Saturday, October 31, 2009

SeGen Underwater Technology

Israel In Our Day Listen online:
Reported by Shalle McDonald
Written by Kasey Barr

Israeli company, SeaGen, has developed a new solution to storing Liquefied Petroleum Gas in a manner that is far safer and environmentally friendly then the current steel storehouses that line the shores of many of the world’s port cities.

Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), refers to the gaseous liquids that are produced when processing natural gas and crude oil. The two main commercial bi-products are propane and butane. Propane and butane are widely used in fuels for certain types of ovens, grills, heating systems and vehicles.

Forty percent of the world’s consumption of LPG, about 100 million tons per year, is currently being stored in 16,000 storage sites throughout the world. These areas are considered increasingly vulnerable to accidents and attacks. Most storage units are near residential areas where any mishap has the potential to create mass human casualties in addition to devastating ecological damages.

Many companies are increasing security for their storage facilities to prevent possible terrorist attacks as well as investing in technologies to prevent accidental explosions. Land LPG storage devices are particularly dangerous because the liquefied petroleum gas is stored at a pressure much greater than that of the surrounding air.

Based on the use of underwater hydrostatic pressure, SeaGen Systems has developed an innovative underwater LPG storage terminal that maintains the gas in its liquefied form in a uniquely developed “smart” container system. The underwater system not only helps eliminate risks, but it is based on clean technology. Many of the existing storage units are old and rusting and often leak significant amounts of Petrolium which increase the risk of explosions during the transferring of LPG to carrier vehicles.

CEO of SeaGen, Ofir Sarid, claims that with the SeaGen solution, the gas stored off shore and under the water “has no chance of explosion.” Sarid explains, “If you have a spark around [a land] site there can be explosions and dead people… under water, there is no pressure difference between inside the tanks and underwater so no explosion could be possible.”

If a leak would occur, the gasses would simply bubble to the surface where they would simply be released into the air. Also, underwater smart tanks would be much more difficult to find and sabotage making the Sea Gen underwater storage devices a win-win product for both environmentalists and security forces.

Another attractive advantage to the underwater storage devices is the potential to free-up large plots of real-estate currently dedicated to storing LPG. Sarid claims that SeaGen will enable municipalities in most of the western countries to clear their shorelines of unsightly stainless steel storage devices and open the areas for real-estate investment.

SeaGen is privately owned and operates under the “Yozmot HaEmek” technological incubator. SeaGen is in the process of obtaining the necessary permits for its new installations and hopes to begin setting up its pilot site for an LPG underwater storage farm off the coast of Israel by the end of the year.

Monday, October 26, 2009

SAWA: Empowering the Bedouin Women

Israel In Our Day Listen online:
Reported by Shalle McDonald
Written by Kasey Barr

According to a report from Israel 21C, hundreds of Bedouin women are becoming self-employed entrepreneurs thanks to Chagit Rubinstein and her SAWA microfinance program in Israel. Rubinstein is a native Israeli with a dream to empower the poorest populations in Israel. Microfinance is the practice of providing small loans to low-income populations to help them engage in productive activities.

Rubinstein was a Fulbright Scholar and earned her MBA in France before moving to the US to study microfinance at the American University in Washington, DC. After learning all the ins and outs of microfinance, Rubinstein returned to Israel to fulfill her goal of providing financial assistance to low-income woman with the desire to own their own business.

Once back in Israel, Rubinstein quickly formed SAWA, the country's only micro-credit program. SAWA, which means “together” in Arabic, provides collateral-free group loans. The 1,000th small-business loan was just granted to a woman with a dream to start her own sheep dairy. SAWA is funded by KIEDF, or the Koret Israel Economic Development Funds, a non-profit established in 1994.

Over 1 million dollars has been lent to 60 women through small grants of 1-2,000 dollars. Since its inception, only 2.6% of the loans have defaulted, which is far below the worldwide microlending average of 5%.

Many women in the Bedouin communities are lining up to receive loans; however it wasn't always like that. Rubinstein met with much suspicion in the early days. She faced two major obstacles: the concept of interest and a deep set gender bias. The former was much easier to overcome then the latter. Most Muslims believe that charging interest is against their religious system. Rubinstein simply eliminated the interest and instead charges a fixed participation fee.

Overcoming the gender stereotype took a little more effort. Bedouin communities are proudly male-dominant and require every woman to have the approval and support of a father, brother, husband, or son to engage in any activity. Rubinstein finds that most Arab men are, at least initially, very closed to the idea of women entrepreneurs. “Men are usually skeptical and don't believe their women can really do something profitable,” says Rubinstein.

To help bridge the cultural divide, Rubinstein recruited the help of Nuzha el-Huzail, a Bedouin woman and social worker with a PhD from Ben-Gurion University. Even with the help of el-Huzail, Rubinstein admits that it took time to earn their trust. After five months of meetings, they got a dozen people to give the program a try and from there things began to blossom.

SAWA is changing attitudes," el-Huzail says. Many women are fulfilling their dreams and brining much needed financial assistance to their families. Rubinstein is thrilled by the success of SAWA and hopes that in the near future she will be able to expand the project to other disadvantaged populations, including Ethiopian immigrants.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Feasting Around the World

First published by the
  Jerusalem Post Christian Edition-October 2009

Feasting Around the World
-by Kasey Barr

Across the globe – in Chatsworth, England; Panajachel, Guatemala; Devenport, Tasmania; Hyderabad, India; Melbourne, Florida, and hundreds of other locations – Christians are gearing up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles in a town near you.

Jerusalem is of course the most coveted location for celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles, also known as Sukkot, and the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem has been sponsoring a week-long spectacular there each year since its inception in September 1980. That ground-breaking celebration quickly grew into Israel’s largest annual tourist event, with more than 5,000 Christian regularly attending, coming from over 100 nations of the globe.

The success of that event appears to have spawned a growing number of Feast gatherings worldwide that today involve tens of thousands of Christian celebrants, some of whom may never have the privilege of pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

“Being in the body of Christ... enables us to experience the Feast of Tabernacles in unity, harmony and joy as if we were all at one site,” said Ryan Denee of the Restored Church of God, which will be holding a Sukkot gathering again this year.

“Due to the socio-political situation in Honduras, we are not going to be able to attend this year’s Feast in Jerusalem,” said Fabiola Radriguez de Vieytez of Honduras, who has missed only two Feasts in Jerusalem since 1984. “But we think that is it important to never forget the faithfulness of our God, through every situation that we pass in our lives and we will be celebrating the Feast locally with Pastor Evelio Reyes of Vida Abundante [Abundant Life] in Tegucigalpa,” she recently told The Christian Edition.

How many feasts will there be this year? According the Web site, there are at least 200 public Christian celebrations of the Feast in nearly 100 different countries spanning the breadth of the globe. This statistic represents only organized events that have been widely advertised. The number of locations is likely much greater when one includes informal celebrations and unpublicized observances by churches and ministries throughout the world.

FeastGoer is a Web venture dedicated to connecting Christians with biblical Feast celebrations in their respective areas. They state that they “believe the God-given feasts are entirely relevant to the Christian today and teach so much about God and Jesus Christ that they cannot be overlooked and relegated to the past.”

But for centuries of Christian history, that is exactly what happened. Both the Old and New Testaments reveal the Feast of Tabernacles as a corporate celebration. However, in the Fourth Century, when Constantine became emperor of Rome, he forced both Jewish and Gentile followers of Jesus to give up any ties with Judaism, Jewish practices and the Hebrew calendar under the threat of imprisonment or death. All of the biblical holidays and feasts were either replaced by separate holidays or rejected entirely.

Over the ensuing centuries, Christians drifted further and further from their Hebraic roots to the point that contemporary Christianity had lost touch with the Biblical feasts that Jesus himself had faithfully observed.

It was in the 19th century that certain Christian leaders were moved by a deep desire to reconnect to Israel and in fact they had a great impact upon Zionism. In the US, Protestant minister William E. Blackstone circulated a petition in 1892 to urge the US to reestablish a Jewish state in Palestine. Meanwhile in Europe, Rev. William Hechler, chaplain of the British Embassy in Vienna, became a close friend of Theodore Herzl, the father of the modern Zionist movement. With the establishment of the state of Israel, Christians began looking at Biblical references to Israel more practically, including the Divine call to keep the appointed feasts “forever, throughout the generations” (Leviticus 23:41).

