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 Call Of The Wild

Cries from Australia’s wildlife heard in Jerusalem

By David E. Kaplan

Turn on the news on TV these days and the screen flares up in shades of bright orange, with men in protective fighter-fighting garb trying to douse roaring flames.

Australia is in the grip of one of its worst wildfire seasons on record with the human death toll standing at 27 and over 2,000 homes destroyed across more than 10 million hectares of land — an area larger than Portugal.

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A kangaroo rushes past a burning house in the NSW town of Lake Conjola on New Year’s Eve. This fire season has been one of the worst in Australia’s history

Caught in this nationwide inferno are Australia’s endearing but vulnerable wildlife, and it is estimated that already 1 billion wild mammals, birds and reptiles have perished. Blessed with a unique eco-system, many species however are now threatened with extinction.

Pictures of koalas with charred feet and kangaroos hugging their human rescuers have through social media and television brought tears to the eyes of people the world over. Many are responding.

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This baby is very young now, but it already can express its feelings (© The Kangaroo Sanctuary Alice Springs/facebook)

The ‘cries’ of these animals were heard in the Israeli capital’s internationally renowned Jerusalem Biblical Zoo that is responding by donating veterinary medical supplies to be used in Victoria’s East Gippsland region.

The Jerusalem Biblical Zoo understands only too well the danger of animals facing extinction, which explains why the zoo’s primary focus is on  species from the land of Israel mentioned in the Bible but roam no more!

The zoo projects this history revealing the animals that roamed this region at the time of the forefathers of the Jewish People.

While so many of the world-renowned archeological sites around Jerusalem are a reminder of what life was like in the ancient city, the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo – officially known as the Tisch Family Zoological Gardens – is a ‘living’ reminder of what animals roamed this region in biblical times.

One of the many in Israel watching the human and animal tragedy unfold on her TV was the Biblical Zoo’s International Manager, Rachael Risby Raz, who grew up in Melbourne, and who still has family living there.

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Rachael Risby-Raz is International Relations Manager at the Tisch Family Biblical Zoo in Jerusalem.

Understanding with professional clarity the devastation befalling the flora and fauna of her native Australia, coupled with her position at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo meant that Raz was well placed for her response to be meaningful and effective.

She knew instinctively what the animals most urgently required and quickly put together “a wish list” of veterinary supplies that included: burn creams, milk formulas, teats for bottles, wound sprays, hydration concentrates, syringes, disinfectant, feeding bottles and more. She then followed up by launching a fundraising campaign to raise money to purchase the equipment online and have it sent directly to the rescuers on the ground. Within 24 hours of launching her appeal, she raised thousands of dollars as more and more heart-wrenching reports of the plight  resonated globally.

It went viral,” she told local media. “Even though we’re so far away – more than 6,000 miles – people are  nevertheless so moved and stressed by what’s happening in Australia.”

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A teenage boy gives water to a half burnt kangaroo in NSW’s south coast after out-of-control bushfires devastated homes and wildlife.

According to the Biblical Zoo’s press statement, “The supplies will be purchased in Australia and sent directly to the volunteers on the ground,” notably the volunteers working with the East Gippsland Fire Wildlife Support Team.

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A horse tries to flee bushfires near the NSW town of Nowra on New Year’s Eve. Over a billion animals are believed to have died in the fires.

Down Under

Although over “6,000 miles” away, The Jerusalem Biblical Zoo felt what was unfolding was close to home  as the zoo  has a special section dedicated to animals from Australia. “We have a colony of kangaroos who, at the moment, are experiencing a baby boom,” said Raz, “as well as fruit bats which came from Sydney.” They had been rescued after they were injured “and we had a whole group of them come and they live here at our zoo.” The area dedicated to the Down Under also includes a cheeky kookaburra, a bettong, bearded dragons, blue tongue lizards and cockatoos. “This is why it’s probably extra distressing. I look out the window of my office and see kangaroos we know by name and love and then see pictures of their peers in Australia burned –  it’s heartbreaking!”

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Toni Doherty is seen using the shirt off her own back to save a koala from the Long Flat bushfire near Port Macquarie in November. But the koala, called Lewis, was later put down after suffering extensive burns.

While Raz understands that it’s going to be an uphill struggle and that “the situation is just beginning and going to have consequences that can go on for months, even years,” she sees hope in the overwhelming  response from people so far removed geographically from the disaster.  After all, these are people who have never even visited Australia and may never visit, but their hearts pour out for these defenseless animals.

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Safe & Sound. Over 6000 miles away from the fires of Australia, a kangaroo at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo’s Australia Yard. (Photo by Rachael Risby Raz)

In a profound sense, the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo was a ‘natural’ to respond.

Viewing the situation through a  biblical prism,  Raz asks “What is the role of the zoo?” and then answers herself that “the zoo is like a modern Noah’s Ark. The animals that we have here at the zoo are basically being looked after for the next generation.”

This sentiment is all too evident in the many animals that roamed in the region in the time of the Bible and today no longer do.

This is not something that should be allowed to befall the animals of Australia.

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The Noah’s Ark Visitor Center at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo.

Model Behaviour

Elsewhere in Israel, Tel Aviv too is galvanizing support for Australia. Fashion model Abbiemay Doré, is one of thousands of Australian ex-pats residing in Israel. Originally from Wodoga, Victoria, the model  is helping organize an Australian-themed trivia night at a bar in Tel Aviv  to help raise awareness and funds.

While she reveals that she has “never really organized something like this before,”  these are extraordinary times in Australia.
Armageddon Is Here” have read headlines in Australia giving an indication how bad the situation is and how much worse it can still be!

While humanitarian groups like the Tel Aviv-based IsraAid are watching developments closely and considering  about different ways in which they can be of assistance, on Instagram, Israel’s ‘Wonder Woman’, Gal Gadot asked her 34 million followers to donate to relief efforts down under. “Nature is so beautiful and powerful and fragile all at the same time,” she wrote. “I’m so devastated.”

“Devastated” is the operative word!

For Israelis the devastation is brought all the more home when one realizes that the area so far devastated is more than double the size of Israel.

