Weathering the Storm

By Gabi Crouse

Just about everything you read these days is corona-related. There are a million articles by know-it-all’s suggesting “5 ways to keep fit during Corona” or “How Corona saved my marriage” and I’ve even seen one titled “Corona and the great depression”.

Really?

Let’s not kid ourselves, nothing in our lives has not been affected by this pandemic and anything you read will somehow relate to the upside down world that has now become the ‘norm’ – including this article!

Allow me to reflect on some of my observations as a mother, employee and an Olah (“immigrant”).

The Mask Mistaker!

So, the first thing I need to say about all this is that I have accepted that ‘Karen’ is my new nemesis. For the sake of clarity I will admit that I’m not so brazen to be above wearing a mask. Of course I’m not – I wear my mask! On the contrary, I have mastered the choreographed new corona dance called “Oy, I forgot my mask!” The steps are easy: it’s a brisk three-step forward – quick left spin with a simultaneous perfectly timed slap on the forehead – back three steps into the house. That’s it!!! In fact any idiot can do this dance – and often does.

As I was saying regarding the Karens of the world – you know who they are – the power trippers that seem to have nothing better to do than wield their power over suspected corona carriers. They seek out to destroy the slightly falling-off-the-bridge-of-the-nose’ mask wearer. Heaven forbid your nose sticks out by mistake!

So whenever I encounter one of these ‘police’, I take full advantage of my hidden mouth and I spew forth a few profanities that I know they can’t see. Although the eye-roll is a little harder to disguise.

‘Lift’ the rules?

One of Karen’s many duties includes being the bouncer to entrances to stores. This, you should know, is not an easy job. She has to count the amount of people entering and leaving the store as to keep the 2 meters distance between shoppers. Then by waving her magic thermometer-charged wand, allows/denies entry.

Put Your Mask Where Your Mouth Is. Jerusalemites at the Mamilla Mall near Jerusalem’s Old City on June 4, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

My confusion comes in when all shopping is said and done, and we gather round the elevator – or lifts. I have noticed that most people don’t seem to be as enthusiastic as Karen. Everyone squeezes into that small space and I just know that good old ‘Rona’ rubs hands together relishing at the all-you-can-infect buffet.

In those situations, I don’t need Karen to remind me to lift my mask!

Inspector Zoom

It’s easy enough to laugh at these idiosyncrasies, but when it comes to the education of our children, or lack thereof, the situation becomes less humorous. What does make tears roll down my cheeks (maybe laughing / maybe crying / perhaps both) is the amount of pressure applied on parents, students and teachers. Parents who work full time jobs with homes to run, now find they have a new role. I, for one, do not remember applying for position of teacher/principal/personal assistant. It is not a job I want or am

qualified to do! Besides that, I am not pro pro-bono work! And I am still expected to pay school fees.

Accepting my fate though, I decided to be the best I can be under the circumstances. I printed out forthcoming schedules, set up work-stations for each of my non-obliging students and ensured they each had what they needed. I was ready … I was so ready!!! The cables, the work stations, the time slots for each child who share one laptop and the time prep for food breaks etc. Boy was I ready. This quickly faded.

Once the group chats started firing away like explosions of the 4th of July, my head began to spin. I know I must have reprinted those schedules a hundred time before I finally gave up and left them to stew for a while on my desktop folder.

Some of the WhatsApp groups look like this: ‘Tap this link for this week’s schedule’, followed by ‘no sorry, this one’, then a new one the following week. Then this ‘teacher may not be available today’ and we are sorry but ‘we’re experiencing technical issues’ followed by ‘this class to reschedule in place of the other one’. It’s frenzied. And that is just for one of my children! Did I mention that these are in a language foreign to me and I spend my life jumping to google translate?

It’s one thing to be on top of class schedules for the day but it’s a whole different story getting your students to comply. Some children – God bless them – are willing participants but there are other kinds of children also.

A Student unto Himself

Appealing to the other kind of student with bribery negotiations, warnings and scary face tactics become less and less affective and rewarding for good behavior becomes nonsensical – leaving us parents feeling pretty hopeless. Why? To threaten with punishment or offer a reward is a double edge sward!

What’s the leverage?

What do kids want these days? Screen time, junk food and hanging out with their friends.

If you don’t do your school work, I’ll take away the phone/screen… wait what? That’s not going to work out too well – they need those.

Alternatively, I’m not thrilled by the idea of offering more screen time as a reward all the school screen time. Junk food so they can get sugar highs and crash while sitting at their screens? I think not. And as for friends during lock-down? Poor kids – they lose all round.

Shush! Daddy Needs to Focus. Managing the kids and work at home.

On a more serious note, kids have borne the brunt of the situation from all sides. However, if a positive is to be found, the kids have had to become self-reliant and assume responsibilities. They have had to take ownership of their own education in a lot of ways. This is at best very overwhelming and even more so for olim chadashim (new immigrants) who have yet to come to grips with Hebrew.

For example: each of my children have several different ways of on-line learning and interacting with their schools and teachers. Mashov, Teams, Zoom and one other which is beyond my spectrum of memory (I am NOT tech savvy and God help the child who isn’t!). The kids have to know how to access the lessons using the codes provided, know their schedules which keep changing and have enough Hebrew knowledge to know what to do. It all takes twice the amount of time back and forth to google translate before they even get started. The scope of pressure on these poor olim kids is beyond the realm of reasonable expectation.

Credit Due

I will say that some schools are supportive and worthy of appreciation. In our family, we are exposed to three different school institutions but only one of the schools fully understand the difficulties the olim kids experience. They are helpful and concerned and do everything in their power to support. For the other kids, whose schools are less compassionate, I am forced to outsource assistance which comes at an additional cost. So it goes.

Full House

On the plus side I get to have my kids at home all the time. All day. Day in and day out. How lucky am I?

In addition to keeping me company while I work, they are free to raid the kitchen at any time they feel a slight peckishness – I know this because of the evidence they leave behind. I mean, who needs a clean house anyway? Goodbye to shining clean floors, hello to friendly footprints and crushed pretzels to remind me of my full house.

I am a little sad that my dishwasher handed in its resignation and I am slightly concerned about the black hole in the fridge where there used to be food. Also, the laundry basket has disappeared under its heavy burden along with the cat.

School at Home. An Israeli youth seen during a remote learning at their home in Moshav Haniel, on March 18, 2020. (Photo by Chen Leopold/Flash90)

Change of Heart

Finally though, I would like to mention that we have been dealing with this for long enough to know that we, as humans, are adaptable. However, when we fail to exercise a willingness to adjust some of our ways to accommodate the needs and interests of others, this frequently results in conflict – personal and social.

In the final analysis, while different and divergent thinking around the world is welcome as it reflects the beauty of individuality and creativity, when it is met by intolerance, the results can be regrettably  – and avoidably – destructive.

Perhaps adaptability and flexibility is exactly what the world needs today.



About the writer:

Gabi Crouse1.JPG

Gabi Crouse – Based in Israel, Gabi writes opinions in fields of politics, Judaism, life issues, current social observations as well 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.



While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs

First & Foremost

Ensure that our body has been given the chance to work efficiently by providing simple actions

By Lionel Phillips

In light of the current serious situation that has taken all humanity by storm, it was hoped that the political echelon to whom we gave our vote – no matter their convictions – would be willing to devote 30 minutes of their time, to analyzing logical and well researched facts related to the human body needs, as well as its obvious connection to THE COVID-19 virus. WRONG!

Every human being should see themselves as extremely privileged and fortunate. We have been provided with a more than remarkable machine – our very own Human Body.  Not only is it perfectly produced time and again in the most miraculous fashion, every one of the numerous systems are absolutely mind-boggling in design and function, as are their connections and messaging facilities between each other, involving multi millions of transactions 24/7, many on-going for 100 years and more.

In addition, for better or for worse, each system relies on the efficient function of all the other systems.  Should even one system be unable to function as required, all other systems will be adversely affected.  

There is one snag however. All the systems rely on us to provide a few very specific actions in order for our greatest asset to function in a healthy and energetic way. One would imagine that it would be undertaken with gusto, especially as they are non-invasive on our lifestyle and extremely simple.

After all, Prevention is universally regarded as being better than Cure.

Due to the presence of the horrid COVID-19 Coronavirus, and its major effect on the Respiratory System (Oxygen supply, Lungs and Blood), the essential basic requirements are – NOSE BREATHING and WATER consumption. This may seem to be over-simplifying the need or the crisis, except for the fact that Oxygen and Water are the two most essential elements that relate to every Human Body System.

