In our weekly Torah readings we are currently learning afresh about the groundbreaking activities of the ancestors of the Jewish people. In parallel, recent news is full of the innovations being developed by startups, scientists and entrepreneurs in the Jewish State today.
Those suffering from Parkinson’s disease may soon look forward to a fresh start in life thanks to the recent success in Phase II trials of liquid levodopa/carbidopa developed by Israeli biotech NeuroDerm. Another Israeli area of expertise - stem cell transplantation - is providing a fresh start to many with life-threatening ailments, however the side-effect Graft-versus-host-disease (GVHD) endangers the treatment. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has therefore granted preferential orphan drug status to Glassia from Israel’s Kamada, which studies show is able to reduce the severity of GVHD. The US FDA has also approved the innovative ECG system HyperQ Analyzer Rest developed by Israeli biotech BSP, which can diagnose early-stage heart disease without putting the patient under dangerous stress and avoiding invasive radioactive tracers.
Aging pilots can look forward to a fresh start thanks to the Israeli app GlassesOff. After 3 months of tests, 32 Israeli pilots experienced an average 35% improvement in visual acuity (sharpness and clarity) with just 12-15 minutes of exercise, three times a week. GlassesOff doesn’t improve eyesight, rather the brain’s ability to concentrate on and process visual signals. Over at Hadassah Medical Center, a fresh look at managing Attention Deficiency Disorder is giving children with the concentration ailment the opportunity to live normal lives with their families. Hadassah’s Neurocognitive Center has one of the world’s most innovative models for the diagnosis and therapy of ADHD. And if your own concentration fails during the post-lunch fatigue period, then you will be pleased to know that the no-caffeine natural beverage WakeUp, from Israel’s Inno-Bev can refresh you. WakeUp has just won the 2014 SupplySide CPG Editors’ Choice Award in the Energy Drink category.
Israeli technology is at the center of the world’s efforts to produce fresh agricultural produce. Professor Eilon Adar, of Ben Gurion University's Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research (ZIWR), is helping California combat drought by sharing technology and experience of working with scarce water resources. ZWIR specialties include desalination, hydrology, resource economics and water management. Back in Israel, Evogene has opened a new center for crop protection, with dedicated Research & Development programs focusing on fungus, insect and weed control. But the main news this week is of the fungicide developed by Israel’s Pimi Agro that keeps fruit and vegetables fresh for up to 10 weeks. It extends shelf life by a staggering 1500 percent, and could prevent the current wastage of one-third of the world’s agricultural produce.
Recently, there has been some good news for startups in Israel, where investment during the 3rd quarter of 2014 was 6% higher than the same period in 2013. Over $700 million of funding capital was invested in Israeli hi-tech from Jul-Sep 2014. Eleven Israeli startups are currently attending Philadelphia's first Israel Technology Conference, hosted by Drexel University. Philadelphia is a perfect gateway for Israeli companies, thanks to its abundance of higher education and healthcare institutions. Meanwhile, hundreds of European and Asian investors looked to Israel for partnerships with Israeli startups at the twelfth annual Go4Europe/Go4Israel conference in Tel Aviv's Hilton Hotel.
Anyone who normally only reads bad news about Israel could make a fresh start by taking a look at the excellent website From The Grapevine. It features original articles highlighting the inspiring, beautiful and innovative side of the Jewish State. It also includes some stunning photography to accompany positive Israeli stories that cover Innovation, Health, Nature, the Arts, Food and Lifestyle. Another recommendation is Israel21c, which is currently running a story on Israel’s Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center in Mikhmoret. Its nine patients include Mazel (Luck) who is blind and Hofesh (Freedom) who has been given artificial fins. They will stay and hopefully breed, but the other seven should eventually be given a fresh start when they return to the sea. The video below is of the remarkable rehabilitation of Franki the sea turtle.
Good news for some of the Israelis who were terrorized by thousands of Hamas rockets during the summer. The Jewish Agency for Israel has developed a $13.2 million aid package to give members of the communities of Israel’s south a fresh start following the hostilities. Thanks are due to the Jewish Federations of North America, Keren Hayesod-UIA, and many other donors.
Finally, you have got to believe that anything is possible when you read about the fresh start made by a certain Shia Muslim man from Lebanon. He was a commander in the terror organization Hezbollah when he fled to South Lebanon and eventually to Israel. Soon afterwards he converted to Judaism and today he is Rabbi Avraham Sinai of Tsfat.
Israel – it all starts here.
Michael Ordman writes a free weekly newsletter containing positive news stories about Israel.
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