From Wonder Woman to the wonderful people of Israel and around the world, may the collective support bring this tragedy to a speedy end and that the animals Down Under don’t themselves go down under.

 

 

 

Feature picture:https://www.surfer.com/features/australias-coastlines-are-engulfed-in-flames/

Group Chats – Level Israel

By Gabi Crouse

The reality of the WhatsApp group chat is as simple as “you can’t live with it and you can’t live without it”.

As a mother, you have no choice but to be involved in a group chat for your child’s class because you cannot afford to miss important information about goings-on. This misinformation may result in an inevitable melt down when your child is the only shmendrik in a coloured shirt when everyone else is wearing white. So to avoid such calamities or worse, we join the group chats. BUT, this is only the beginning… make no mistake, it’s a trap.

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Reality Bytes. As a mother, you have no choice but to be involved in a group chat.

Usually there is a group for the child’s grade with the teacher as a member and who is the one to send out any important information. However, there is another separate group just for the parents. It is more acceptable for the second type to have ‘chatter’ whereas the first group is meant for important notifications. This is not the case. It’s all too easy to pop out one quick message but when everyone gets going, before you blink, there are 47 new unread messages. One would think there is a crisis at the school only to discover that Moshe is having a birthday party, and everyone wishes him Mazaltov.

Moreover, this same child of yours probably does one or more extra murals and, of course, each activity MUST have a communal forum for information exchange. Gone are the good old days whereby your child came home with a letter pinned to the back of his or her shirt. I sometimes wonder if my children would actually be capable of relaying any information to me, then I fear that this simple skill might eventually disappear from humanity.

Some of things that are announced on these groups never cease to amaze me. Absolutely everything! Everything from school complaints to the weather, to the latest sale at the local grocery store, warnings of a strange dog running in the road and the all-time winning one was that so and so had found a worm in her rice! My great challenge is saying “who cares” in such a way that I don’t offend anyone!

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New Nursery Rhyme. This little finger goes to WhatsApp!

This is just groups pertaining to one child. Bli ayain Hara, I have four children. The traffic flow of messaging in my WhatsApp is multiplied by four! I may as well be an air traffic controller. These groups by the way, could prove to be a real game changer for people considering having more children. This influx of messaging happens on all the groups, all day long. It becomes a lot to deal with when you are trying to manage a stressful life juggling many things all day long. The truth is that a mother has a huge pile on her plate that never seems to clear  – much like the dishes in the kitchen sink. After one issue is sorted out, the next one reveals itself. This is most likely the reason the WhatsApp groups are so annoying – because they present the constant nagging cherry on top of a mountain of mental submissions.

What about the unwanted invitation to a group chat?

A friend of mine, Etana Hecht, has coined the term Whatsnapped. (Look it up on urban dictionary). This is where you are added to a group without your consent, and which you now find yourself serving a life sentence trapped within the wallpapers of the app. Exiting this group could label you a snob or stuck up. (Truthfully, I’m sure some would be jealous of the courage that would take). Leaving a group is scandalous and doing so may provoke questions and concerns and even the evil Lashon Hara!! This is not a road one wants to travel on, so we remain, like loyal participants, in the prison chat.

Let’s talk about the struggle IsRael! This, as an olah chadasha (new female immigrant to Israel), is the clincher! My WhatsApp incoming messages are all in a foreign language now – the writing is literally backwards! This is where ‘fast pace’ checks of instant messaging has become a thing of the past. And back and forth trips to google translate quadruple the time spent reading messages!

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Keeping In Touch. Let your fingers do the talking.

What once was a lovely ping on my phone indicating that someone, somewhere was thinking of me has now become trigger for anxiety, denial and the perpetual eyeball roll. Upon opening WhatsApp and seeing 57 unread messages no longer makes me happy. In fact, my stress levels shoot through the roof, my hands become clammy and my heart starts palpitating. And because of the Hebrew names and I have to consciously remind myself to check for which child (name in Hebrew letters / grade / extra mural activity (chug) the notification is intended. Furthermore, I think I’ll just mention at this point that the ‘google translation’ is a serious cause for trust issues. Sometimes when I see all the messages, I simply close the app, gently place the phone face down on the table and happily pretend I hadn’t seen anything. Out of sight, out of mind.

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Ping-headed. Being part of a parents’ WhatsApp group expect plenty of pings.

Based on a recent Facebook survey, I have put together a list of ‘code of conduct’ rules for group chat users:

  1. Any group created must have an official permission request before adding a person. A strict ‘no offence but no thank you’ is to be widely acceptable without judgement!
  2. All comments made must be beneficial to ALL members of the group, if not, Private message (PM) the person of interest.
  3. Please think 5 million times before you post anything at all. Then reconsider it once more. Should you ultimately decide to send a message, use minimal wording.
  4. We all know its cold out. This does not need to be a public statement on a group and if you haven’t yet put a jacket on your child in 8 degrees, no WhatsApp group message is going to make you a better mother.
  5. Birthday party invitations are always welcome, individual RSVP’s however are not. Please PM these.
  6. Unless you are handing out personal gift vouchers, we don’t care about the 20% sale at the local supermarket, and while we are on the subject, I really don’t know where to buy yellow plums this time of year.
  7. At all times, keep to the topic relevant to the group. I was so busy trying to scroll past ‘how to repair a broken zip’ that I missed the part about the money which needed to be handed in for the school trip.
  8. When your two year old gets hold of your phone and sends a cute voice note, just delete it.
  9. (Optional) Appoint a group birthday person to wish the birthday lady a onetime wish on behalf of everyone. We all have good wishes for you, what we don’t have is 7 hours to sift through all the heartfelt messages. (That is what Facebook is for).
  10. Finally, remember that we all love each other dearly but we do all run very busy lifestyles. We all agree that phone time should be kept to a minimum so that we can focus on more important things. So let’s try keep life as simple as possible for each other.

SEND.

 

 

 

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Gabi Crouse – Based in Israel, Gabi writes opinions in fields of politics, Judaism, life issues, current social observations aswell as creative fiction writing. Having contributed to educational set works and examinations, as well as interviews, Gabi will usually add in a splash of humour.