Nasal (Nose) Breathing ( also referred to as Diaphragmatic Breathing)

Our bodies are designed for nose breathing. The mechanisms through which we inhale and exhale through nose breathing correctly as well as consistently – has numerous health benefits. The ultimate aim is to advise as many citizens as possible, of all ages, to commence Nose breathing as a matter of extreme urgency.

Some Israelis who seemingly recovered from COVID-19 and then fell sick with symptoms a second time told Channel 12 in September that the second round was more difficult.

Prof. Arnon Ofek, deputy director-general of Sheba Medical Center, told Channel 12 that while this kind of situation is relatively rare, it is showing up in literature around the world.

Your nose is the only organ which is enabled to properly “prepare” the air you breathe. In the human body, the Oxygen is absorbed by the blood stream in the lungs, being then transported to the cells where an elaborated change process takes place.  The sinuses in the nasal cavity, but not the mouth, continuously produce Nitric Oxide (NO). The NO produced in the nasal cavity is chemically identical to the NO that is used clinically by inhalation. So, by inhaling through the nose, you are delivering NO directly into your lungs, where it increases both airflow and blood flow and keeps micro-organisms and virus particles in check. The American pharmacologist, Louis J. Ignarro, along with Robert F. Furchgott and Ferid Murad, was co-awarded the 1998 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discovering how nitric oxide is produced in the body and how it works.

Breath of Fresh Air

The nose is fully equipped with an inbuilt thermostat, so the air is warmed before it reaches the lungs.  The ultimate design also ingeniously put tiny hairs in the nasal cavity – called Cilli – which catch dirt and particles coming in with the air as it enters the nose.

The nasal mucosa, also called respiratory mucosa, lines the entire nasal cavity, from the nostrils (the external openings of the respiratory system) to the pharynx, the uppermost section of the throat.

Research has linked mouth breathing to many unhealthy issues. In a 2017 study, a group of highly anxious people were assigned to take a course in diaphragmatic breathing. After eight weeks, they reported feeling less anxious, reduced anxiety, lower heart rate and slower breathing.

The diaphragm, a dome-shaped muscle at the base of the lungs, plays an important role in breathing — though you may not be aware of it. When you inhale, your diaphragm contracts (tightens) and moves downward. This creates more space in your chest cavity, allowing the lungs to expand. When you exhale, the opposite happens — your diaphragm relaxes and moves upward in the chest cavity. Besides separating the upper and lower organs, it is a massager to both.

But it’s especially important for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In COPD, air can become trapped in the lungs, which keeps the diaphragm pressed down. This causes it to weaken and work less efficiently. Diaphragmatic breathing can help people with COPD to strengthen the diaphragm, which in turn helps them use less effort and energy to breathe.

Diaphragmatic – Nose – Breathing Technique

Below are illustrations and explanations, so as to assist one achieve the correct NOSE BREATHING actions.  A wonderful new HABIT in the making!

No matter whether you lead a sedentary or action-packed lifestyle, young or middle-aged or elderly, male or female, positive results are assured.

  • Lie on your back on a flat surface or in bed, with your knees bent and your head supported. You can use a pillow under your knees to support your legs. Place one hand on your upper chest and the other just below your rib cage. This will allow you to feel your diaphragm move up and down as you breathe.
  • Breathe in slowly through your nose so that your stomach extends up against your hand. The hand on your chest should remain as still as possible.
  • Tighten your stomach muscles, letting them fall inward as you exhale through pursed lips.  The hand on your upper chest should remain unmoved.
  • When you first learn the diaphragmatic breathing technique, it may be easier for you to follow the instructions by lying down, as shown above. As you gain more practice, you can try the diaphragmatic breathing technique while sitting in a chair.

Our need to drink sufficient pure WATER daily       

Most of the human body is made up of Water, H2O, with bone cells, for example, being comprised of 31% water and the lungs 83%. 

The amount of water a person needs to drink varies according to:

  • their age
  • their sex
  • the amount of physical activity they do
  • whether someone is pregnant or breast-feeding
  • the temperature and other environmental factors.

Kidneys are the controllers of this body fluid                                                             

Humans are 60% – 70% Water.

  • Kidneys filter it, purify it and keep it at the right volume to give you a healthy blood pressure. Water you drink is processed by the Kidneys and then excreted (gotten rid of) in the urine.
  • Most people have two kidneys, which are organs shaped like kidney beans, each one about 10-15cms long, located either side of the spine, deep in the abdomen.
  • When we drink water, we may have to go to the toilet in about half an hour. That is what your kidneys are there for, to keep the right amount of water in the body and purify the blood.
  • On average, food provides about 15 – 20 percent of total water intake, while the remaining 80 – 85 percent comes from water and beverages of all kinds.  Pure water is the ultimate.
  • Most mature adults lose about 2.5 to 3 liters of fluid per day. Elderly people lose about 2 liters per day.
  • An air traveler can lose +- 1.5 liters of water during a three-hour flight.
  • If the body is in a satisfactory balance, approximately 80% of ingested fluid is excreted within an hour.
  • Water is absorbed in to the blood stream through the small and large intestines.
  • The water absorbed from the digestive system is taken around the body in the bloodstream and used to top up our body fluids. Only about 7% of your body’s fluids are in the blood. The rest of it is in our body tissues, in our cells and in the spaces in between the cells.
  • If we don’t get enough fluid, the cells dry out and our blood pressure drops. This condition is known as dehydration.
  • Blood plasma is a yellowish liquid component of blood that normally holds the blood cells in whole blood in suspension. In other words, it is the liquid part of the blood that carries cells and proteins throughout the body. It makes up about 55% of the body’s total blood volume.
  • Water is of major importance to all living things.  The brain and heart are composed of 73% water, and the lungs are about 83% water. The skin contains 64% water. Muscles and kidneys are 79%, our bones 31%.

This is a summary of the route and the important role of Water –

  • Water enters your mouth and when swallowed, it travels down the              esophagus. The water takes about 6 seconds to reach your stomach   
  • In an empty stomach, the water mixes with stomach acids 
  • The water is later passed to your small intestine
  • On an empty stomach it takes about 5 minutes and on a full stomach it can take up to 2 hours. If there is food in your stomach, the water mixes and is absorbed in the food  
  • The water is then absorbed into the blood stream from the intestines     
  • It is later absorbed from the blood by different organs for different purposes, such as cells to maintain water and ion balance 
  • Later on, the water from the bloodstream is filtered by the kidneys
  • Useful water and ions are absorbed, while excess and toxic water is expelled you also sweat some water and there is water in the breath that you exhale
  •  Ultimately you urinate. Although some water is excreted in the stools.

Final Word

Added to the billions being invested in two or more COVID-19 vaccines, which one hopes will provide positive results without too many side effects, Israel, like all other countries, has also been facing an ever-increasing cost in the Health Care Crisis. As at the year ending December 2019, it was reported as being US $ 28,125.00 Million Dollars for the year – in excess of NIS 278 Million Shekels per day! 

This must surely be a further reason for urgently recognizing the need to have at least two of our related body functions, in optimal working order according to the NEEDS of our magic machine – The Human Body.


About the Author:

Lionel 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 worldwide “Panel of Experts”, Phillips is a recipient of the “Prime Ministers Award of Merit” (PM Menachem Begin).

Lionel is contactable at: global@globalhealth-education.com







While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs

Braving Bidud

My ‘bidud diary’ or exasperated rant!

By Martine Maron Alperstein

Day 11 of bidud (isolation due to exposure to a positive covid-19 person) and I’m tearing my hair out. The level of irritation, impatience, anger and frustration is through the roof. I don’t know what to do with myself. 

I had seen friends who had been in bidud and were traumatised, doing everything they could to avoid repeating the situation. I did not understand. What is the big deal? It is no different from lockdown.

Oh boy, was I mistaken! 

I am fully aware that things could be so much worse. Thank G-d our bidud is just precautionary and that nobody is sick. I appreciate that we have a garden and a mirpeset (balcony), which so many don’t. I am beyond blessed with my incredible network of friends and family who have gone out of their way to help. I have WhatsApp and Zoom and online shopping. Yeh, I know.  But for now I just want to allow myself to feel, to be in the moment and to let it all out. Because until now, I have been numb.

Ice cold, stoney, brick wall numb. 

