I Believe !

Holding On To Hope In A Post-Corona World

By Rolene Marks

I believe. I believe that even though all seems dark and uncertain at the moment, we will get through it. I believe that even though things may look different when this is over, we will heal. I believe that when we emerge from the dark, the light will be that much brighter. I believe as many face an uncertain future, we will support them. I believe that as we rise to the challenges, we will overcome them. I believe we will learn to appreciate each other a lot more than we have in the past. I believe we will be grateful for what we have. I believe we will rebuild. I believe we will be triumphant.

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Clearer China. Nasa images show China pollution clear amid slowdown due to Coronavirus.

I believe we will do all of this, together.

These are my beliefs, my hopes that when we finally emerge from the global crisis that there will be a shift in most of us, that having endured an experience that we could not have imagined just months ago, we will start the recovery process together – just as we have joined to fight the global Covid-19 pandemic.

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One of the jokes doing the rounds on the social network app – WhatsApp – is that it seems as if Mother Earth has sent us to our rooms to think about what we have done.  The idea is to take this time to think about the kind of people we would like to be and the way that we have treated our planet. I would not dare to challenge Greta Thunberg at this point, but it is certainly food for thought as reports come in about cleaner air over China, fauna returning to places that they have fled because of human encroachment and cleaner waters. It looks like the planet is taking some time to heal herself.

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Clear Water Revival. Because of the slowdown in human activity, swans are again swimming between the canals in Venice.

Many terror and militia organisations have laid down their arms (well, except for Hamas, which never pass up an opportunity to terrify as they showed by launching a rocket from the Gaza strip into Israel) and the UN Security Council, in a rare sharing of praise, lauded Israelis and Palestinians for their “excellent cooperation” in helping each other fight the threat posed by the virus.

While these are the positives, there are also many concerns – self-isolation, the ever present news cycle and frightening statistics.

Many of us are feeling frightened and fearful – the future seems so uncertain and we don’t know when we will emerge from this new normal, this global shutdown as humanity unites to face off against a ruthless enemy – Covid 19.

It is my hope that we will emerge from this crisis with a renewed perspective about what is important. Perhaps we will have renewed appreciation for our loved ones, especially our parents and grandparents. We have just been reminded of their vulnerability and for many, their frailty. They are not expendable.

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Health Hotline. Magen David Adom medics staff a special coronavirus hotline (photo credit: MAGEN DAVID ADOM)

We have been reminded that when faced with a common enemy it is possible to put aside differences and focus on our shared humanity. While I don’t think we will emerge from this and then sing kumbaya and braid each other’s hair, I do hope that having survived a global pandemic, we will be able to be a lot more empathetic to the other. Wishful thinking perhaps, but a girl can dream, can’t she?

I am hoping that we will come out of this better people. That the sanctity of life will be revered, that the worshipping of vacuous celebrity and influencers competing for likes on social media will be replaced by the respect and appreciation for all of those called to duty – whether it is leadership, saving lives, or just providing a service. We have learnt that superheroes may not always wear capes, but they do wear masks and protective gear, they work tirelessly often at great risk to their own health and safety.

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New ‘Military’ Uniforms. Workers inside a building at Tel Aviv’s Tel Hashomer Hospital, which was converted into a coronavirus isolation unit, February 20, 2020. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

It is my hope that we will emerge from this having learnt how to be a little kinder to ourselves. I hope we learn to appreciate the mundane details of our lives that we once took for granted – a cup of coffee with our friends, our creativity and our ability to look within.

I am not sure what kind of a world we will re-emerge into, but I hope that we will do this together, that the energy that we have spent on the fight will be the same, if not more, spent on the recovery. I am not sure what we will inherit but I do know that hope springs eternal.

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Saluting Our Saviors. Residents from their balconies in Jerusalem applaud medical staff battling coronavirus, March 19, 2020. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

I am not sure what the world will look like when we start the recovery process. I do think that one of the enduring lessons of the corona crisis will be how precious life is and how we can never take for granted the simple things. Perhaps the world will look a little brighter. I do know that I am looking forward to holding those I love tighter, that even though I know what my whole neighbourhood looks like relaxing on their balconies in their pajamas, I will judge less.

I do know that we will certainly embrace life – this time with cleaner hands.

 

Staying Healthy During Corona Crisis

In order to put up “The good Fight” we must boost our Immune System

By Lionel H. Phillips

In a 2012 article to understand the link between pandemics and what humans are doing to nature, disease ecologist and the president of EcoHealth, Peter Daszak asserted:

Any emerging disease in the last 30 or 40 years has come about as a result of encroachment into wild lands and changes in demography.”

It is our obligation to help virus-fighting cells to function efficiently in keeping our body protected from bacterial and viral infections. This is what could be called the ‘second line of defense’.

  • Remain calm
  • Keep occupied
  • Regular walks even in confined spaces
  • Stretching
  • Nose breathing which helps filter and clean the oxygen
  • Keep fully hydrated.

It is necessary to note that the ‘first line of defense’ against these invaders are the skin and the membranes that line the entrances to the body. These entrances are the nasal passages, the eyes, and the respiratory and digestive tracts. This is why the CDC  states that the first line of prevention is to wash your hands often and thoroughly as well as avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands, as well as why so many people are rushing to buy face masks.

The immune and lymphatic systems are two closely related organ systems that share several organs and physiological functions. The immune system is our body’s defense system against infectious pathogenic viruses, bacteria, and fungi as well as parasitic animals and protists. The immune system works to keep these harmful agents out of the body and attacks those that manage to enter. We will deal with possibly the most active of these defenses.

The lymphatic system is a system of capillaries, vessels, nodes and other organs that transport a fluid called lymph from the tissues as it returns to the bloodstream. The lymphatic tissue of these organs filters and cleans the lymph of any debris, abnormal cells, or pathogens.

The lymphatic system also transports fatty acids from the Intestines (the intestines are vital organs in the gastrointestinal tract of our digestive system). Their functions are to further assist in the digestion by absorbing bile and pancreatic juices, which will help the nutrients released from that food to enter into the bloodstream.  The lymphatic system also transports fatty acids from the Intestines into the circulatory system.