 

 

Protecting The Amazon Forest

Israel may be a tiny country but its humanitarian outreach knows no bounds

By David E. Kaplan

Yes, we are all familiar with the line at the end of emails “Trees have feelings too, please don’t print this!”

It’s a reminder that “Paper doesn’t grow on trees” and we can all do our bit to help save our planet.

Some Israelis have opted to do more – a lot more and going to the heart of one the problem areas – the Amazon rainforest.

While the name ‘Amazon’ conjures up the immediate image as one the world’s most valuable companies, the threat to its namesake –hardly raises an eyebrow and yet, the ‘rainforest’ in South America is a crucial part of our life-support system, creating up to 20% of our oxygen.

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From Israel With Love. The VeganNation team in Israel ready to help sustain the Amazon rainforest.

Here’s why we need the world’s largest rainforest:

All this resonated with the Israeli startup VeganNation  that recently announced  that it leased some 15,000 acres (60.7 square kilometers or 23.4 square miles) in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest for a ten-year period to protect the land from deforestation and wildlife poaching.

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We Are The World. From Yeshiva students to VeganNation co-founders (left to right) Isaac Thomas, Shneor Shapira, Yossi Rayby, and Nati Giat.

VeganNation is based in Ramat Gan, just outside Tel Aviv, with an office in London. Thomas says the startup employs approximately 20 people and works with 30 “ambassadors” across the world in places like Argentina, Brazil, India, and beyond, to spread its message.

Having built a global e-commerce platform and social network for vegans worldwide powered by its own digital currency, VeganNation, said it would hand the Amazon land over to preservation groups and activist organizations to protect it.

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Free The Forest. An aerial view of the river in the Amazon rainforest in Brazil. Deposit Photos

The Amazon rainforest might be located in Brazil, but its destruction affects us all, as climate change is a direct result of human activity and it’s in our hands to fight it,” said Isaac Thomas, the CEO and co-founder of  VeganNation.

The startup also announced that it was partnering with four local soccer teams from cities near the entrance to the rainforest to raise environmental awareness. Thomas told the Israeli innovation news network, NoCamels, that “VeganNation is already a main sponsor of the teams – three men’s teams and one women’s team – and revealed that an additional four top-tier national teams are set to sign on to the initiative.”

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Food For Thought. VeganNation co-founder Isaac Thomas with actress and dancer Jenna Dewan, a supporter of VehanNation.

Kicking For Eco-Goals

VeganNation’s initiative comes amid the devastating fires that have continued to burn in the rainforest since early August, releasing dangerous air pollutants into the atmosphere, severely damaging flora and fauna ecosystems, and endangering indigenous communities that live under the forest canopy. The fires are so intense that they can be observed from space.

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Our Future In Flames. A tract of Amazon jungle burning as it’s cleared by loggers and farmers in Novo Airao, Brazil. Reuters

“When we measure the destruction of the rainforest, we talk about football (soccer) fields as a unit, so we thought what if we use that same measure to save parts of it,” explained Thomas. To illustrate the point, the land leased by VeganNation covers over 5,500 soccer fields if we’re using the measure of large regulation-sized soccer fields of approximately 2.69 acres per field.

VeganNation understands that promoting veganism is an important step towards fighting the global warming crisis and raising awareness through local environmental projects among the Brazilian community is key. Partnering with four Brazilian soccer teams further enables us toward our mission of working together to create a better world,” he says.

Thomas reveals that the initiative came about through his close connection with a family in the city of Manaus in Brazil that owns land in the rainforest and used to lease it to a US gas company . When the lease was up, Thomas proposed to the family to lease the land to VeganNation explaining that “it’s a win-win situation for everyone as we’re not polluting the environment.”

The Israeli startup raised capital through private investors and added celebrity vegan activists Jerome Flynn, of Game of Thrones, and actor and dancer Jenna Dewan, to its advisory board.

Thomas says VeganNation’s work in the sports world is of key importance and the startup is set to bring in “one of the top three football players in the world as an ambassador for sustainability.”

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Fighting For Life. Typical in Game of Thrones of switching allegiance, Jerome Flynn (left) in Game of Thrones is today a celebrity vegan activist and on the advisory board of VeganNation.

Devils Peak

Environmental groups and researchers say the fires were started by humans at an accelerated rate probably by cattle ranchers and loggers looking to clear the land. The area of devastation in this year’s forest fires  marks a 47% increase compared to 2018 according to Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research.

While deforestation had declined by 75% from 2005 to 2014 and Brazil was moving impressively toward a zero-deforestation policy, it started reverting back massively from 2015 onwards and now in 2019, it seems to have reached literally – a “devastating” peak.

Late last month, under heavy international pressure, and amid several public spats with world leaders rejecting aid offers, Bolsonaro finally issued an order to send over 40,000 troops to help fight the fires. Included in the global support are an eleven-member team of firefighters and rescuers from Israel to assist local authorities with search-and-rescue operations.

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Fiery Forecasts. Imagery from European Union satellites shows smoke from fires in the Amazon rainforest stretching across Brazil and into other countries. European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts

President Jair Bolsonaro who has good relations with the Israeli Prime Minister, accepted the aid from the Jewish state, which is understood to include 100 tons of fire-fighting material.

So, while Israeli firefighters will do what they can in the immediate term,  the Israeli startup VeganNation is looking long-term  – focusing on preserving Brazil’s home to 2.5 million animal species. Rainforest deforestation – which often takes place to raise and feed cattle for the meat industry – is one of the most important issues to tackle in the fight against climate change.

What also needs to ‘change’ are peoples understanding of the threat and this is where Israel’s VeganNation is looking  to make a difference.

Its also about changing lifestyles.

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Reality Check! A deforested area near Novo Progresso, in Brazil’s northern state of Para, in 2009. AP Photo/Andre Penne

Breath Of Fresh Air

Thomas exalts Tel Aviv as “number one in the world for vegan food,” having earned its title as the “vegan capital of the world.” Tel Aviv recently held the world’s largest vegan festival at the Sarona complex in June, attracting over 50,000 attendees. The city is home to some 400 vegan and vegan-friendly kitchens.