In Bidud. Staring out the window. (Photo: d3sign/Moment/Getty Images)

I have not been able to focus on the job search. I have not been able to work on my CV, my branding, my elevator pitch or my LinkedIn. It has been almost two months and no sign of Dmei Avtala (Unemployment payments). I am unable to continue with any of the courses to improve my skill set. I cannot reach out and network. I cannot pick up the phone and connect with the amutot (Israeli charities) that I am planning to donate my time to. I am not able to work on our current proposal.  I am not able to be there fully for my kids who are both anxious at the best of times, levels of which are currently through the roof. Their need to be close and for attention is on a whole new level. I haven’t cooked a meal in two weeks (and I love to cook). I cannot support my husband who is in the middle of his annual stress – US tax season. And I am not answering the phone. You want to connect with me – send me a WhatsApp or an email. I cannot sit through a conversation. I have not had what it takes to get off my butt and exercise (yes, I know it probably would have made the world of difference to my mood). And I have zero patience for teachers right now – the most engaged, involved and connected parent always – leave me the $#(@ alone.

I am disconnected. I have not been present. I have not been living in the moment. I have been numb. Numb. Numb. Numb. The only way I could cope was to be numb. Totally numb.

But really I am angry. I am pissed. I am hurt. I am frustrated. I want to scream and swear and stamp my feet. I want to punch the wall. But most of all…. I want to cry.

Big Brother is Watching. Mobile data allows authorities to know where users are at any time

In two weeks I have not seen my parents, and at this stage of life, every minute counts. I have not been able to see and connect with my dearest friends who are like family. I am such a social person. I am so happy surrounded by my peeps. I have had to watch the world continue around us while we sit still. I have had to watch my child breaking down because her class is carrying on without her – my child who was so badly bullied in elementary school, who has struggled and fought so hard to find her place, who is finally thriving (she was voted onto the Moetset Talmidot – Student Council) – down and miserable because she is being left behind.

But the real volcano in me is pushed to the limit, to the point where the lava is starting to shoot out with force, is when I see, read and hear the stupid, selfish, arrogant and irresponsible actions of so many. We are in the middle of a global pandemic. The numbers are increasing again worldwide. We have not come close to containing, controlling or eradicating this revolting virus. Get a grip! Follow the guidelines! Be super responsible – go above and beyond. You are not G-d and you are not above it all. You are a person with a head and a heart. Use it properly.

Those who know me are very aware that I am normally with a smile on my face, I tend to look for the silver lining and the pot at the end of the rainbow. But this time, it was beyond me.

Yes, my faith is rock solid. Yes, I believe the universe has my back. Yes, I know everything happens for a reason. Today, I choose to stay authentic and let the anger and frustration have a voice. I still believe and I still trust.

Maybe next time I’m in bidud (based on what I see around me the probability is high) I will choose gratitude; I will write a gratitude diary and change my perspective.

But for today I am pissed.


(The song that has gotten me through this time)







Martine Maron Alperstein made aliyah from Cape Town 21yrs ago. She currently resides in Modiin with her husband, kids and kitty cats.









While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs

Sights from the Saddle

A perspective on the road ahead as the wheels of Middle East progress are spinning in sync with the wheels of Israel’s top cyclists at the Tour de France

By David E. Kaplan

What a difference 7 months can make!

In February 2020, Israel’s pro-cycling team, Israel Start-Up Nation (ISN) took part in a cycling tour in the UAE that this August, signed a historic groundbreaking “normalization deal” with Israel  – a deal that not only formally ended an economic boycott but will likely lead to transforming the political landscape of the Middle East. “Normalisation” is the name of the new game and what was once “abnormal” is today peddling at high speed into “the new normal.”

If in February Israeli professionals were in Dubai cycling, in a post-Corona world Israeli tourists will be there shopping.

Israel Start-Up Nation. Confident, proud and ready to ride into the future.

More than seeing it coming was  ISN’s co-owner and the man behind Israel’s cycling revolution, Sylvan Adams, who played a sporting role in these welcome developments. A cycling enthusiast responsible for the Middle East’s first indoor velodrome  in Tel Aviv and who brought the “Grand Start” of Giro d’Italia to Israel in 2018 so  astutely observed before February’s 2020 tour in Dubai:

When our leaders decide  to make peace, we would already have prepared the GROUND for a warm peace.”

Literally on the ‘ground” as the signs were all too evident for Adams on the streets in Dubai in February:

 “Our cyclists had the national blue and white colours emblazoned on the front of their jerseys. They carry the name of our nation on their backs and fans were standing in line to receive autographs of our riders who they earlier had cheered in the streets of the United Arab Emirates.”

Up and Ready. Israel’s Start-Up Nation cycling team training ahead of the 2020 Tour de France.

And now in September, when both the UAE and – for the first time – Israel are participating in the 2020 Tour de France, we see developments of the new agreement between Israel and the UAE taking shape by facilitating easy banking, lowering financial impediments to making investments between the countries, and promoting joint investments in the capital markets. The word out is that there will soon be additional agreements in aviation, tourism, trade tech, research, energy and academia.

Adams is astute when it comes to marketing Israel through sport. In an interview with the writer with the Hilton Israel Magazine at the time of the start of the Giro d’Italia in Israel, Adams said, “It was not just the biggest sporting even in Israel but the biggest event in Israel’s history – period!”

Point taken. Where have a billion people watched an event – “any event”- in Israel?

Over a billion people worldwide,”said Adams, “watched the first three days of the race in Israel. What this TV global audience was exposed to was not an Israel as a ‘news item’ but as a normal country, basking in sunshine with exquisite scenery and wonderful warm people. They saw our biblical sites as well as modern Israel and learnt about our culture.”

History is Made. Israeli cyclists whizz through the streets of Nice in the south of France on the first day of the Tour de France. (Photo by Noa Arnon via Facebook)

Upping the Pace

And now with Israel Start-Up Nation participating in the 2020 Tour de France, the Jewish State is riding its way into the history books as the first Israeli team to participate in one of the most watched sporting events in the world.

Dynamite Duo. Cofounder of Israel Start-Up Nation, Sylvan Adams (left) and Israel’s first Israeli rider in a Tour de France, Guy Niv.

For three weeks, Israel’s cycling team “is being watched by three-and-a-half billion television spectators as we represent the whole country,” says Adams, “showing our true face, warmth,  friendship, diversity, tolerance, bringing our message of peace to people all around the world.”

The 107th Tour de France got underway on the French Riviera on Saturday, 29 August, two months later than planned and under the shadow of the Coronavirus pandemic.  That shadow, however, did not darken the spotlight on the state of Israel as it participates  in what is described as “the world’s most prestigious and most difficult bicycle race”.

For 26-year-old Guy Niv, the first Israeli to ride in the Tour, “It is a dream come true; I have goosebumps thinking about it,” he said before the race.

I am honored and privileged to represent my country and team in the biggest race in cycling. And to be the first Israeli to do so? It might sound cliché, but my dream of a lifetime has now been realised.”

On Track. With the Arc de Triomphe in the background at the western end of the Champs-Élysées, Gur Niv is fulfilling a childhood dream.
 

Niv’s journey, which hopefully will lead to crossing the finish line on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées on September 20,  began at the same place in 2007 when he was thirteen years old.

“I went on a Bar Mitzvah trip to watch the Tour de France and now as the first Israeli rider in the 2020 Tour de France, I have the opportunity  to close a circle.” He had no illusions that it would be the ultimate challenge, saying, “I have concerns; it will be a mental challenge, not just a physical one, but I’m ready for this mission.”

Carrying the Colours. Members of the Israeli cycling team, Israel Start-Up Nation (ISN), training in northern Israel in May 2020. (JALAA MAREY / AFP)

The Tour de France is certainly a “big deal,” not only for the riders but for Israel. To this point,  the dream of competing in the Tour de France was “almost unthinkable only five years ago when we launched the team,” says Adams. “Now it’s come true. A professional team with world-class Israeli riders alongside the finest international talents, racing with pride in one of the world’s most prestigious sporting events.” Adds Israel Cycling Academy co-founder,  Ron Baron that “when we founded the team five years ago, we dreamed of this moment. But we strive for more than just the glory of racing in the Tour de France. We want every kid in Israel to say, ‘I can be Guy Niv one day. I can get to the Tour”.”

