US veterans seek healing in Israel

US veterans seek healing in Israel

About 20 veterans commit suicide across the US each day, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. An organization providing spiritual healing, suicide prevention and peer support programming for veterans believes Israel is part of the solution.

Leading up to Memorial Day, which this year is May 29, JNS is spotlighting the stories of six American veterans — and one American IDF veteran — who traveled to Israel with the Heroes to Heroes Foundation, which works with veterans suffering from mental and emotional stress. The foundation’s Israel programming is sponsored in part by Jewish National Fund’s Boruchin Israel Education and Advocacy Center.

Igrain “Iggy” Padilla, 55, of Concord, NC, spent 12 years in field artillery with the US Army and 14 years in the military police, with tours of duty including deployments to Iraq, where he was physically injured in a head-on collision with a suspected bomber vehicle. In Afghanistan he inspected sites at which US soldiers were killed or injured due to accidents.

“I came home in 2012 on medical retirement and began having depression, nightmares, mood swings. It got so bad that I felt I had lost my identity, lost all interest in life. I couldn’t work, couldn’t do anything, and I started drinking too much. I was 50 years old and didn’t know what to do,” he says.

Iggy’s wife told him about Heroes to Heroes.

“I’m a religious Christian, and when I heard that the program would take me to Jerusalem I got really excited, because who gets a chance like this to come to the Holy Land?” he says.

Iggy says the trip to Israel “opened my eyes about how to communicate and have a relationship with people I don’t even know.”

Read More: IJM

2,000-Year-Old Evidence of Final Pre-Second Temple Destruction Battle in Jerusalem Between Roman Army and Jewish Rebels Unveiled

Stone ballista balls discovered in the archaeological excavation. Photo: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Stone ballista balls discovered in the archaeological excavation. Photo: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority. – Amid this week’s celebrations making the 50th anniversary of Jerusalem’s reunification, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority unveiled evidence of the battle of Jerusalem that took place before the destruction of the Second Temple 2,000 years ago.

Arrowheads and stone ballista balls fired by catapults were uncovered on the main road that ascended from the city’s gates and the Pool of Siloam to the Jewish Temple, the IAA said Thursday.

The artifacts, excavated with the financial support of the City of David Society, tell the story of the final battle between the Roman army and Jewish rebels that ended with the destruction of the Second Temple and the rest of ancient Jerusalem, events that are famously described by historian Flavius Josephus.

“Josephus’s descriptions of the battle in the lower city come face-to-face for the first time with evidence that was revealed in the field in a clear and chilling manner,” said Nahshon Szanton and Moran Hagbi, directors of the IAA excavation, in a joint statement.

Read More: Algemeiner 

New technology can predict resistance to chemotherapy


NewStem, a startup based in Jerusalem, is developing a novel diagnostic kit for predicting resistance to chemotherapy treatments.

The technology is based on the pioneering research of Prof. Nissim Benvenisty of the Azrieli Center for Stem Cells and Genetic Research  at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

The problem to be addressed by the kit is that chemotherapy — still the mainstay in cancer treatment — often results in the tumor developing resistance to the drugs. This renders the therapy ineffective and unnecessarily subjects patients to powerful pharmaceuticals that cannot knock out the cancer.

Pluripotent stem cells, which are able to differentiate into any given cell type, are used for a variety of applications from basic research to therapeutics. Due to their differentiation ability, one potential use of stem cells is to assess the influence of mutated genes on a variety of cells, physiological processes and drug responses.

However, since pluripotent stem cells, like most human cells, are diploid – meaning they contain two copies of each gene — it is often difficult to generate cells in which both copies of the relevant genes are mutated.

The technology being developed by NewStem enables the generation of fully functional stem cells containing only one copy of each gene (haploid cells), which have a unique capacity in disease modeling.

A unique and broad library of haploid pluripotent stem cells (HPSCs) with different mutations and genetic makeups is what will enable NewStem to develop diagnostic kits for personalized medicine.

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Biggest Israeli flag flown over Ammunition Hill

Biggest Israeli flag flown over Ammunition Hill

The massive flag weighs 40 kilograms (88 lb) and is 18 meters tall (59 feet), 10 meters wide (33 feet) and 180 square meters in size (20 sq ft). The monumentally big flag was flown atop a giant flagpole initially created to hang power lines.

“A flag like that has never been flown in Israel,” said Alon Vald, the head of events and marketing at the Ammunition Hill Museum.

Vald said flying that flag on Ammunition Hill 50 years after the Six-Day War battles to unite Jerusalem was very moving.

Alon Vald with the flagAlon Vald with the flag

“This year, we decided to celebrate 50 years to the city’s unification by bringing almost 2,000 soldiers from among Jerusalem’s liberators for a festive ceremony on Ammunition Hill and at the Western Wall plaza in the Old City,” he said.

“We decided to go big. The flag is almost as big as two parachutes. We flew it with the morning’s first wind,” he added.

Photo: Alon ValdPhoto: Alon Vald

But flying the massive flag was not easy. “I broke skin on my hands when I was raising the flag. After all, 40 kilos is not exactly minor. Raising the biggest Israeli flag in the country is a source of great pride to me.”

Vald is the son of Paratroopers officer Rami Vald, who was killed in the battle of Ammunition Hill 50 years ago.

Read More: Y Net