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Where’s The Beef? There isn’t any at this boardroom spread at VeganNation’s offices in Ramat Gan.

The Mediterranean diet, Thomas explains, “is naturally based on plants; there are salad bars everywhere in Israel. The basic Med diet is very complimentary to a plant-based lifestyle.”

Thomas met his co-founder Yossi Rayby while in Yeshiva (Jewish seminary) in Jerusalem some years ago. Rayby brought in Nati Giat and Shneor Shapira who all have a religious background, and some have maintained an Orthodox lifestyle.

Judaism has a strong message that drives me toward making the world a better place, where we live in peace and harmony,” says Thomas.

Yes, its one thing putting out fires, but the real battle is to see that deliberate fires are not started in the first place.

Acknowledging that the Amazon rainforest creates up to 20% of the world’s oxygen – the Israeli startup VeganNation and the work it is doing  is like ‘a breath of fresh air’.

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Tel A-Vegan. Tel Aviv’s abundance of food markets made veganism popular here before it was trendy worldwide. (Photo © Fotokon / Shutterstock)

Cow’working to Co-working

Digital Generation makes its MOO’ve to kibbutz

By David. E. Kaplan

I can just hear my late father reverting to Yiddish with “Voz iz dos?” on hearing about “co-working”. As a steel industrialist he knew all about a factory floor.

The actual use of the word “co-working” in relation to a shared office environment was first coined by Brad Neuberg in 2005. He was an intrepid entrepreneur with big dreams who created the first co-working space in San Francisco.

It was called the “San Francisco Co-working Space” and was open only two days a week – Mondays and Tuesdays – but sat empty for the first month as nobody had ever heard of a “co-working space” before.

Today, “Co-working Spaces” are the new normal with some 2.2 million people sharing office spaces worldwide.  Co-working spaces have grown at an astounding rate of 200% over the past five years, with the number of co-working members estimated to rise to over 5 million by 2022 thanks to the huge increase in jobs offering remote working.

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Bring To The Table. A far cry from downtown New York, London, Sydney or Johannesburg but the work at this rustic table is no less – if not more – productive. Courtesy of Gather

 

Freelancers, contractors and younger companies are choosing co-working spaces over home offices and coffee shops for a range of reasons, including the productive atmosphere, affordable rates, excellent software and good networking opportunities.

Israelis love it and it’s available – especially in the greater metropolitan Tel Aviv – all across the city.

Joining this trend but with the added gain  of bringing VALUES  to “a generation of instant gratification” is one of the founding enterprising institutions of the state  – the KIBBUTZ.

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Point Of View. Situated on a beautiful mountaintop in the Western Galilee and boasting breathtaking views, Kibbutz Tuval was established in 1981 by ideological groups of young people from South Africa, Britain and Israel.

Field Of Dreams

It should come as little surprise.  Ideologically and conceptually there are similarities between the kibbutz – a co-operative Israeli farming community – and co-working in so far as shared working space in a collective and congenial atmosphere.

Both aspire to the common goal of increased productivity.

The Kibbutz was traditionally based on agriculture and although many of them have in recent years privatized and branched out to include industrial and high-tech enterprises, they still maintain an enviable community atmosphere hardly found elsewhere.

It is little wonder that Israel’s city dwellers flock to kibbutzim guest houses for weekend retreats and increasingly, young families from urban environments are taking advantage of kibbutzim that have opened up their land for private dwellings. These young couples with kids are opting to live in the countryside and take advantage of the kibbutz’s excellent communal services.

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Office Break. Gather participants can spend their lunch hour enjoying the natural surroundings of a kibbutz. Photo by Almog Gurevich

Come Gather ’round

Enter Gather – a new entrepreneurial project that aims to attract “remote workers” to Israel’s kibbutz communities.

A remote worker is someone who works outside of a traditional office. A company might have a team that is a mix both those that work on and off site.

In an interview with NoCamels.com,  a news website focusing on Israeli innovation in technology, 30-year-old entrepreneur Omer Har-Shai, co-founder of Gather explains that while “the world has changed,” there’s a trend today “to be part of a community, to belong, and to find meaning,” and that “the idea behind the kibbutz is all the more relevant again.”

Har-Shai came up with the idea to tap into the unique potential of Israel’s kibbutz structure– with its onsite accommodation, mess hall, lush surroundings, community atmosphere, and WiFi – and create a connection with today’s digital generation.

Gather has put out a call for professionals from across the globe to come and stay, work remotely, and experience kibbutz life for a one-month period.

“Over 100 people – graphic designers, writers, freelancers, programmers, designers, bloggers, entrepreneurs and even full-time employees – have written to us so far,” says Har-Shai. “They are from all over the world: Canada, the US, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, different European countries.”

As a former South African, whose first enriching experience of Israel in the early 1970s was volunteering on a kibbutz – inspired by the ideology of the labour Zionist youth movement  ‘Habonim’ –  I look with keen interests if  professionals in South Africans will  be attracted to the project.

While once kibbutz communities across Israel attracted tens of thousands of volunteers from abroad, today only a trickle of 20-somethings still come to volunteer and experience the uniquely Israeli communal living style.

Har-Shai says he hopes Gather will revive that legendary kibbutz experience of the 1970s with the adaptations catering to the digital millennial generation.

While still enticed to the uniquely communal agricultural experience of a kibbutz, Har-Shai hopes that Gather will attract new participants “toting laptops and drones instead of shovels and hoes.”

Back To Basics

“The kibbutz experience is still a brand name,” says Har-Shai. “Kibbutzim have gone through economic and social transformations during the past four decades, but the unique atmosphere, scenic surroundings, and communal facilities still exist today. So, there’s really no need to reinvent the wheel, just make the most out of these wonderful communities that already exist.”

There are just over 270 kibbutzim peppered around Israel. In December 2019, Gather will launch its first cohort of up to 25 international professionals in a month-long programme on Kibbutz Kfar Blum, in the Upper Galilee’s Hula Valley.

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Dream Office. Gather participants could work at Bluma Café on the grounds of Kibbutz Kfar Blum. Photo by Almog Gurevich

This will be followed a month later when a second group of some 25 participants will move into guesthouse accommodations at Kibbutz Tuval, in the Galilee on a mountaintop overlooking the town of Karmiel.