For example, noted writer Basilea Schlink, co-founder of the Evangelical order of the Sisters of Mary, arranged to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles in 1946 with local Jewish survivors of the Holocaust in her hometown of Darmstadt, Germany. But the practice did not become a mainstream Christian event until the early 1980s when the Christian Embassy began hosting their international Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem.

Since its inception in 1980, the ICEJ has faithfully encouraged pilgrims from all nations to join them in Jerusalem to celebrate the biblical feast of the Ingathering. This is in anticipation of the prophecy spoken of in Zechariah 14:16 that all the nations will one day come up to Jerusalem to worship the Lord and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.

This event has become the signal Christian Zionist gathering in Israel each year, and what began in Jerusalem 30 years ago has now spread throughout the world. The ICEJ’s Feasts have always featured not only strong biblical messages on Israel and the Church, but also Hebraic worship, Davidic dance, artistic banners and other innovations that have now been duplicated far and wide.

“It's really not a tourist event. It is indeed a celebration of God's love, an expression of the diverse and united Kingdom of God, and a statement of God's faithfulness to Israel,” said Rev. Malcolm Hedding, Executive Director of the ICEJ.

It is true that there is no other site like Jerusalem, yet the message of Sukkot reverberates across borders and continents, demonstrating that no matter where Christians are located, they indeed share the same inspirations.

Vieytez says what she enjoys most is the Communion services conducted at the Feast celebrations in Jerusalem and now in her native Honduras. “We have the opportunity to share in unity no matter our language, or race, or anything else,” she said.

“A corporate celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles is an acknowledgment that all of us together represent the 'tabernacle of God' among men,” said Pastor Bob Summerville of Hunstville, Alabama, who has a long-time teaching ministry on the Hebraic roots of Christianity and conducts observances of  Jewish festivals for Christians.

“God gave the holidays for His purpose, to both Jews and Gentiles, to help us see God and understand His plan of redemption,” said Joan Lipis, author of the new book, Celebrate Jesus: A Christian Perspective of the Biblical Feasts ( She will be touring the US over the High Holy Days to encourage people to celebrate the festivals of Israel in order to better understand Jesus and the Kingdom of God.

Lipis told The Christian Edition that in the past, she tried to spend every Feast in Israel, but now wishes to share the message of the feasts with the world in their own area and with respect to their own cultures and traditions. This year she will be observing the Feast of Tabernacles in Portland, Oregon.

“When we come together to celebrate the Feast in our different cultures and different traditions but according to God’s calendar, we are demonstrating to the world, and the powers and the principalities, our diversity yet unity in the one new man, Christ Jesus,” said Lipis, just as the prophet Nehemiah wrote that “all the people assembled as one man” at Sukkot. Thus for Christians around the world, it should be a natural step to assemble as one body in observance of the Feast, she said.

In her book Lipis explains, “The Kingdom community consists of people of every tribe, nation, and language. Like the Word of God itself, the Kingdom transcends any one culture. We are enriched as we share our various styles of worship and celebration.”

Sukkot, Tabernacles, Booths – the very name of the celebration represents the command to the ancient Israelites to build “temporary dwellings” to commemorate their times of wandering in the Wilderness, dependent on God for their daily sustenance and waiting to enter the Promised Land. For Christians today this expectation has again become very relevant, as they come together in anticipation of the day prophesied by Zechariah when all the nations will come up to Jerusalem and worship the Lord.

Even as thousands of Christians attend the Feast celebrations in Jerusalem this year, tens of thousands more will be gathering in locations throughout the world to join in this time of rejoicing in God’s faithfulness. They will be dancing to their own rhythms and singing and teaching in their own languages, but also worshiping with one heart and thereby demonstrating that the message of Sukkot is not lost in translation, but rather proven by it.

# 1 by ICEJ
# 2 from the cover of the Celebrate Jesus

Friday, October 2, 2009

Tires of the Negev

Israel In Our Day Listen online:
Reported by Shalle McDonald
Written by Kasey Barr

Not many people would connect the Negev desert of Israel to the production of snow tires; however one of the materials used to give tires more traction in cold temperatures comes directly from the southern sands of Israel.

Silica, or silicon dioxide, has become a standard element in the manufacturing of tires to provide better traction and breaking ability, especially in snow-tires. Michelin Tire director Parmeet Grover, praised silica for three significant benefits: Grover claims the substance provides pliability in cold temperatures when rubber without silica begins to stiffen and become more hazardous. He explains that it also improves fuel economy by reducing the tires’ rolling resistance and is proven to make tires last longer and wear better.

Silica is the most abundant mineral in soil. Besides tires, it is used to manufacture several common and widely used products such of glass, computer chips, and concrete, just to name a few. It is found in sand and quartz throughout the world, but the Silica found in the Negev has a unique property not found in any other location.

According to a report from Israel21C, Ronen Peled, CEO of Dimona Silica Industries recently discovered that he can produce Silica from porcellanite, a substance considered to be a waste material left over from Israel’s phosphate mining industry. Putting waste to work is highly valued in today’s green economy, yet the scientists at Dimona Silica Industries (DSI), discovered another environmental fact that is expected to make Israel’s silica the desire of the international market.

In order to use silica in production, it must be heated to 1,500 degrees centigrade when it becomes a liquid that can be mixed and formed to create the many items we use today. A team at DSI discovered that the porcellanite from the Negev can yield liquid silica when heated to just 90 degrees centigrade.

This discovery makes Negev silica not only cheaper to produce but also a “green” product because it requires far less energy to produce. DSI plans to focus their market on the tire industry where they believe they can have the greatest impact.

“Many jurisdictions today require that at least a portion of every tire sold be made out of recycled or recyclable materials because tire production is known to be one of the biggest industrial polluters,” says Peled. DSI has spent the last decade acquiring patents, developing the right technology and passing regulatory requirements and is now ready to go to market. Israel has issued the company the rights to convert porcellannite in the Negev to Silica for the next 50 years. With this exclusivity, DSI felt confident to build its new facility where they have plans to employ 400 workers making it the largest employer in the Negev region.

Ready to produce green technology and green jobs, Dimona Silica Industries, is a name to watch.

With a cheaper, more environmentally friendly product, DSI hopes to become a powerful player in the world’s tire market, as well as a major force in strengthening the economy of Israel.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Anti-Cancer Vitamin

Reported by Shalle McDonald
Written by Kasey Barr

Could preventing cancer be as simple as taking your daily vitamins? Dr. Fuad Fares, and Arab-Israeli scientist, believes he is very close to producing an anti-cancer daily supplement. Fares has spend years studying ancient herbal treatments and his latest research is revealing what he believes is a plant with a new family of antioxidants powerful enough to reduce and even prevent the development of cancer cells.

Dr. Fares recently published results from his experiments, conducted at the Carmel Medical Center at the University of Haifa lab, which demonstrate that the unnamed plant compound has indeed stopped prostate and colon cancer in mice as well as in human cancer cells in vitro.

Dr. Fares injected a crude extract of the plant into a test group of mice as a preventative medicine before introducing them with cancer. Of those given the plan injection, 80% were able to fight off cancer as compared to only 20% of the mice not given the herbal extract. Fares proceeded with a second test which demonstrated that the mice infected with cancer, who were given daily doses of the plan extract, were able to reduce the tumors by 70 to 80%.

Similar tests were executed on human cancer cells in vitro with the same dramatic results. "Just used as an extract it seems to be effective," says Fares, who is currently working on purifying the substance which may lead to even more startling results and quite possibly a medical breakthrough.

Numerous scientific studies prove that antioxidants, such as lycopene found in tomatoes, fight free radicals that lead to cancer. However, Fares' mystery plant with its supposed new family of antioxidants, may actually be able to prevent and reverse the disease that is affecting such a large percentage of the world's population.

According to Cancer Research UK, overall cancer rates have increased by one quarter since 1975. Each year 10.9 million people worldwide are diagnosed with cancer and each year an astounding 6.7 million die from the disease. Statistics reveal that more than 1 in 3 people will develop some sort of cancer in their lifetime.

For the many people suffering with the disease, Dr. Fares' herbal remedy brings hope that future cancer treatments will no longer include intensive and intrusive procedures such as chemotherapy and radio frequency, but could quite possibly be as simple as a supplement.

