While most Israelis were fast asleep late Monday night, dozens of first responders, medics and fire and rescue personnel were wide awake and watching tensely as they waited for a disabled plane to appear in the skies above Ben Gurion International Airport.
Ambulances, fire trucks, police vehicles and other equipment were immediately deployed to the tarmac after the air traffic controller received word that an Israeli passenger plane was in trouble, and would try to return home.
The pilot was able to land the aircraft, an Israir A320 passenger jet, safely with 118 passengers aboard in the wee hours of Tuesday morning after reporting that one of the plane’s engines had quit.
He managed to bring the aircraft home under its own power to the airport and carry out a successful emergency landing, despite the dicey conditions.
Upon its arrival, passengers and crew found numerous fire and rescue personnel, ambulances, medics and other first responders waiting to assist.
No injuries were reported. Its not yet clear what caused the engine to malfunction. An investigation has been launched.
Israel’s national emergency medical service, Magen David Adom (MDA), released a statement on Thursday warning the Israeli public of the dangers of using Pokémon Go, the popular augmented-reality / mixed reality game that has been drawing much attention around the world. The warning follows many cases of Israelis who were injured while playing Pokémon Go, including three incidents this week.
“We call on the public to exercise caution and to be aware of the dangers of using the app,” said MDA Director Eli Bin. “It is unacceptable for children, teenagers, or adults to become engrossed in the game and unnecessarily put their lives in jeopardy.”
A 15-year-old girl from Karmiel fractured her skull on Wednesday when she fell off her bicycle while chasing pokémons. She sustained various head injuries and was taken to the Galilee Medical Center in Nahariya.
Another serious incident occurred the following day when a 35-year-old Pokémon Go player from Rishon LeZion ran and collided with a glass door. The glass shattered, and shards penetrated the man’s leg causing him massive bleeding.
Earlier in the week, a teenager almost drowned at a beach in Ashdod while attempting to catch the virtual creatures in the water. The 17-year-old, Asaf Ben-Gozi, lost consciousness and was rescued by his brother. Ben-Gozi was taken to Kaplan hospital in Rehovot where doctors described the incident as life threatening.
According to MDA, these incidents are only the most recent of many calls the emergency response organization has received in the past weeks involving dangerous use of Pokémon Go.
“This is a dangerous trend that is gaining popularity,” said MDA Paramedic Georgi Goliak. “I recently treated a 16-year-old boy who was chasing pokémons, ran into the water with his phone, and sustained a head injury. For what? To catch an imaginary creature?”
“Unfortunately, this summer we are witnessing an increase in the amount of injuries among children and teenagers, partly due to the fact that they have been chasing pokémons,” said Galilee Medical Center Director of Pediatric Intensive Care Dr. Zeev Sonis. “Many parents are not aware of the new game. Pokémon has become a trend that blurs dangers such as roads, potholes and water bodies, especially among youngsters. Awareness to this issue should be raised to prevent the next tragedy.”
Pokémon Go is a free location-based augmented reality game released this year by Niantic, in collaboration with the famous gaming company Nintendo. The game has become a major hit worldwide. It has also succeeded in Israel even though the game has not yet been officially released in the country, since many users managed to bypass the restriction and hunt pokémons in the holy land.
It was dry and cozy at the Harvard Club in Manhattan, where NY Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Sunday announced a new executive order that bans companies supporting a boycott of Israeli products from doing business with NY State agencies. Outside, on Fifth Avenue, the stubborn marching groups of the 52nd annual Celebrate Israel parade were pushing ever forward under the persistent rain.
Gov. Cuomo spoke to an audience that included many Jewish leaders and lawmakers, describing the BDS movement as an “economic attack” on Israel. “We cannot allow that to happen,” the governor said, according to the NY Times. “If you boycott against Israel, New York will boycott you.”
Mr. Cuomo signed the executive order, and then joined the wet masses in the parade.
The BDS usual suspects, such as the movement’s Qatari founder Omar Barghouti, called Cuomo’s move part of Israel’s “legal warfare against BDS,” and complained that Israel was trying to “delegitimize the boycott.” Mostly because the boycott represents an effort to delete, not just delegitimize Israel.
The governor later tweeted: “What a great honor it was to march in the @CelebrateIsrael parade today.”
It may have rained on Sunday in Manhattan literally, but it didn’t rain on Israel’s parade figuratively, as the Broadway Cast of Fiddler on the Roof, the band SOULFARM, – the Paprim Ensemble Dancers of Israel Dance Institute, and the Maccabeats — to name but a few — did their thing down the avenue.
Marching Bands included NYC Police, Cadets, Fusion Core, Saint Brigades Drum & Bugle Corps, Connecticut Hurricanes, Bushwhackers Drum & Bugle Corps, Long Island Sunrisers Drum & Bugle Corps, Upper Schuylkill Marching Band, Raiders Drum & Bugle Corps, Excelsior Drum & Bugle Corps, and Skyliners.
The parade featured floats and vehicles from the American Committee for Shaare Zedek Medical Center, American Friends of Magen David Adom, American Technion Society, American Zionist Movement, Ariel University, Avi Chai Foundation, Bank Leumi, Bnei Akiva of the United States and Canada, Carmel, EL AL & Israel Ministry of Tourism, Gift of Life Marrow Registry, Dr. Felix Glaubach & Family, Hazon, Hebron Fund, Hillel Yeshiva, IDB Bank, IDT Corporation, Israel Bonds, State of Israel, Jfiix, Jewish Agency, Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, Jewish National Fund, Kars 4 Kids, Kids of Courage, Nefesh B’ Nefesh, One Israel Fund, Russian American Jewish Experience, Sephardic Heritage Alliance Inc. & Iranian American Jewish Federation, Stand With Us, and UJA-Federation of NY.
Finally, this is the complete list of the marching groups:
92nd St Y/Jdate
AJC-American Jewish Committee
American Russian Jewish Community Cluster /COJECO
American Veterans of Israel Legacy
AIFL-American Israel Friendship League
Ben Porat Yosef
Berman Hebrew Academy – Rockville, MD
Bi-Cultural Day School
Bnei Akiva of US and Canada
Boy/Girl Scouts of America
Center for Jewish Life
Congregation Or Zarua
Cyprus Federation of America
Eagles Wings Ministries
East Midwood Hebrew Day School
Friends of Israel Scouts – Tzofim Tzabar
Friends of the IDF
Friends of Yashar LaChayal /East Brunswick Tri-Synagogue Alliance
Golda Och Academy
H.E.S. Hebrew Educational Society
HAFTR Lower/Middle/High School
HALB Middle School
Hannah Senesh Community Day School
JAFI – Jewish Agency International Development
JCRC – Long Island
Jewish Educational Center
Jewish Educational Center – Bruriah
Jewish Educational Center – Mesivta,
Jewish Federation Northeastern, PA
Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest, NJ
Jewish Federation of North NJ
Jewish Federation Rockland County
Jewish Foundation School
Jewish War Veterans of the USA
Joseph Kushner Academy/Rae Kushner HS
Kinneret Day School
Lone Soldier Center
Lower Merion Cluster
Ma’ayanot Yeshiva HS for Girls
Magen David Yeshiva Celia Esses High School
Magen David Yeshivah (2015 Winner)
Maimonides Academy – Los Angeles
Manhattan Day School
Manhattan Jewish Experience
Marks Jewish Community House
Marlboro Jewish Center
Monmouth County – Federation from the Heart of NJ
National Conference of Shomrim Societies
Northeast Queens JCC
Northshore Hebrew Academy Middle/High Schools
OHEL Children’s Home & Family Services / Camp Kaylie
Rabbi Arthur Schneier Park East Day School
Rabbi Pesach Raymon Yeshiva (2015 Winner)
Ramaz School Middle/High Schools
Rambam Mesivta – Midreshet Shalhevet
Rosenbaum Yeshiva of North Jersey
SAR Academy/High School
Shulamith School for Girls – Cedarhurst
Shulamith School for Girls of Brooklyn
Skaters and Bladers in Memory of JJ Greenberg
Solomon Schechter Day School of Bergen County
Solomon Schechter School of Long Island
Solomon Schechter School of Manhattan
Solomon Schechter School of Queens
Solomon Schechter School of Westchester
Team Lifeline (Chai Lifeline)
Temple Beth Abraham
Temple Israel of Great Neck
Temple Sholom of West Essex
Torah Academy of Bergen County -TABC
UJ Federation of Greater Toronto
United Congregations for Israel
United Mashadi Jewish Committee of America – UMJCA
United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism/USY
Volunteers for Israel
Westchester Day School (2015 Winner)
Westchester Hebrew High School
Westchester Jewish Council
Yavneh Academy (2015 Winner)
YB Hillel of Passaic
Yeshiva at the Jersey Shore/Congregation Brothers of Israel
Yeshiva Derech HaTorah
Yeshiva Har Torah
Yeshiva High School 0f Boca Raton
Yeshiva of Central Queens (2015 Winner)
Yeshivah of Flatbush Middle/High School (2015 Winner)
ZOA – Zionist Organziation of America
The mystical mountain of Mount Meron rang out with music and song into the wee hours of Thursday morning as Jews celebrated the holiday of Lag B’Omer at the Tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, and that of his son, close by.