That these two kibbutzim were selected resonates with the writer as both attracted over the years, members of the Habonim youth movement from South Africa. They were a hardy and ideologically passionate lot like the late Rona Baram (née Moss-Morris from Durban) who arrived in Palestine from South Africa in the mid-1940s as a law student and trained nurse. Rona had been a member of Habonim in Durban, and “by the time I was 15,” she told the writer in 2005 on the 75th anniversary of Habonim South Africa celebrated on Kibbutz Yizreel, “I was determined to make Aliyah and bear a child in the Land of Israel whose mother tongue would be Hebrew.”

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Muddy Waters. The mud on Kibbutz Kfar Blum which Habonim member Rona Moss-Morris from Durban, South Africa describes on arriving in 1946.

Making her way to Kibbutz Kfar Blum that had been established in 1943  by her Habonim comrades, Rona recalled how “we rode in the back of a lorry carrying rocks for the approach road. I was lucky I came with my gumboots because the place was underwater, and the mud came to our knees. There were only a few buildings on the kibbutz and two families had to share a room.”

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Take The Plunge. Sweating at your computer, feel free to dive in at the pool at Kfar Blum.

Asking how she felt about living in these conditions, Rona answered with a shrug:

We came to build a country. No one promised us anything. We shared everything. Material things just didn’t mean anything to us then.”

Today it’s a different world where “material things” are paramount but nevertheless, the atmospherics of that bygone lifestyle and its concomitant values still have appeal and are at the core of today’s kibbutz revival.

“People want to travel, see new cultures, but they don’t necessarily want to quit their jobs and leave everything behind,” says Har-Shai. “Today, it is very easy to keep your job and see other places. There are digital nomads, freelancers, and remote workers who have the flexibility to work from anywhere. Even people who don’t usually work remotely can ask for a month to try working from another place.”

While the Gather project is geared to the 25-35 age group, “interest has also come from GAP year college-age students and people in their 50s,” says Har-Shai. “It’s not about age or being from a specific country. We’re looking for people who are open-minded and curious, people who are looking for this kind of experience.”

Here’s The Deal

It’s the vibe but without the socialism. While foreigners used to volunteer in return for accommodation and board, with Gather, participants pay a fee that covers accommodation and shared office space; daily lunch in the kibbutz Hadar Ochel (Dining room); access to kibbutz facilities, often including a swimming pool or tennis courts. Organised activities may include hiking, yoga, lectures and weekend trips to places including Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

Har-Shai reminds that participants in Gather’s kibbutz experience are not on vacation but to pursue their work with increased vigor in a highly motivated milieu. “They can sublet their apartments and come live in this community for a month. I think people will be more productive on the kibbutz. There is no traffic, no errands, you live on-site and walk three minutes to the office.”

In support of the  assertion of “being more productive”, studies out of North America and Europe have revealed that remote work improves productivity.

Over and above impressive levels of productivity of people who work from home, a recent two-year study by Stanford University concluded that people who worked remotely were less likely to leave the company for other employment. The study found there was an overall 50% decrease in attrition among home-based workers.

Remote.co – a resource for companies – reports that the number of companies with a remote workforce is growing all the time. In 2019, according to Remote.co, 66% of companies allow remote work and 16% are fully remote.

Har-Shai himself, is proudly, “office-less”.

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Rush Hour. Your office is a 3 minute scenic walk away on Kibbutz Tuval.

 Digital Nomads

So, how did this idea dawn upon Har-Shai?

Usually working out of a café in Tel Aviv, it was after working in Nitzana, a remote desert community  and youth educational village  in southern Israel near the Egyptian border, that “I decided to create a company that would help others work remotely and enjoy a truly Israeli experience at the same time.”

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Shared Space. Co-working offices in Tel Aviv.

He found the combination of doing physical work on the settlement in the morning “and then on my laptop in the afternoon proved incredibly inspirational and productive.”

He believes that this environment increases productivity because participants will be living “a more balanced life, perhaps starting their day by working in the fields a few hours and eating breakfast in the main mess hall,” before pursuing their professional work.

Searching for the right kibbutzim to meet the needs of remote workers’ needs and finetuning it to a truly revived kibbutz experience for foreign professionals took two years.

Har-shai, who has experience in marketing, sales and business development, shopped around his proposal to 40 kibbutzim across Israel.

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Living The Dream. Gather co-founder Omer Har-shai on Kibbutz Tuval. Photo by Almog Gurevich

Almost all were open to the idea, however, “the two we’ve partnered with to start are both green and beautiful, but different from one another. Kibbutz Tuval is remote and quiet, while Kibbutz Kfar Blum is more traditional with a supermarket and a pub.”

Kfar Blum’s location near the Jordan River at the foot of Mount Hermon has made it a center for outdoor recreational activities including walkinghikingkayakingrafting and bird watching.

As well as the amazing natural landscape that surrounds kibbutz Tuval, heaving with hiking trails, wildlife, and unlimited outdoor pursuits, it is well located for exploring the Western and Upper Galilee regions, within 40 minutes’ drive of Akko, Safed, Nazareth, the Sea of Galilee, Tiberias, as well as countless historic and religious sites.

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Stay Cool. Part of the activities for Gather participants is kayaking on the Jordan River.

“We’ll help each person find the kibbutz that is right for them,” says Har-Shai.

A third Gather location is planned in the Arava, the northeast strip of the Negev desert in the south of the country.

Har-Shai says, “We’re a private startup with no political agenda. I think that when people are living here for a month, they will see the real Israel. A diverse country, with different people; a beautiful country. It’s an interesting country. We’re offering a new approach for the age of Wi-Fi and remote work – living and volunteering on a kibbutz while keeping your day job.”

And while that “day job” feeds our addiction of our beloved technical appliances of computer and cellphone, seeing a tractor routinely pass by on the way to the fields is an enrichening reminder on the core earthy values of life.

 

 

*​Should you want to spend a month with a group of inspiring professionals from around the world, as you live and work remotely on a beautiful Kibbutz in Israel visit https://www.gatheround.co/ to learn more.

 

Take A Ride On the Wild Side

Paradise for some, hell for others – Tel Aviv’s electric scooter craze

By David E. Kaplan

You cannot escape them!

 Walk down any street in Tel Aviv, and you’re most likely to be overtaken – not to mention overrun – by electric scooters. For many pedestrians – from young parents pushing prams to seniors strolling with extra care – a common opinionated exclamation:

 “They’re a menace!”

Some may animatedly add an expletive before the word: “MENACE”!

Not so, says Yair who the writer briefly interviewed at a traffic light along Tel Aviv’s famed Dizengoff Street. “It’s a pain taking the car, getting stuck in traffic and then hassling to find parking; you can waste half your day!”

Adjacent to him on her scooter was his wife, Lucy, appearing notably pregnant.

Facing the reality that soon there will be three in the family,  “I suspect this might all change very soon,” said Lucy with an all-knowing maternal smile.

For the most part, residents in Tel Aviv, are embracing electric scooters and their smart-phone rental systems, using them to zip along avoiding the heavy traffic. Tourists are catching on too.

“Julie, where have I caught you,” I asked my friend visiting from abroad. “On the way to the beach on a hired electric scooter,” she replied.

A few years ago, I would have been surprised – maybe even shocked.

Not today!

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Movers & Shakers. As electric scooters take over the world, Tel Aviv stands first in line.

It’s a lot quicker and cheaper than the alternatives such as a bus or taxi. “It’s so convenient and accessible” all users agree. The app on the phone informs where the nearest available scooter is located.

“It’s so easy; I go to the beach, I stop there, I use the app and that’s all. Also, its fun.”

Tel Aviv lends itself to this trend.

Tel Aviv had already adjusted to the two-wheel trend building bike lanes all around the city. The city has approximately 70km of marked bike lanes. Some of them are on sidewalks in the city and some are outside the city center, in the neighborhoods and parks.

The sunny weather, flat landscape and constant traffic jams make the scooters an appealing option.

There are now around 7,500 electric scooters available, in addition to the thousands of bicycles and electric bikes already on the streets.

Doing It My Way

The industrial designer who started it all is Nimrod Sapir, responsible for Inokim, the lightweight, folding electric scooter brand that’s taken Tel Aviv, and much of Israel, by storm. In Japanese “Inokim” means “speed” and Sapir is a guy on the move – and in a hurry!

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A Quickie. Inokim’s Quick-3 e-scooter can be folded in three seconds. Photo: courtesy

As he told ISRAEL21c “I’m always cycling, rollerblading, roller-skating. It’s a personal thing for me; I always want to get to places quickly.”

Turned-on by the electric scooter way back in 1999, “still with the old batteries and antiquated motors,” he became hell-bent on creating a better product, and launched his first electric scooter in 2011 under the brand name MyWay. This was before moving on to partner with Israeli entrepreneur Kfir Ben Shushan in 2014, changing the brand name to Inokim and driving up sales.

Today, the folding e-scooter is shaping the future of urban transport.

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Easy Rider. On the way to work in a suit, this rider holds his folded Israeli Inokim electric scooter at a railway station.

The two other main brands currently operating in Tel Aviv are US Bird and German Wind.

Bird recently announced that about 250,000 people have used its app-based, dockless e-scooter-sharing service in Tel Aviv for more than two million rides since August 2018.

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On The Boardwalk. Popular way to enjoy Tel Aviv’s scenic promenade adjacent to the Mediterranean is by electric scooter.

Bird Israel general manager Yaniv Rivlin says, “Israel was selected by the company’s managers as one of the first targets for expansion outside the US.”

Ben Shuhan is not deterred by the many competitors in the market. “Demand is much higher than supply, and we think it will increase. This is a supplementary transportation solution that more and more people are adopting. Today, the problem is finding an available or charged e-scooter for riding, especially near the railway stations, which are the places with the highest demand. Among the competition, it’s hard to find an e-scooter fit to ride in the afternoon. There’s room for more players.”

Why have electric scooters become so popular?

Sapir emphasizes “You need no skills – it’s easy to use, easy to ride, easy to get from place to place.”

This is why, he contends that scooters are still leading over other electric mobility options such as electric bikes and hoverboards.

Furthermore, “None of them are as safe as an electric scooter, where you hold a bar in your hands. That gives you a very great feeling of comfort and safety.”

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On Track. Inokim electric scooter inventor Nimrod Sapir rides one of his creations on a railway platform in Tel Aviv.

Solution Not The Problem

Asked by, Globes that with Israeli sidewalks becoming increasingly crowded, whether the trend is sustainable in the long term, Ben Shushan replied:

We’re trying to form as many partnerships as we can with several mayors. The municipalities can also profit and realize that we’re the solution, not the problem. In any case, we’ll work strictly according to regulations, so we also reached agreements with 500 businesses, including 150 parking lots in Tel Aviv, that we can use as stations for renting if we can’t leave them spread around the public space.”

To the question whether  renting detracts from marketing e-scooters for sale, Ben Shushan, replied not at all.

“Since our competitors entered the market, our sales have grown by 30%. Awareness of e-scooters has only increased. Here, too, it’s a win-win situation for us.”

“We want to be in every big city in the world, focusing on businesspeople for transportation in downtown areas. You can carry it with you on the train or bus, or you can put it in your trunk and park your car outside the city for far less.”

Designed in Israel, Inokim electric scooters, are sold in 15 countries as a smart green solution for mobility in large cities.

Sapir has won several industry awards as the first electric scooter designer to overcome the tradeoff between performance and weight: Inokim scooters are not only attractive and robust but also quick-folding and lightweight.

“That’s why we stand out,” he told ISRAEL21c.

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Electrifying. This young Tel Avivian is going places on her electric scooter.

Streetwise

Apart from the three obvious factors for the electric scooter’s popularity in Tel Aviv:

  • easy parking
  • quick arrival at destination
  • ideal climate

Sapir adds that the electric scooter is a perfect fit with the Israeli mindset. “Israelis are lazy about walking, always in a hurry and always trying to do too many things at the same time” – the ideal

candidate. And then, when you further add to this cauldron of personality traits that “Israelis are also very fast to adopt technologies or new trends,” it goes a long way to explain why electric scooters are so prominent on the country’s urban roads.