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Bone Marrow and Leukocytes

Red bone marrow is a highly vascular tissue found mostly in the ends of long bones and in the flat bones of the body. Red bone marrow is a hematopoietic tissue containing many stem cells that produce blood cells. All of the leukocytes, or white blood cells, of the immune system are produced by red bone marrow. Leukocytes can be further broken down into 2 groups based upon the type of stem cells that produces them: myeloid stem cells and lymphoid stem cells.

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Leukocytes are the major cellular components of the inflammatory and immune system. While they only make up about 1 % of the blood in the body, leukocytes play an important role in protecting the body from infections/diseases caused by various microorganisms (e.g. bacteria, amoeba etc.) and other types of parasites such as filarial worms.

While essential nutrients are critical for the production and maintenance of key germ-fighting cells in the immune system, a balanced diet also has a strong effect on vascular function. The immune system is dependent on blood flow because the bloodstream is the route along which infection-fighting cells travel throughout the body to wherever they are needed.

Maintaining a well-balanced diet and keeping a healthy eating habit are your best assurance to keep the immune system functioning correctly.

Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins A and C. They also have phytochemicals that lend fruits and vegetables their colors. These food groups also contain antioxidants that promote the body’s built-in anti-viral and anti-bacterial functions. These nutrients help ensure that the lymphocytes can divide and reproduce properly in response to a virus, and that the neutrophils and macrophages that engulf and kill invading bacteria can do their job efficiently.

Maximizing the variety of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants can be achieved by eating up to six servings of fruits and vegetables per day. It is necessary to consume two different colors of vegetables and fruits with each meal, and one-third of lean protein.

Include in your diet a generous amount of protein to ensure production of more white blood cells to help combat the invading antigens. The building blocks of all the body’s cells, including the cells that power the immune system, are the amino acids found in protein. Protein and amino acids are essential in increasing immune cell proliferation. It has also been reported that one crucial amino acid called, arginine, is required to let the body know that it’s being attacked by an infection, so that all those good virus fighting cells can react more quickly in a second-line of defense against a human coronavirus. It is also claimed that Arginine increases your blood circulation when it comes to fighting viral infections.

According to WHO, coronavirus causes respiratory diseases.   In short, COVID-19 virus begins to attack your lungs and two things can possibly happen – either it will end in your lungs or it can spread to other parts of your body, such as resulting in liver or kidney failure.

It is widely reported that once you have been attacked, it could take more than 12 months to fully recover.

Many Reasons to Drink Water Regularly Every Day

The most important items required for our Human Body Machine to function efficiently, is Fresh Air and Clean Water. Unfortunately, the majority do not consume sufficient of this most important commodity. Now is the time to improve, if there ever was one.

Now is the time to move beyond whether one likes or dislikes. WATER & MORE WATER IS THE ORDER OF THE DAY. Force yourself if necessary.

The various systems of the body use and store different amounts of water. It is imperative that every system works well, so that the other systems can also work in a healthy state.

Every system relies on the efficient functions of the other systems. So, if one system is not working well, other systems will be adversely affected.

Below is a listing of a few of the body systems that need and rely on sufficient water –

  1. Water boosts your Immune System
  2. Keeps you looking young and fresh
  3. Helps to keep your Kidneys healthy
  4. Gives you energy and helps avoid muscle and joint pains
  5. Prevents Headaches and Lightheadedness
  6. Improves the circulation of Blood
  7. Helps your Muscles to remain in good condition – even stops them from Cramping
  8. Important for your Digestive system – Avoids Constipation

  9. Prevents Bad Breath and a Dry Mouth.

The percentage of Water in your various body parts are –

Brain – 80%;        Blood – 85%;   Bones – 25%; Cells – 90%;    Muscles – 80%

There are three stages of the attack of a virus:

First stage

Flu-like symptoms with or without fever. At this stage it is hard to ascertain whether the coronavirus will continue to spread. It can stay dormant for at least 10 days before it goes to the second stage of attack. Hence why people are diagnosed with coronavirus can go past the thermal scanners at the airports without any early warning signs.

Second stage

Many diagnosed with coronavirus will develop pneumonia in both lungs and this is usually accompanied by symptoms like shortness of breath, fever, cough and other forms of breathing difficulties.

Third stage

Lung damage continues to build — which can result in respiratory failure depending on your health condition and age. In severe cases, you will witness coughing blood and other extreme conditions. Some may survive this stage or recover with permanent lung damage.

How does it Transmit?

When an infected person coughs or sneezes, coronavirus contained in micro droplets of saliva, mucus, or other bodily fluids can be easily transferred through skin contact (i.e. touch), kissing or airborne. So, if a person sneezes or coughs next to you, then you need to take extra caution by not touching whatever may have been on the receiving end, with your hands.

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Human pathogenic microbes, bacteria causing respiratory and enteric infections, infective endocarditis

 

The immune system is a complex system made up of organs and vessel systems including a network of individual cells and proteins.

It is “highly intelligent” and keeps a record of every germ it has ever defeated, so it can recognize and destroy the germ in the future.

The main parts of the immune system are:

  • White Blood Cells, also called leukocytes or leucocytes, are the cells of the immune system that are involved in protecting the body against both infectious disease and foreign invaders.
  • Antibodies are a blood protein produced in response to and counteracting a specific antigen. Antibodies combine chemically with substances which the body recognizes as alien, such as bacteria, viruses, and foreign substances in the blood.
  • The Complement System which plays a critical role in inflammation and defense against some bacterial infections.
  • The Lymphatic System is a network of tissues and organs that help rid the body of toxins, waste and other unwanted materials. The primary function of the lymphatic system is to transport lymph, a fluid containing infection-fighting white blood cells, throughout the body.
  •  Bone Marrow is the spongy tissue inside some of the bones in the body, including the hip and thigh bones. Bone marrow contains immature cells, called stem cells. Healthy bone marrow and blood cells are needed in order to live.
  • The Spleen is an abdominal organ involved in the production and removal of blood cells.