“Lag” stands for the two Hebrew letters, Lamed and Gimel, which equal 33. The holiday falls on the 33rd day of the counting of the Omer – the seven-week period between Passover and Shavuot, the holiday marking the day on which the Nation of Israel received the Torah at Mount Sinai.
Tens of thousands of Jewish men and women from all walks of life streamed into the area around the Tomb of the RaShBI, as he is called, and his son (who is also buried there), for this is the day on which Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai left this world, and passed to the next.
Rabbi Shimon knew the Romans would soon come to capture him, as he was a great spiritual and Cabbalistic leader at the time. He therefore fled with his son to a cave where the two men were fed by a carob tree, and drank from a pure spring that miraculously appeared.
The rabbi and his son spent 12 years in that cave, until the death of Caesar. But when he emerged, he saw a farmer tilling a nearby field, and became so upset at the apparent “waste of time from Torah learning” that his gaze actually set fire to the field. The rabbi returned to the cave for another 12 months, to begin to adjust to normal day-to-day life.
It is to mark that fiery response by Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai that bonfires are lit on the night of Lag B’Omer each year.
But the holiday also marks the cessation of the deadly plague that took the lives of 24,000 students of the Talmudic sage, Rabbi Akiva – which miraculously ended on this day as well. According to the Talmud, the plague was sent by Heaven as punishment for the students’ disrespectful behavior to one another; each was jealous of the other. They denigrated each other even as they competed to reach ever higher levels of spirituality.
The tradition of celebrating the holiday at RaShBI’s tombb in Meron spans thousands of generations, drawing Jews from around the world. This year, literally tens of thousands of Jews reached the site.
According to the Magen David Adom emergency medical response service, 150 people were treated on site for light burns, dehydration and excessive drinking. Of those, 17 taken to nearby Ziv Hospital in Tzfat and Poriya Medical Center for further care. Two were listed in fair to serious condition due to alcohol poisoning.
MDA and other medical services maintained a broad spectrum of staff and equipment at the site with two clinics, ambulances, first-aid motorbikes, tractor bikes and Segways.
The extreme heat wave, or “sharav” that began on Saturday in Israel has brought with it warnings to Israelis not to forget to keep drinking water.
Those with medical conditions, the elderly, young, and pregnant are urged to remain indoors with fans or air conditioning as much as possible.
Temperatures spiked on Sunday, reaching into the 40s celsius (100s fahrenheit) in desert and beach areas such as Eilat, where it reached as high as 45 / 113 degrees.
At least 440 people so far have been treated between Saturday and Monday mornings for heat exhaustion, dehydration, fainting and other results of the heat wave. The Magen David Adom emergency medical response service said it has been called to treat hundreds of people. More than 30 were dehydrated, and nearly 200 had fainted.
Three suffered from heat stroke. Among those were an eight-year-old girl who was hiking near Nachal Tavor in the Lower Galilee, and a 40-year-old man, found semi-conscious on Sunday on the roof of a building in Lod. Both were hospitalized in serious condition.
The extreme heat is expected to continue at least into Tuesday.