Its impact on city life is immense, Sapir notes.

“First of all,” he says, “I’d like to think it is reducing the four-wheeled cars in the city, and I believe it has. You can imagine that all the users of these electric scooters gave up other ways of transportation.”

Secondly, he’d like to believe that some people have even given up their private cars thanks to the scooters, “which they can easily fold up and carry on the train or bus and take to the office.”

The popularity, he contends, leads to the third observation, and that is the age ranges of users.

Before, I would say it was 30 to 45, but now there’s no limit,” he says.

Young people use it; old people use it — there’s really no limit.”

What’s the inventors favorite scooter route in the city?

“The tayelet from Tel Aviv Port to Jaffa. I always take my visitors there,” he says, referring to the city’s seaside promenade.

“It’s very unique,” he adds. “You have the city on your left and the beach on your right.”

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Upward Mobility. Popular way to enjoy Tel Aviv’s scenic promenade adjacent to the Mediterranean is by electric scooter.

In The Family Way

At a beachside restaurant, the writer coincidentally bumps into again Yair and Lucy enjoying a lavish lunch. Beside their table laden with food are parked unobtrusively their two electric scooters.

Methinks in a few months’ time, when they may be back at the restaurant, adjacent to the table will be in place of the two scooters – one baby pram!

 

Finding The “Magic Bullet”

Potential New Israeli Treatment ‘targets’ Metastatic Pancreatic Cancer

By David E. Kaplan

While South Africa’s premier university, UCT makes international news of its proposed boycott of academic institutions in Israel,  alumni of Israeli universities are making far more remarkable news seeking to save rather than destroy lives.

The irony is that some of these Israelis who are in the vanguard of groundbreaking medical research are former South Africans!

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Gastro-Intestinal Malignancies Expert. Doctor Talia Golan, is Medical Director of Early Phase Clinical Trials Programme and Medical Oncologist at Gastrointestinal Unit, Chaim Sheba Medical Center, Tel-Hashomer, Israel

One such is medical oncologist Dr. Talia Golan, a graduate of the Sackler Faculty of Medicine at Tel Aviv University (TAU) is the head of Sheba Medical Center’s Pancreatic Cancer Center.

While UCT conducts itself at the southern tip of Africa hardly befitting its historic moniker “The Cape of Good Hope”,  Israeli researchers headed by Dr. Talia Golan are offering genuine “Good Hope” for some pancreatic cancer patients. A world-renowned specialist and researcher in the field of pancreatic cancer, Dr. Golan is also the director of Phase I clinical trials unit at Sheba’s Pancreatic Cancer Center.

Having immigrated from Pretoria, South Africa with her parents Dr. Alfie and Dr. Myra Feinberg – prominent physicians in their own right – when she was 13 years old, Dr. Golan today is in the front lines of battling pancreatic cancer by striving to find the “magic bullet” that could possibly cure several forms of the disease in the near future.

In 2017, Dr. Golan was already feeling confident. “I believe the changes in the way we treat pancreatic cancer, using new and innovative technologies, will result in the emergence of game-changing drugs in the near future,” adding that “these treatments will target the specific gene mutation that causes the cancer, re-engineer it, and eliminate it as a threat.”

That “near future” may have arrived.

Potential Power of Polo

Last week in June 2019, the research team headed by Dr. Golan at Israel’s Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, announced that a targeted cancer therapy drug they developed together with two of the world’s largest biopharmaceutical companies AstraZeneca and Merck & Co. Inc. – known as POLO –  offers “potential hope” for patients with a specific kind of pancreatic cancer, as it delays the progression of the disease.

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Top Ten. Sheba Medical Center or Tel HaShomer Hospital in Tel Aviv is ranked as one of world’s top 10 hospitals.

“The POLO trial using the medicine Lynparza offers potential hope for those who suffer from metastatic pancreatic cancer and have a BRCA mutation,” explains Dr. Golan. “This treatment also exemplifies the advent of ‘precision medicine’ based on a specific genetic biomarker, BRCA 1 & 2.”

Pancreatic cancer is the 12th most common cancer worldwide, with 458,918 reported new cases in 2018 alone. It is the 4th leading cause of cancer death, and less than 3% of patients with metastatic disease survive more than five years after diagnosis. It is difficult to diagnose pancreatic cancer early, as often there are no symptoms until it is too late. Around 80% of patients are diagnosed at the metastatic stage.

So, what are BRCA Mutations?

“A Huge Thing”

As explained in the research, “BRCA1 and BRCA2 are human genes that produce proteins responsible for repairing damaged DNA and play an important role in maintaining the genetic stability of cells. When either of these genes is mutated, or altered, such that its protein product either is not made or does not function correctly, DNA damage may not be repaired properly, and cells become unstable. As a result, cells are more likely to develop additional genetic alterations that can lead to cancer. A significant number of Ashkenazi Jews (European origin) around the world are carriers of the BRCA 1 & 2 genes.”

The POLO study was held with 154 patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer who carried the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genetic mutations.

“When we saw the results were positive it was an exceptional, phenomenal moment,” said Golan in an interview. “For the field it is a huge thing.”

She added that this is the first Phase 3 biomarker study that is positive in pancreatic cancer and the drug “provides tremendous hope for patients” with the advanced stage of the cancer.  “This drug has shown efficacy and a tremendous really phenomenal response in this patient population,” she said.

Finding The “Magic Bullet”2
An illustrative image of a cancer patient and perfusion drip. (CIPhotos, iStock by Getty Images)

Light Unto The Nations

At the launch last December  during Chanukah in Cape Town of the South African Friends of Sheba Medical Center at the city’s contemporary art gallery, “WHATIFTHEWORLD”,  Dr Talia Golan said:

 “I’m extremely proud of my Jewish South African roots. Africa is in my soul and it’s an honour to represent Sheba Medical Center, where we work to bring cutting edge care to patients, from IDF soldiers to people of all walks of life in Israel and around the world.”

