The Jewish festival of Purim begins on Sunday and is one of the happiest events in the Hebrew calendar. No surprise then that this week’s blog takes an even more cheerful view of the Israeli news than usual.
Israelis have become experts in formulating treatments that keep the brain in a happy and healthy state. Professor Marta Weinstock-Rosin of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem just received the Israel Prize for developing Exelon, currently undergoing Phase II trials for treating dementia related to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Meanwhile, Israeli biotech D-Pharm has announced successful interim results in the Phase IIa clinical trial of its drug THR-18 for the treatment of cerebral stroke. Investors in D-Pharm were happy to see the share price double, despite the treatment trials taking place in the Ukraine.
One Israeli charity - Life’s Door - Tishkofet focuses on returning happiness to the bereaved and family members of seriously ill patients. In its ten years it has helped more than 10,000 individuals. Professor Ben Corn of Tel Aviv University founded the organization after losing his father to cancer and finding no one to help with the trauma. The elderly and the infirm can happily stay in their own homes now that Israeli life-science company Essence has launched the in-home care monitoring solution Care-at-Home. The system learns a person's everyday routine and detects any deviations, such as skipped meals, reduced activity or unusual events.
Arabs have a happier and healthier lifestyle in the Jewish State than anywhere else in the Middle East. In fact, Israeli Arabs live longer than Americans. As the new book “Liberal Oasis: The Truth About Israel” by Joshua Muravchik states, “Israel has done better in evening out the differences between its Jewish and Arab citizens than most countries encompassing sharply diverse nationalities.” Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat will be happy to endorse that, having just inaugurated the “Center for Excellence You-niversity” – an academic center for Arab girls in Beit Hanina, East Jerusalem. Hundreds of Syrians are happy to admit that their leaders misled them about Israel. Just as Israeli hospitals start to receive wounded Ukranians, Dr. Massad Barhoum, Director General of Israel’s Western Galilee Hospital (and a Christian Arab) spoke at the AIPAC conference about treating casualties from Syria’s civil war.)
Anyone concerned with the environment will be happy to hear that a delegation of 15 Israeli energy and water companies is headed to San Francisco and Chicago. The solutions they present address some of the world’s biggest challenges such as energy storage, smart management of electricity networks, production of oil and gas from unconventional sources and more. Back home, Israeli start-up Valentis is developing a thinner, greener packaging material that has a strength-to-weight ratio 8 times greater than stainless steel. The material is based on nano-crystalline cellulose (NCC), a biodegradable, transparent material made from plant pulp waste.
Israeli sweets and toys can trigger a happy state of mind. First, anyone with Celiac disease, gluten intolerance or following a gluten-free lifestyle will be happy with the new chocolate/yoghurt clusters from Israel’s Carmit Candy Industries. These healthier sweets contain combinations of gluten-free cereals and dried fruits or nuts. And who can resist watching children playing happily with their toys? The innovative toys manufactured by Israel’s TinyLove have an added bonus as they also promote children’s development skills.
Two Israelis will be feeling particularly happy following their successes in the Hollywood Oscars. Niv Adiri added to the BAFTA he’d won previously for his team’s work on the sound of the multi-award winning film "Gravity." Also celebrating was Arnon Milchan who co-produced “12 Years a Slave” which won the top prize of Best Picture. Another happy couple is IDF Captain Ziv Shilon and his girlfriend Adi Sitbon. One year ago, Ziv lost an arm in a Hamas attack but bravely returned to duty shortly afterwards. I’m happy to report that at a “Friends of the Israel Defense Forces” event in Florida, Ziv proposed to Adi, and she was very happy to accept.
This year, the Jewish festival of Purim takes place within a week of Israel’s “Good Deeds Day”, which aims to make millions of Israelis happy by encouraging cooperation between Israel’s different communities. Whatever you decide to do for Purim, take a moment to watch Israelis dance to the sounds of Pharrell Williams’s song “Happy” with background scenes of Tel Aviv / Yafo.
Finally, if you stare hard at the full moon during the night of Purim, don’t be surprised if you see a smiling face emerge. It probably will only be an illusion, due to too much of the traditional Purim “happy juice”, but you never know - it just might be a celestial appreciation of the planned attempt by Israel’s SpaceIL to place its 140kg LunarX satellite on the heavenly body and win Google’s $30 million prize. The project is being publicized nationally and is having a happy effect on thousands of Israeli schoolchildren.
Michael Ordman writes a free weekly newsletter containing positive news stories about Israel.
For a free subscription, email a request to firstname.lastname@example.org