitrous Oxide, which is essential for regulating blood pressure.  Meanwhile, Ariel Munitz of Tel Aviv University has discovered a link between cancer and white blood cells called macrophages.  A particular stimulus will make them heal cancer and fibrosis. But a different stimulus actually makes the condition worse.  But potentially Israel’s most important medical connections are contained in Israel’s "National Network of Excellence" (NNE) in Neuroscience.  Established by Israel’s Teva, NNE has just granted funds to 46 scientists at seven Israeli universities and teaching hospitals to boost therapeutic developments for Alzheimer’s, MS, dementia and other brain diseases.

Israelis are also very good at breaking unhelpful connections.  Why, for instance, do aerosols need to contain dangerous compressed gases and be stored in expensive, metallic, cylindrical containers?  Israeli startup GreenSpense has developed an eco-friendly system for dispensing liquid products. A thin elastic sleeve inside the product generates high pressure, which is released at a touch of a button.  Another connectivity problem is solved by Israeli start-up Pressy.  Sometimes you have to perform many laborious connected functions on your smartphone before you can take a photo, or order a pizza etc.  Pressy provides “one button to rule them all”, which you attach to the headphone socket of your android device.

Some important international connections were enhanced recently:
-         Chinese investment in Israeli biotech NasVax will boost development of treatments for fatty liver disease and Alzheimer’s. 
-         Israel Chemicals announced it is to mine phosphates in Vietnam.
-         Israel’s Ormat Industries completed a 100mW geothermal power plant in New Zealand.
-         The World Bank is investing in Israel’s Kaiima, developing resilient and high yield grain.
-         The world’s largest Muslim country, Indonesia, is to use Israeli technology to build roads.

Staying with the international connection, but on a lighter note, hundreds of Hungarians at the Israeli festival in Budapest satisfied their hunger on the largest bowl of Hummus that Hungary has ever seen.  And international sporting links included the signing by Scottish soccer champions Celtic of Israeli midfielder Nir Biton from FC Ashdod.  The 21-year-old will now connect up with fellow countryman, Beram Kayal who already plays for Celtic. 

It is inspiring that there is an Israeli connection at the top of so many International companies.  According to Bloomberg Rankings, graduates of Israel’s Technion Institute make up the seventh highest number of chief executives of the top technical companies in the USA.

To conclude, here are two news items that connect the modern Jewish State with its historical origins.  Firstly, it may have been the phenomenal number of recent ancient Biblical discoveries that persuaded Bar Ilan University archaeologists to purchase a $70,000 handheld X-Ray Florescent Spectrometer to go with the Fourier spectrometer already being used.  The two devices now provide Bar-Ilan with the best molecular analysis capabilities in the world.  And finally, can you imagine Miriam Siebenberg’s surprise when she uncovered connections going back 2,000 years in the form of an ancient Jewish residence underneath her Jerusalem home. As Miriam says of the Siebenberg House Museum, “Both my roots and the roots of our people are right underneath this house.”  It’s living history.

Stay connected for the next inspiring installment.

Michael Ordman writes a free weekly newsletter containing Good News stories about Israel.
For a free subscription, email a request to

Time for Change

Part of the preparations for the Jewish New Year involves an individual’s commitment to changing bad characteristics into good ones.  As I reflect on my personal improvement plan, I am pleased to report that on a national and global level, Israelis are definitely changing the world to the good with their innovations.

In the medical arena, many people find it impossible to change their diet to resolve physical obesity. So students from the Bio-design program of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have enforced a change to the metabolism with a gastric sleeve that blocks food absorption.  Doctors insert the sleeve down the throat and via the stomach to the duodenum, without surgery or anesthetic.  Israel’s NI Medical will certainly change the lives of cardiac patients. Following an agreement with Mobile Medical Services, NI Medical’s Non-invasive Cardiac System (NICas) monitors will be installed in nursing homes across the United States.  The monitors will dramatically reduce the number of unnecessary transfers to hospital.

Israeli biotech D-Pharm discovered that the parasite transmitted diseases malaria and sleeping sickness cause changes in the metal ions within brain cells.  D-Pharm has just announced that its revolutionary treatments are able to regulate the disrupted ions and provide a totally new therapeutic solution to these devastating diseases.  But the world will probably be more interested in the cosmetic changes that Israel’s EndyMed can make to the faces of aging women.  The US Food and Drug Administration has given its approval to EndyMed’s 3Deep treatment that applies radio frequency energy to the skin in order to remove wrinkles.

Change the radio frequency to the visible spectrum and you will find Israeli startup Gauzy, whose liquid crystal technology allows “smart” glass to change from transparent to opaque with just a touch. Too hot?  Then touch the glass to block out the sunlight.  It will change the construction market out of all recognition.

The recent launch of Israeli start-up will change how we learn languages.’s personal educational service starts with a quiz and then it indexes the Internet, feeding you with appropriately selected texts based on your vocabulary.  But this is nothing compared to the changes we will see arising from the Brain Computer Interface developments that Israel is at the forefront of.  Tel Aviv’s Brainihack competition brings together neuroscientists, artists, designers, robotics experts etc. to see who can build the best viable product in one weekend.

As the Jewish Year 5773 comes to an end and the rest of the Middle East implodes, there has been a marked change in how Israel is viewed amongst the nations.  Not surprising, given Israel’s:
-         Regular discoveries of natural gas off its coast. (Even Egypt wants to buy some)
-         Advanced telecommunications. (Enhanced by its launch of the Amos 4 satellite).
-         Expertise in water technology. (IDE just sold another desalination system to Asia)
-         Agro technology (Kinneret College has developed a plant that survives extended droughts)

Even Israel’s wine industry has become one of the most respected of the New World.  Israel’s Golan Heights Winery picked up another award, on the eve of its 30th anniversary.  And you need to see the changes Israel is making to the Negev desert when planted with vineyards.  What better location to get a really dry wine.  Or possibly even a “dessert” wine?

Israel is certainly changing perceptions amongst ordinary Arabs.  The families of Syrian patients brought to Israeli hospitals for treatment suddenly realize that everything they have been told by their leaders and media about the Jewish State has been a lie.  Meanwhile, five Arab schools in East Jerusalem have decided to change from the PA curriculum to the Israeli curriculum.

For a change, an Israeli won a gold medal at the Judo World Championships when Yarden Gerbi, from Netanya, won the women’s under-63 kg class. But Israel’s soccer team did more in defeat to change sporting attitudes towards Israel.  In the blistering cold and rain of the Ukraine, as the national anthems were played, the Israelis removed their training jackets and shielded a group of children lined up in front of them on the field.

To conclude, here are some thoughts for those not already living in the Jewish State.  How about making plans to change your place of residence in 5774?  For those not already married, there is even a new Nefesh b’Nefesh on-line dating site for Aliya-minded individuals to “share their love of Israel”.  For the health conscious, Bloomberg has just confirmed that Israel has the fourth best healthcare system in the world, only surpassed by Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan. The UK came 14th and the USA 46th.

Finally, for those who cannot make the move, please continue to support the Jewish State whenever you can.  If you wish to make a change in 5774, then this article by P. David Hornick may initiate it. He asks “Why is Israel so bad at public relations?” His conclusion is, that no matter how much effort and money Israel spends on defending itself, those that hate us will always hate us.  Far better then to publicize all the good things that Israel does, to those willing to listen. 

Or, as I would put it ….

“Change the conversation.”

Michael Ordman writes a free weekly newsletter containing Good News stories about Israel.
For a free subscription, email a request to

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.
For a free subscription, email a request to