We read these words thrice each High Holiday period. For 12 years I have been writing modern adaptations of this ancient prayer to bring resonance to our lives and its frailty. Whether it is a modern Unetaneh Toqef post Katrina, after the earthquake in Haiti, following a Tsunami or even after the Boston Marathon Bombing, my goal each year is to remind those that utter the ancient words that the prayers have modern relevance and application to our daily trials and achievements.
All of us have brushes with death in some fashion or another. But we also renew our leases on life in manifold ways. Indulge me to share with you ways we have had brushes with death and found renewed leases on life – my modern adaptation of Unetaneh Toqef of 5775.
Who has been afflicted with the debilitating disease of MS – Multiple Sclerosis, affecting the Central Nervous System? – And who amongst us has been given hope, a renewed lease on life because of the Medicine Copaxone immunomodulator, which was discovered at the Weizmann Institute in Israel?
Who amongst us have ever lived under drought conditions and had water rations?
And who amongst us can water their fruit trees, shower and drink as needed because of the inventions of TAKADU and the Shafdan – which has pioneered Drip Irrigation, waste-water reclamation and desalinization –in Israel? Most of the water advances, pioneered in Israel, are being shared today with countless African countries which saves lives and builds lasting friendships.
Who has had shrapnel from a terrorists suicide vest explode into their spine, rendering them paralyzed and unable to walk?
And who, thanks to the Israeli invention, RE-WALK –an exo-skeleton device that attaches to ones legs and allows those without use of their legs the ability to stand and walk – was able to walk their daughter down the aisle for her wedding?
Who had stomach pain or is afflicted with Crohns or Colitis? And who, thanks to the brainchild of Given Imaging – an Israeli company – is able to swallow the Pill cam which takes pictures of your digestive tract and submits those pictures to your physician in a non-obtrusive manner.
Who has a sight difference and cannot read signs or menus? And who, thanks to OrCam – an Israeli company that created a tiny reading device that attaches to the temple of one’s glasses and connects to one’s ear in a small device the size of a hearing aid. This amazing technology will read and speak into your ear whatever your eye is focusing on, allowing those with sight differences to read menus and signs and feel better integrated into the seeing community.
Who during the summer vacation has donned a bathing suit and been mortified by unwanted and unseemly hairs in the wrong places? And who solved that embarrassing dilemma thanks to the Epilady – an Israeli invention that smoother our world since 1985.
Who has a newborn child and is petrified of SIDS – Sudden Infant Death Syndrome which claims too many infant lives each year? And who sleeps more soundly because of Baby Sense – a non-radioactive crib system that monitors your child’s breathing and heart rates and alerts parents of any changes.
Who has a family history of Alzheimers, ALS, Parkinsons, ADHD and other brain centered ailments and injuries? And who, thanks to ElMindA, is able to participate in a non-invasive brain function and mapping to identify early and preventatively diagnose those ailments.
Who has been victim to a hostage event and were hidden behind walls? And who could be seen through those walls thanks to Camero –which has developed security cameras with a micro powered radar that can literally see through walls and provide real time surveillance of concealed and stationery and moving objects?
Who has seen a traffic accident or a terrible cut where loss of blood led to trauma and even loss of life? And who, thanks to the Israeli Bandage, developed by Bernard Bar Natan – an Israeli combat medic, which is a unique absorbent cravat that can be simply converted into a tourniquet, if needed, has had their limb and their life saved?
Who has gone to a meeting and needed to bring files, a Power Point or particular pictures but had no way or even the space to bring them all? And who felt amazing relief when they realized a small and simple thumb drive,– another Israeli invention by Dov Moran in 1998– can fit in our pocket and store countless pages of presentation, pictures and materials and allow for the safety , security and most of all, portability?
Who has gone out on a date but needed to get in touch with a baby sitter? Who has been delayed at an airport? Who has needed to communicate when afar and not had the means to make it happen? And who, thanks to Instant Messaging – invented by Yossi Vardi from Israel, in the mid 90s, has been able to connect with others, often sharing pertinent and even life saving data by SMS and instant messaging?
This list could continue for page after page, example after example of life saving measures, medical advances and technological wonders that have saved lives and enhanced the way we communicate and function as a society. In a world that too often targets Israel unfairly, we should take pause and stock of not only who will live but also, how we will live and the manifold ways Israeli contriubtions have made this world a better place. Perhaps we should conclude the prayer, Repentance, Prayer, Deeds of Righteousness and a drive to innovate will lessen the severity of God’s decree.