Niv is the only Israeli on the team, which also includes Ireland’s Dan Martin, André Greipel and Nils Politt from Germany, Ben Hermans and Tom Van Asbroeck from Belgium, France’s Hugo Hofstetter, Latvian cyclist Krists Neilands and from South Africa, Daryl Impey, the first ever from that country to wear the ‘Yellow Jersey’  at a Tour de France. That was back in 2013.

Now in 2020, “Around 3.5 billion viewers in hundreds of countries across the world will see the Israeli flag and hear the message of the Israel Start-Up Nation team that this is a country bringing unrivalled innovation to the world,” said Adams.

The Road Ahead. The writer interviewing Sylvan Adams in  2018 in Tel Aviv following the the Giro d’Italia in Israel, where he said, “Next up, is the Tour de France”.

Taking on the challenges of navigating success in a turbulent Middle East or grinding up the Alps and Pyrenees in the Tour de France, it’s always “a lot of uphill”.

Equipped with boundless grit and chutzpah, little wonder for the mix-up sometimes of the ‘Start-Up Nation’ thought proudly as the ‘Upstart nation’!










While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs

“Under Construction” – from Buildings to Human Relations

Israel’s Top Trade Union Provides Safety Training During the COVID Crisis for Every Palestinian Construction Worker

By David E. Kaplan

Something “constructive” has emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic in Israel – an innovative programme to save Palestinian lives; not from disease but from preventable accidents in Israel’s bustling construction industry.

In Israel’s entire workforce, construction workers are in the greatest danger, and for decades have suffered the highest rates of fatal workplace accidents – 6.6 times more than that of the average worker in Israel.

Like in most societies, the victims of these fatal workplace accidents are disproportionately the most vulnerable members of society and in Israel it is Israeli Arabs, Palestinians  and other foreign workers consistently over-represented in the number of construction-site fatalities and injuries.

Caught in the Act. Captured on camera, repeated safety offenses at a construction site in the center of the country. (Photo: First thing)
 

A breakdown shows that the highest incidence of fatal workplace accidents from 2017 to 2019 were caused by falls from heights, followed in descending order of falling objects, vehicular accidents, collapsing walls and scaffolding, electrocution, explosions and other.

Yes, society demands expansion and rapid development, but humanity no less morally requires that there is a limit at what price and every effort should be made to safeguard work environments.

To this end, over the past few months, a construction site in the Beit Zafafa neighbourhood in Jerusalem was rented by Israel’s largest trade union – the Histadrut – and converted into a “hands-on classroom” for the safety training of Palestinians in the construction industry. Already more than 500 Palestinian construction workers have participated in the training course at the “Safety Headquarters” with the primary aim “to prevent the next casualty.”

“Stayin’ Alive”. Safety training for Palestinian workers in Israel as the  Beit Zafafa construction site in Jerusalem. (Photo: Nizzan Zvi Cohen)

The Histadrut or the General Organization of Workers in Israel was established in 1920 in Mandatory Palestine and soon emerged as one of the most powerful institutions in the Yishuv (the body of Jewish residents in the region prior to the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948).

In extending their services to the wellbeing of non-Israeli workers in Israel, the Histadrut proudly subscribes to the motto:

Unionised labour recognizes no borders

The one-day training sessions were planned and implemented by the Histadrut in partnership with the Israel Builders Association, who utilised the prolonged stay of Palestinian workers in Israel due to the COVID-19 pandemic, to carry out the safety workshops. The morning of the training, workers were transported from their places of accommodation across Israel to the on-site “classroom”. Upon arrival,  they would register at the reception station, where after the workers were divided into small groups that underwent the training, each one separately, in accordance with the guidelines of the Ministry of Health and the restrictions of the Corona virus.

Certificates of Safety. Proudly displaying their certificates are Palestinian safety training graduates with Avital Shapira on the right. (Photo: Avital Shapira)

Work like a Dream

Eyal Ben Reuven, Chairman of the Safety Headquarters, explained that “The training is both theoretical and practical and is based on scenarios of real accidents in the industry.” The training sessions, said Reuven, “dealt with scaffolding, ladders, dangerous mechanical tools, electricity and preventing objects from falling.”

With the thousands of Palestinians working in Israel’s construction industry, the programme has a long way to go, but it’s a start – “a constructive start.”

My dream is that only workers who graduate safety training will be able to work on construction sites,” says Ben Reuven. “But for that to happen, the government needs to help us.”

According to Reuven, the course costs approximately NIS 450 per worker with current funding being provided by the Fund for the Encouragement of the Construction Industry. With the government showing little interest in supporting the initiative at present, “we are trying to fund-raise to continue the course,” says Reuven.

Striving for Safer Working Environments. Meeting with the Palestinian delegation in the office of Histadrut Chairman Arnon Bar-David (4th from the left). (Photo: Histadrut spokeswoman)

The success of the programme depends on the support of the constructive industry, which according to the Deputy Director General of the Israel Builders Association, Itzik Gurvich, has come to the table with construction companies “agreeing to pay their workers a full days wages to participate in the training.” The result has been that “Both employers and the workers have been satisfied with the course, and we’re hoping to expand the pilot.”

Ahmed Ghanaim, who heads Al Ola College, a vocational training  college in the Western Galilee; and whose instructors are responsible for the training itself, explains that even veteran Palestinian workers “who have been working in Israel for decades and are experienced in their field, don’t know Israeli labour and safety laws. This information doesn’t really exist in the Palestinian Authority and also the employers don’t always give workers all necessary knowledge. Once workers have this knowledge, they’ll know what to ask for from management in order to return home safe and sound.”

Constructing a Safer Tomorrow. The construction site hired by the Histadrut in Jerusalem offered a perfect “classroom” training ground. (Photo: Nitzan Zvi Cohen)
 

After a most instructive hands-on session about scaffolding and ladders, the workers gathered in a circle to discuss the regulations as it applies in practice. One concerned worker remarks to the instructor:

But out there on the site, it doesn’t actually happen like that!”

The instructor replies:

Listen, at the end of the day there’s a hierarchy of responsibility. You have to speak to your foreman, and he needs to report to the contractor.”

And what if the employer tells me to break those rules?” asks the employee.

Contact the Histadrut,” the instructor replies. “Remember that we’re talking about your life, don’t agree to work in dangerous conditions.”

Avital Shapira, Director of International Relations of the Histadrut, addressed the Palestinian workers in fluent Arabic. Shapira’s fluency in Arabic  stems from her stay in Egypt where she was the first Israeli student to study at the American University of Cairo, back in 1994.

This is a great opportunity to show that the Histadrut is the home for all workers, regardless of origin, religion or gender,” Shapira told Davar, the Histadrut’s online news outlet.

This is also an opportunity to use this platform to convey to Palestinian workers the message that the Histadrut sees them as a bridge to peace. I think the presence of so many Palestinian workers in the Israeli labour market is a platform for cooperation and coexistence.” The presence of these Palestinian workers, according to Shapira, also strengthens the relationship with the Building and Wood Workers’ International organization (BW).

Safe and Sound. Histadrut’s Director of International Relations, Avital Shapira, addresses the Palestinian workers in Arabic  at a safety training workshop at Beit Zafafa in Jerusalem. (Photo: Nitzan Zvi Cohen)

It is important to understand that in the construction industry there is no difference between a Palestinian, Israeli, or migrant worker,” adds Tal Burshtein, Vice Chairman of the Construction, Related Industries and Wood Workers’ Union. “Everyone is covered by the same collective bargaining agreement and is entitled to the same rights.”

Most of the Palestinians who came to the safety training chose to become members of the Histadrut, a process that began in recent years.

And for good reason!

Think of the abhorrent conditions foreign workers are treated in countries where they have found employment, notably in the Middle East and Africa. Too frequently they are exploited, with few legal rights to protect themselves.

In Israel, on the other hand, the Histadrut, will aid Palestinian foreign workers who have been fired, help them receive their vacation and sick days, and even represents them against the National Insurance Institution in events of workplace accidents. “First and foremost, the Histadrut is a sympathetic ear – we want to help.” During the COVID-19 crisis, the Histadrut distributed tens of thousands of masks and gloves and more than 2,000 liters of hand sanitizer to Palestinian workers.

Meeting with them has shown us that they lack a lot of knowledge about their rights,” said Burshtein. “Since we’ve been distributing pamphlets on workers’ rights and signing them up to the Histadrut, we’ve been getting many more inquiries from Palestinian workers to our information service center, asking for help with problems at work. The workers who’ve gotten the pamphlets in Arabic also serve as ambassadors who disseminate this knowledge to additional workers.”