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Surely PREVENTION is as, if not more important, than CURE. It is never too late to Start.

Prevention is the age-old wisdom that never goes out of fashion, except for the fact that most fail to live by its importance.

There are non-invasive ways and means to assist us in living a healthy and energetic lifestyle. One of the many benefits is a stronger immune system.

 Best wishes to all – Stay Safe.

Lionel H. Phillips D.O.

 

About the Author:

Staying Healthy During Corona Crisis6.JPGLionel Phillips is a Doctor of Osteopathy (1975), an International Fitness & Health Instructor, Consultant and Lecturer. He has  researched and designed ‘The Needs & Functions of the Human Body’ as an educational subject for inclusion in all School Curriculums World-Wide.

A past Federation Member and Israel Liaison Representative of IHRSA (International, Health & Racquet Sportsclub Association) and member of their world-wide “Panel of Experts”, Phillips is a recipient of the “Prime Ministers Award of Merit” (PM Menachem Begin).

 

 

Interested in keeping fit alone or together with the whole family?

Lionel Phillips’s website www.globalhealth-education.com which he launched in 2000  is a free site offering advice and explanations on the needs of The Human Body and how to cater to those needs.

Below you will find the link to website pages that illustrate and explain every movement.

(All of the routines can be copied and printed.)

Exercise and Stretching Routines

Pandemania

By Martine Alperstein

בס”ד

א׳ בְּנִיסָן תש״פ     Rosh Chodesh Nissan 578

25 March 2020

The lights dim. The camera rolls. A roaring male lion fills the screen. All is quiet except for the sound of crunching popcorn, the shlurping of soda and the soundtrack of the movie starting on the screen.

90 mins of sci fi hell as we are glued, fixated and sitting on the edge of our seats. The credits roll, shoulders relax, and we hear a common sigh of relief. It is over. It was just a movie. It was not real.

Except it is.

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It is real and we are living it, breathing it, experiencing it …….. every day and in every corner of our earth.

Covid-19. The corona virus that has spread its way across the entire globe and has changed our lives and our realities. It has brought with it fear, panic, distress, suicide, cruelty, dishonesty. It has reduced the world to latex gloves, a ridiculous amount of alcohol gel and all sorts of masks of varying types and qualities. It has crippled business and left many unemployed and unable to provide for their families. It has separated neighbourhoods, communities, families and people. It has left a trail of many dead.

What the hell is going on?

How on earth did this happen?

What does this mean now? What will this mean in the future? Will we ever understand it? What can we learn from it? How can we stop it? What can be done to prevent it? How do we flatten the curve? How do we kill the graph completely? How do we eradicate this virus from our world?

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I am an observant Jew. I believe in G-d and I believe everything happens for a reason. But there are some things that I don’t think I will ever understand. And Covid-19 is one of them. Is G-d trying to tell us something? Is G-d punishing us? Is G-d trying to help us put an end to pollution and save our environment? Is this G-d’s way of culling, of controlling population? Is G-d giving us a lesson to learn? What is G-d thinking?

I am desperate to find some meaning, some understanding, some clarity in this terrifying chaos. And I keep replaying the idea that these emotions and questions are not just pertinent to now. History is overflowing with records of atrocities, of cruelties, of war, of disease, of death.

There are some incredible people out there doing amazing work. Giving of themselves, sacrificing time with their families, sleep, rest and so much more to do whatever they can to help. The medical teams are putting themselves at risk in order to help save those already infected. People are reaching out to others to support where they can, to donate what they can and help where they can. There is many a shining light amongst us, who make the choice to turn on their torch in full.

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Tel Aviv. People in Tel Aviv take to balconies to applaud medical staff battling coronavirus, March 19, 2020 (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

And yet, this feeling of loneliness is overwhelming. Overwhelming for me who has a husband and children with me at home, overwhelming for me who is surrounded by an incredible network of really amazing family and friends who are constantly in touch, supporting me and being supported by me. And still, I feel so alone. Days on end of not leaving the house, of very little human touch, of keeping distance. Zoom is still just a picture on a screen, WhatsApp video is just another variation on a different device.  And as much as I am so grateful for this technology which makes a huge difference to our communication and our being in lockdown, it still does not replace human contact, human touch and face to face conversation.

I don’t know what the lesson to learn is, what the takeaway should be. And maybe I never will. But one thing Covid-19 has highlighted in bold with flashing lights is that we are us. There is no distinction. There is no discrimination. There is no privilege. There is no advantaged and no disadvantaged. Covid-19 does not care if you are black, white, yellow, green or purple. Covid-19 does not care if you pray to G-d, Hashem, Allah, Buddha, a totem pole, the Sun God or to nothing at all. Covid-19 does not care if you are straight, gay, bi-sexual or transsexual. Covid-19 does not give a damn if you have millions in the bank, are just getting by, struggling to put food on the table or living on handouts. Fame and Fortune mean nothing at the end of the day.

Covid-19 has humbled me.

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Jerusalem. Women in Jerusalem applaud medical staff battling coronavirus, March 19, 2020 (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

Covid-19 has reinforced my belief that the only thing that counts is the way you behave, the way you conduct yourself, the way you treat others and the way you relate to others. Ego, arrogance, importance, high and mightiness is a waste of time, of emotion, of your time on this earth.  We need to focus on what counts. On what brings value. On what creates meaning. And on what really makes a difference in this lifetime of ours.

 is how we shine and make a mark on this world   מצוות שבין אדם לחברו

The choice is yours.

I light a candle to our love

In love our problems disappear

But all in all we soon discover

That one and one is all we long to hear

(Pipes of Peace – Paul McCartney)

 

 

So Nu, What Are You Doing These Days?

Coping With Corona

By David E. Kaplan

Travelling anywhere?

Yes, too frequently! To the kitchen and sometimes a pitstop at the bar cabinet!

