The Jewish festival of Hanukah recalls two miracles that occurred over two millennia ago – the victory of the Maccabees over the Greek-Syrian superpower and the single flask of pure oil that burned for eight days in the Temple. In our present time (as regular readers of this blog will know) miracles occur on a daily basis in the Jewish State.
Israel’s life-changing medical innovations have become almost commonplace. It was miraculous, though, that the BBC decided to feature InSightec’s ExAblate non-invasive focused ultrasound treatment curing a Parkinson’s sufferer of essential tremor. In the whole episode, however, the flawed broadcaster managed to avoid naming the developer of the breakthrough equipment or the fact that it was Israeli. The Jerusalem Post gave appropriate credit, however, when doctors at Haifa’s Rambam hospital used the same system to cure the first Israeli of the debilitating tremor.
At this point I must include the following Hanukah miracles involving two more Israeli patients. Blinded in a bomb attack by Gaza terrorists last month, 2nd Lieutenant Ahiya Klein has recovered enough sight in his left eye to return home and light Hanukah candles. And, two-year-old Avigail Ben-Tzion has been discharged from hospital after suffering serious head injuries when Arab thugs threw rocks at her family’s car in Jerusalem.
Anyone who has seen incidences of metatarsus adductus or metatarsus varus will think it is a miracle that these deformities in the feet of infants can be cured in just six weekssimply by them wearing the Israeli-developed UNFO foot brace. The device is worn below the ankle and is far more effective, safer, and less stressful than a cast or full leg braces. Those suffering from dementia (and their families) will hope that miracle cures will emerge from the research being carried out at Ben-Gurion University into the impact of mitochondria on memory and brain disorders. A $1 million German-Israel Project-Cooperation grant will certainly boost these prospects. And would you believe thatcannabis / marijuana is the latest miracle drug? Hot on the heels of its success in treating the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis, scientists at Tel Aviv University and Kfar Saba’s Meir Hospital have had similar results with those suffering from Crohns’ disease. In some patients, the disease even went into remission.
It will be a miracle if the world can continue to feed itself throughout this century, but if it succeeds then Israeli technology will be one of the key reasons. Israel’s advanced precision farming techniques, water optimization, robotics, sensor driven technology and environmentally friendly agrochemicals are all currently on display at the 2nd annual Agrivest Conference at the Eretz Israel Museum, Tel-Aviv. Simultaneously, at the Warsaw Climate Change Conference, Israel’s Ministry of Economy presented a database of the Israeli companies that offer “adaptation” technologies. The companies address climate, agriculture, waste, “green” building materials and crisis management.
The world will also need the “miracle” of Israeli technology to avoid running out of water for drinking and agriculture. Even before Typhoon Haiyan struck, Israel’s water management company Miya saved 700 million liters of water a day in the Philippine capital of Manila – an achievement for which it won the International Water Association’s Project Innovation Award. Israel’s national water carrier Mekorot is working with British firms both in the UK and globally. And despite the EU refusal to help fund joint Israeli-PA projects, Israeli water treatment company Mapal Green Energy is building a pilot reclamation system in the Palestinian Arab village of Uja, near Jericho that will recycle domestic sewage and water for use in agriculture.
The miracle of Israel and its ethos can be summed up in the music and lyrics of Arik Einstein, Israel’s most popular singer and songwriter. Despite his death last week, one of his many enduring songs “Ani v’Ata Neshaneh et Ha’olam” (Me and You will Change the World) will continue to inspire Israelis.
The return of the Jewish people to its land is certainly the greatest miracle of modern times. Two recent events emphasize the link between the modern Jewish State and its historical roots. Firstly, archaeologists have uncovered a stone altar that provides the first physical evidence that the ancient city of Shiloh (in Judea and Samaria) was a religious center even before the First Temple was built in Jerusalem. But the journey of Tony Pina’s family is even more poignant. Following exile to Babylon and later emigration via Spain to Majorca, the Pina family was forced to convert to Christianity. But for 500 years Tony’s ancestors practiced Judaism secretly, culminating in Tony’s return to his roots in Jerusalem, defying history, logic and the impossible.
Israel’s light is eternal – and that’s the real miracle.
Michael Ordman writes a free weekly newsletter containing Good News stories about Israel.