Building Bridges

Peter Lerner, Director General of the Histadrut’s International Relations Division, is totally upbeat about the joint venture safety training programme for Palestinian workers. “The pilot was an initiative,” he told Lay of the Land,  “that we hope will become the new standard for saving the lives of workers in the construction sector. I believe that it is a joint obligation to combine efforts and produce a safer working environment for the workers, empowering them and sharing knowledge about safety in the workplace and workers’ rights.” 

Thumbs Up. An inspired Director General of the Histadrut’s International Relations Division, Peter Lerner.
 

Lerner asserts that this project is part of the Histadrut’s “expanded activities with Palestinian workers” adding that while “designed to ensure the health and welfare of Palestinian workers, they also promote co-existence.”

In Israel’s ever-expanding ‘urban landscape’, the building of new inspiring edifices is welcome. No less welcome in the country’s frenetic ‘social landscape’ is the building of improved relations between people!

While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs

Back to School in Tel Aviv – of Sorts!

Tel Aviv to open classrooms in city’s leading public institutions

By David E. Kaplan

Parents in Israel are in Corona virus panic mode with their kids returning to shool on the 1 September.

“Are the schools ready?” “Does the government know what it’s doing?” “Will schools close again?”

There are far more sensible questions than credible answers and being a Jewish state, grandparents feel obliged to share in the panic. After all, when the domestic alarm bells sounds, Saba and Safta (grandfather and grandmother) are the ‘First Responders’!

Floating an Idea. Israel’s famed beach city which is fueled by ideas has come up with some new ideas to get kids safely back to school during the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, Israel’s “City of big ideas”, Tel Aviv-Yafo, has come up with some innovative ideas on meeting this challenge. Mayor, Ron Huldai, says “We have prepared for every scenario that we are expected to confront.”

What this means is that while it may be back to school, it might not be exactly the same school or the school as it once was.

What does this mean?

New and intriguing surroundings will welcome the schoolchildren, after the city’s education system adopted a series of creative solutions to enable in-class learning. To this end, the Tel Aviv-Yafo municipality has prepared for the return of almost 75,000 pupils to schools amid strict Health Ministry COVID-19 guidelines, including the opening of classrooms in a range of public buildings and spaces across the city.

It is a case of “and now for something completely different!”

Toasting Tel Aviv. Light at the end of the tunnel, Mayor Ron Huldai drinking at a bar in Tel Aviv (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)
 

To enable classes to be split into smaller “capsules for safer and socially distanced learning”, additional spaces have been secured at sites including Tel Aviv’s Cameri Theater, the Charles Bronfman Auditorium (Heichal HaTarbut), the Israel Music Conservatory and Tel Aviv University. One ‘sure thing’ during these “unsure times” is the certainty of no rain. So, taking advantage of Israel’s guaranteed sunshine this time of year, classes will also be taught in parks and other green spaces located adjacent to schools.

Taking Centre Stage. The Cameri Theater Tel Aviv which will provide unique space to provide social distancing education for schoolkids.

Work of Art

Smaller classes means requiring more teachers, so the Municipality came up the idea of utilising local artists and performers who have been impacted by the coronavirus to provide the additional teaching staff for the supplementary classes. Not sitting idle in the sweltering summer vacations, they have been undergoing training as educational support workers and are ready for the big day.

Sounding like gearing up for a Normandy landing, Ron Huldai, Mayor of Tel Aviv-Yafo said in a press release:

 “The coronavirus outbreak hurled the entire world into a new reality and presented us with a challenge of an unprecedented nature. Given the experience of recent months, we have made special preparations for the opening of the new school year.

The schools of September 2020 will be unlike the schools that we have known to date. The coming year will bring new challenges, but there are also opportunities: to implement upgrades; to accelerate pedagogical and structural processes for which the time is now ripe; and to reexamine our educational premises. We have prepared for every scenario that we are expected to confront this year in the shadow of the coronavirus, and we are all hopeful that this year will advance us to unprecedented and different levels of ability.”

Inspiring stuff!!

Ready to Begin. All quite at present at an elementary school in the neighborhood of Kohav Hatsafon in Tel Aviv.

Such inspirational rhetoric during a global war against a disease, gives credence to the rumours that Tel Aviv Mayor, Ron Huldai, is mulling a run for Prime Minister. In a July 19 article in The Jerusalem Post, it was  reported that he was facing increasing calls to enter national politics after 22 years as the Mayor of Tel Aviv and earlier careers as an IAF combat pilot and high school principal.

 As a former “high school principal”, Mayor Huldai understands education at a grassroots level, which has helped him respond to the current pandemic crisis.

Sounds Sensible. The illustrious home of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO) – the Charles Bronfman Auditorium – will now provide a venue for school kids during Corona.

Out in the Open

In addition to opening classrooms in public buildings  and institutions – all impressive landmark structures on the Tel Aviv landscape – infrastructure work has been carried out in 137 schoolyards across the city to enable or enhance outdoor learning, including greater provision of shade and artificial grass.

Tel Aviv has proved from its inception in 1909 to be a city that adjusts to change. Understanding that students returning to school might not be quite the same they were before the pandemic,  has led to finding new methodologies to navigate the uncertain road ahead.

According to the press release, “All educational institutions in the city will dedicate the first days of the school year to personal and group conversations with pupils, placing an emphasis on enhancing their emotional and social skills.”

Explains Shirley Rimon-Bracha, Head of Tel Aviv-Yafo’s Education Administration:

The past six months have presented educational teams in kindergartens and schools with management and educational challenges. We have translated all the lessons learnt and insights into optimal preparations for September.

Education in the city has undergone significant reform in recent years, and school principals are therefore relatively prepared to acclimatize to change, to adjust educational frameworks and to work with flexibility and creatively. I expect an interesting and educational year for us all, and I pay tribute to school and kindergarten heads for their exceptional effort to open the new school year.”

Orchestrating Creativity. The Israel Conservatory of Music, Tel Aviv founded in 1943 by musicians who had immigrated to Israel during this dark period  is today providing light as a center of creativity for future musicians.  It will further provide an added venue for general schooling practicing social distancing.

Warm Welcome

In addition to using public spaces, pupils arriving at over 70 elementary and middle schools on September 1, will be greeted by approximately 200 street performers at the school gates and adjacent public spaces.

The performances will fulfil two key municipal objectives: boosting the income of street performers and raising the morale of schoolchildren as they start an unfamiliar academic year.

That does not mean parents will still not worry.

Its embedded in Jewish DNA. As one writer once noted:

 “Forget Murphy’s Law. Chances are his real name was Murphosky and his family taught him: “If anything can go wrong, it will.”

On the other hand it might not – Tel Aviv is ready.

Green Light. The huge campus of Tel Aviv University will provide plenty of aesthetic space for schools to function adhering to Covid-19 guidelines.





While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs

From Drive-In to Sail-In

Tel Aviv-Yafo goes ‘retro’ with  Israel’s first “Sail-In” floating cinema

By David E. Kaplan

Those old enough, would well remember the “Drive-In”? Whether in the USA, South Africa, Australia and yes, Israel’s Tel Aviv, couples used to pile into their cars  to watch movies and snack at the same time, without someone bellowing “keep quiet!” Sound came from speakers clipped to the car window – not that the quality mattered too much in those days.

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Sounds of Silence. Remember when the speaker did not work and you had to move the car.

It was the age of motorcar romance and as one commentator so ‘fondly’ recalls, “Whether they watched the movies or not depended on how friendly they were.” And as I recall, those sixties and seventies horror movies were a ‘sure thing’ to engineer getting extra ‘friendly’.

No doubt, the Drive-In played its role in propagating our species.

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Oh, Those Were The Days.

Unlike today when Tel Aviv is in the vanguard for innovation, the “City that never sleeps” came late to the ‘Drive-In’’ party.

Only opening its first Drive-In in 1973 north of the Yarkon River with Disney’s Jungle Book, it remained open until 2000, finally giving way in 2014 to the Shalom Group Arena, the home ground for the Hapoel Tel-Aviv basketball club. Most important, it retained its huge parking area from the Drive-In era and to mark the annual romantic Jewish holiday – Israel’s Valentine’s Day – of TuB’Av (4th August) – it was back in business. In the City’s press release, it advertised the Drive-In’s opening with the anatomically suggestive “for the romantically inclined”!