Dr. Fares is also director of Modigene, a company he created while doing postdoctoral work at Washington University. He will soon apply for a patent, and if his compound is determined to be unique, he will reveal the name of the plant and begin producing and marketing the wonder herb.

Dr. Fares remains tight lipped about the name of his herb, but he does disclose one fact, it grows in Israel. If Fares' research is verified, accepted and marketed many people throughout the world will have yet another reason to refer to Israel as the land of miracles.
Writen for Front Page Jerusalem: Listen online:

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Yom Kippur in Israel

Can you imagine a day with with no cars on your nations highways and byways? Can you fathom walking on the 495 Capital beltway around DC and not meeting a single car? This is exactly what happens on Yom Kippur in Israel.

I have seen it first hand and still find it difficult to believe that a modern, industrial nations comes to a complete halt for a twenty-four hour period.

Above is a picture from the Ydiot Achonot newspaper in Israel. You can see the skyline of Tel Aviv from one of the major roads, the Ayalon, with a little helpless, adorable baby sitting in the middle of one of Israel's busiest thoroughfares. 

What on earth can get an entire nation to literally stand still for twenty-four hours? I am humbled by the answer. It is really nothing on earth at all, but rather in heaven.

It is considered the most holy day of the year and most Israelis, as well as Jewish people worldwide, spend the day fasting and praying. It is a day of repentance as prescribed by God in Leviticus 23.

It was the one day when the High Priest was able to enter the Holy of Hollies, Kadosh ha Kodashim, and offer the atoning sacrifice on behalf of Israel. I am astonished to see such reverence from a nation. I have read that in the history of my country, the US, we did have days of fasting and prayer called for even by our Presidents.  I can only imagine that such a notion today would be considered "unconstitutional" and "intolerant".

I hope that America, and the rest of the world, can learn a lesson from Yom Kippur. Can we put God first, if only for one twenty-four hour period? Can we halt our lives to repent and worship the living God?

Israel was attacked on this most holy day in 1973 in a war that cost many lives. The country is quite vulnerable on Yom Kippur, yet the people of Israel continues to observe this day with perhaps even greater purpose and dedication.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Why We (Evangelical) Love Israel

by Kasey Bar

Many people calling themselves Christians throughout history have taught incorrectly that God has rejected his people and that the church has replaced Israel. This theology directly contributed to egregious acts of violence against the Jewish people in the name of Christiandom.

Christian anti-Semitism creates two victims. It has brought terror and death to numerous Jews, but it also attacks the very heart of Christianity and has led to persecution of many Christians such as Cory Ten-Boom and Martin Niemoller. In some cases Christians gave their lives to defend their faith and the Jewish people, as was the case for German Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer who helped Jews escape Germany during the reign of Hitler. He also was advisor to a high-level assasination attempt on Hitler that eventually brought about his arrest. He was sent to prison and later to a concentration camp where he was killed just days before liberation of that camp.

Paul warns against Christian arrogance in Romans. He uses an olive tree to illustrate the relationship of the gentiles to the Jews. He refers to the roots as the Jewish covenants and promises. The natural branches are the Jews. Paul reminds us that we gentiles are not the natural branches of the olive tree but have been grafted in.

Paul says, "Do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the roots but the root that supports do not become proud, but stand in awe" (Romans 11:18,20).

All that we hold dear God gave to us through the Jews. Paul says again in his letter to the Romans:

"They are the Israelites and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Messiah who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen"(9:4).

God's word commands us that we are to stand with Israel (Gen 12:3), comfort her (Isaiah 40:1) and pray for the peace of Jerusalem (PS 122:6).

It isn't just Ahmadinijad and most of the Arab world that is anti-Israel and anti-Semitic. The world at large is growing increasingly intolerant of Israel. But why? The nations are coming against Israel because the they are against God and his redemptive plans for the world. God has established Israel as a sign to the world to testify of His glory (Isaiah 49:3,6).

This is just one of the promise upon which we stand. In Numbers 23:19, Moses wrote, "God is not a man that He should lie, nor a son of man that He should change His mind. Does He speak and not act? Does He prophecy and not fulfill?"

The restoration of Israel to her ancient soil is evidence that there is hope and redemption for this world and when we stand with Israel, we stand with the purposes of God.

It is easy to watch the events unfolding in the world today regarding Israel and lose hope. Just the very existence of the State and her Jewish citizens incite anger and violence. However, it is the very existence of Israel and the Jewish people that gives us hope! For Israel points to the existence of a covenant-keeping God who has not forgotten his promises.

First published for Travelujah at

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Land of Apples and Honey:
Rosh HaShana in Israel

Shana Tova! Happy New Year!

Not to worry, we didn't fly past autumn and enter the month of January just yet. Today at sunset begins the first day of Tishrei, the seventh month in the Jewish calendar, and the beginning of a new year. It is Rosh HaShana! Rosh means head in Hebrew and shana means year.

It is such a festive time in Israel. And I've learned the most interesting things at the Jewish Agency's Absorption Center where I am taking Hebrew classes with hundreds of new “olim” or immigrants.This past week I felt like a little school girl again as the center prepared for our Rosh HaShana assembly, for which my particular class was chosen to sing. With 31 years to my credit, I was quite surprised to find myself so energized and excited about the whole affair.

Yesterday I had to shake my head in disbelief at the ridiculousness of myself as I felt so proud to put on my white "holiday" shirt and trot off to ulpan with six Hebrew songs in my head just waiting to be sung. Not only would it be an assembly of new immigrants, but the Mayer of Ra'anana was to be our guest of honor. He did come in a nice white "holiday" shirt and jeans, of course. He wished us all well as we not only start a new year, but a new life in Israel.

We had the traditional slices of apples that we dipped in honey as a symbol of bringing in a sweet new year. We talked about the custom of having the head of a fish at our holiday dinners (something I will experience tonight). The idea is to remember to be the "head and not the tail". Or in other words, to be leaders in life and not those who simply follow the dictates of others. It is supposed to be good luck to eat the head of the fish, but I think I would rather leave such luck to others!

I still have not fully comprehended the fact that I am a new immigrant. Israel is my country too! I have lived here in the past but I worked in a Christian environment and never really experienced the Jewish Holidays in this way before. This past week was like being introduced to Christmas for the first time and getting a crash course in Christmas carols and all the joys of the holiday. I loved learning the songs, being taught about the traditions and discovering how all these customs enrich my faith. I am looking forward to the holiday dinner tonight at sunset. (I am making the symbolic apple pie!)

So I have decided to cast off all inhibitions and allow myself to be a child again with the wide-eyed wonder that comes from experiencing a whole new world. I can't stop singing and even pealing apples has a special charm!

These traditions bring joy and warmness to the celebration, but for me the most fascinating aspect of this holiday is found in the very source of why the holiday exists. In Leviticus 23:24, God ordained it. In fact there are three God-ordained holy days within the seventh month referred to as "The High Holidays".

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, "Speak to the children of Israel, saying: 'In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing of the trumpets, a holy convocation...Also the tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement. It shall be a holy convocation for you; you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to the Lord...The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days to the Lord." (Leviticus 24:23-34)

This passage in Leviticus refers to Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and the Feast of Tabernacles. I hope to write on each of them as the occur. It is indeed a very special time of the year and close to God's heart. Having not grown up in the Jewish traditions, I have much to learn about these days. But it is my desire to mine their riches in order to understand why God gave them and what message He wanted to send through these sacred days.

I look forward to learning more in the coming year as I celebrate Jewish holidays in the light of my faith in my Jewish Messiah. I feel as though I am just learning the abc's of Jewish life and faith, but the idea of the pursuit is exciting and invigorating. It was Yeshua who said, "you must become like children in order to enter the Kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:4).  The more I learn about the Jewish holidays the easier I find it to be simply and wonderfully childlike in faith and wonder!

Shana Tova to all of you!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Israeli Research Will Have You Sleeping Better

Israel In Our Day Listen online:

Reported by Shalle McDonald
Written by Kasey Barr

According to the Department of Health and Human Services 64 million Americans regularly suffer from insomnia. Insomnia is not a disorder in and of itself, but rather a symptom of various conditions including disease, depression, and anxiety. There are many drugs on the market to help individuals overcome their sleeping woes. However, HHS also published a study acknowledging that most drugs have limited success and many individuals complain that the side effects are sometimes more troublesome than the lack of sleep.