Yoel Har-Even, Sheba Medical Centre’s Chief of Staff added:

 “We are looking forward to strengthening the relationship between the South African community and Sheba Medical Center in Israel. Our goals include formulating programmes that will allow South African students from different spheres of the medical sector to intern and to specialize at Sheba Medical Center, assist disadvantaged communities in South Africa and the rest of the African continent by building bridges with us and ongoing support for Sheba’s highest standards of medicine, research, innovation and technology, transforming medicine in Israel and worldwide.”

Executive Director of the South African Friends of Sheba Medical Center, Naomi Hadar, who had spent the past 17 years as one of the most influential Jewish organizational community leaders in South Africa (IUA-UCF) said:

It is a privilege to be a part of Sheba’s innovative medical centre, which provides global outreach to communities around the world, including the South African community. As our event in Cape Town took place during Chanukah, we hope to bring light to the South African Jewish community and the African continent as a whole. I am looking forward to helping Sheba make a difference in many people’s lives.”

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Launching A Healthier Tomorrow. At the Cape Town launch of South African Friends of Sheba Medical Center are (l-r) Nilly Baruch, Professor Mordechai Shani, Chancellor of the Sheba Fund for Health Services and Research, Dr. Talia Golan, Mrs. Louise Swart and Naomi Hadar.

While Dr. Talia Golan, who left Pretoria at the age of 13, leads the battle to find a cure for Pancreatic Cancer supported by the Jewish community in South Africa, one wonders what will cure the ‘cancer’ gripping South Africa’s political leadership that seeks to alienate the country – diplomatically to academically – from Israel?

 

Israel’s “Iron Dome” For Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes aren’t just annoying, they spread killer diseases and are often called one of the most dangerous animals on the planet

By David E. Kaplan

Many Israelis are alive today ONLY because of the country’s penchant for finding solutions to existential problems. A classic example is the ‘Iron Dome’ – a mobile all-weather air defense system designed to intercept and destroy short-range rockets  from 4 kilometres to 70 kilometres away and whose trajectory would take them to an area populated with Israeli civilians. 

Its success has been proven in battle. The Iron Dome hits 90% of rockets aimed at populated areas.

However, there are “populated areas” all over the world  under daily threat for incoming aerial attacks of a totally different kind – the dreaded mosquito, and Israeli ingenuity have these critters now firmly ‘in their sights’.

Mosquitoes have killed many more humans than all wars in history.

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The Mean Machine. Mean and deadly, the mosquito about to penetrate human flesh.

It is the most dangerous creature in Africa responsible for killing more Africans than any other through the spread of malaria, dengue and other diseases. Malaria kills over a million on the African continent every year, most of these are children under the age of five.

While the threat in Israel is less lethal, they are super annoying. Who is unfamiliar with them buzzing around your bed keeping you awake all night with their infernal whining sound as they dive into attack like the once-feared WWII German Stuka dive bomber! For those that penetrate your ‘Home Guard” defense system – from protective clothing,  mosquito repellents, mosquito killer lamps to even eating garlic – the aftermath of an assault results in bites, itches, endless scratching, and finally sores  or what I describe as “my battle scars”!

The best defense against mosquitoes is making sure they can’t get to your skin and an Israeli start-up Bzigo has developed a device that scans and locates the biting insects in a room, sending a message to a phone app allowing you to easily kill them.  A future model will be capable of eliminating them as well!

This is like a computer game  but for real!

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Fighting Back. Taking down the enemy mosquitoes are Israeli startup Bzigo cofounders, Saar Wilf and Nadav Benedek.

Action Stations

Developed over the three years, the Bzigo device looks like a box the size of a compact smartphone that can be connected to the wall or stand-alone on a flat surface. It uses  infrared camera that marks the mosquito’s exact location with a red laser once it lands providing the essential ‘intelligence’ to the disgruntled humans to kill them.

Although the current model only helps locate the mosquito, Bzigo CEO, Nadav Benedek says “we are working a future model that will be able to eliminate the mosquito on its own. In reality, killing a mosquito is the easy part – the real challenge is in detecting them. Mosquitoes are adept at avoiding human vision, attacking us when we don’t notice them. But once you know a mosquito is in the room and see where it landed, killing it is simple.”

The technology is based on an algorithm that can detect the movements of a mosquito with a wide-angle high-resolution camera that constantly photographs the walls and ceiling of a room to locate the pest, before sending a message via Wi-Fi to the homeowner’s smartphone.

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Fighting Back. Taking down the enemy mosquitoes are Israeli startup Bzigo cofounders, Saar Wilf and Nadav Benedek.

The brains behind this potential “Iron Dome” against mosquitoes is Saar Wilf, 45, and company CEO Nadav Benedek, 38, both of whom served in the elite IDF intelligence unit 8200. They are trained to zero in on the enemy and firmly in their crosshairs is the mosquito.

To date, we have carried out hundreds of tests with live mosquitos,” says Benedek. “At first, Saar would spend hours trapping them with containers and nets, but then we found a supplier from the Emek Hefer region.”

Asked by YNet.news.com why they chose to focus on mosquitos, Wilf replied that “anyone with a technological inclination, has at some point in their life thought to find a technological solution to this annoying problem; we were just persistent.”

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Caught Red Handed. The Bzigo device monitors a room using an infrared camera and marks the mosquito’s exact location with a red laser once it lands. (Photo: Courtesy)

Benedek described how growing up in the central Israeli town of Pardes Hana, the home was surrounded by netting and recollects how “my Dad always checked my room before bedtime in summer for ten minutes to find and kill mosquitos.”

The Tel Aviv based start-up assures that its device is safe to use near children, food and in hospitals and although the initial model is made for home use, the plan is to produce a model suitable for industrial use, such as to kill pests on farms and in hothouses.

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Most Willful. Bzigo cofounder, Saar Wilf explaining the device programmed to take out mosquitoes. . Photo: Orel Cohen

The device is expected to be available on the market in 2021 and will sell for about $170.

Mosquitoes don’t play fair: They target some people more than others and I am one of them and welcome any addition to my arsenal to take on these critters.

Whatever it takes, the battle is on.