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Adjusting to Corona. The parking lot of the Hapoel Tel Aviv basketball arena is repurposed for a drive-in theatre.

On select evenings of the week during the sweltering summer month of August, in conjunction with the Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality and the Tel Aviv Cinemateque, there will be screenings for 200 cars, strictly in accordance with Health Ministry guidelines and “purple badge” public health standards. Movie audio is transmitted in high quality via an FM radio frequency. “Tel Aviv is the ‘non-stop city’ but the coronavirus outbreak understandably halted a large share of cultural and leisure activity,” said Tel Aviv-Yafo Mayor Ron Huldai. “Nevertheless, we constantly searched for creative ways to grant residents access to culture. The return of the drive-in is another creative way to pass the hot August days, in accordance with Health Ministry guidelines.”

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Tel Aviv’s legendary Drive-In Theater Returns. The screenings are exclusively for DigiTel Resident Card holders and tickets must be purchased ahead of time via the municipality website. (photo credit: AMIR YAKOBY)

The director of the culture department in the Tel Aviv municipality, Shavei Mizrahi, said that in light of the high demand for screenings, “a reassessment of the situation will be made, and the intention is to conduct more screening days, including weekends.”

Down By The Riverside

Tel Aviv is characterized by always taking things to the next level and in this case from land to water. Fresh off the successful return of Tel Aviv’s legendary drive-in theatre, Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality was delighted to announce on the 9 August, the launch of Israel’s first “Sail-In” floating cinema at HaYarkon Park’s boating lake.

With the Coronavirus pandemic proving particularly challenging for the entertainment industry worldwide, outdoor initiatives represented almost the sole solution for cultural events.

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Floating Around. An illustrative image of the ‘Sail-In’ floating cinema at Tel Aviv’s Hayarkon Park. (courtesy of Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality)

Following Health Ministry approval for open-air drive-in events,  Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality again in partnership with Tel Aviv Cinematheque, will launch a “Sail-In” floating cinema under the clear night sky from August 22-28.

A total of 70 ‘socially distanced’ boats will be available to moviegoers, adults and children alike, seeking to enjoy a night of cinematic entertainment under the stars.

Like people in public, boats will be distanced two meters apart at all times opposite a large screen, ensuring a safe and fun experience, and allowing all ticketholders to float and unwind and escape the daily grind in a serene atmosphere between the water and the stars. If movie-goers are unlikely to hear other patrons crunching their popcorn, they may hear the night owls, crickets and frogs – nature’s divine soundtrack.

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No Dress Code. Feet out the window, relaxing and watching a flick at Tel Aviv’s Drive-In. (Photo: Avshalom Shoshani)

Tickets for eight screenings – four suitable for families and four suitable for adults – will be available exclusively to DigiTel Resident Card holders.

The launch of the “Sail-In” floating cinema joins a long list of municipal initiatives that include fitness classes on the roof of the Tel Aviv municipality building and musical performances on the roof of the Eretz Israel Museum.

Tel Aviv is in the forefront  of coming up with creative ideas during corona as befitting one of my favourite monikers:

 “The city that wakes each morning wondering what it’s going to be.”

 

 

While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs

 

Nose Breathing vs. Mouth Breathing

The severe conditions of COVID-19 that we are living through have made one fact painfully clear – Preventive Care in the ‘best of times’ can reduce health risks in the ‘worst of times’

By Lionel H. Phillips D.O.

Now is the time to be proactive and embrace the power of preventive care. In the same vein of prevention, it is also important to stay as active as possible.

American pharmacologist and 1998 Nobel Laureate in Physiology, Prof. Louis J. Ignarro, describes one of the body’s many natural defenses against pathogens:

Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. It’s not just something you do in yoga class – breathing this way actually provides a powerful medical benefit that can help the body fight viral infections.”

I have requested that health Ministries make a point of questioning each and every COVID-19 virus sufferer, as to whether they are nose or mouth breathers.

I am convinced that a larger percent are mouth breathers.

Nose breathing – as opposed to mouth breathing, increases circulation, blood oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, slows the breathing rate and improves overall lung volumes. Diaphragmatic Breathing – When you inhale, your diaphragm contracts (tightens) and moves downward, extending the area. This creates more space in your chest cavity allowing the lungs to expand. The diaphragm muscle not only separates the upper from the lower organs, it also acts as a massager tool to both areas. Your nose cleans the air you breathe – The nose helps clean the air. On the surface of the nasal tissues, particularly the turbinates, are cells with small hair-like appendages called cilia that trap much of the bad stuff. Writes Prof. Louis J. Ignarro, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Molecular & Medical Pharmacology, UCLA School of Medicine, in an article dated 19th June 2020:

Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. It’s not just something you do in yoga class – breathing this way actually provides a powerful medical benefit that can help the body fight viral infections. The reason is that your nasal cavities produce the molecule nitric oxide, which chemists abbreviate NO, that increases blood flow through the lungs and boosts oxygen levels in the blood. Breathing in through the nose delivers NO (nitric oxide) directly into the lungs, where it helps fight coronavirus infection by blocking the replication of the coronavirus in the lungs”.

It would be surely advantageous for the Health Ministries to take note of the experience and views of Prof. Ignarro.

Air temperature – In the same way as our throat and lungs do not like dirty air, they do not like air that is too cold or too hot. The passing of the air through the nose allows the air to become more like our body temperature, which is better tolerated by the tissues.

Your Respiratory System

We all know that breathing is a vital necessity, that we do without giving it a thought. In addition, we have been given two options – to breathe through the nose or mouth. We image001 - 2020-07-20T100621.458.jpgbreathe to supply our body with oxygen as we breathe in – inhale, whilst we get rid of Carbon Dioxide plus other elements when we exhale. The Oxygen that we inhale either through the nose or the mouth, will enter your lungs. The diagram illustrates the route. The oxygen inhaled will enter your Pharynx, pass through the Trachea and then enter your Lungs. Research shows that Nose breathing is the correct and most optimal way to breathe. Not only are our bodies designed for nose breathing based on the specific apparatus and the mechanisms by which we inhale and exhale through nose breathing, but there are numerous important health benefits to be had from correct consistent nose breathing. The converse is also true, because mouth breathing bypasses important filtering stages in the breathing process and this method of breathing may lead to many health problems, not the least of which may include snoring and sleep apnea. Our lungs are full of tunnels that end in tiny air sacks called alveoli. This is where the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide takes place. The oxygen then passes into your blood, which supplies the oxygenated blood to every part of your body.

Diaphragmatic Breathing – The In’s and Out’s

The diaphragm is a dome-shaped muscle at the base of the lungs that separates the thoracic (chest) from the abdominal cavities. It is the principal muscle of respiration, though you may not be aware of it. When you inhale, through the nose your diaphragm contracts (tightens) and moves downward extending the abdominal area. This creates more space in your chest cavity allowing the lungs to expand. When you exhale, the opposite happens — your diaphragm relaxes and moves upward in the chest cavity, providing a great massage for both upper and lower organs. All of us are born with the ingrained knowledge of how to fully engage the diaphragm to take deep, refreshing breaths. As we get older however, we get out of the habit. Everything from the stresses of everyday life to common poor postural habits, results in shallower, less satisfying “chest breathing.”

Nasal breathing – as opposed to mouth breathing – increases circulation, blood oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, slows the breathing rate and improves overall lung volumes. image010 (52)The internal nose not only provides around 90% of the respiratory system air-conditioning requirement, but also recovers around 33% of exhaled heat and moisture. Your nose cleans the air you breathe. The air we breathe has all kinds of stuff in it – from oxygen and nitrogen to dust, pollution, allergens, smoke, bacteria, viruses, small bugs and countless other things. The nose helps clean image015 (17)that air. On the surface of the nasal tissues, particularly the turbinates, are cells with small hair-like appendages called cilia that trap much of the bad stuff. Once captured, the bad stuff sits in the mucous and is gradually pushed into the throat, where it is swallowed. Our stomachs tolerate bad stuff much better than our lungs. This is lessened by blowing your nose when it feels blocked, rather than waiting until it is swallowed. In your Lungs there are sacs called Alveoli. Blood vessels cover the alveolus that connect to a system of veins and arteries that move blood through your body. The oxygen then spreads into the blood vessels so that the heart can pump it to different parts of your body. The sense of smell is not only for pleasure; it is necessary for safety. We need our smell to detect smoke, spoiled food and toxic gases. People who have lost their sense of smell need to have alarms for these gases and they must be careful with what they eat. Our nose regulates the temperature. Just like our throat and lungs do not like dirty air, they do not like air that is too cold or too hot. The passing of the air through the nose allows the air to become more like the body temperature, which is better tolerated by the tissues. Warming cool air is more common than cooling warm air. That is because we spend more time in environments below body temperature than above it. A clear manifestation of the warming and humidifying effect is the runny nose we get in cold weather, which is related to condensation of the moisture in the nose. Smell plays a key role in taste. We have four primary tastes – bitter, sour, sweet and salty. All of the refinements in taste are in fact related to smell. That is why people feel that food is tasteless when their ability to smell is decreased.

Diaphragmatic breathing techniqueHow to get started

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Lie on your back on a flat surface or in bed, with your knees and head supported with pillows as shown in the diagram. Place one hand on your upper chest and the other just below your rib cage. This will allow you to feel the movement of your diaphragm as you breathe in and out. Breathe in slowly through your nose so that your abdominal section moves out against your hand. The hand on your chest should remain as still as possible. Tighten your abdominal muscles, letting them fall inward as you exhale through pursed lips. The hand on your upper chest must remain as still as possible. When you first learn the diaphragmatic breathing technique, it may be easier for you to follow the instructions lying down, as shown above. As you gain more practice, you can try the diaphragmatic breathing technique while sitting in a chair. To perform this exercise while sitting in a chair: Sit comfortably, with your knees bent and your shoulders, head and neck relaxed. The rest of the breathing process is identical as when lying down. Note: You may notice an increased effort will be needed to use the diaphragm correctly. At first, you will probably get tired while doing this exercise. But keep at it, because with continued practice, diaphragmatic breathing will become easy and automatic. Correct Nose Breathing has a positive effect on every system in the body. Mouth breathing will have a negative effect.

How often should I practice this exercise?

At first, practice this exercise for a few minutes about 2 – 3 times per day. Gradually increase the amount of time you spend doing this exercise, and perhaps even increase the effort of the exercise by placing a book on your abdomen if lying down.

A change from an ingrained habit of mouth breathing to nose breathing is extremely difficult for many. Please do not give up too easily. In addition, it is understandable that the elderly often find mouth breathing easier for them. Even in their situation, I would encourage them to have patience. You may find children and grandchildren easier to convince before the mouth breathing becomes ingrained.

As for the COVID-19 Virus, allow me to share a thought on the assumption that you have read through the above information on the Respiratory system. During this time, nose breathing becomes even more important and relevant. Nose breathing can reduce dust, pollution, allergens, smoke, bacteria and viruses from entering the lungs. As usual, I welcome your views and comments on the above. Shoot straight from the hip. May you and yours keep safe and healthy.

 

 

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 worldwide “Panel of Experts”, Phillips is a recipient of the “Prime Ministers Award of Merit” (PM Menachem Begin).

Our mailing address is: global@globalhealth-education.com

 

 

 

 

While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs

 

“Weighing in” on Lockdown Eating

By Justine Friedman

At a recent gathering of friends in Israel (we are allowed to be doing that now!), a good friend announced that “food is the enemy”. This gave me a lot of pause for thought as I examined the source of this challenge levelled against an essential element that literally keeps us alive. Without air, water and food we would certainly not be alive. So why is this life-giving source of nourishment seen in such a negative light? Corona or Covid-19 aside, this is a lifetime battle that many face, and at this time of varying stages of lockdown, the proverbial elephant in the room is front and centre.

Weighing in on Lockdown Eating2
Lockdown has resulted in many living a sedentary lifestyle. Exercise is important (Illustration: Onkarnath Bhattacharya).

Social media is inundated with posts that range from fitness gurus posting Zoom lessons on different exercise regimes to the latest recipe craze that MUST be baked and enjoyed and re-baked and consumed again. From banana bread to apple fritter loaf that surely has enough sugar to make the least at-risk person diabetic with one bite, food seems to be the focus of how we are filling our time. Eating is more than just a physiological need that we fill. As human beings, we are so tied in with the emotional and social aspect that food provides. At a time like this, where socialising is not the reason for relaxed eating, the emotional aspect is the biggest trigger. Many of us are eating in response to a variety of situations and emotions. Currently, I believe that the biggest triggers are the lack of our normal routines, of purpose, boredom, anxiety, and fear over the future be they financial, health or family related. We also have non-stop access to our pantries and fridges.

Weighing in on Lockdown Eating5
It is important to make healthy food choices for our families during this stressful time.

On the flip side, many of us are in the mind-set of allowing ourselves the pleasure of eating as so many other external restrictions are being imposed on us, so why worry about what we are eating on top of all of that.

 My biggest concern as a clinical dietician with these triggers is the increased risks we face when poor food choices combines with a more sedentary lifestyle and increased stress. Without listing facts and figures, the risks for heart disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and high blood pressure are increased substantially.

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Many of us crave the comforting carbohydrates of chips and sweets but there are healthier alternatives. (Image: Istock)

So how do we take better care of ourselves at a time like this, bearing in mind that there may also be a lack of availability to some healthier options? How can we minimise the risks that we could face even when less than nutritious choices are available?

Awareness is the starting place.

Before eating, stop and reflect on why you are feeling a need to eat in the first place. Is it true physiological hunger or is it an emotion or boredom that triggered you?

If the latter, pause before eating and allow yourself the opportunity to identify what emotion has been triggered in you. The trick here is to name the emotion. So, if for example you identify that you were feeling angry, sad or anxious, say to yourself:  I am feeling ANGRY/ SAD/ ANXIOUS. Say it out loud or to yourself. The key is to name it and say it. So often the reason we are eating is to suppress this emotion. However, once it is acknowledged, the desire to eat and hence the need to suppress it often goes away as does the desire to overeat.

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We are feeling overwhelmed by the mounting stress and the unknown and are resorting to emotional eating.

This is the starting point; to understand WHY we are eating in a reactive way.  By acknowledging and addressing our emotions, we can then make a more level headed choice – instead of a knee jerk decision – on whether to eat or not to eat.

When emotions dictate our food choices, the underlying craving is often for a food that will give us a specific feeling. Sugar, baked goods, chocolate, crisps and gummy sweets all hit the spot in the moment, but the rebound effect leaves one feeling flatter and in need of more of the same pick-me-up again. This creates a vicious cycle of cravings and energy dips. The only way out of this is to keep your blood sugar levels as balanced as possible throughout the day by eating smaller and more frequent meals and snacks. If you experience stressful triggers and are hungry with a lower blood sugar level, then you are more likely to fall victim to these foods.

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Sweets temporarily bring comfort but leave us craving more.

Another factor is the ongoing debate around carbohydrates and the role they play in nutrition. Not all carbohydrates are created equal. By this, I mean that there are more complex and wholegrain options which may also be completely natural such as sweet potato, potato, oats, quinoa and corn and then some more processed but not unhealthy options like rice, pasta, low GI and rye breads. The closer any food is to its natural form will always be best utilised by our bodies for fuel, and the energy in these foods will be metabolised more efficiently. The more processed and preserved a food is, the less efficiently the body functions in response to eating it. What we eat with a carbohydrate is also incredibly important. If we are eating lean protein choices with a moderate amount of healthier fats and salad and non-starchy vegetables, our bodies handle it well. However, should we combine a perfectly nutritious potato with high fat like cream, cheese and butter, the meal now becomes incredibly unhealthy. So, it’s not just about one specific food group but how the different food groups are combined together that can either enhance health or create disease.

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Wholegrain options are much better alternatives to preserved, processed foods.

I would love to tell you all to go ahead and indulge and allow yourselves the enjoyment of cakes, biscuits, banana bread and the like; but the truth is – weight issues aside – they just aren’t nutritious not for our bodies nor for our emotions, and certainly not for the attainment of a positive state of mind. If you must have them, then consider the quantity and limit the intake. Take a smaller amount, put it on a plate and eat it slowly savouring every bite.

As for those who really want to make better choices and who would rather avoid the vicious sugar craving cycle, here are some healthier options to keep on hand.

Sugar free-salt free peanut butter which is delicious on a slice of thick toasted low GI bread. If you must make it a bit sweeter, rather add a dash of honey yourself than choose the option with sugar added. Other savoury options to put on are avocado, low fat cottage cheese, tuna with a light mayonnaise or boiled egg with some light mayonnaise. And please leave off the margarine or butter!  Add tomato, cucumber, a chopped pickled cucumber for some extra flavour.