And for those in for a little more adventure, I hear:

We, wife and I, are going away for the weekend; we just haven’t decided which room to move to!”

This is the “new normal” or as one headline so poignantly warned, “If your weekend felt normal, you are endangering us all.”

‘Social distancing’ and ‘washing your hands’ we are told is our “only hope”. With Corona accelerating, we have little protection other than our behaviour, which requires us to keep apart.

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While people are unable to control events, they can control how they cope with them.

This is literally in their hands – both figuratively and literally.

With the entire Israeli  public under strict lockdown, Lay Of The Land was  intrigued how this boisterous and socially gregarious public was handling being cooped up in their homes.

“You have to keep going and keep busy,” advocates Pauline Borsuk, a senior citizen resident at the South African retirement home Beth Protea in Herzliya, Israel. “I keep engaged by phoning my brothers on WhatsApp in the States – Boston, Houston and Washington and my kids and grandkids in Israel.  Then I go to pottery, walk and sit in the public areas of Beth Protea – keeping our two-metre distance of course, and have my hair done once a week. We can’t leave the place; we can’t receive visitors and we no longer have meals together in the dining room.”

So how is that managed?

“All the meals are now wonderfully packed and brought to our rooms. So we adjust; we manage. I was a professional social worker, so I understand what is required to cope. You have to keep going and do the best under these trying conditions. This is the way I think. I had a mother like that and a grandmother like that – it’s in my genes.”

And finally Pauline adds “don’t lose your sense of humour.”

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Under Lockdown. The garden section of Beth Protea, the South African retirement home in Herzliya, Israel.

Jokes Aside

So true as shown by the amount of time people globally are investing in the dissemination of humour through social media. A sense of humour is proving a strong line of defense in coping with stress.

A key element of jokes shared, mostly on WhatsApp is that they comically force you to look at the same situation in different ways.

With frequent references by politicians saying, “we are at war” and “fighting an invisible enemy”,  I loved this one below comparing our efforts in this “war” to the “Greatest Generation” of WWII:

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As far as keeping busy at home, people are proving imaginative and industrious, I called my Lay of the Land colleague, Rolene Marks to get her take what she is “up to” when she is not writing or broadcasting live and she did not allow me to even finish the question:

Call back in an hour. I’m just about to start my on-line gym class on Zoom!”

 This I was familiar with. My daughter Keren, a dance instructor is running  five classes for her students on-line using Zoom and hopes to raise it to twelve classes.  She has converted an upstairs spare room into a solo dance studio, “and it’s working well,” she says descending the stairway with a heavy sweat after an early evening class. “Great way to keep fit and keep up our spirits” she says.  Without having to leave their parent’s homes, her students range in age from nine to eighteen years. It does come with some dangers. With a slanted roof in one section of her loft ‘studio’, a bump on the forehead was noticeable after one energised modern jazz session!

To see Keren perform with friend Lee in the local Hod Hasharon Park before it was closed to visitors due to Coronavirus:

Inspired by my daughter’s example, I have converted our lounge into a gym and removed an unpacked GymTrim exercise machine which I had brought from South Africa when I came on Aliyah in 1987.  That’s a long time ago. Many times I considered getting rid of it. Which only gives credence to the adage – “Don’t throw away today what you might need tomorrow.”  In this case, that tomorrow took over three decades to arrive – thanks to Coronavirus!

Reflecting on my native South Africa whose population only this week has been  locked into their homes for a period of at least 21 days, the writer, Richard Poplak in his ‘Locked & LoadedSouth Africa enters the Age of Corona’ notes that “home” is “a mutable term where some will sequester themselves in palaces, others in shacks. These inequities – long nurtured and time-tested – are the conditions in which any virus thrives. Can we beat Covid-19 when we haven’t figured out how to live without a plague.”

Over 700 cases in South Africa have so far been diagnosed and the future is uncertain.

My next call was to Manof,  a community settlement established by South Africans in 1980 in northern Israel. Located on Mount Shekhanya in the Lower Galilee, about 30 km northeast of Haifa, Manof has a population of 862.

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Picturesque and Pastoral. Established by South Africans in 1980, moshav Manof in the Lower Galilee, in northern Israel.

Only a few days earlier, some 197 of its residents came out of a 14-day period of quarantine after having attended a party celebrating the Jewish festivity of Purim where also attending had been a visitor from abroad later diagnosed as having Coronavirus. .

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Resident of Manof, psychotherapist Irit Kaplan.

Fortunate in not having attended the party, Irit Kaplan escaped the quarantine.  A psychotherapist, with a clinic near Nahariya, a coastal town in the north and nearly an hour’s drive away from Manof, the writer was interested to know how she kept her practice going.

“On the phone and on-line, I am at least managing to maintain about 70% of my work and that includes supervising my fellow professionals.”

And how has Corona affected her clients?

“A spectrum of reactions, all depending on the circumstances of the individual from a divorcee feeling more alone now than before to others anxious over their economic future. Also, with the children all confined in limited space, homes become pressure cookers.”

However, it was pleasing to hear from Irit that she had not “yet” encountered “any major fears, depression, acute anxiety or panic attacks as a direct consequence of the Coronavirus.”

An hour later, I called back Rolene calculating she must have finished her online Zoom gym session. She had, but she  was about to start her online live ballet class. “It’s the only way to get through this Corona. One has to continue doing things that feel normal and structure your day meaningfully.” As an example, she cites her husband, who is in hi-tech and now working from home, “gets up in the morning the usual time, dresses the same way as if he was going to work, and ‘travels’ to the dining room where he has set up his office, sits in front of his computer and does a full day’s work.”

As for Rolene, “there are five of us in our gym class; we have a WhatsApp group, and we synchronize when to hold our classes. My ballet is with another group and if its Sunday, its Pilates.”

So Corona or no Corona, “we pursue our  lives within the limitations imposed on us.”

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Home Alone. Pre-Corona, Rolene Marks (left) exercising with friends on Tel Aviv beach. Now each in her class, exercises alone but together through Zoom.