According to a recent report by Israel21C, An Israeli Company is marketing a new drug that works with the natural process of the body to help sufferers of insomnia initiate and maintain sleep throughout the night.

Neurim Pharmaceutials, a company founded by Israeli scientist Professor Nava Zisapel at Tel Aviv University, has developed a drug called Circadin after years of research and clinical testing.

“Circadin not only improves the onset of sleep, but also the quality of sleep,” said Zisapel, “People who take the drug have reported that they have better daytime functioning and an improved quality of life.”

Most sleep medication actually suppresses brain activity and can induce unwanted symptoms ranging from a loss of coordination to short-term amnesia. Circadin, however, works by assisting the natural patterns of sleep in the body. The hormone melatonin that is found naturally in the body and created by the pineal gland, triggers the brain to signal the body to rest. The Pineal gland gradually releases melatonin moving the body slowly into a sleep cycle.

Those who have insomnia often have a lack of melatonin or suppress its release because of tension, anxiety, and depression. Also, since darkness triggers the release of melatonin, spending late nights under fluorescent lighting can reduce the amount of melatonin in the body. “Circadin produces melatonin in the same way as the gland: It starts slowly at around 10:00pm, gets to a peak at around 2:00am, and gradually stops by the morning. It releases melatonin in a gradual manner,” explains Zispel.

A recent clinical trial in the US tested the drug on patients 18 to 55 and found it to be effective. Zispel believes, however, that the drug will be most helpful for the mature population. She explains that when individuals age, the pineal gland, which produces the hormone melatonin, often becomes calcified and is unable to produce the same quantities of melatonin, explaining why much of the elderly population finds it increasingly difficult to maintain their sleep.

The drug was approved in the European market in 2007 with excellent reports. It is currently being sold in Israel and Zisapel hopes that it will soon be approved by the American Food and Drug Administration.

Zisapel continues to expand the research she began during her post-doctoral work at the Weizmann Institute, and is now conducting trials on how to treat insomnia brought on by pain and depression as well as a treatment for Parkinson’s disease.

Source: Israel21C

Saturday, September 5, 2009

An Arab-Israeli Scientist
at the forefront of cancer research

Could preventing cancer be as simple as taking your daily vitamins? Dr. Fuad Fares, and Arab-Israeli scientist, believes he is very close to producing an anti-cancer daily supplement. Fares has spend years studying ancient herbal treatments and his latest research is revealing what he believes is a plant with a new family of antioxidants powerful enough to reduce and even prevent the development of cancer cells.

Dr. Fares recently published results from his experiments, conducted at the Carmel Medical Center at the University of Haifa lab, which demonstrate that the unnamed plant compound has indeed stopped prostate and colon cancer in mice as well as in human cancer cells in vitro.

Dr. Fares injected a crude extract of the plant into a test group of mice as a preventative medicine before introducing them with cancer. Of those given the plan injection, 80% were able to fight off cancer as compared to only 20% of the mice not given the herbal extract. Fares proceeded with a second test which demonstrated that the mice infected with cancer, who were given daily doses of the plan extract, were able to reduce the tumors by 70 to 80%.

Similar tests were executed on human cancer cells in vitro with the same dramatic results. "Just used as an extract it seems to be effective," says Fares, who is currently working on purifying the substance which may lead to even more startling results and quite possibly a medical breakthrough.

Numerous scientific studies prove that antioxidants, such as lycopene found in tomatoes,  fight free radicals that lead to cancer. However, Fares' mystery plant with its supposed new family of antioxidants, may actually be able to prevent and reverse the disease that is affecting such a large percentage of the world's population.

According to Cancer Research UK, overall cancer rates have increased by one quarter since 1975. Each year 10.9 million people worldwide are diagnosed with cancer and each year an astounding 6.7 million die from the disease. Statistics reveal that more than 1 in 3 people will develop some sort of cancer in their lifetime. 

For the many people suffering with the disease, Dr. Fares' herbal remedy brings hope that future cancer treatments will no longer include intensive and intrusive procedures such as chemotherapy and radio frequency, but could quite possibly be as simple as a supplement.

Dr. Fares is also director of Modigene, a company he created while doing postdoctoral work at Washington University. He will soon apply for a patent, and if his compound is determined to be unique, he will reveal the name of the plant and begin producing and marketing the wonder herb.

Dr. Fares remains tight lipped about the name of his herb, but he does disclose one fact, it grows in Israel. If Fares' research is verified, accepted and marketed many people throughout the world will have yet another reason to refer to Israel as the land of miracles.

 Written for Front Page Jerusalem: Israel in our Day

Monday, August 31, 2009

Israel's Security Wall

by Kasey Bar

Did you know that 95% of Israel's "security wall" is actually a fence. Only 5% of Israel's territorial barrier is concrete wall? These areas of wall run alongside heavily traveled roads where terrorists have shot Israelis as they were driving. to protect vulnerable drivers Israel decided to build a wall in these sensitive areas.

After numerous terrorist attacks killing hundreds and wounding thousands of Israelis, the government initiated the construction of a security fence to separate Palestinian territory from Israel proper. Several nations have built fences to protect their borders. The US is currently building one to keep illegal Mexicans from crossing the boarder in Texas.

Every day Israel receives 40-60 intelligence warnings of terrorist activities. While the number of attempted attacks remains the same, the number of strikes has declined by more than 90% since the construction of the fence.

"Israel is not happy to build a fence, but a fence can be destroyed in days of peace. Victims of terror, however, can never be brought back to life," said IDF officer, Doron Schneider.

First written for the Grafted news letter:

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Forgotten Refugees:
Jewish exiles from Arab lands

By Kasey Bar

When referring to the Arab-Israeli conflict the word refugee is nearly synonymous with Palestinian. The reality is that when Israel became a modern nation in 1948 there were more Jewish refugees than Palestinian. As five Arab nations launched a regional war against the state of Israel, an estimated 670,000 Arabs fled the war and an estimated 860,000 Jewish refugees were expelled from Arab lands.

Historically this process is considered a "population exchange". Arabs fled to neighboring Arab states and Israel became the beacon of hope for hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees who were expelled from Arab lands losing substantial assets and the historical heritage of their family. Israel also became the haven for 600,000 European Jews who survived the holocaust.
In 1948 over a million Jewish refugees found security in the state of Israel. The infant state welcomed the refugees and sacrificed as a corporate community to provide housing, food, and even education to quickly transform their feeble refugees into functioning, prosperous members of society.

The Arab nations did exactly the opposite. Believing their armies would soon destroy Israel, they made a calculated decision not to absorb the Palestinian refugees into citizens or to re-establish their lives in any way. Untouched by the suffering of their fellow brothers, they chose to exploit the misery of the Palestinians as a political weapon against Israel continuing the war they began in 1948.

Sixty years and four generations later, the Palestinian refugees have grown to a number of over 4.4 million. Still all Arab nations continue to refuse citizenship to Palestinians. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the definition of a refugee pertains to an individual who has lost both their home and livelihood. The status of refugee is not transferred to his/her descendants. The UNHCR is responsible for all refugees worldwide, except for the Palestinians.

Under the pressure of several Arab nations, on December 8, 1948, the UN formed the agency of UNRWA, The United Nations Relief and Works Agency. The only agency in the UN dedicated to just one group of people, the Palestinians. Under UNRWA the definition of a Palestinian refugee is different from all other refugees worldwide in that the status of refugee is transferred indefinitely from generation to generation. Because of this the Palestinians are the only group of refugees whose numbers are growing rather than shrinking.

The US taxpayer supports 40% of UNRWA’s annual $300 million budget while the oil rich Saudi Arabia contributes a token 2% to the care of its Arab brothers in refugee camps they refuse to dismantle. UNRWA current mandate is scheduled to end on June 30, 2008. The best solution is to shut down UNRWA and to transfer its responsibilities to UNHCR in order to break the refugee cycle and to provide Palestinians with the ability to build a brighter future. The standing of UNRWA has continually been extended and will continue to be extended until enough people cry out against the injustice of the Arab nations toward Israel and their own Palestinians citizens.

Under the UNRWA standards, Palestinians will remain refugees until they are able to build communities inside all of Israel. Under these standards there will be no end to the Palestinian "refugee" issue until there is an end to the state of Israel, a nation built by over a million forgotten Jewish refugees.

First published here
for the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem
Photo from the Israel News Agency

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Letter from Pastor Don Butcher

To those serving in Israel,
Greetings in the name of our Lord:

I am still saying prayers for you and for Israel. Keep faith, courage, and knowledge, that God has not forsaken you nor Israel. I know not when Christ is coming for 'His Church'. I do however know and understand that the gospel (Death, Burial and Resurrection) must be preached, in all nations, this is more so each day and "Praise God" for that fact. I also understand that one day what Jeremiah the prophet said in Jeremiah 23 verse 5-8 will be fulfilled:

Behold, the days come saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a Righteous Branch and a King [Jesus] shall reign and prosper and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In His days Judah shall be saved and Israel shall dwell safely, and this is His name whereby He shall be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUNESS. Therefore, behold the days come, saith the Lord, that they shall no more say, the Lord liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt. But the Lord liveth which led the seed of the House of Israel out of the North Country and from all countries whither I had driven them: And they shall dwell in their own land.

Many of you are seeing, first hand, God at work. A foundation through you and our Lord is being laid for our Lords Reign and Rule. I have never been to Israel in person, yet one day, I shall reign and rule with you and our Lord. What a wonderful day that will be.

Keep Faith: Forsaking all, trust in Him.
Keep Courage: You can do all things through Christ.
Keep Love: For your Lord, your faith, your families.

Many prayers for you all!
Your brother in Christ
Rev. Don C. Butcher
Sand Run Baptist Church

Friday, August 21, 2009

ACE is the place, even in Israel!

by Kasey Bar

First published for Travelujah at

I should probably say especially in Israel! After two years of jumping back and forth from the US to Israel, my husband and I have finally decided to settle down in Israel and set up house. I've spent the last two weeks shopping for appliances, furniture, paint, shower curtains... if you need it for your house I probably recently purchased it. I may have to start my own "Do it yourself in Israel" blog. Well, maybe just surviving the process doesn't make me an expert, but it sure has been a lot of fun!

On my first tour to Israel I really thought that outdoor markets, like the "shuk", were the only places to buy things. I never saw a mall or department store. In fact, my first experience shopping for groceries at Shuk Machane Yehuda in Jerusalem was so overwhelming that I came away with only two bananas and a mango. My refrigerator was empty! Thank God I found a real grocery store within a few days or I think I would have met an untimely end. I am not one to fight for a good deal. The whole process makes me feel really stressful.

I am the typical Western shopper that owners love to see walk in their stores or by their little booths. I have two faults, I can't easily say no and I don't like arguing over prices. There is a famous shuk in old Yaffo called Shuk ha Pishpishim (it actually deserves and entry in and of itself for those who love flea markets). Friends told us that we had to go there and buy furniture for our house. I tried it and I'm sure if I needed one or two things I could have managed, but when it comes to setting up an entire house the crowded streets and endless shops were just a tad too overwhelming for me. I was so happy to find a few familiar names like ACE and IKEA! I know I probably spend much more money in those places but seeing a price tag on an item and knowing it is the final price gives me a strange peace of mind.

Ace Hardware needs little description. It's great, the people are friendly and you can buy all types of paint including the "wash" to make fresco walls that I love. With my limited Hebrew it was challenging to buy the right stuff but in the end, with the help of very patient Ace employees opening all sorts of paints for me to touch, I came away with just what I needed.

IKEA, well it is an event none should miss. If you want to experience it to its fullest go on Friday just before it closes for Shabbat around 2pm or when it opens after Shabbat on Saturday at 7:30pm. My husband and I generally end up going at one of those times because of our do most Israelis. Last Saturday, on our way home from visiting family in Haifa, Yuval and I thought we would stop at the only IKEA in Israel located in Natanya. For some reason the store delayed opening for another 30 minutes. When we pulled up a crowd of literally hundreds were waiting for the doors to be open. Until that point I had only seen things like that for grand openings. It was so bizarre to me, and yet we didn't really think twice about parking the car and waiting along side everyone else.

When the doors finally opened people filed in and up the escalators to the first floor starting point. I felt like I was at the beginning of the Tel Aviv Marathon! I've learned a few things since coming to Israel about lines. Actually the word "line" needs its own definition in Israel, especially for lines at the airport and IKEA. It really isn't about who was there first, it is about who is best at navigating space. It took me about 30 minutes to learn this after my first flight to Israel.

My friend and I were coming to the ICEJ Feast of Tabernacles, a particularly busy time of year with thousands of tourists flooding the airport. It was our first Israel experience and once we filed out of the plane and into the customs line we literally didn't move for 30 minutes while a steady flow of people navigated around us like a rushing stream around a river rock. It wasn't that we didn't want to move, we were just trying to maintain our personal space. Once we learned the "heal to toe shuffle step" we progressed quite nicely. Well, this is the kind of line you have in IKEA as well.

Israelis may sound really rude to some Westerners but in most cases it just isn't the case - it is simply cultural. The fact is, most Israelis are quite friendly and will be happy to have lively conversations with you as you stake your claim in line. And if you can build a quick friendship, your new ally will probably yell at the person trying to squeeze by you much better than you ever could. And if anyone gets hurt, everyone clears out immediately to make sure that person is ok. I really don't want to tell you why I know this, as it will deeply affect my pride, but it may find its way into a future blog entry at some point.

Needless to say, setting up house is an adventure in Israel, but the process has made me feel much more independent! My husband says I am becoming a true Israeli because I can hold my place in line, sometimes haggle with prices, and, what is especially exciting for me, navigate the Hebrew version of Craigslist called Yad2, which means second-hand in Hebrew. Yad2, found at is a great website with used furniture and all sorts of second-hand goods. Because there are so many transient people here, such as foreign government workers, students and short-term business investors, it is possible to find some great, lightly used, items.

Well, I can breathe a deep sigh of relief as most of my walls are painted and furniture in place thanks to a variety of outlets. While I hope to get better at shuk shopping, I am thankful for stores such as Ace and IKEA. What I love about Israel is that you can go to several department stores and feel like you are in any other modern country, and within moments head to an outdoor shuk where you know there is no place like this outside the Middle East.

First published for

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Feast of Tabernacles:
Why come up to Jerusalem?

by Kasey Bar

This year, October 2-8, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ) will be hosting its 30th celebration of the biblical Feast of Booths or Succot or aslo called the Feast of Tabernacles.

So why do Christians come to Jerusalem to celebrate this event? The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, since its inception in 1980, has kept the 7-day celebration, encouraging pilgrims from all nations to join them in anticipation of the prophesy spoken by Zechariah, "All the nations that have come against Jerusalem shall go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Booths."
You may be asking, "But isn't this a future event? Why come now?" This prophecy may seem abstract and unrelated our current lives. However, there are many reasons encompassed in the invitation to join with Israelis to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles.

Traditionally, it is a time to remember God's provision in the wilderness. The Jewish people remember this by building small booths to dwell in as was commanded in Deuteronomy 16. Journeying to Israel in this tumultuous time of God's ingathering is a practical way to fulfill the Biblical mandate in Isaiah 40 to comfort the Jewish people.

These reasons, prophetic vision, remembrance of God's provision and comforting the Jewish people are Biblically sound and good reasons to join in the celebration of Booths, but do these reasons in and of themselves get to the root of why we come or is there a more foundational purpose? There is a deeper and broader call from which all reasons flow and find their source of meaning.

When King Solomon dedicated the Temple during the Feast of Tabernacles, he prayed for the foreigner who would come to the temple to pray and worship. his words uncover the very essence of why we come. "When a foreigner, who is not of your people Israel comes from a far country for your name's sake (for they shall hear of your great name and your mighty hand, and of your outstretched arm), when he comes and prays toward this house, hear in heaven your dwelling place and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to you in order that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you. I Kings 8:41-43

God's Name's Sake
Did you hear it? For God's name's sake the foreigner will come because they will hear of 1) God's great Name, 2) His mighty hand and 3) His outstretched arm. Psalm 9:10 says, "Those who know Thy Name put their trust in Thee." How do we know the "Name"? God's names are as infinite as His character. In Scripture we find that He is "The I AM"; "the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness"; "The Alpha and the Omega." These excerpts are but a thumbnail sketch of all that God's name represents. The sovereign Lord is gloriously free from sin, He is omnipotent and omniscient and this is why we come to praise Him in Jerusalem during the Feast of Tabernacles.

God's Mighty Hand
How do we draw a picture in our minds of God's mighty hand? Peter exhorts believers to humble themselves under God's hand (I Peter 5:6). Sometimes His touch is gentle and heals, other times it is full of wrath and extends judgement. The Lord said to Jeremiah. "Take from my hand this cup filled with the wine of my wrath and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it" (25:15). If we were to meditate solely on God's mighty hand we might be paralyzed with fear, for there is "no one righteous no not one." We are all deserving of His wrath, yet He made a way for us to experience His grace and mercy through His outstretched arm -- this is what separates our faith from and elevates it above all others.

God's Outstretched Arm
Our Lord is not a god that is disconnected and preoccupied, but the God who is intimately involved with His creation. He is Immanuel, God with us (Isaiah 7:14). The God of the universe became incarnate in the form of a Jewish man from Nazareth. This was necessary so that God's mighty hand of wrath could fall upon His Son so that we can be reconciled to God. The Feast is a time when we can express our love and praise for the God of Israel who made a way for the gentiles to be grafted into the Jewish promises and covenants. This is why we walk in the steps of our Savior and come to worship the Lord in Jerusalem at this time.

The Call to the Nations
The last petition of king Solomon's prayer is a call to all who come to the Feat of Tabernacles to go forth and share the glory of God's name with all nations. It is equivalent to the "Great Commission" found in Matthew 28:19.We live in a fallen world, groaning as in the pains of childbirth for the fulfillment of all things (Romans 8:20). But Matthew reminds us that the gospel of the Kingdom must first be preached in the whole world "as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come." This is our call. We must proclaim the Name to the nations that they may know Him. Let our unified cry by "Lord, we wait for you, your Name and renown are the desire of our hearts" (Isaiah 26:8).

Let us embrace the prayer of Solomon and the vision of Zechariah and long for the day when all the nations will come up to Jerusalem "year after year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Booths."

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Reported by Jordanna McMillan
Written by Kasey Barr
August 2009
Israel In Our Day Listen online:

Today more and more communication is being done online. Whether drafting formal business emails, instant messaging or posting updates on social networking sites such as Facebook or Twitters, writing is an integral part of our daily lives. To dyslexics, these interactions can become overwhelming and potentially limiting to their social and professional experiences.

According to the International Dyslexia Association, an astounding 15-20% of the population have a language-based learning disability most likely associated with Dyslexia. Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurological in origin and characterized by difficulties with accurate word recognition, letter decoding and incorrect spelling.

The complicated relationship most dyslexics have with the written word frustrates their writing abilities. More often than not the complication is rooted in their difficulty to spell words. Often times their attempts are not recognized by conventional spell-checkers which require the user to be very close to the intended word.

Israeli businessman, Ofer Chermesh, partnered with a technology graduate from the Weizmann Institute in Israel, and together they created Ghotit, “G”, “H”, “O”, “T”, “I”, “T”. Ghotit is a context spell checker with an integrated dictionary and a text-to-speech function. It was developed by dyslexics for dyslexics. Chermesh, a dyslexic himself whose struggle led him to create Ghotit, says “Only a true dyslexic can understand the pains of a dyslexic and translate these pains into an effective solution.

Chermesh believes that confidence in spelling often has a profound effect on a writer's self-image. He claims that with Ghotit, dyslexics can communicate more confidently, with the assurance that Ghotit will highlight spelling and grammar errors and not only offer the right corrections but also help the writer to decide which option is the best choice.

Ghotit was founded in 2007, and is based in Netanya. The algorithm, or engine that Ghotit runs on is constantly being improved and updated. A community of dyslexic regularly offering valuable insights and ideas for improvement which are quickly tested and implemented.

Unlike most new devices on the market, Ghotit is not bragging high-tech bells and whistles but rather simplicity and ease of use which is intended to give dyslexics some peace of mind.

Ghotit is free for all educational institutions. There is also a free application for online users. For those who want to integrate Ghotit with Microsoft applications on their personal computer, they can download the application for just $10 a month. About 30 schools in the US are already providing the application to their students with great satisfaction. Also schools in Germany and the UK are increasingly plugging into the program.

If you have a complicated relationship with the written word and find writing and reading comprehension to be difficult, Ghotit may be just the thing you need to help you get it!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Jerusalem's religious freedom

by Kasey Bar

There is much being said about Jerusalem in the news these days. It is Israel's capitol city, though most of the world does not recognize it as so. I lived in the city for a few years and though I now live in Ra'anana (a city north of Tel Aviv), I still make it to Jerusalem about once a week. It is a weighty city with a beautiful yet violent history. I like to walk the ancient streets and try to imagine the many events that occurred. It takes a bit of imagination because the reality today is quite different.

In Jerusalem there is tension between the vast varieties of people, yet it is a product of the openness of the city. Only under Jewish control of Jerusalem has there been religious freedom for all people. And it comes at great risk and a high price as Jerusalem has been one of the hot spots for terrorism. There is no other place in the world where I can walk the streets and find myself brushing shoulders with not only multiple sects of Judaism, but also the Eastern Orthodox Christians, Catholics, Muslims, and Armenians. Even the Mormons have their spot here. The list could go on and on. Sometimes I feel like I am walking around the ancient version of Manhattan. Walking through the old stone streets of Jerusalem are monks, Imams, and my personal favorite, the evangelical tour groups who are occasionally found singing hymns.

Within the ancient walls of Jerusalem's Old City lie four ancient and distinctive cultures. The Old City is divided into four quarters--The Jewish Quarter, Muslim, Quarter, Armenian Quarter and Christian Quarter.Constant streams of pilgrims visit the most holy site to the Jewish nation, the Western Wall, also known as the Wailing Wall. Five times daily, one can hear the Muslim call to prayer being sounded from the El Aksa mosque located right above the Western Wall. Armenians fulfill their daily ritual prayers in the Church of the Holy Archangels--a structure dating back to the medieval period. And throughout the year, Christians retrace the steps of Jesus, visiting the temple ruins, Gethsemane, The Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and the Garden Tomb.

The diversity of the ancient city of Jerusalem rarely, if ever, makes headline news, but it should. While Israel's so called "intolerance" toward its Arab citizens dominates the mainstream media focus, individuals of every race and creed are granted cultural and religious freedom throughout Israel and most visibly in Jerusalem -- the most holy city of the Jewish faith. This can hardly be said of any other country in the region and certainly not Saudi Arabia which will not even permit a Jewish person entrance into their country or any non-Muslim/ infidel into Mecca.

Jerusalem is a shining example of religious and cultural freedom in an area of the world where religious persecution is practiced regularly and quite brutally. Jerusalem has seen much bloodshed in the past from religious conquests to dominate the region and the minds of her citizens. Thankfully today, there is freedom of conscience for all peoples. I am thankful to Israel and the Jewish people that I, as a Christian, can come here and celebrate the life of Jesus and worship freely without fear of intimidation or persecution.

First published for Travelujah:

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Visidot to Improve Shipping

Israel In Our Day Listen online:
Reported by Shalle McDonald
Written by Kasey Barr

Making sure packages get from point A to point B is no easy task in today’s global economy. Most business relationships are incredibly complex resulting in products being shipped, transshipped and reshipped before they finally reach their destination. Manufacturers and distributor have little control over their packages once they are in the hands of the shipping companies and often suffer significant profit losses from misplaced or delayed shipments which can be fatal for companies operating within thin profit margins.

So how do companies keep track of the global web of deliveries? The most widely used method is to manually scan bar codes and record the information through a computerized inventory system. This system relies on manual scanning, which adds labor cost and yields a high rate of error from incorrect or incomplete scanning.

An alternative method for tracking packages called REID or radio-frequency identification, uses tags and radio waves to record information into a computerized inventory system which yields far fewer stray packages, however the tags are expensive and beyond the budget of companies with high-volume shipping.

Israeli company ImageID of Hod Hasharon, has developed an innovative image recognition application called “Visidot” that has already been field-proven and deployed throughout the globe providing an effective low cost solution.

Visidot Reader is a high-speed, large field of view automatic identification and data capture system. It is comprised of industrial, high resolution cameras attached to mounting infrastructure and linked to a PC-based processing unit via high-speed Firewire connections. Once triggered, the Visidot Reader powers up its illumination units and initiates image capture, simultaneously scanning hundreds of assets in a single pass. Captured images of asset labels, bar codes or other attributes are quickly analyzed, decoded and stored in XML data files. This decoded date represents the number of items and their XY location coordination. Sophisticated algorithms enable detection of tags in any orientation and even of partially damaged tags, and are capable of identifying the location of missing or illegible tags.

In case of shipping error, a real-time alert is presented, along with visual guidance for corrective action on a user-friendly touch screen interface. Visidot maintains an image bank with archived visual proof of delivery and asset condition to help resolve delivery-related dispute.

“Visidot enables users in a broad range of industries to track and trace hundreds of thousands of assets a day - with 100% accuracy - maintaining lean logistics and complete supply chain control," says ImageID marketing director Ayelet Avriel.

Their field studies reveal far greater efficiency and accuracy than the hand-held scanning systems. Several companies throughout the world are already using the system with great success. Some, such as SeaChill, a fresh fish supplier in the UK, claim the technology moved them from red to black by practically eliminating fines for late-delivered merchandise.

This is just one of the many business Israel ID and their Visidot system has helped return to profits in a tough global economy where every cent counts. This report is brought to you by Israel 21C and Front Page Jerusalem.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Recruiting Retired Doctors

Reported by Shalle McDonald
Written by Kasey Barr

In 2004 the Histadrut Labor Federation established a mandatory retirement age in the civil service as well as a few other sectors including government funded hospitals. The 2004 Retirement Age Law sets compulsory retirement at 67 for men and 62 for women. While there are exceptions based on special agreements, most employers do not go through the trouble and some even push employees toward earlier retirement.

Many skilled physicians have been pensioned off and hospitals have been left with staff shortages. Medical professor Mordechai Ravid, believes he has found a profitable solution for elderly doctors and non-governmental hospitals. He is recruiting the retired and has met with excellent results both administratively and economically. Ravid is medical director of Mayenei HaYeshua Medical Center (MYMC), and at age 71, he understands and values the experience and wisdom that comes with age.

He has recruited teams of doctors who have been forced into retirement yet still have incredible skills and a desire to keep practicing the trade they love and to which they dedicated so many years. Through recruiting the retired, Ravid, along with MYMC CEO Dr. Yoram Liwer have brought the hospital out of long-standing dept. The hospital profits are now allowing for growth of new units and the ability to see more patients.

Israel has four types of hospitals - government-owned hospitals; health fund hospitals; and private and public NGO-funded hospitals. "These public hospitals, ourselves included, get no government support and are players in the free market,” said Ravid. “We are not subject to any union agreement. And that's why we can employ people beyond their official pension age."

Ravid and Liwer employ a team of what they refer to as “The House of Lords”, or the retired. Prof. Gabriel Oelsner, age 71, ran the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Sheba Medical Center for over 20 years. Now at MYMC, he has set up an Ob-Gyn department with 820 births per month, almost 10,000 births per year.

Prof. Gabriel Gurman, age 72, was former chairman of anesthesiology at Beersheva's Soroka University Medical Center but was forced to retire. At the same time MYMC was outsourcing anesthesiologists because of a 17 year shortage of these professionals. Ravid hired Gurman in 2007 and in just 18 months the department has grown to a team of 12, with nine specialists despite the shortage in the field. “The atmosphere is unique and constructive, people didn't come here to advance administratively or enrich their CV. They came to serve a population," says Gurman.

Dr. Israel Doron, a lecturer in social work and gerontology at the University of Haifa, believes that people who want to continue working should be allowed to do so. For years, the focus has been on the vulnerability of older adults,” Doron says, “Not enough attention has been paid to the potential this group has.

Even with the mandatory retirement laws, MYMC and the private sector have found a ways to employ the aged and experienced with happier and healthier patients, doctors and hospitals.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tisha B'Av: One thing I ask

By Kasey Bar

Today's sunset ushurs in the eve of Tisha B'Av. It is a day which marks great tragedy in the Jewish Calendar. Both the first and second temples were destroyed on Tisha B'Av. The first was in 586 BC when the Babylonians conquered and the second was when the Romans demolished the temple in 70 A.D. Since the second temple fell the Jewish people have mourned for its rebuilding.

Though it may seem strange at first, this day reminds me of my wedding. I married a Jewish man and we had a Jewish wedding complete with the breaking of the glass when the groom recites the words of Psalm 137 verse 5:

If I forget you Jerusalem
May I forget my right hand
May my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth
If I ever don't think of you
If I don't raise up Jerusalem above my highest joy

Though there are many interpretations of what the broken glass symbolizes, many see it as a memorial to the destruction of the temple. My husband explained that the broken glass is to remind us that even in moments of our greatest joy we must not forget the loss of the temple and the importance of Jerusalem.

Our ceremony was one of the most treasured memories of my life and when my husband broke the glass I thought about the temple and Jerusalem. I felt grateful that even during one of the happiest events of my life, I was reminded that God's glory is above mine. I really treasure the Jewish symbolism that speaks to us of a narrative that is far greater than our own.

This year I won't make it to Jerusalem, but I remember spending Tisha B'Av in Israel's capitol city in the past. Thousands of Jews from around the world come to Jerusalem to walk around the Old City Walls. I went with one of my Jewish friends, Sara Revai, and and other Christian friends who also wanted to participate. Sara took us to a large center square on Jaffa Street. We joined the enormous crowd in sitting on the floor as a Rabbi read from the Book of Lamentations:

The elders of the daughter of Zion
Sit on the ground and keep silence;
They throw dust on their heads
And gird themselves with sackcloth.
The virgins of Jerusalem
Bow their heads to the ground.
Lamentations 2:10

After the entire book was read the crowd filed out to walk around the walls. During this time I could hear both joyful signing from those who were focused on the hope of a brighter future as well as mournful tunes accompanied by tears from those who were weeping for what had happened in the past. I saw a few men wearing sackcloth and ashes. It was really amazing to me because it was something I had only read about in my Bible and there it was right in front of me.
Finally everyone ended up at the Western Wall, also known as the Wailing Wall. It is the only remnant of what is left of the Holy Temple. Thousands and thousands of Jewish mourners have visited this place. They come weeping over the loss of the temple and yearning for the day it will be made new. The wall is a symbol of sorrow but also of great promise and redemption.

Tisha B'Av is a somber day and yet there is undeniable beauty in it. As I recall seeing so many people in Jerusalem gathered together, longing for God's presence in their lives and in their land I am humbled. It is a sight I recall with deep emotion. As I remember my wedding day and the broken glass reminding us of the loss of the temple, I am humbled. This day has taught me something of great worth. Despite how busy life becomes and no matter if I am thrilled by happy occasions or discouraged by hard times one thing transcends it all – one thing. King David expressed such a sentiment in the 27th Psalm:

One thing I ask of the Lord,
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in His temple.'
Psalm 27:4

The one thing is not simply a building of great worth, power and beauty, but the one thing is to be near the great worth, power and beauty of the One who inhabits the temple. Tisha B'Av is about the great and awesome glory of God. His presence once dwelt physically in the temple and on Tisha B'Av we mourn that loss, yet we look forward to and long for the day when we will behold Him in His temple. The day when His Kingdom will be on earth as it is in heaven.

First published for Travelujah at

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Laying claim to Jerusalem Part II

by Daryl Hedding

This is a follow up to my blog about the mystery that is Jerusalem and the struggle that still rages over its sovereignty. As if to prove the point I made about President Obama laying a foundation upon which Israel's claim to sole sovereignty is denied, his administration has now been found to have asked Israel not to build apartments in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem.

There are numerous problems with this development.

The primary issue goes back to Israel's sovereignty. What's apparent is that Obama, like so many other Presidents before him, lusts after the Holy Grail of world peace; reconciliation between Israel and the Arabs. What's frightening is that he's decided Israel's natural expansion in the land is the greatest impediment to that peace being achieved. On the one hand, it's confirmation of the fact that Israel's contribution to this conflict has little to do with its military endeavors, and a lot more to do with the outrage and violence that is produced on the part of the Arabs as a result of Israel's very existance on the land. On the other hand, it shows a complete lack of impartiality, and even a dangerous tendency to support the notion that Palestinian areas should be Judenrein.

In this particular case, the land in question was in fact purchased by an American Jew in 1985, and is currently abandoned. It was not annexed, stolen, nationalized or assumed control of by any method other than in a legal manner as exercised in most parts of the world where exists the rule of law. Unfortunately, for a President who believes that Israel's right to exist flows from the horror of the Holocaust, it is not surprising that a different standard is applied to the Jew when seeking to operate as any other citizen in the world.

It is my belief that the American administration is working hard to ensure that the final peace deal does not fail. To do that, they have decided that Israel must understand that their claim to sovereignty over Jerusalem is not only under contention, but is ultimately to be denied. To put it another way, the issue of Jerusalem, which was always a final status item, has already been decided upon by Obama, and now Israel only has to submit and the Holy Grail will be securely within his grasp.

Netanyahu must be commended for standing firm under the mounting pressure. There's much at stake. After all, either Jews have a right to exist in the land of their forefathers or they are just refugees displaced after the great and many evils of World War II.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Grocery Shopping in Israel:
Experiencing the 10 items or "more" line

By Lori Miller

What is it about holidays that makes one so homesick? I am currently living in America where I was born and raised. Having spent a number of years in Israel, I frequently find myself homesick and missing the craziness of life in Israel. Over the recent July 4th holiday it hit me again. I know, I know…July 4th is America’s Independence Day so why am I homesick for Israel on an American holiday? I think it happened when I was standing in a very orderly checkout line at one of our giant American supermarkets.
I remembered back to my pre-holiday grocery shopping in Israel and a wave of nostalgia washed over me. Life in Israel is at times very harsh, and yet there is so much passion and vibrancy in the culture. Standing in that checkout line, surrounded by self-absorbed and yet oh-so-polite Americans, I allowed my mind to wander back to one of the many wonderful, frustrating, hilarious, irritating and always entertaining experiences at my local “makolet” in Jerusalem. I documented one such experience. Those of you who have had the pleasure of living in Israel may be able to identify.

It was a Friday morning and after enjoying a four mile run with a friend I decided to stop at the local grocery store to pick up some good ‘ole Coca-Cola. One simply can’t be without Coke on a holiday weekend. The place was a madhouse as is typical on a Friday and for sure on a pre-holiday Friday. I got my Coke and proceeded to the “10 items or less” cashier. Now the “10 items or less” line at supermarkets (I use the term ‘supermarket’ very loosely) in Israel is just like every other law in Israel. It is merely a suggestion. Laws…any laws…are meant to be obeyed when it is convenient for one to do so. When it doesn’t fit into one’s schedule, these same laws can be either ignored or debated vehemently with the enforcing authority.

So the “10 items” line was long. Again, I use the term ‘line’ very loosely. It was more like an American football huddle…a mass of people all bunched together and jostling for position. (I'm all about football huddles...I just prefer them on the football field and not at the checkout line in the supermarket). I managed to determine who was last in “line” and planted myself firmly behind him. In the ten minutes that I waited in “line”, I can’t even tell you how many times my personal space was invaded. Now my definition of personal space has changed drastically in the past several years. When I moved to Israel, I would have told you that anyone coming within two feet of me was invading my personal space. That’s been cut back to about 2 inches. Keep in mind that I was on my way home from a run on a hot Jerusalem morning. This did not seem to be a deterrent. Every time another person bumped into me, I wanted to shout “Personal space, people, personal space!!!” but I refrained.

The man behind me had a cart full of items, well over the 10 items permitted. But this is Israel so, by all means, pull up to the “10 items” line with your cart full…why not? Because of people like him, those of us trying to merely purchase a bottle of Coca-Cola get to stand in line for 10 minutes while being accosted by the gazillion others in this huddle who are all jockeying for position. No lie.

After a few minutes, this guy remembered that he needed tomatoes. So he trots off (pushing me aside in the process) to get his bag of tomatoes. He comes back (pushing me aside in the process) only to trot away again (pushing me aside in the process) to get the cucumbers. Of course, one must have cucumbers to go with one’s tomatoes. The last time, and only the last time, did he manage to miss bumping into me. Then he proceeded to get into a discussion with the lady next to him in the “line” about whether he was behind me or whether she was. Loud shouting and aggressive hand gesturing ensued. I did not step in to clarify because in Israel, these things always work themselves out without bodily harm to anyone. Ok, and I was entertained. Just when I thought it was going to get really out of control, the lady remembered that she was, in fact, after him and not before him in this huddle/line. Smiles all around. Crisis averted. Whew.

So then the guy in front of me gets a call on his cell phone right when it’s his turn to pay. He manages to juggle paying and talking on his cell phone (yes…a man who can multi-task…impressive). But after he’s all paid up, he still needs to bag his groceries. This is something that he should have been doing while the cashier was ringing him up, but judging by the raised voice and the hand gesturing, his argument with the person on the other end of his mobile was of greater importance than expediency in a grocery line. So now, he and I are both trying to bag our groceries at the same time. He gets done just before I do and starts to walk off, forgetting his potatoes. So I grab him and remind him about his potatoes. He smiles a bit sheepishly and thanks me.

I gather my bags, finally finished with this rather traumatic Coke buying experience. I walk outside and exchange a pleasant “Shabbat Shalom” with the security guard and I walk on home. I should be completely frustrated and annoyed with the whole scenario but I find that I don’t have the energy. So I just smile thinking “I do so love this country”. Not that I would be opposed to a nice big Kroger, Giant Eagle or Publix on my street. A Kroger with large enough aisles to avoid the football huddle experience. A Kroger where the people actually line up in a line. A Kroger where 10 items or less means 10 items or less. But then again, if everything was orderly, lined up, and clear about who belongs where in the line, what would we have to argue about while we pass the time?

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Laying claim to Jerusalem

by Daryl Hedding

There's something mysterious about Jerusalem. I've lived there, on two separate occasions, for a total of almost seven years and I'm always excited to go back. Yet, when I finally get there, after the long climb up the road from Ben Gurion airport, it's always a little anti-climatic. On paper, Jerusalem is really nothing that special. Sure, it has the history, but there are far more beautiful cities in the world. There are certainly cleaner ones, with better planning and nicer drivers.

Yet everyone wants a piece of it. And everyone has a different opinion on who it belongs to and what should be done with it.

Even President Obama.

In his famous speech from Cairo, Obama opined for "all of the children of Abraham to mingle peacefully as in the story of Isra, when Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed (peace be upon them) joined in prayer". This story is traditionally understood by Muslims to have occurred on the Temple Mount. Aside from the obvious problems there are with a professed Christian stating that his God's idea of peace is for the three major (and competing) religions to just "mingle" in His holy city, there is a dangerous thought at work here. Assuming that all three faiths, Christianity, Judaism and Islam have an equal claim on Jerusalem sets a very dangerous precedent.

The issue is one of sovereignty. Or, let me be more specific, denial of Jewish sovereignty over Jerusalem. Obviously, Jerusalem is currently under Jewish control, and in fact all three faiths do already worship there in remarkable freedom. It's worth noting that in 1967 when Israel captured the Old City in the Six-day War, Minister of Defence, Moshe Dayan made an immediate statement affirming Israel's commitment to freedom of religion, and ceded administrative control of the Temple Mount to the Islamic Trust (Waqf). What is it exactly about this situation that doesn't work for everyone now? Why is it that America's President thinks there is something broken here that needs to be fixed?

You have to go back to the story of Isra. If Moses, Jesus and Mohammed all joined in prayer, who did they pray to? Are we to believe that there are three routes to the same god? Am I to understand that my God is so confused that He cannot decide how to "reveal" himself to different people? That's not what this is about. No, this is all about affirming the validity of the three religions, and in turn their respective claim to Jerusalem. It's not really about God at all.

And that's the big glaring point! It's God who has a claim to Jerusalem, not Judaism, or Christianity or Islam. And He's decided to give it to Israel as an inheritance. They are His custodians whether you like it or not. What a cheek, to bring God into an argument and then deny Him right to His own land. Of all the real estate in the world, God chose a thin sliver of dust filled land as His own, and picked a small group of people from the nations to live there and deliver His message of salvation to the world.

When you deny the Jewish people the right to sovereignty over Jerusalem, you might as well tell God to get off His throne because you think you've figured out a better way to run the universe. The audacity.

So, getting back to my opening line, what is it that makes Jerusalem so mysterious? Why is it so exciting and yet so frustrating? For me, there's just something eternal about it. You can't have heaven in your heart, and not be stirred by the Spirit when you enter the city God says He will make new, and then rule and reign from for eternity.

This year in Jerusalem!