To avoid the tiresome activity of preparing salad vegetables, I always advise my clients (and I do this myself!) to keep ready cut salad veg in the fridge. This allows you to easily add it to any meal without the added hassle of preparing anew each time.

For the colder winter evenings and days, make some homemade vegetable soup with vegetables like baby marrow, carrot, celery and a little sweet potato. A hearty vegetable soup goes a long way to filling the gap.

Raw nuts (in moderation) and seeds also make for a great snack and keep the body in a less inflamed state due to their healthier fat component. Almonds, cashews, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds are a great nush option. Combine this with a fresh piece of fruit and your blood sugar will stay stable for longer periods.

My last piece of advice is to remember to stay hydrated. Yes, drinking 8 glasses of water a day is important. When our bodies are well hydrated, they function better; and thirst can also mimic as hunger if you haven’t had enough water to drink. So, stay off the cold drinks and fruit juices. Be mindful of too many cups of tea and coffee and hot drinks like hot chocolate. Good old water or even a tasty herbal tea is first choice.

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Make sure that you stay hydrated by drinking a lot of water.

This advice covers the general healthy population. If you suffer from any medical condition and you have been given sound nutrition advice from a registered dietician, please follow it. If you are concerned about your health, or you feel that your emotional eating pattern is something that you would like to address, seek out a certified dietician who does not promote fad diets and who will look at your eating in a holistic way. You are more than what you eat – and any advice that you are given should take more than just food into account.

Struggling with thoughts (specifically obsessing over food related issues) and feeling that “food is the enemy” does not need to consume our lives. There is a way to learn to make peace with food. Yes, we need food to survive, but let us also turn our food experiences into ones of nourishment for body, mind, and soul.

 

 

About the writer:

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Justine Friedman (née Aginsky), Clinical Dietician (RDSA) and Mind-Body coach, 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.

 

 

 

While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs

 

 

 

Wanted: A Runner with Soul

By Stephen Schulman

In the cold winter pre-dawn darkness of 2005, in a parking lot in Tel Aviv, Offer and Gai Ben Dor, father and son, were expectantly waiting for a meeting. Both Offer and Gai, seasoned long distance runners, had come to volunteer in response to an internet ad:

“Wanted: A Runner with Soul!”

The sender was Beza, a young Ethiopian born Israeli in his early twenties. Blind from birth, deserted by his father, at the age of seven he had immigrated to Israel with his mother and now wished to fulfill his long held dream of becoming a runner.

The mission was a daunting one for them all. Gai recalls: “Here in front of us was someone of my age who was completely physically unfit who could barely run twenty meters. Not only that, but he was a heavy smoker too! To achieve any result involves a grueling regimen of daily runs often in inclement weather that demands physical stamina and mental discipline. So, we knew that a long road lay ahead of us.”

A blind runner needs a companion to run beside him/her and they are joined together by a short strap with wrist loops. With the passing of time, a closeness and comradeship evolves where they can sense each other’s status and needs. Being the eyes of the blind person, the sighted runner develops sensitivity to perceive any obstacles that might hinder his/her partner’s physical progress – something a sighted runner takes for granted.

With the passing of time, Beza’s determination together with the love and dedication of the Ben Dors, began to pay dividends. Graduating from 5 to 10 kilometer runs, they ran 21 kilometer half marathons. From there, it was a natural advance to the full marathon – an exhausting 42.2 kilometers! Beza had heard that the Paralympics were to take place in Beijing in 2008 and expressed his eagerness to take part in the marathon. There was only one obstacle – you had to be in the global top 30 of blind runners, have a minimum qualifying time to earn a place and Beza was very far from it!

With this aim in their sights, all three of them started training in earnest and participating in overseas events. Failing to achieve the desired result in the Berlin Marathon, they had one last chance in the forthcoming event in Amsterdam. Gai recounts: “We were close to the finishing line and looking at my watch, I realized that we were going to make it. I unfurled the Israeli flag in my pocket and with tears of joy, together we crossed the finishing line – Beijing awaited us.”

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 Marathon Man. An advocate, CPA, entrepreneur and social activist, 180°’s  Gai Ben Dor with blind Beza at the 2008 Paralympics (photo Raz Livnat).

The Beijing Marathon was arduous: Beza sustained a leg injury and was flagging, but with the continual support of Offer and Gai, he persevered. Entering the stadium for the final lap, the roar of encouragement of the 91,000 spectators infused him with fresh strength. They released the wrist strap and Beza ran alone and unaided for the last 30 meters to the finishing line!

Fresh from his accomplishment and with Nepal in close proximity, Beza expressed a further wish – to climb Mount Everest! Once more, all three of them accepted the challenge and made the climb of 5,500 meters all the way to the base camp: Gai recalls the difficulties encountered: “You not only have to cope with the difficulty of breathing in the oxygen depleted air, but have to deal with guiding over rocks, crossing rivers and transversing crevasses”. Upon finally reaching the base camp, an exultant Beza exclaimed: “The view here was worth the climb!”

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Seeing is Believing. Offer and Gai Ben Dor climb Mount Everest with Beza who is blind in 2008. (Photo: Gai Ben Dor)

Helping Beza achieve so much had been an enlightening and transformative experience. Returning home, Gai decided to help other handicapped people and in addition to his studies became a running instructor to help disabled people through sport.

In 2016, Gai, together with his wife Adi and his parents Offer and Orit, decided to promote their vision by founding the social organization, 180°, aimed at the empowerment and social integration of people with disabilities and special needs through sports and educational programs.

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On Track. Sights set on the finishing line for this blind participant in the Tel Aviv Marathon.

 Since its inception, 180° has gone from strength to strength and now runs many groups that encompass participants of both genders and all ages, irrespective of their backgrounds. Each of the groups is headed by a qualified running instructor and each participant has his/her own permanent volunteer. This approach is mutually beneficial since a bond develops between the two, the volunteer gains greater empathy and understanding whilst helping the partner regain self confidence and belief in self.

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In The Vanguard. Members from 180° that aims at empowering and socially integrating people with disabilities through sport participating in the Tel Aviv Marathon with Gai and Offer Ben Dor (left).

Gai and Adi are aware that those with disabilities are not granted the same opportunities as others, very often in sport. There is a lack of the appropriate frameworks, a lack of understanding of their needs and very often social exclusion that leads them to lose faith in their own abilities. The founding of 180° created a framework that brings people together and through sport has helped those physically less advantaged and those with special needs to attain greater self-esteem and consequent self-actualization.

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V for Victory. Gai Ben Dor (left) and wife Adi, a  running trainer and responsible for the marketing and collaborations of 180° with young volunteer (right).

A few years ago, Gili joined the group. With a severe case of cerebral palsy and confined to a wheelchair, his main physical exercise was limited to manipulating the joystick. Nevertheless, his dream was being able to walk. With the aid and dedication of Gai and his volunteers, he began to stand on his own feet and progress. After two years of practice, with support on both sides, he completed a 5 km walk at a special event in Berlin. “Helping Gili was physically demanding but seeing the finishing line  approaching and crossing it with him, for us all, was intensely satisfying and a profoundly moving experience!”

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Go Go Gil. Gai Ben Dor and his father Offer accompany Gil who has cerebral palsy, across the finishing line during a 5K race in Berlin. (Photo: Gai Ben Dor)

Another project of 180° that is close to Gai and Adi’s heart has been the initiative to establish 180° Education – running groups in elementary schools to inculcate in young people the values of tolerance, understanding and helping others less fortunate.

 These are running groups in elementary schools with the intention to inculcate in young people the values of tolerance, understanding and helping others less fortunate. Handicapped children are teamed up with classmates in order to train together in preparation for athletic events. By so doing, the helper learns empathy by aiding a partner and facilitating his/her social inclusion.

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Helping Hands. Volunteers from 180° guiding a visually impaired participant in the Tel Aviv Marathon (courtesy 180°)

 Gai states: “I truly believe that when people are doing sports activities together, they go through a process that creates a relationship and removes the barriers between them. I also believe that sports help people to develop self- confidence, a sense of ability and higher self esteem!”

What a wonderful way of making our world a better place!

 

 

180° is a social organization aimed at empowerment and social integration of people with disabilities through sport and educational programs

Read more: https://www.180sport.org/en

 

 

 

While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs