Tikvat Israel Congregation

A Conservative Synagogue in Rockville, MD

Hasbara: Focus on Israeli Innovation (part 1)

by Harvey T. Kaplan

Harvey T. Kaplan

Some years ago, I served as one of our congregation’s representatives at the Israel Educators’ Institute (IEI) sponsored by our Federation through its Board of Jewish Education (BJE, no longer existent). I wrote a series of articles about interesting events in Israel’s history—and a few current themes, too. This is the first in a new series of Bulletin submissions in the arena of Hasbara—public affairs communications in the media about the bipartisan U.S. relationship with Israel and information we as a congregation need to share with the wider American community.

Our congregation’s Israel Affairs Committee, chaired by Avy Ashery, recognizes that the Jewish community in the USA has a lot of work to do in this area. We will share these articles with other organizational members of the Israel Affairs Hevra of the Washington, DC Jewish community. Our committee recently decided to take on an initiative to encourage the issuance of a new Forever U.S. postage stamp in May of 2018, the 70th anniversary of President Harry S. Truman’s timely recognition of the brand new State of Israel, which had just declared its establishment—independent from the rule of other nations. This effort to gain final approval of an appropriate stamp will require a great deal of work, perhaps even a design contest by the federal agency that decides on new USPS stamps. In promoting such a stamp, the Jewish community will have an opportunity to share the remarkable story of Israel, a start-up nation that has made so many contributions to all citizens of the world since its establishment in 1948. That’s what Hasbara is all about!

On a smaller scale, in this series of articles I hope to update our members on innovations and scientific breakthroughs coming out of Israel, many—but certainly not the majority—with the moral support, financial assistance, and behind-the-scenes encouragement of the United States, but all of which contribute something
of significance to the troubled world in which we live. Most Americans benefit from Israeli innovation in medicine, technology,botany and agriculture, human security and other areas, but have no idea that these miracles emanate from Israel. That’s the story I’d like to tell in the months ahead. Please share with me any subjects for future articles that you believe are worthy of my further research for eventual publication.

In this first issue, I’d like to tell you about a new product called Umamix, as reported in the February 2017 issue of the World Jewry Digest, published by the American Section of the World Jewish Congress. In brief, we all need to consume salt but medical experts caution that too much salt is dangerous—and can lead to a range of diseases. Further, low sodium diets can prove less than appetizing. An Israeli company, Salt of the Earth, developed a salt in liquid form and demonstrated that its proper use can reduce excessive sodium consumption. It has the appearance of soy sauce, is made from vegetable products, and contains only a tiny amount of salt. The company claims that one can reduce sodium intake substantially by using it in place of salt (both in manufacturers’ preparation of foods before packaging and in home use). They assert that if a can of tuna fish contains 400 mg of sodium, with their product you can reduce that by 29% without any sacrifice in the flavor! The sodium reductions are even somewhat greater, they assert, for other foods that are seasoned with Umamix (such as 45% less sodium for hamburgers and 31% less sodium in mayonnaise). 

Umamix is not yet available to consumers in the United States, though the company’s marketing manager, Revital Ben Shachar, is working with a variety of agencies and companies here. Salt of the Earth claims to be Israel’s major salt manufacturer, and currently exports salt products to more than two dozen nations. You can read more about this new product here.

(Previously printed in TI’s May-June 2017 Bulletin)