Every week there are news items that are so unusual that they would very rarely appear in the media of any other country. However, here in the Jewish State these stories are quite commonplace. I feel that this week, though, we cannot simply pass over them.
The first item comes from the amazing organisation Save A Child’s Heart that I feature frequently. Surgeons at the Wolfson Medical Centre in Holon astonished many SACH supporters when they managed to save the life of 14-year old Elisa Manuel Antonio from Angola. They removed a 14 cm tumour from her chest that pressed against her heart and threatened her life. Only a few similar cases are known in the whole world. At the other end of the age spectrum, surgeons at Rehovot’s Kaplan Medical Centre performed a heart bypass on 94-year old Shimon Ganot. Born in 1918, Shimon fought in the pre-state Palmach and was an IDF infantry officer in four wars. His latest battle was a bit tricky, but he emerged victorious once again.
Yad Hamoreh School in Jerusalem is a very special school. It has a uniquely mixed population of regular pupils and severely to moderately autistic children. Its excellent results have astounded visiting educators from several Eastern European countries, South America, China and the United States. And speaking of results, it is also truly remarkable that the academic performance of Israeli students in the South continues to improve despite having to learn under fire from the terrorist missiles from Gaza. In Sderot, 85% of students matriculate into universities when they finish high school, while the national average is only 62%. What is really incredible is that during the week when Gazans fired 300 rockets at Israeli civilians, the Jewish State delivered 180 trucks of aid, building materials and merchandise to the terrorist-run state.
I’m also sure that gynaecologist Dr. Avigail Maayani would not have believed it if you had told her, when she left Israel to care for thousands of sick patients in Africa, that she would be returning three years later to treat African refugees in Tel Aviv.
Israel certainly has been bucking the trend economically for some time. Whilst most other OECD countries are experiencing increased job losses, Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer says the country is now near full employment. A combination of fast population growth, robust exports, and sound monetary policy has allowed Israel to create jobs faster than the U.S., the European Union, Poland, and even Brazil.
Here are two examples of the kind of technological phenomena that have contributed to Israel’s success. Firstly, Israel is definitely getting smaller. At NanoIsrael 2012 dozens of companies, along with over 40 start-ups, presented projects and products that use nanotechnology to produce better solutions in electronics, photonics, biotechnology, medicine, materials, agriculture, and more. Meanwhile, Israeli IT specialist Wix has released a version of its software that allows you to build your website on almost any platform. Wix’s free DIY website builder now supports HTML5 and can run on any platform from PC to mobile device.
Moving now into the sporting arena, one of the runners in the Jerusalem Marathon was Rabbi Tuly Weisz. He experienced feelings of Biblical proportions when he saw “the streets of the city filled” (Zechariah 8:5) with 15,000 runners (“many people and mighty nations will come”). He may have been spiritually moved, however he must have been relieved that a sudden hailstorm during the race was nothing like that experienced by the ancient Egyptians once during this season. Many runners barely had time to draw breath before racing over to Israel’s “city that never stops” for the Tel Aviv Gillette Marathon. And the wind was certainly in the sails of Israel’s Lee Korzits as she won the women's RS:X windsurfing world title for the second year running and the third time in her career. The victory also secures her an automatic place in the 2012 London Olympics.
Finally, as we approach the Jewish festival of Passover, South Africa’s Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein has issued an inspiring message that contains much praise for the modern Jewish State and its citizens. His video also features the music of Yaakov Shwekey singing “Vhi Sheamda” that describes how tyrants in every generation are thwarted in their plan to eliminate the Jewish people. I hope this fact gets through to a certain little Iranian dictator.
Here’s hoping for another extraordinary year.
Michael Ordman writes a weekly newsletter containing Good News stories about Israel.