a different side of Israel

Category: Technology (page 2 of 5)

Internet in Israel, start ups in Israel, venture capital in israel, Israel hi tech, israel technology, tel aviv university, technion, weitzman institute

Kissing a Mezuza Risks Swine Flu? Doctors Say Yes

swine flu virusIn a country where it’s a nearly ubiquitous custom to kiss a Mezuzah upon entering and exiting a building, at a time when said country is all up in arms about Swine Flu, is probably a bad combination. But the question has already been asked. Can kissing a Mezuzah contribute to the spread of the disease?

What’s the need for the question? Of course yes. Flu is extremely contagious, and it stands to reason that an object that collects bits of saliva from passersby can function like a hub for H1N1. But the Rabbis were asked anyway. Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar had this to say on the subject, “If a specific order is given in the matter, the mezuzah must be kissed from the air, to ensure that the custom is not forgotten.” That’s a pretty fair compromise, but why must an order be given? We all know that the flu spreads from salivary contact. Do we need an order to tell us so?

Dr Ilan YoungsterMeanwhile, six out of seven doctors interviewed on the subject declined to comment about Mezuzahs in particular, for fear of getting in trouble with the Rabbis. No comment. There was only one doctor brave enough to tell the truth. Kissing Mezuzahs (sans Rabbi Amar’s air-kissing technique) increases the spread of Swine Flu, is dangerous, and people should refrain from doing it. His name is Ilan Youngster, and he based his warning on research he presented a year and a half ago sampling 70 Mezuzahs, which all turned out to contain many dangerous bacteria.

“Perhaps,” he continued, “because of the fact that the mezuzah is a religious object, people are afraid to sterilize it.”

Rabbi Amar responded to Youngster’s recommendation with ambivalence. On the one hand, he didn’t want the Health Ministry to issue an advisory against the practice, however, he recommended that anyone who wants to follow Youngster’s advice, “…put his hand near the mezuzah and kiss it, so as not to miss out on this good and important custom.”

I would ask Rabbi Amar about the commandment of “shmor et nafsheha” which is a Biblical obligation that a Jew watch over his health and well being, which I’m guessing should override a mere custom, but Amar wasn’t available for comment. I also didn’t call him for one either, for fear of getting in trouble with the Rabbis.

Kabbalists Trumpet Swine Flu to Death

Good news! A whole group of famous Kabbalist Rabbis have decided to do away with swine flu and protect Israel. Have they decided to be an example to others by condemning the attack on Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat’s car? Or perhaps call for mutual understanding in the case of the Safra Square parking lot instead of rioting and burning garbage and attacking sanitation workers? No, no.

TrumpetsTheir solution: Fly around the country while tooting trumpets and shofars, in order to envelope the Holyland in a virus-tight hermetically sealed spiritual shield. No, we are not joking. But we are laughing, and inside, crying softly over the deterioration of Judaism into an irrelevant voodoo joke.

While interviewed, the Rabbis had a bit of trouble saying the word “swine,” which, for some reason unknown to us here, is a bad word. Instead, they called it “the plague” and “the Mexican flu.” This is probably because swine is not kosher. Yet the thought occurs, what if the Bible had refrained from using the word swine itself, and instead forbidden the eating of Mexicans?

Also, we wonder what would have happened if, heaven forbid, the plane had crashed with all the top-rated Kabbalists on it? My mother always told me never to put all your Kabbalists in one basket, or plane, as the case may be. Who would be the spiritual leaders then? Perhaps saner Rabbis who have a moral message that is relevant to our lives.

And what did they ever do before airplanes when enveloping an entire country in a spiritual trumpet-induced shield was impossible? Perhaps they actually provided a leading voice of understanding, morality, and good will that people could listen to and take seriously. But now, I guess it’s all techno-trumpeting.

We hope it works out. But something tells us it’s a waste of good trumpets.

Pot Bellies can be Health Hazards

fattyGot a pot belly or “beer gut” as we Westerners often refer to them? If so, you could be likely to have all kinds of health problems, including being susceptible to a number of serious (and even fatal) diseases.

In a recent study by Ben Gurion University’s Clinical Biochemistry Department, people who carry a large amount of abdominal fat have fat cells that send the wrong kind of internal “communication” to other parts of the body; which eventually results in the onset of a number of serious diseases, including those affecting the heart, liver, pancreas, and other organs.

This Shawarma has nothing to do with the post - but look at it. Now you understand why people in Israel have pot bellies?

This Shawarma has nothing to do with the post - but look at it. Now you understand why people in Israel have pot bellies?

The study, carried out jointly with a group of German scientists (due to this increasing problem among their own citizens) from the University of Leipzig published their findings in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism. The findings determined that large amounts of fat calls store a number of secretions and other unhealthy substances that cause problems in the effective communication between healthy cells and various parts of the body. These communication problems send the wrong messages to important parts of the body, including the brain, resulting in “miss-communication” that can cause problems with proper body metabolism and weight management.

Dr. Assaf Rudich, a senior lecturer in BGU’s Clinical Biochemistry Department, noted that “in obesity, fat (adipose) tissue becomes dysfunctional, and miss-communicates with the other tissues. This places fat tissue at a central junction in mechanisms leading to common diseases attributed to obesity, like Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.”

As fat cells become overgrown, they cause a problem with proper amounts of oxygen being delivered to various body tissues, causing inflammation and even death to important body cells. The fat cells also result in high amounts of glucose and fatty acids being send through the bloodstream which put a lot of stress on vital body tissues, resulting in diseases and other harmful conditions.

Samples of abdominal fat tissue were taken during operations in order to study how these tissues affect the normal body “pathways”. In addition, a body protein known as ASK1 was also monitored, as this protein is tied closely to diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, as it predicts whole body insulin resistance. The conclusion is that people need to reduce abdominal fat as much as possible; especially people over age 40.

Acute Radiation Sickness a Thing of the Past?

Radiation CureHow’s the for potentially life-changing news: Radiation sickness may now be a thing of the past. Thanks to Jewish-American scientists working together with researchers and investors from Israel, researchers now believe they have isolated a certain intestinal protein that can be administered as an injection to protect people against acute radiation poisoning from 24 hours before exposure up until 72 hours afterward.

Andrei Gudkov, chief science officer at Cleveland Biolabs, pioneered the research and developed the medication, which has already passed trials on mice as well as primates, where controlled groups were given the medication and subjected to lethal doses of radiation. Almost all survived, and more amazingly, few showed any signs of radiation exposure at all. The amount of radiation administered was equal to the amount of the highest doses received from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. FDA approval may even happen within a year or two if the bureaucracy allows some flow.

The implications of this are no less than enormous, both politically and medically. If the medication, which testing thus far has revealed has no serious side effects, gets approved, countries with access to it will have a major advantage in protection against nuclear attack and/or dirty bombs, which is especially significant in Israel’s case in its struggle with Iran.

On the medical front, there is of course the issue of radiation therapy for cancer patients, who could be better protected against the radiation that is administered to destroy cancerous tumors.

The Israeli connection here is Elena Feinstein, a longtime cancer researcher at the Weizmann Institute, who partnered with Gudkov on the project.

The medication works by suppressing the “suicide mechanism” activated by cells exposed to radiation, while at the same time enabling them to repair themselves from the damage.

OJ Now on Twitter

Follow OJ on TwitterWell I guess its about time – OJ is now available on Twitter as well 🙂
You can join us by clicking this image on the left sidebar any time and you will get a Twit every time we post. Enjoy..

Promote Yourself with Glooq

Promote yourself with glooqSending emails, instead of phone calls or other forms of communication (including faxes), has become so common that many people only use this method of self-expression in every day personal and business affairs. Emails are also being used to replace sending fliers and other forms of “hard copy” notices and advertising to both customers and personal acquaintances alike. Because this reliance on high tech messaging is becoming so popular, a company named Glooqâ„¢ is offering some innovative and eco-friendly solutions for “getting the word out” to customers and friends.

Founded back in 2007 by an English high tech maven, Elad Schneor and Oded Bali, the company offers it’s customers not only ingenious ways to promote themselves and their products and services electronically, but in ways which are much more ecologically friendly than printing and sending out advertising material that most often winds up thrown into trash cans and garbage bags, using large amounts of paper and plastic materials which are wasteful and pollute our environment. Besides the UK, Glooq is now offering its innovative solutions in a number of European countries and others as far away as Vietnam. Glooq offers its customers a number of promotion and display options, including “design your own” banner advertising, specialized logos, and even promotional photographs (including the customer’s own personal photo, if desired). To attract customers to become a Glooq partner, Schneor offers special presentation “packages” at very attractive prices for periods ranging from one to twelve months, and payable either by credit cards or electronic payment options.

Glooq offers customers a “massive reach” to send their messages to literally thousands of destinations on one single sending. Since the message and advertisement has the appearance of being sent directly from the sender, it is more likely to be opened and read, as not deleted as Spam. And since the message is more personalized it is more likely to be acted upon by the receiver.

Glooq’s advertising and promotion message tools are being using by hundreds of popular “brand name” product and service companies, including Hertz, TBWA (France), McCann Erickson, REMAX Realtors, DHL and many others. And in order to induce potential partners to join up, Glooq offers a free 14 day trial.

Glooq’s message systems work well with most email systems including Microsoft Outlook and Express, Mac Mail, Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, and others; and is compatible with both Windows XP and Vista software packages.

Hamas In Their Own Video

This is a cute viral video being sent around by people and offered by I guess you could say it provides a little background on the current dismemberment Hamas is going through…

Ask the Candidates

For the very first time in Israeli history(?), ordinary people get the chance to submit questions to the major candidates who compete for the Prime Minister seat.

YouTube — the video sharing hub, owned by Google — is holding an open contest, in which everyone is encouraged to submit a video footage of themselves raising a question for one of the candidates.

Think Twice Before You Forward

Three babies died in Israel in the past week. Although this is a very rare coincidence, these tragedies appear to be unconnected to each other.

However, a virtual chain letter that gained momentum in the past few days has claimed that Bamba consumption caused all three incidents. THIS IS FALSE. Bamba, the yellow peanut butter snack, has nothing to do with the death of these 3 babies.

But thousands of people who received an email cautioning them to stay away from Bamba, didn’t think twice before forwarding the email to all their contacts. The rumor spread out, and this caused the Osem stock to plunge down yesterday morning (Osem is the company that manufactures Bamba).

Today I read that Osem wants to file defamation lawsuit against the original author of this hysteric Email. So I guess sending Emails can be a risky business.

Fanvids for the Municipal Elections

The Israeli municipal elections are taking place November 11. The race in Tel Aviv particularly is gathering much attention this year.

City for All is one party that is receiving a lot of publicity from supporting residents, whom you can see walk the streets wearing the party t-shirts. The blogosphere is also very abuzz with support for this specific party.

Another party who runs for city council is Meretz. It is a well-established leftist party, which has been around for much longer, and is holding a very similar agenda to City for All.

Ofer Fein and Eran Neufeld produced an amusing animated clip, which aims to make the point that Meretz is already fighting — and has been fighting for a long time — all the battles that several new niche parties are trying to claim for themselves.

The video features the voice of a clueless girl who doesn’t know which way to vote. She makes a list of all the issues that exist in the race (each issue with its own niche party): Housing and transportation, the environment, the gay community, animal welfare, Jaffa, young people’s rights, the elderly. Eventually, she realized Meretz has credentials for taking care of all these issues.

Shana Tova and Gmar Chatima Tova

It’s dimming earlier these days; wind is getting stronger. Yes, it’s autumn again, and the air conditioner is no longer a man’s best friend.

In short, a new year is upon us, and I want to wish you all a Shana Tova (Happy new year) and Gmar Chatima Tova (May you be inscribed in the book of life)!

What have we seen this past year?
  • A raging march of corruption allegations sprouting from within government corridors. Yes, former Minister of Finance stole millions of Shekels from Holocaust survivors. Yes, yet another Prime Minister is knotted up to his head with police investigations. Yes, Minister of Justice (a dear friend of these aforementioned politicians) is crusading in an attempt to crush the legislative authority’s independance.
  • Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, American Mutual – big names that have become empty vessels. The beginning of the end of the Capitalistic age? It’s too soon to tell. However, one thing has become clear, as newsman Yaron London said yesterday: “People start to realize that Economy is not a distinct science; Economy is the very heart of politics.”
  • Three children, in three separate families, were murdered by their parents this past summer in our tiny piece of land. In a country that doesn’t seem to give a damn about its social infrastructure, this — sadly — doesn’t come as a surprise.
  • Shahar Tzuberi made us all proud this September when he won the only Israeli medal at the Beijing Summer Olympics. With his modest look and his unrelenting motivation, he proves yet again that Water Sports are gathering momentum in Israel… Splash!

Gmar Chatima Tova

And what may lay down the road?
  • Tzipi Livni may become Israel’s second female Prime Minister, just in time to (presumably) greet America’s first black president.
  • The tumbling economy is raising Anti-Semitic attitudes in the United States, reminiscent of 1929.
  • Municipal elections in November are raising much public attention, with both Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv displaying an intriguing line of candidates. Will Dov Khenin live up to his hype? Will Arieh Deri somehow storm his way back into the center of the political stage, after spending several years in the confiding comfort of a jail cell? Will the Ussishkin Arena ever get rebuilt?
  • Abu Mazen is ending his four years in office this coming January, opening the door for a Hamas-controlled West Bank.
Bottom Line

We have much to lose and much to gain. Emotions are running high, and I think that’s a good thing — We are finally stepping out of our long-embedded apathy. The world is changing before our eyes, and in this Internet-entwined culture of ours, the man in the street has never been so influential before.

Take care and enjoy this holiday season!

Reddit offers initial Hebrew UI

Reddit now offers preliminary Hebrew support in its User Interface.

Press for enlargement:

Israelis socialize in English

Human Narration on

Walla! reports today that the number of Israelis on Facebook has reached 600,000. In other words, currently 1 out of every 10 Israelis has a Facebook profile.

Facebook Founder

Keep in mind there are many Israelis who do not subscribe to the Israeli network on Facebook or do not identify themselves as Israelis in their profile, so the real numbers may be even higher.

Israeli Blogosphere

Human Narration on

Israel DailyVoices Badge
Social Rank is a fascinating web venture, launched by Indonesian company MindValley. The company created an algorithm that scouts the web for interesting blogs, ranks them according to relevance and popularity, and features them on theme-centered portals.

For example, Journalism Daily centers top journalism-related blogs, while The Comic Watch is a blogging hub for comic strips lovers.

Each portal has its own team of volunteers that nominate a bunch of community-leading blogs within the designated domain. Once an initial list of related blogs has been chosen, the Social Rank crawlers follow the links from these blogs to other domain-specific blogs and add them to the pool as well. Then the algorithm begins to assign these blogs — and the individual posts within these blogs — an SR (Social Rank) score, in a similar manner to how Google assigns each web page with a PR (Page Rank) score.

Israeli people, and Jewish people abroad, publish a vast range of stimulating and engaging blogs. This is why Social Rank designed a distinct portal specifically for Israel’s hottest blogs. It is called “Israel’s Daily Voices”, and One Jerusalem succeeds regularly in gaining a top position with their listings.

The web site is still in Beta phase, and sometimes the pages do not load properly. Nevertheless, I find it to be very useful and user-friendly, and it has helped me to discover other Israeli blogs which I enjoy reading, such as Dry Bones.

15 Seconds For Sderot

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