Collective Comfort

Away from the cities and towns, Israel’s rural population living in its collective settlements are fortunate to have social infrastructures to cope with Corona.

“I think what is quite unique  about Israel,” says Irit, “are our support systems across the country on our kibbutzim, moshavim and yishuvim. Already in place, these structures of support equipped communities to absorb the unforeseen Corona.” She explains that on Manof, “We have a committee for our seniors who are constantly phoned to see how they are doing and if they require anything from food to medicine. We have organised for provisions from our local store to be delivered to households by the youth of the moshav, who are all volunteers. On our internet network, people advise when going to the supermarket or pharmacy and offer to get for those who need anything. We also have a women’s WhatsApp group called “Who’s Got A Cup Of Sugar”. We are 135 in the group and help each in need. On an ordinary day, it might be “I have run out of baking powder, ginger or garlic, these days it is more in tune with the needs of coping under Corona and that includes, sharing jokes. Above all, we need to keep our spirits up.”

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The New Normal. A man wears a face mask as he walks in a market in Ashkelon while Israel tightened a national stay-at-home policy following the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Ashkelon, Israel March 20, 2020. (photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)

Israelis are used to keeping their spirits up as well as  accustomed to staying at home and obsessively tuning into the news. Wars and constant terror have prepared and hardened this population.

This however is different.

How we should have listened to Bill Gates when he addressed the 2015 Ted Talks when he warned :

“If anything kills over 10 million people in the next few decades, it’s most likely to be a highly infectious virus rather than a war. Not missiles, but microbes.”

These days, it’s not to bomb shelters, sealed rooms or the stairwell Israelis scurry, sometimes in their pajamas. With Corona we have the luxury of staying put on our sofas.

As Dana Kesler noted with wry humour writing in the Tablet that when this is all over, Israel can expect “a post-coronavirus baby-boom plus a long line at the rabbinical courts to get a divorce.”

A baby-boom is good; in the meantime let’s get over the virus!

 

 

The Israel Brief- 23-26 March 2020

 

The Israel Brief – 23 March 2020 – Corona in Israel updates. Knesset shutdown updates.

 

 

 

The Israel Brief – 24 March 2020 – All the latest on the Israel Corona Crisis and the Knesset updates right here.

 

 

 

The Israel Brief – 25 March 2020 – Corona updates. Edelstein’s bombshell resignation. El Al flies more rescue missions.

 

 

 

The Israel Brief – 26 March 2020 – What is going on at the Knesset? Israel’s health Ministry says next two weeks critical for containing Corona virus in country.

 

 

“Shaken, Not Stirred”

Aliyah In The Age Of Covid-19

Israel must be the only country in the world that is today welcoming new immigrants

By David E. Kaplan

In a country where its friendly citizens typically love to kiss and warmly embrace, “social distancing” is now the name of the game. Schools, universities, kindergartens, movie theaters, restaurants, pubs, gyms, parks, libraries, museums and beaches are now off limits. “All social interactions,” says the Ministry of Health should be conducted on the phone or by other digital means. Pessimistically paraphrasing the  iconic line from the 1970 romantic movie ‘Love Story’, Israel’s Prime Minister appeals:

Love is keeping your distance

As the novel Coronavirus pandemic continues to proliferate, each day brings with it new challenges and restrictions for Israeli society. Where one day the restriction is not to meet anywhere where there are NOT more than ten people present, the next day it is not to meet at all – unless it’s a dire emergency.

Where one day an instruction is an appeal, the next it is a pre-emptory order.

“This is not a game. It’s a matter of life and death,” asserted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his update on Tuesday.

And yet, there is something quite unique about Israel. Despite  the dwindling few still entering the country going straight into a mandatory 14-day quarantine, new immigrants (olim) are still arriving at Ben Gurion Airport with Israel absorbing them like returning family.

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One ‘FLU’ Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. Like something out of the movies, travelers wearing masks chat in the arrivals terminal after Israel said it will require anyone arriving from overseas to self-quarantine for 14 days as a precaution against the spread of coronavirus at Ben Gurion International airport near Tel Aviv, Israel. (photo credit: REUTERS/RONEN ZEVULUN)

In the first half of March 2020, 163 immigrants arrived in the country, according to the Jewish Agency’s statistics.

One of them is Craig Evans from Sasolburg in South Africa who came with his wife Meghan and their 9-year-old-son. An older 14-year-old daughter, Jade, was already in Israel, enrolled at the Mosenson School in Hod Hasharon. The first Craig and Meghan heard that they would have to go directly from Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport into quarantine was when they were standing in the departure queue at the A1 gate at Oliver Tambo International Airport. “There we were, about to board our El Al flight and we received a phone call from the Israel Centre in Joburg informing us and that there would probably be no-one in Israel to officially welcome and process us through immigration. We must make our way alone as best we could and then head straight to our apartment and wait for someone to contact us!”

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The Evens Family. New immigrants to Israel, Meghen and Craig Evens and their children Kai and Jade from Sasolburg, South Africa.

Like the intrepid MI6 agent of “Shaken, but not stirred’ fame,  Craig told Lay Of The Land “Yes, obviously we were concerned but there was no turning back. Our minds and our destination were determined. We were going to Israel, and contrary to the warning, we received 5-star treatment. They literally welcomed us from the moment we got off the plane in Israel. We were met by the representative from Telfed and the Jewish Agency who stood there holding aloft a sign with our names on and who then guided us through the process of receiving all our necessary documentation – most importantly for Kupat Holim (health care provider). We were out of the airport in 30 minutes;  and then the rep organized a huge transport vehicle for all our masses of baggage and in less than one hour, we were  in our apartment in Netanya.”

So how did it feel for this on-line marketing man and dance teacher wife to be alone in quarantine in a new country?

“Who’s alone? We have an incredible circle of friends  all over the country as well as new friends. Within 40 minutes of arrival, there was a knock on the door from the local South African community to welcome us and bring food.  We have been inundated with people contacting us, even if only over the phone or through the narrow gap of the front door.” Seeing “a silver lining” in the situation, “if it was not for the quarantine, we would never have met so many new people. This would never happen anywhere else in the world.”

Immigration to Israel is a complex process and during a global health crisis even more so. “We are advising people to postpone their immigration, but it’s not so easy,” explains the South African immigrant organisation, Telfed’s CEO, Dorron Kline. “People have sold their homes and cars and even so, people want to come and are determined to brave these challenging times. Whatever they decide, Telfed will be there for them,” asserts Dorron. “Telfed was born in challenging times when it was established in 1948 during Israel’s War of Independence and we are at war now against an unseen enemy and we are all ready to meet this challenge.”

Such determination is evident with a young man immigrating next month  from South Africa who will be going straight into the IDF. “Not only is he still determined to enlist during these trying times,” says Dorron,  “but he wants to come earlier to Israel to enable him to complete his 14-day quarantine period before his call-up date.” Only the day before, “we had a 19-year-old, young woman from Australia who just made Aliyah, so yes, despite the situation, people are still coming.”

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Fear Of Coronavirus. Usually crowded with tourists, the empty square outside the Jaffa Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem on March 16, 2020. (photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

Even with the enormous pressures on Telfed’s staff who are alternating between working from home and the head office in Ra’anana, “we are calling all immigrants who arrived in the last six months from South Africa and Australia  to  find out how they are coping and if their need any assistance. We have also created a special Coronavirus platform on our  Telfed website where people can on-line ask for any assistance and others in the community can volunteer to help them. We are connecting those in need with those who can help.”

An example of how successfully the project works, Dorron sites “a new South African immigrant who was in quarantine and who ran out of her medicine. She posted this on the Telfed website  and in a few minutes, someone responded and offered to go the pharmacy and bring her the medicine.”

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Welcome To Israel. An empty arrival hall at Ben-Gurion International Airport on March 11, 2020. Photo by Flash90.

Yael Katsman, Vice President of Public Relations and Communication at Nefesh B’Nefesh – which supports Aliyah from North America and the UK –  told The Jerusalem Post earlier in the week that in spite of the coronavirus crisis and despite the restrictive conditions, “Aliyah is continuing. We have a group of 24 olim arriving Thursday who are going to be remotely processed, which is a first.” The composition of the group are of diverse backgrounds and ages – families, retires and singles and that only a few of the elderly had decided to postpone. And as to the immediate future, Katsman says that in the period leading up to Passover in April, “We are expecting about 60 to 70 olim. At the moment, a very positive indicator is that people who had planned to come are still coming regardless of this new reality.”

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Happy To Be Home. American David Bassous, who made aliyah from Highland Park, N.J. Credit: Courtesy.

One recent arrival is David Bassous who made aliyah over a week ago from Highland Park, N.J. “I didn’t realize how hard quarantine would be,” he admits. “The hardest part being unable to go outside or see the kids and grandchildren.”

However, he  figured that Israel “is one of the safest places to be right now because of its proactive policy—one of the strictest in the world.” Nevertheless  “I was still shocked when I landed and witnessed Ben-Gurion Airport deserted.”

Still, says Bassous, he’s “so happy to be home after a 2,500-year exile.”

There are a lot of Jews around the world  – Coronavirus or not – who share his enthusiasm. They can live for a while being two meters apart from the next person, but not being apart from their ancestral homeland.

 

 

At this time of difficulty and danger, here is a  Healing Prayer from Jerusalem

 

 

 

*Feature Picture: New Immigrants to Israel Jump Right In to Coronavirus Quarantine – Chief Rabbi of Israel David Lau, World Chairman of KKL-JNF Daniel Atar, and Co-Founder of Nefesh B’Nefesh Tony Gelbart with Olim moving to Israel’s periphery (photo credit: SHAHAR AZRAN COURTESY OF NEFESH B’NEFESH)

The Israel Brief- 16-19 March 2020

 

The Israel Brief – 16 March 2020 – Israel Corona update. Gantz to form gov. Is IAW really necessary?

 

 

 

The Israel Brief – 17 March 2020 – Israel stands strong during Corona restrictions. Knesset sworn in. anti-Semitism spreads during Corona crisis.

 

 

 

The Israel Brief – 18 March 2020 – Is Israel headed to full lockdown? Edelstein dissolves Knesset. Islamists blame Zionists and America for Covid 19.

 

 

 

The Israel Brief – 19 March 2020 – Israel’s Foreign Ministry calls Israelis traveling abroad to come home immediately. Palestinians and Israelis establish joint operations. Story time with Ruvi.

VIRAL REFLECTIONS

By Justine Friedman (nee Aginsky)

One week ago, if anyone had told me that I would be sitting at home and writing this I would have thought how crazy! Surely in a weeks’ time my life will be pretty much the same. I would have done a few loads of washing, been for a walk or run, fetched my kids from school and got ready for an afternoon of studying and then extra murals.

I now sit with more time on my hands than I ever dreamed possible and I feel like I am on some strange holiday.

The exam I was meant to write on the 2nd April has been cancelled by the Ministry of Health and I have no idea when in the future a date will be set for it. I am both relieved and frustrated. Relieved as I this was really the crunch time to get through all the big sections of nutrition work and also frustrated as I was relying on writing and passing the exam so that I could receive a licence to practise the profession I am so passionate about in Israel.

One thing I certainly can see from all of this is how little control we have over most of what we are living through now. It is a reminder that the illusion of control we all felt we had was exactly that – an illusion!

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Bizarre At Ben Gurion airport. Passengers wearing masks to help protect against coronavirus arrive at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, Tuesday, March 10, 2020. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

As I sit in my apartment in Israel so grateful that I have Wi-Fi and access to live talks and programs, I feel stifled that I am unable to just hop on a plane and go anywhere. Just a trip to the shops involves wearing latex gloves and a bottle of sanitiser. So, I fill my days with trying to establish a new routine for my family so that we all have some kind of a structure. I still have my kids up by a certain time. We all still pray in the morning and then they do some schoolwork. We are luckily not in a state of quarantine, so we are still able to leave our apartment and go for walks. I am now so mindful of just how close I am to the strangers and friends on the street and even though a distance of two meters sounds like a lot, it also feels rather close!

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Few And Far Between. The Western Wall viewed from the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, March 13, 2020 where only a few were at prayer. (LH/Times if Israel)

I strongly believe that each of us now have a big role to play in how we conduct ourselves. We can easily get swept up in the fear and panic of stock piling food, masks and toilet paper. Or we can choose to focus on the gift that this invisible virus has given us, and that is time. Time to be with our families, time to discuss what is truly important in life and most of all time to reflect on how we can live our best lives and be the best human beings we can be.

An attitude of positivity and gratitude has never been more important. Instead of focusing on what we don’t have or the fear of not having, we need to enter into a mindset of the abundance of what we do have. We live in a plentiful world. We live in a world that has become so used to instant gratification. At this time the biggest gift of all is to know just how blessed we all are.

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Snapshot Of The New-normal. Two women take a selfie as they wear face masks in Tel Aviv, Israel amid coronavirus pandemic, Sunday, March 15, 2020

For those people who are truly suffering, who are unable to be with family members, who can’t hug and kiss a child, who are truly ill with this virus these musings may seem nonchalant and without empathy. I pray that all of those who are affected will be out of suffering soon. I pray for healing for all. But for those of us who are being responsible and reducing exposure and living in as much of a lockdown as we can, I pray that we all have the tranquillity of mind to know that positivity and prayer is the best remedy and is a far more powerful tool for surviving this pandemic than panic and fear.

At this time of greatest uncertainty for every human being the world over, we are united in one thing. No matter our colour, creed or religion we are all affected in one way or another. Let us choose to be united in the ability we all have, to share kindness, words of care and encouragement and support, for no virus can control our behaviour. That my fellow human beings, is entirely up to us.

VIRAL REFLECTIONS2

 

 

About the Author:

1581402634466blob.jpgJustine Friedman (nee Aginsky) made aliyah from Johannesburg, South Africa in November 2019 with her husband and their two children. In Johannesburg she was a successful clinical dietician, coach and speaker who ran her own private practice for 17 years. Justine is passionate about helping people, and women in particular, achieve greater degrees of health in their mind, body and soul. She is based in Modi’in and loves the challenges and successes that living in Israel has to offer.

 

Israel Declares War On Corona

By  Rolene Marks

When Israel started to enforce very tough measures in response to the growing Coronavirus pandemic, many thought the country’s leaders were suffering from a case of “coronoia”. Fast forward several days, and that the numbers grow around the world and it seems like no country is immune, Israel’s strict measures, first criticized by the global media and citizens alike, is now being lauded.

Israel, recognizing the threat of the Covid-19 virus almost at the outset, acted with almost military precision. This was done against the background of coalition discussions after Israel’s March 2nd election. Israel has demonstrated its magnificent crisis management capabilities.

A country that is used to adapting quickly to changing conditions, we have survived intifadas, wars and waves of terror and this has built a strong, resilient survivalist culture.

Years of dealing with threats means we have become accustomed to quickly adapting. Israel is also a country where the majority of citizens has served in the army and is accustomed to taking orders and following accordingly.

Israel’s response has exhibited the best of the country – and its spirit. Declaring war against the virus, the government with its relevant ministries, has employed all mechanisms that one would in a decisive military campaign. Counter-terror technology, the military and the extraordinary Magen David Adom have all been deployed to ensure that Israel’s citizens have what they need; that the response is quick and efficient and that we can maintain monitoring on the virus. The end goal is clear – flatten the curve.

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Prepared. Workers at Sheba-Tel HaShomer Hospital near Tel Aviv wait for Israelis who were under coronavirus quarantine on the cruise ship, Diamond Princess, in Japan, February 20, 2020. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Tight restrictions now mean that we can get a firm handle on this global pandemic and hopefully recover soonest.

The first major restriction put in place was enforcing a rule that anyone, regardless of where they came from and including Israeli nationals, had to self-quarantine for 14 days upon entry into the country. Crowds were restricted to no more than 100 (since reduced to ten), and schools closed until after Passover.  This drew widespread criticism from the global media who saw this move as somewhat draconian but days after, as the virus continued to spread, most saw Israel’s response as the right way to go about beating this virus and are now appealing to their governments to follow suit.

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No Kidding. An empty classroom in Ashdod following the closure of schools, kindergartens, universities and any gatherings of over 10 people. (Photo: Marina Schneider)

The man that many say is responsible for Israel’s rapid and responsible response is Moshe Bar Siman-Tov, the Director General of the Health Ministry. The first non-doctor to head the ministry, this economist who many call “Barsi”, has introduced this aggressive policy not only to slow the entry of the virus into Israel, but to ensure that the country’s health infrastructure does not become overwhelmed and many are applauding him.  Other countries have taken note.

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New Reality. Following Israel’s introduction of a blanket quarantine policy for anyone entering the country, an empty airline check-in counters at Ben Gurion Airport, near Tel Aviv. (Amir Cohen/Reuters)

Some of them have.

New Zealand has followed Israel’s self-quarantine on entry example and South Africa, has restricted crowds to no more than 100.

Over the past weekend, it was announced that Israel would go into partial lockdown. All leisure activities like theatre, movies, restaurants and malls would be closed. No more than 10 people at a gathering and if possible, work from home. Social distancing at 2 metres is also recommended. Not touching is completely uncharacteristic for the hot blooded, tactile Israelis who mostly feel that invading one’s personal space is totally okay because we are all family!

Israelis are getting creative! Restaurants are finding ways to change their business models to deliver instead of shutting completely; kids are online schooling and faced with the prospect of having to talk to each other (heaven forbid!) a number of Israelis have been caught standing on their balconies, singing to their hearts content. This shining example of resilience was started in Italy – and it is hard to compete, but it really is proof that there is an Eyal Golan song for every occasion!

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In High Gear. An employee of Rambam Medical Center in Haifa moves equipment to a special wing being set up at the hospital to treat the coronavirus, February 29, 2019. (Screen capture: Twitter)

Like many countries, the pervasive panic over a potential shortage of toilet paper has sent many storming the supermarkets. While we have been reassured, we have no shortage of anything, including a decent roll of 2/3 ply, many are frightened that they will not survive the great bog roll shortage of 2020. It’s loo-paper-geddon! Personally I believe stockpiling whisky would be more effective – it is medicinal!

One of the greatest lessons in all of this has been the realization that we are all in this together. Israel and the Palestinian Authority are jointly working together to save lives and contain the virus so that our respective populations remain safe and through the COGAT unit of the IDF, disinfectants, sanitisers and medical supplies continue to enter the Gaza Strip.

Keeping morale high (Petach-Tikva/Israel, 16.03.2020)

As China recovers and the eye of the storm moves westwards, all we can do is pour ourselves a Quarantini (it is just a martini – only drunk alone), wash our hands multiple times and be grateful for a government who has set a shining example on how we win the war against Covid-19. It can be done.

 

 

Mega Shopping? An alternative way to spend in the queue.

 

 

*Feature Picture:Miguel MEDINA / AFP

When All’s Said And Sung

Away from Coronavirus, a young Ethiopian singing Israel’s 2020 Eurovision entry in four languages is just what the doctor ordered

By David E. Kaplan

 WOW! It was Purim this week but it did not feel like it.

One of Israel’s most widely celebrated festivals that is traditionally embraced by religious Jews in Jerusalem and secular Tel Avivians alike was a damper. Instead of parents joining their kids in donning colourful costumes, they donned anxious expressions as public areas were eerily quiet. From my highrise balcony in Kfar Saba, I would normally have a grand view of the Purim Parade down the main street and the piazza. Not this year – for March 2020 has been hijacked by something I had never heard of until two months ago –  CORONAVIRUS!

Too frequently writing on the other more familiar virus of global antisemitism, this one caught me off guard together with the rest of the world.

Only hours after Italy announced that its entire population was under lockdown, Israel followed with its most extreme measure to date of requiring ALL people entering the country to go into immediate 14-day isolation.

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No Kidding. A popular toy shop just before the Jewish holiday of Purim, ‘The Red Pirate’ in central Israel, was fumigated following its owner having recently returned from Italy.(Photo: Yariv Katz)

Turn on the TV news networks, open the newspapers, it’s all about Coronavirus – facts, figures, measures and counter-measures. The customary news of Israel’s failure to form a government and the USA’s Democratic Party’s primary elections were sidelined to the proverbial smaller print. Coronavirus  has captured the world’s attention and in so doing, dislodged our set perspectives on news. Suddenly we did not fear Iran over any nefarious activities seeking our destruction but  shared common concern that “54 Iranians had died from the virus in the past 24 hours recording the highest toll in a single day since the start of the outbreak in the country.” Borders were blurred as we showed concern for people effected from Wuhan in China to San Francisco in the USA and the worst – in between in Italy.

We were forced to recognise how fragile our world is and how vulnerable we are as individuals!

Israel Purim
Purim Under Pressure. Refusing to let the virus ‘infect’ their Purim partying, celebrations in Bnei Brak, Israel, Tuesday, March 10, 2020.. (AP/Oded Balilty)

With the constant infusion of distressing news of cancellations of conferences and sporting events, airlines grounded, hotels closing, people quarantined, economies paralyzed, and forecasts of a global recession but too early in the day for a medicinal scotch, I turned off the news and tuned into Israel’s latest entry into the 2020 Eurovision Song Contest.

While the 2020 Eurovision in Holland may end up another Coronavirus casualty, Israel’s singer and song are a sheer delight. Watch and listen – it is a well-deserved הפסקה (“hafsaka”) or “break” as we say in Israel from the daily dose of news.

“My Love”

Last month, when we were thinking less about Coronavirus, Eden Alene,  a 19-year-old Ethiopian Israeli won the country’s “The Next Star” and became this year’s representative to the 2020 Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam.

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Language Of Love. Israel’s song entry to the 2020 Eurovision is in four languages, English, Arabic, Hebrew and Amharic.

On stage she hugged her mother – that emotional embrace watched in living rooms across the nation, spoke volumes – it had clearly been a long road for this mother and daughter pair.

Alene’s win has been significant for Israel and its Ethiopian community, as she will be the first Israeli of Ethiopian descent to represent the Jewish state at Eurovision.

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Mother And Daughter. Eden and her mother Zehava, after winning ‘HaKochav Haba’ (‘Rising Star’) making her Israel’s representative to the 2020 Eurovision (Courtesy HaKochav Haba)

The song ‘Feker Libi’  – co-written by Israel’s 2018 winning entry ‘Toy,’ Doron Medalie and Idan Raichel, a top-selling singer-songwriter – is described as “a colourful pop gem that fuses together African dance beats with an infectious middle eastern sound.” The lyrics of the song are made up of four languages – Hebrew, Arabic, English and Amharic – and the name of the song, means “My Love” in Amharic. The song connects with Eden’s roots, having both parents originally hail from Ethiopia.

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The Face Of Israel. Israel’s Eden Alena to represent her country at 2020 Eurovision in Rotterdam, Holland.

Interestingly,  the roots of the cowriter of the song, Doron Medalie is also African.

If Medalie’s lyrics were “daring” in his song “Toy”, sung by Netta Barzilai, that won for Israel the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest, it’s because he comes from a lineage of daring. His late grandfather, Dr. Jack Medalie, left his private practice in Johannesburg, South Africa, to volunteer – serving as a doctor in Israel’s War of Independence. What’s more, before leaving in early 1948, he quickly rushed to marry his sweetheart and came on his honeymoon to a country at war, all ready to provide ‘a healing hand’.

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United We Stand. The country is YOUnited behind Eden.

“Love” and “healing” are what we need right now – so take a “hafsaka” (break) from Coronavirus and listen: