How do I prioritize myself and my health when my world is so upside?

By Justine Friedman

If you are feeling frozen, if your thoughts are focused on safety and living through today, then it is likely that you may well also be thinking, what difference does it make if I eat the chocolate bar right now?

And I get it. There are times during the last 3 weeks (which feels more like an eternity) when I have given into the comfort foods and allowed myself to opt out of the world for a period of time.

I may not be on the front lines of this war, and I may not have a soldier who is risking their life for this fight which will determine whether we as a nation survive, but I feel every last drop of it in my heart and soul and more distinctly in my nervous system.

With every siren and with every boom, some of which are normal sounds in the building where I live, my body reacts with a strong survival instinct. My heart races, my breathing quickens, and a knot forms in my stomach.

And it takes time to calm down again.

There are moments when I am distracted and I realize that I haven’t thought about the war, what a sweet relief these times are, and then the reality returns.

I am living with a sense of intensity and pressure that is so hard and I am sure you are too.

So back to my question, is it even realistic to focus on my health or should I put that on the back burner while there are more important things to deal with right now?

Here is why in whatever capacity you can, I encourage you to value taking care of yourself.

As women, we are the core of our families. How we function has a ripple effect on our husbands, children, and our extended family and friends. We don’t have to have it all figured out, or have it all together but neglecting ourselves right now serves no one, especially ourselves.

Back when corona began, many of us endured the time baking banana bread, lounging in pyjamas, and feeling generally unmotivated and out of sorts. And even though what we are living through right now can’t be compared, there are aspects that feel similar.

It is so normal to push off taking care of ourselves, but when we are running on empty and we have nothing to give, we suffer more and those around us, who rely on us to be an anchor have a harder time.

“It doesn’t matter, nothing matters I don’t care what I eat right now” the inner scared voice may say….

But it does matter! And not only does it matter but taking time to nourish your body right now can make a difference in the most profound way.

We all know how stress can impact the body.

It affects our brain, causing memory loss, inflammation, and brain fog.

It raises our blood pressure leading to extra stress on our kidneys and every cell in our body.

It increases heart rate and risk of heart disease.

Anxiety and depression are intensified by poor food choices.

And as women symptoms of PMS, perimenopause, and menopause are exacerbated.

If you have pre-diabetes, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or autoimmune conditions, taking care of yourself is the difference between suffering from these and dealing with long-term complications versus reversing some of the ill effects.

So how can you take care of yourself without adding extra pressure? Because the last thing I am suggesting is that you eat less, exercise harder, and deprive yourself of foods that you enjoy. 

(Even as I am writing this there are booms close by as the iron dome intercepts rockets being fired from Gaza!)

Here are some tips on what I am currently doing and working together with my clients on to implement in their lives:

Drink water- being hydrated helps your brain and improves your cognitive ability

Limit caffeine if anxiety is worse at this time

Do light exercise and if you are able to do more then go for it- it reduces stress, increases the production of endorphins in the body, and overall improves mindset and mood.

Pay attention to your hunger- if you have lost your appetite- still nourish your body by eating smaller, balanced meals- this helps keep your blood sugar stable and reduces symptoms of anxiety.

If eating chocolate (or your desired comfort food) is what you need, by all means, have some but do so after a meal where you have included vegetables, salad, healthy fats, complex carbohydrates, and protein.

Take time to breathe and do stress-relieving exercises that work for you.

Limit time on social media and the news- it is important to stay informed but if what you are “consuming” is increasing your worry and stress then pay attention to this.

Connect with friends

Smile at people that you pass on the street

Wave to the soldiers- there is nothing better than getting a smile and acknowledgment back!

We are all in this together, and although it feels like we are living a double life in many respects, let’s find a way to live each day, right now in the best way that we can.

You cannot pour from an empty cup and if you need guidance on how to take care of yourself right now, with compassion and understanding, then let me help you to do that so that you can take care of those who are depending on you too.

About the writer:

Justine Friedman works as a clinical dietician and a mindset mentor. She has over 20 years experience in supporting clients to make sustainable and practical lifestyle adjustments. Her focus is empowering women over 40 to make the necessary changes to feel confident with their food choices and at peace with food, while at the same time managing their weight without restriction or guilt. She works with women both 1:1 as well as in her online signature group program, “The Wellness Upgrade”. For more information visit her website on

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 (0&EO).


What if your weight is not the real issue?

By  Justine Friedman

I may be unpopular for saying this – and that’s ok – but it must be said. The answer to feeling uncomfortable within yourself and your body may logically seem to be to lose weight.

BUT is that really what’s going on?

Yes, I hear that your clothes aren’t fitting you the same anymore (or maybe not at all), and you don’t recognise yourself when you look in the mirror. But does this mean that weight loss will be the magic answer?

Or is there more to this dance?

We are constantly bombarded by solutions to the most painful problems we have. And most of the time the promises offered neither solve our pain, nor do they bring the relief we are looking for.

  • Just eat this and you will lose weight
  • Just do this exercise and you will get a 6-pack in 10 days.
  • Take this pill and you will be carefree.

A quick result with minimal effort is what this instant generation craves.

But the truth is that anything valuable in life generally comes from hard work and dedication. The two important words I stress to clients are CONSISTENCY & COMPASSION.

I believe these are the keys to building habits and a lifestyle of health and well-being.

With consistency comes reward  – as long as we are putting into place the habits that are best for ourselves.

Regardless of what you choose, the habits that you decide on, first need to make sense for you and before you choose to keep them for good, I suggest testing them out and being curious about how they fit into your life and feel in your body.

Big declarations like “I will never eat carbs again” may seem like a good idea today when you hit the pit of self-loathing, but when your blood sugar dips, your hormones are all over the show, and you are stressed out and then tuck into a chocolate bar or packet of crisps, the result leaves you feeling angry and guilty for breaking the promise you made to yourself.

So before you toss the carbs out the window, and go on a 16:8 hour intermittent fasting regime, ask yourself:

 “Can I do this forever and how would it feel to give it a try and test it out first?” (Disclaimer – I am not suggesting intermittent fasting or low-carb diets!)

That brings me to the next important word COMPASSION.

Being hard on yourself may feel like the best way to get to your goal, but has it really worked for you?

Think about what happens if your kid makes a mistake. Do you “let them have it” by rebuking in deed and word how disappointed you are in them? Would that influence them to behave differently in the future? Or can you instead guide and help them learn from their mistakes so that they can do better – not perfect – next time around?

You are no different.

The little “you” within you needs the same kind of encouragement and understanding. After all, guilt and self-loathing rarely result in weight loss (unless you have an active eating disorder and if so, please seek professional help).

Being compassionate does not mean being weak….it doesn’t mean that you will allow yourself to eat whatever you want when you want because you are feeling “sorry for yourself”.

NO… it means understanding what you have the capacity for each day and tailoring your expectations on that day to what you can manage.

So on a day that you have good energy, it may mean enjoying more aerobic exercise and tackling more things on your to-do list. And on a day that you woke up after a poor night’s sleep, feeling hormonal and your kid is sick, you may move your body gently or not at all. Take care to have nourishing foods around, and do fewer demanding tasks.

So back to the elephant in the room: Your weight!

Is it ok to want to lose weight – yes of course.

Is it possible that making that the focus of your efforts and thoughts is causing you to make poor choices and try crazy eating plans that are unsustainable? Can we agree on a yes to that too?

So how DO you feel better, manage your weight AND achieve it without over-exercising, feeling restricted, hangry, anxious, depleted, starved, and avoiding all the foods that bring you pleasure?

One small step at a time. Winning a marathon doesn’t happen with a giant leap, and your life is not the 400m sprint.

Let me map it out for you and give you the gems from the process that I personally use and that my clients get the best results from.

Choose a goal unrelated to weight such as wanting more energy, to be less moody, enjoy better sleep, reduced cravings and to feel less bloated.

Look at when you feel this way naturally and focus on identifying the behaviours associated with that outcome. For example, if I read before I go to bed, do I sleep better? When I have more protein with my lunch, do I feel less of an urge to snack in the afternoon? Once you have identified the beneficial traits and act accordingly, you will begin to feel less hungry as well as less moody.

Actively implement this in your schedule and repeat it daily.

Next, choose a new habit that you want to include – most people choose to drink more water. I often hear, “I will drink 2 litres every day!” Is this realistic? If you are only drinking a glass a day right now, then aiming for 8 is a far reach. Focus on having 1-2 glasses extra each day for a week and when you are reaching that with ease, then proceed again incrementally.

When you attain your goal – albeit it small –  feel free to give yourself the proverbial big pat on the back. You deserve it. This positively reinforces that you are succeeding in your personalised approach. And just like a kid who thrives on positive reinforcement, you will be more likely to repeat this behaviour.

What if you don’t achieve what you set out to do? Instead of jumping to judgement and indulging in self-criticism, get curious and ask yourself what happened that made you drop the ball. By understanding what transpired, you can better prepare for the future. That way you’ll be able to prevent repeating the same mistakes. However, If you keep repeating these identifiable missteps, then maybe  what you believed were the right remedies were for you unsuitable, and you will need to reassess and try a different approach.

You don’t have to do this alone! If you feel stuck and don’t know where to start – reach out and work with someone who can tailor-make a plan of action that will support you.

It must be realistic and this may mean taking weight-loss goals off the table in the beginning while you focus on creating a lifestyle that supports your long-term health goals.

About the writer:

Justine Friedman works as a clinical dietician and a mindset mentor. She has over 20 years experience in supporting clients to make sustainable and practical lifestyle adjustments. Her focus is empowering women over 40 to make the necessary changes to feel confident with their food choices and at peace with food, while at the same time managing their weight without restriction or guilt. She works with women both 1:1 as well as in her online signature group program, “The Wellness Upgrade”. For more information visit her website on

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 (0&EO).


The Jewel in the crown of Israel’s humanitarian organisations

By Rolene Marks

In the heart of Holon, a bright, sunny house rings out with the delightful giggles of children. A schedule that looks like a culinary tour of the world is posted outside a pristine kitchen. Mothers, some dressed in the traditional garb of the countries they come from, keep a watchful eye over their tiny charges who are playing with the vast selection of toys, carefully selected for their entertainment. The scene is serene. Peaceful.

Welcome to Save a Child’s Heart.

For over 25 years, this remarkable organisation, through its global network of doctors, family members, volunteers, and supporters of Save a Child’s Heart (SACH) have helped bring life-saving cardiac care to children in need around the world. From around the world they have come – including from countries that Israel has no formal bilateral ties with – and even those we are technically in a state of war with – to receive life-saving surgery.

Heartwarming. The writer with a child patient from abroad receiving life-saving cardiac tretement at the Save A Child’s Heart in Holon, Israel.

It is impossible to visit SACH without falling in love with each of the children. *Mohammed comes from Tanzania, his mother watches as he gleefully plays with some toys. I look at this gorgeous young boy and ask how old he is. I think he cannot be more than 2 years old – he is tiny – but full of life. I am told he is 4 years old. Heart defects can seriously impede the growth of young children.

Saving and Winning Hearts. Israel’s non-profit medical charity Save a Child’s Heart group that provides life-saving heart treatment to children in developing countries wins prestigious UN Population Award from UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres (centre) for “outstanding contributions to the world’s population.”

SACH’s extraordinary work to help save the lives of young children needing critical surgeries has earned the organisation high praise from the most unlikely source – the United Nations. The UN has long been critical of the state of Israel but they truly lauded SACH by awarding it the United Nations’ Population Award, which was presented by the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, during an official ceremony at UN headquarters in New York.

Baby from Abroad. Doctors at Save A Child’s Heart examining a young baby from abroad.

Save a Child’s Heart house is a joyful place. Despite all the health challenges that the children are facing, every effort is made to make them feel safe, secure and at home. There are many different kinds of toys to delight the children, dedicated staff who look after the young charges and the parent who is with them; and there are doctors who stay on site so all their medical needs are taken care of.

Top Treatment. Save The Child’s Heart state-of-the-art medical facility at Wolfson Medical Center in Holon, Israel.

The kitchen is the heart of the house. Immaculate and well stocked, the kitchen is not just a place to prepare food; but also allows parents to bring a small taste from home to a foreign country. SACH provides the ingredients – and parents whip up a taste from home. There may even be a cookbook in the works…..

Foreign Doctors Programme. Since its founding, Save a Child’s Heart has treated children from over 60 developing countries and trained more than 140 medical professionals from those countries. These include training medical staff (seen here) to treat cardiac problems and other diseases in Tanzania, Ethiopia, Romania, The Palestinian Authority and others. (Photo: Rolene Marks)

Walking in, one is fascinated with the notice board that mentions all of the current patients and how far they are with their treatment. It reads like a veritable atlas. Children come from Eswatini and Tanzania, Romania and Iraq, the West bank, Israel and even as far afield as Afghanistan. They come from all over the world – including countries who Israel has no bilateral relations. Children who come from countries like Syria who are technically still in a state of war with Israel, are aided by third parties such as the UN and brought in via an intermediate country. A guardian, usually their mothers, always accompanies the children. One notable exception was a child from Afghanistan accompanied by her father because under brutal Taliban rule, women are not allowed to travel – at least not without “chaperones”.

Patient’s Progress. A notice board lists the age, home country and progress of the young patients.(Photo: Rolene Marks)

A short drive to nearby Wolfson hospital, the brand new Save a Child’s Heart pediatric centre is buzzing with activity. Recently opened with the generous donations from philanthropists and organisations around the world, most notably Sylvan Adams, this bright, sophisticated centre is host to not only the remarkable surgeries and treatments; but also a training programme that equips medical professionals from around the world with the necessary skills to recreate the same programmes in their own countries.

From the ‘Heart’ of Africa. Ethiopia, Tanzania, Kosovo, Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya and Zambia – these are the countries from which 27 children have come with their mothers and caregivers to undergo life-saving heart treatments in Israel through Save a Child’s Heart. Here’s to a house full of smiling heart!

*Maryam from Gaza lies in her state of the art hospital bed, the machines and monitors next to her blinking and beeping. She watches me with her beautiful big brown eyes. Her mother sits vigil by her side as she has for several months. I smile at her. I want her to know we are not enemies. She meets my gaze with weary eyes and offers a small smile. We are human beings making a connection over shared humanity.

Heart of Holon. An anxious Arab mother at the bedside prays for her son attended to at the remarkable Save A Child’s Heart in Holon, Israel.

Save a Child’s Heart is not only saving lives. They are building a bridge of peace, one child at a time. Governments may sign agreements but it is people who create peace, one relationship at a time.

There is no greater example of this than Save a Child’s Heart

Israeli Life Saver. The 7-floor Save a Child’s Heart (SACH) International Pediatric Cardiac Center (IPCC) and Sylvan Adams Children’s Hospital houses all of the infrastructure and equipment needed to perform life-saving cardiac treatments, including all pre- and post-operative care for thousands of children in Israel and from around the world. (Photo: Rolene Marks)

*Names changed to protect their identities

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 (0&EO).


Wounded veterans from the UK and Israel compete in Veterans games in Tel Aviv

By Rolene Marks

I am writing this article during quite a poignant week. If you are a keen observer of military history, the first days of June are hugely significant. This week, we commemorated 56 years since the start of the Six Day War in 1967 that changed the landscape of the Middle East. The 6th of June marks 41 years since the First Lebanon War “Operation Peace for Galilee” in 1982 and a day that changed the trajectory of the Second Word War as Allied forces troops landed on the Normandy beaches in France in 1944. D-Day. We salute the remarkable men and women of the armed forces.

Why is mentioning famous historical military operations relevant to the veterans games that this article is dedicated to? Because it is a reminder of the fighting and sacrifices made for our freedoms and democracy. We owe these brave soldiers a debt we can never repay. They fight with everything they have – and return bearing the wounds and scars of battle, some carried deep inside the recesses of their souls. We bear reminding of the enormous sacrifices made by our armed forces and whatever generation deployed to battle, they deserve our acknowledgement, respect and support.

Sporting Snapshot. Competing British and Israeli teams pose together at the Veteran Games in Tel Aviv. (Photo Tomer Appelbaum).

Last week, Beit Halochem Centres in Israel played host to the Veteran games, welcoming 60 wounded warriors from the United Kingdom and their families. Beit Halochem (House of the Warrior) is an extraordinary organization. The organization provides unique rehabilitation, sports and recreation centers serving disabled veterans and their families. Beit Halochem provides a place where the wounded undergo the various treatments, which they need for as long as they live. The centre emphasises sport as a rehabilitative tool along with a wide array of social and cultural programmes.

The four Beit Halochem Centres in Israel – including the state-of-the-art complex in Tel Aviv, played host to the warrior athletes and their families as they engaged in friendly competition in events that included swimming, shooting and CrossFit.

War to Tug-of-War. Families of wounded veterans join a spirited game of tug-of-war.

Ex-servicemen and women from across the UK armed forces who have lost limbs in combat and other veterans who are battling crippling post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) were selected to compete. PTSD is often endured in silence and sports have a therapeutic effect for many suffering from trauma. What made this competition particularly unique is that competitors did not have to reach a certain sporting standard to qualify. This means that no matter what their sporting level or experience, everyone could compete for medals.

This is the third year that this event took place, and presents a great opportunity not just for veterans to compete, but to bond with each other as well as take in the sights and sounds of Israel.

Grit and Determination. Ashley Hall in competition in the X-fit

The games were organized by Beit Halochem UK and the IDF Disabled Veterans Fund. Beit Halochem UK raises awareness and funds to help support Israel’s wounded veterans. Beit Halochem in Israel helps 51,000 wounded soldiers and victims of terror by offering them support for the rest of their lives.

 “Physical activity, camaraderie and the family all play a crucial role in the successful rehabilitation of injured soldiers and the Veteran Games put both front and centre,” said Veteran Games co-founders Andrew Wolfson and Spencer Gelding. “Medals are a great bonus, but our goal is to provide an environment for veterans to challenge themselves in a way that will provide lasting benefits, while building friendships with other heroes and their families with whom they have so much in common.”

Pulling their Weight. Once putting their lives on the line for their countries, wounded vets from the UK and Israel engage in friendly competition in Tel Aviv. 

These remarkable warriors are absolutely inspirational.

Ben Roberts, 42 a veteran from Essex who served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan said, “I have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and in 2010 was diagnosed with Combat Stress Insomnia. I took part in the games last year and they have inspired me, shown me that I have a purpose and I have worth and that there are people out there that are willing to support us and show us British veterans that we can achieve things even with mental health. The games for me personally were a major spiritual level as well and the energy was just amazing here and it has helped me through the year where we are today”

Cheered on by the Competition. A British athlete is cheered on by Israeli staff and athletes during the third Veterans Games in Tel Aviv on May 29, 2023. (Courtesy Beit HaLohem UK)

Organizers ensured that families were front and centre and they stood on the sidelines and cheered as their loved ones tested their mettle in friendly competition. Family members often struggle when an injured veteran returns back home and the role they play in their loved one’s recovery is crucial. To keep children entertained, a soccer camp is simultaneously held. Nothing builds bonds quite like sports!

Sight to Behold. Craig Lundberg receiving a swimming medal in the visually impaired category

Craig Lundberg 37, was completely blinded after being hit by two rocket-propelled grenades that are usually used for targeting helicopters or armored vehicles while on his second tour of Iraq in 2007. “It feels amazing to have my family along that they can see no matter what life throws at you, you can focus and get around it. I am really honored to be here and I competed in CrossFit and swimming and won a silver medal. It wasn’t expected because there was some great competition. For the lifting of weights and running, my son stood at one end my partner at the other and called to me so I could hear and get from point A to point B so it was a real family event. It is massively important that they are involved. Every day the family live with the sacrifice of living with a blind partner which isn’t the easiest sometimes, so to have them here giving support has been top notch.”

Opening Ceremony. A veteran of Afghanistan, cabinet minister for Veterans Affairs, Johnny Mercer MP addressing the opening ceremony of the Veteran Games.

Accompanying the UK delegation was Minister for Veteran’s Affairs, Johnny Mercer. MP Mercer served in the Royal Artillery and retired in December 2013 with the rank of captain.  “We traditionally look at Israel and certainly the certainly the wealth of data you have accumulated over years of experience. I’m trying to make the UK the best country in the world to be a veteran and to do that we need to work with our friends and partners to understand what they’re doing that works really well, so that we can replicate that in the UK.” Mercer added that “it’s amazing to be out here in Israel. There’s nothing quite like an Israeli welcome, seeing the Veteran Games and using the power of sports as a vehicle for recovery. It’s extraordinary.”

Brother-in Arms. From different countries, these veterans share a bond understanding and camaraderie.

The games were timed to coincide with half-term (semester) vacation in the United Kingdom and the group had the chance to visit historical sites in Jerusalem, experience the healing powers of the Dead Sea and enjoy culinary and even graffiti tours in Tel Aviv.

Top Training. Veterans are seen ahead of the Veteran Games in Israel. (photo credit: Courtesy of The Veteran Games)

The bonds forged between these exceptional warriors from the United Kingdom and Israel will last a lifetime.

We could not be more proud to salute them. 

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 (0&EO).


Some key ingredients to building lasting habits

By Justine Friedman

That’s it! You’ve made a decision. You reach a point where you have had enough of feeling unfit or unhealthy or overweight and uncomfortable or disorganised in your life. You are finally going to be happy and have the relationships you have always wanted. It’s now time to start to make changes so that you can finally succeed in the area you’ve been desperate to succeed for so long. This time it’s going to be different! This time you are not going to break the diet or stop until you get to your goal!

Can you relate to these sentiments? Have you been in a position or are you currently feeling this way? That spark of motivation and inspiration can be so powerful. It is the driving force behind every persons push to finally start to improve the quality of their lives.

So, the question is how do we go about making positive changes and implementing habits that will allow us to reach our health and wellness goals? These can be food or lifestyle related (improving relationships with self and others). In fact, any habit that will improve day-to-day life falls into this category. When we decide to achieve a specific goal and we are very “psyched” about it, it is easy to feel motivated and positive. Unfortunately, the reason so many people find themselves giving up too soon may arise due to not setting realistic or achievable outcomes. It is so human to feel overwhelmed and fall off the wagon if you’re trying to do too much all at once. 

In over-reaching and attempting to take on too much and too soon, as well as expecting perfection from oneself, we set ourselves up to fail. Can you relate to the feeling when you try to do everything all at once and then you miss a step of the process? The sense of disappointment and failure can make you think:

 “This is impossible, I just can’t do this, so why should I even bother?”

When we try to use our willpower to resist temptation and impulses, we can end up exhausting ourselves, particularly when we are trying to change too much all at once. In fact, we each have a limited amount of willpower that we use each and every day. If we are finding that we have other challenges to face, our newer habits that we are so desperate to implement, fall by the wayside as we use any energy towards addressing these situations. It is so common for people to find themselves, even after a few weeks of managing to build a new habit to be faced with a trigger that causes any old and more entrenched habit to take over. This can lead one to feel frustrated, despondent, and annoyed at one’s inability to just do what they set out to do.

A great example that is often used is trying to run a marathon. You wouldn’t go out and try to run 42km in one day. You would need to slowly build distance over time, pushing yourself a little more each day, and setting yourself realistic goals. 

Working towards a new goal is the same. Even though it may not seem like you are doing a lot by taking baby steps each day, when you manage to do things in bite-size amounts, that’s where the greatest power lies. Changing and implementing lifetime habits are best achieved by taking small, manageable steps so you don’t fall over at the first hurdle and fail or give up. 

So, what are habits? They are behaviours that are influenced by cues, routine, and rewards. When we consistently repeat the same behaviour over time it becomes a habit. Our habits can be so layered and enmeshed in our lives. Each habit is built on another. It can feel like peeling an onion. Each layer that is removed reveals another underneath until you get to the core. There is always a lot discussed about how long it takes to either break or create a new habit. In general, most people settle on 21 days as the accepted average. I feel that it takes far longer (not to put you off!) for with each new behaviour there are many components to it, just like the many layers of the onion, and if we wish to ensure that the new habits that we are forming over time are there to stay, then each element of the old behaviour needs to be addressed and each aspect of the new behaviour needs to be consistently practiced. It is very human to desire something greatly and then revert to a comfort zone in old habits and behaviours the minute we feel uncomfortable or experience emotions that trigger us.

So how do we go about ensuring our success? One of the first steps is putting perfection on notice. When we expect perfection, and we can’t sustain it we will give up very easily.

The next step is identifying what it is that you wish to improve or change. Without judging or criticising the behaviour that you would like to shift, become curious about why you practice it and when you are most likely to do it. For example, if you find yourself snacking or grazing from 3pm in the afternoon all the way until dinner time, you can become curious about what you are eating and drinking at the beginning of your day until 3pm. Are you trying to be too strict? Are you so busy that you ignore your hunger signals? Are you out and you haven’t taken any food with you so that by the time you get home you are over-hungry? Does this lead you to making poor choices or desperate to fill what feels like a bottomless pit? There are many different situations that can either set you up for success or trip you up along the way.

Once you have identified potential hurdles then you can work to avoid them. You can ensure that you take a break during the day to eat more regular meals and snacks, ensuring you keep your energy and blood sugar levels balanced. If necessary, you can set an alarm on your phone to remind you, particularly if you get too busy. You can make realistic choices about what you will eat at different times of day and pay attention to whether you are drinking sufficient water. Planning ahead of time is always more likely to lead to success. The key is to be able to be flexible if it doesn’t pan out exactly as you anticipated.

This is where one of the most crucial elements comes in. The element of forgiveness. It is the opposite of perfection as it allows us to feel compassion for when we simply can’t follow through or when we find ourselves in front of a hurdle. If we expect perfection in this moment the hurdle may act to block our path. However, if we are more forgiving of how we feel in the situation we become open to reassessing where we are and more likely to find a different way to deal with the obstacle. There are always many ways to reach the same destination and it may not always be the shortest or most anticipated path that gets us there. If we are to truly succeed on this journey, allowing ourselves to experience the steps and “scenery” along the way will make it more meaningful. Not only will reaching our destination seem more victorious but we will have stretched ourselves and grown as the process unfolds.

Does this all sound like too much? Would you rather stay in your safe and comfortable zone, wishing you weren’t? Change is always possible! With the right support you can implement lasting patterns and behaviours that will positively impact your life. Each person and situation is unique and the path to success is too. If you truly desire to reach your destination setting yourself up for success will get you there.

So many wait for January 1st to make new year resolutions. And while these are generally well meaning, the long term success of them are rather short lived. If you truly wish to see positive change in your life, start small and start now, building lasting habits is within your grasp, you just need to take the first step.

About the writer:

Justine Friedman works as a clinical dietician and a mindset mentor. She has over 20 years experience in supporting clients to make sustainable and practical lifestyle adjustments. Her focus is empowering women over 40 to make the necessary changes to feel confident with their food choices and at peace with food, while at the same time managing their weight without restriction or guilt. She works with women both 1:1 as well as in her online signature group program, “The Wellness Upgrade”. For more information visit her website on

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 endeavors to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO) .


Three Phases Every Healthy Relationship Repeatedly Goes Through

By Bev Ehrlich

Have you ever questioned whether the person you’re in love with is capable of making you happy? Well, how is that working out for you? The marriage we want is like the body we want – flawless!! Relationships are not perfect! Real relationships are the collision of your partner’s imperfections with your flaws. How you manage that, is key to your healthy relationship.

Ed Tronick introduced the idea that all relationships are a constant dance of harmony, disharmony, and repair. Closeness, distance taking, and closeness once again. This pattern can play itself out over decades or 30 times over one dinner.

Photo: Julia C. Basso, PhD


Harmony is when you feel relational with your partner. You can listen to what their needs are, and see their perspective.

Terry Real refers to this first stage as “love without knowledge.” It’s the promise phase in which you might recognize a soul connection. You feel this person completes you. They get you! They will surely heal all your wounds and hurts. They get you in every way.

Real calls this phase “love without knowledge” because, while you may feel like you’ve known this person for your entire life, you don’t know how they keep their sock drawer or how they manage their finances, or if they leave their dirty laundry on the floor.

As you move from being wrapped up in one another, you begin to notice other things going on in your world. Living life together doesn’t seem quite so simple and disillusionment sets in.


Knowledge without love now comes to the fore. You now know more about your partner. You may feel you now know more about them than you ever wished you knew! You don’t feel very loving at this stage. You begin to behave in a way that keeps you protected and disconnected. Much to your shock and frustration, not only is this person not going to deliver you from all the broken places you’re trying to run from, but you discover that your partner is beautifully designed as Terry Real so eloquently puts it “to stick a burning spear right into your eyeball.”

Looking more closely, we have married our unfinished conversations with our early caretakers.

When we were dating, we met many potential partners who would not have recreated our old family dramas. Our lives together may have been calmer, however, none of them attracted us.

This disillusionment hurts like crazy! You can feel betrayed, angry, and even trapped.


The third phase of the dance is repair. This is the “knowing stage of love.” You know all about your partner. You know all their ugly and imperfect parts. You know they never pay bills on time or always leave their shoes and socks strewn all over the living room floor, they squeeze the toothpaste tube in the middle!! However, despite all this knowledge you choose to love them anyway.

Thomas Hübl  teaches that “healthy intimacy is not something you have, it’s something you do. It’s a minute-to-minute practice; as such, we need to create conditions for sustained practice and build a relationship-cherishing subculture around ourselves, our children, and our marriages. “

A healthy relationship flows from harmony to rupture and doesn’t get stuck there but works its way back into repair and closeness.

About the writer:

Beverly Ehrlich is a relationship coach. She firmly believes that we heal, grow and thrive through healthy and cherishing relationships that show appreciation for each other’s strengths and build on them. Feeling helpless and strained when her husband of many years found himself in the depths of depression, they turned for support to Terry Real’s Relational Life Therapy (RLT). She has since dedicated her life to bringing couples back into healthy connectedness. Beverly encourages her clients to stand up for themselves with love while cherishing their partner at the same time. She teaches strategies that help clients speak their truth so that their partner can hear them and come into repair quicker each time.

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 (0&EO).


The Jewish state’s cycling team, ‘Israel-Premier Tech’  soars at the Tour de France

By David E. Kaplan

There is hardly a more prestigious thrill in the world of professional cycling than winning a stage at the Tour de France. However, when there are 176 riders as began the 2022 Tour de France with the Grand Depart in Copenhagen on July 1; and there are only 21 stages, the odds are challenging. The commentators common line every day for 21 days is:

 “Who will have the legs to sprint for the line.”

Talking about legs, I knew something was ‘afoot’ when I received a WhatsApp from a friend on July 6 asking:

 “Are you watching?”  

He did not have to specify what – it was a given. I turned on Eurosport just in time  to see  an Israeli team make history in the Tour de France when one of its riders won a stage of the world-famous race.

Pulsating Pedaling. The name ISRAEL is now a recognised winning brand at the Tour de France.

Australian Simon Clarke of Israel-Premier Tech won stage five of the tour in a photo finish after a 157 kilometer (97.5 miles) run from Lille to Arenberg featuring 20 kilometers (nearly 12.5 miles) of cobbled roads.

It was the first time ever an Israeli team had performed so well.

It was a sheer joy and pride for Israelis, to see  their country’s name branded on the riders cycling top at the podium.

Riding into History. Stage 5 winner, Israel-Premier Tech’s Simon Clarke at the podium following a photo finish after a 157km run from Lille to Arenberg.

With the Tour de France being the most prestigious cycling race in the world, reaching more than 15 million spectators and over 1 billion television viewers globally, this was a refreshing media spotlight on Israel.

Could it happen again at this Tour?  Having happened once, anything is possible!

So when I again received a WhatsApp from my friend and a co-founder of Lay of the Land, Yair Chelouche this time on the 19 July, saying again: “Are you watching?”, I replied, “You gotta be kidding.”

Turn on your TV we may have a story in the making!”

I flipped to Eurosport and screamed in joy as there was the name ISRAEL in bold leading the pack. However, it was still some 40 kilometres to the finish line and anything could happen. Could the rider keep it up with the profusely panting predators lunging from behind?

This was riveting stuff and warranted cracking open a beer. After all, this rider needed all the support and I thought cracking a Gold Star – one of Israel’s premier beers – was my thoughtful contribution.

After dropping on the Port de Lers, the Israel-Premier Tech rider Hugo Houle chased back to the front of the race with 40 kilometers to go before attacking from a reduced group at the foot of the final climb. The beauty of the French countryside – its medieval churches and chateaus were but passing flashes of distractions as all eyes were on Hugo Houle, who was like horse with blinkers bolting back to the barn as if stung by a wasp!

At the Finish Line. Pointing to the heavens, Stage 16 winner for Israel-Premier Tech, Hugo Houte, engages with his deceased brother saying to himself, “WE DID IT”

When he attacked he was  – in his words – “setting the table” for fellow Israel-Premier Teck team member Mike Woods but “ when I saw that they let me go, I just went all in, full gas. You never know how it will turn out in the breakaway. Sometimes you need luck. Nobody wanted to commit…and then it was just a time trial to the end.”

‘Luck’, ‘legs’ and ‘commitment’ saw the Israel-Premier Tech rider take the stage. A joy for Israel, it was an enormous emotional win for Houle.

With one minute and ten seconds ahead of the chasers behind him, Houle had plenty of time not only to raise his arms in celebration on the approach to the line but also to point to the sky in memory of his brother.

It sounds incredible, but I know my brother helped me,” said an emotional Houle of his younger sibling Pierrik who was killed by a hit-and-run driver a decade earlier.
He went to run in the snow and was hit and left dead by the roadside. It took me three hours to find him.”
It was my dream to win a stage of the Tour de France since he left us,” said the  Stage 16 Israeli-team winner.

From Impossible to Possible. “I never won a race, so I guess it’s the right place to win my first race,” Houle said shortly after his win of Stage 16. “I think what I achieved today can be an inspiration of what is possible.”

So while most Stage winners express absolute joy as they are received by their teams after crossing the finish line, “This one is for my brother,” Hugo Houle  could be heard saying as he was embraced by his team after the 178.5-kilometer (111-mile) leg from Carcassone to Foix,

This means a lot to me,” Houle told reporters shortly afterward, with his voice breaking as he struggled to hold back the tears.

The Tour de France is not all about racing and picturesque countryside –  it’s about human stories.

With the name of the Israel team having changed from Israel Cycling Academy to Israel Start-Up Nation and finally to Israel-Premier Tech,  there was something common in all the name-changes – the inclusion of the word ISRAEL.

I thought back to my Hilton Israel Magazine 2019 interview with the Israeli-Canadian entrepreneur and philanthropist and powerhouse behind the renaissance of cycling in Israel, Sylvan Adams. Credited for  the successful campaign to have Israel host in 2018 the Big Start of the Giro d’Italia, I recalled his words:

I intentionally insisted on ISRAEL in the name of the team – our name is part of our identity, so that sports commentators cannot avoid mentioning ‘Israel’ in their coverage of races where our riders compete. It’s strategic branding. Instead of TV viewers around the world hearing of ‘Israel’ in news reports relating mostly to political issues, they will increasingly hear it in the context of sport. We are resetting the visuals.”

Rough Riders. On gravel, Israel-Premier Tech’s Simon Clarke on Stage 5 which he wins in a photo finish.

How right he was.

I also think back to early 1990’s when Avi Ganor, a former business correspondent for Israel’s daily Haaretz, gave it all up to start a local monthly magazine called OFANAYIM (Bicycle).

Meshuga (crazy)!” my friends said. “How can you make a living out of a magazine about a sport that nobody in Israel takes seriously?”

Really? Takes seriously?

Two decades later, an Israeli team is winning stages in the Tour de France.

Israel is a country that faces endless existential challenges but always has the knack of getting – literally and figuratively – ‘back on the saddle

Hugo Houle solos to emotional TDF win

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

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 (0&EO).

‘Ruck’ & Roll

From rugby to netball, squash to tennis, the 21st Maccabiah is “rocking”

By David E. Kaplan

When cynics scoff that the Maccabi Gamesis not real sport” or

it’s not front page, back page or any page news” or even more disparaging, “Who cares?” they are wrong.

In sport parlance – “It’s on track”.

In one 24-hour period – in full view of the international media -visiting US President Joe Biden was introduced to two polarized but defining components of the Jew of the 21st century – a journey from the depths of near oblivion to Jewish national sovereignty when in the morning he visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Center and in the evening the opening of the 21st Maccabiah, commonly referred to as the “Jewish Olympics”.

Let the Games Begin. Raising his USA cap as the USA delegation marches onto the field in the Opening Ceremony at Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem, July 14, 2022, Joe Biden becomes the first USA president to make an appearance at the Maccabiah or ‘Jewish Olympics’. Joining him in jubilation are Israel’s President, Isaac Herzog (left), and Prime Minister Yair Lapid. (Ronen Zvulun/POOL/AFP via Getty Images).

When Joe met the two American Holocaust survivors at Yad Vashem, he was meeting not only  Giselle Cycowicz and Rena Quint but a stark reminder that only a few years before the State of Israel was born in 1948, Jews  were lining up to be mass murdered while much of the world stood by and yawned. At same day’s end, as the golden summer sun’s rays settled over the sublime skyline of Jerusalem, the American President waved as Jewish athletes – over 10,000 from 80 countries including the USA, the largest overseas delegation – marched  proudly onto the field at Teddy Stadium for the 2022 21st Maccabiah. These athletes were the living embodiment of “Muscular Zionism”, the concept conceived by Max Nordau who sowed the seeds for a “Jewish Olympics” when at the Second Zionist Congress in Basel in 1898, he spoke about forging a new Jew – far removed from the stereotype Ghetto image – who would be strong in appearance and resolute in spirit.

Moving Meeting. Giving both women and hug and kiss on the cheek, President Joe Biden speaks with Holocaust survivors Giselle Cycowicz (r) and Rena Quint in the Hall of Remembrance during a visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem on July 13, 2022. Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Image.

While the concept of “Muscular Zionism” was born, it took a further three decades before the first Maccabiah opened in 1932 in Tel Aviv with a colourful parade through the streets of Tel Aviv led by Mayor Meir Dizengoff riding his iconic white horse.

That triumphant march in what was nicknamed the “White Horse Olympics” would culminate in 1950, the first Maccabiah held in a sovereign State of Israel. Edna Kaplan who I interviewed  some years ago was a participant in the South African delegation that year.

Rose among the Thorns. Edna Kaplan (centre) was the only woman in the South African running squad at the 1950 Maccabiah.

I was the rose amongst the thorns,” she said chuckling. “I was not the only woman in the South African athletic squad, I was the only woman in the entire delegation.” A sprinter, Edna described the conditions of the rough track, with Tel Aviv’s Reading Power Station in the background. In keeping with the family’s sporting tradition, her daughter Janine, literallyran’ in her mother’s footsteps, participating in the1973 Maccabiah also as a sprinter.  Janine was then part of the Rhodesian (later Zimbabwe) delegation. Such an impression did it make, that within six months, she immigrated to Israel.

This has frequently proved the impact of the Maccabiah.

Running for Gold. In the first post-WWII Maccabiah in 1950, South African Edna Kaplan competes in the Woman’s 100m at Reading in Tel Aviv.

A South African ‘Israel Prize’ recipient, Dr. Ian Froman – the driving force behind the Israel Tennis Centers – credits representing South Africa at the 1961 Maccabi Games in tennis – having competed in the men’s singles at Wimbledon in 1955 – leading to him to making Aliyah (immigrating to Israel) shortly thereafter. As a young graduate in dentistry “I fell in love with Israel” and then got his teeth into tennis instead of dentistry!


How important is the Maccabiah today?” was a question I put to veteran Israeli squash player Stanley Milliner originally from Cape Town. A multiple Maccabiah medal recipient over five Maccabi Games – including gold – Stanley says that “While there is a lot of feeling in Israel that the Maccabi Games has passed its time,” he disagrees. “It brings together Jews from all over the world. What’s more, it bring them together IN ISRAEL. This remains so important today as it affirms the centrality of Israel to global Jewish life in such a warm and entertaining way.  There is nothing like sport to achieve this. It creates this feeling of ‘mishpocha’ – of getting together for a ’family affair’.”

Super Siblings. Holders of multiple Maccabi Games medals, including gold, former South Africans Stanley Milliner for squash and sister Jillian Milliner for tennis will be again proudly competing for Israel

Stanley elaborates that this feeling was all-pervasive at the opening ceremony attended by Biden, “who we knew was there but we did not see.” Says Stanley:

 “You have never seen these people before  from all over the world, speaking different languages  and yet you feel you have known them all your life. This is what I mean – like long-last family coming together.”

What was interesting, continues Stanley:

 “was that for some of the Israelis in squash who had never before participated in a Maccabiah, it was a new experience for them. For the first time they realized that they were part of a huge Jewish global experince. “

Staying within ‘the family’ is Stanley’s sister, Jillian Milliner who has also participated in five Maccabiah and is a three time Israeli gold medalist in tennis. Now playing in the 65-plus age category, I caught up with Jillian following her hard-fought victory against a  Chilean in the soaring heat. She collapsed and required treatment from the para-medics, “but only after I won the match in a tie-breaker!

Striving for gold both in singles and doubles, Jillian is “so proud to be again representing Israel. For me it’s very meaningful. I was speaking with someone from the US delegation that said it was the largest US delegation in history – over 1,600 athletes and this is in the age of Covid.  They so much wanted to come, to be in Israel. This is the spirit of the Maccabiah. Despite the cynics and those who want to denigrate and pull Israel down, the Jewish world with Israel at the core is thriving.” While looking for gold on a personal level, “for the Jewish world,” says Jillian, “this is our Golden Age.”


Manning the kiosk at the Maccabiah Netball venue in Ra’anana was  Carol Levin, Treasurer of Netball in Israel, Carol was not exaggerating when she said:

 “This place is rocking.”

I had not yet stepped into the hall but could hear the high pitch screaming. Then entering, I was met by a kaleidoscope of colour and a cacophony of cheering supporters. I understood this is what Carol meant when she said only minutes before:

 “What a VIBE!”

This “vibe” represents netball’s popularity at the Maccabiah and in Israel which has come a long way since its founder, Jodi Careira,  arrived in Israel over 25 years earlier with her family “and a netball that I got for my Bat Mitzvah. My friend Yoni Weil called me and said let’s go play outside and here we are at the Maccabiah, with Israel competing with top teams from all over the world.  Who knew then, what would be today?”

Who would indeed!

Golden Girl. Prime mover for netball in Israel,  gold medalist Jodi Carrera at a rugby match at a previous Maccabiah.


It was a treat watching – or ‘experiencing’ – the rugby at Wingate.

Irrespective of who was playing or the scores, it was refreshing for Israelis who instead of arguing over divisive issues plutzing the nation, could plutz instead over the decisions of rucks, mauls, scrums and lineouts – “important stuff”. After all,  the ref couldn’t see what us experts were seeing in the stands enhanced in our observation skills by copious tall glasses of  frothing beer from the pub that was doing a roaring trade!

Having a Field Day. South Africa beats Israel in a round robin match on the 15 July 2022 at Wingate. (Photo D.E. Kaplan)

Sitting in the stands at the semi-finals, I noted with the banners, giant flags and national team T-shits there was always the Magen David – Star of David –  reflecting the ultimate victor – the Jewish people.

Following  the first Friday afternoon’s packed match between South Africa and Israel, everyone shook hands – nothing to do with the rugby. Spectators from across the world were wishing each other “Good Shabbos”.

Cruising while Watching the Bruising. Supporting Israel – as well as the local pub – at the rugby at Wingate are former South Africans (l-r) Leigh Freedman, Barry Kornel and Phillip Levy.

Beyond the sights and sounds, the message of the Maccabiah is clearly – A Jewish world divided by geography is united by history.

I only hope, Max Nordau is a “spectator” watching and smiling from above.

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 (0&EO).


Tapping into famed Israeli poet and musician, Nancy Pelosi’s recitation of lyrics struck the right note

By David E. Kaplan

They say Israeli food in New York has never been hotter!

This is tantalizingly reflected in the ever increasing number of restaurants owned or run by Israelis with such alluring names from ‘Operation Falafel’ conjuring up the image of a culinary Middle East offensive on the palette to the mouthful ‘Balaboosta’, a term of endearment in Yiddish, which means “perfect homemaker” suggesting someone who loves to bring family together by cooking. However, the smorgasbord of delicious delights from Israel does not end at its cuisine, for Israeli culture has an endearing irresistible resonance that permeates American life and even its politics. This was spectacularly illustrated this week by none other than the United States House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who in an emotional response to a controversial Supreme Court ruling rolling back reproductive rights in the United States by half a century, recited a poem by the celebrated Israeli lyrist and poet, Ehud Manor (1941-2005).

My country changed her face”. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi reacts to the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington, June 24, 2022. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

At a pivotal disturbing moment in America’s history where the leading country in the world is shown to be as “never-so-divided  since the Civil War”, one would think there was no shortage of fine words to recite from an American poet that would capture a frustrated people’s torment. None quite cut it for the Speaker because America’s leading Democrat in the House – while directing the cataclysmic cause for America’s backward somersault into the past on former president Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the Senate for a decision that gives American women in 2022 “less freedom than their mothers”, Pelosi found solace in the words of an Israeli.

From Capitol Hill to Israel’s Capital. As part of a Congressional delegation to the country, Nancy Pelosi at the Knesset in February 16, 2022 where she reiterated her country’s “iron clad” support for Israel’s security. (photo: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

With this divided America facing an uncertain future over the Supreme Court overturn of Roe v. Wade, a downhearted and dispirited looking Pelosi walked to the podium at the press conference at the Capital and recited Ehud Manor’s poem:

I Have No Other Land” (“Ein Li Eretz Aheret” in Hebrew)

The words that were heard by American ears – her intended audience – were heard too in Israel whose citizens are however more familiar with the words in Hebrew.

She recited:

I have no other country

though my land is burning

Only a word in Hebrew

penetrates my veins and my soul –

with an aching body and with a hungry heart.

Here is my home

I will not be silent,

for my country has changed her face

For Pelosi, her country has indeed “changed her face” as Americans have been heard saying, “We have awoken to a new America”, and not an America they feel comfortable with.

Poignant Postage. A 2009 Israeli stamp commemorating Ehud Manor. (Photo: public domain)

Emotionally distraught throughout the recitation of Manor’s poem, Pelosi felt compelled to repeat which might have been for her the most compelling line “my country has changed her face” and were in not for who she was – and where she was – one sensed she could have gone on repeating that line over and over again like a stuck gramophone needle so shocked and shaken was she.

Her fighting spirit to ‘march on’ returns when she concluded with Manor’s final line:

I shall not give up on her. I will remind her and sing into her ears until she opens her eyes”.

 The poem having ended, Pelosi laments:

Clearly, we hope the Supreme Court will open its eyes

With a conservative 6-3 majority of the judges this is unlikely to happen and with multiple states, including Texas, Missouri, Kentucky and Tennessee where abortion will now be illegal under all circumstances – including in cases of rape and incest, there is little wonder that a protest movement is mobilising with its voice heard loud and clear as well as in Israel.

On Tuesday evening, 28 June, over a 100 people gathered in Habima Square in Tel Aviv to protest the US Supreme Court overturning of Roe v. Wade. Filling the square were loud chants of carefully crafted wording such as:

Pro-life that’s a lie,

you don’t care if women die

A young 8th grader with family and friends in Texas – one of the states where abortion will be banned without exception, even in instances of rape or incest – was Rut, holding a sign that said, “Women just want to have fundamental human rights”. Devastated, she told  The Jerusalem Post that she decided to attend the protest for more than one reason.

I’m really young, and I already have friends who have gone through incredibly hard things. I think it’s incredibly important that we have rights over our own bodies. I spent three years in the US. I go there every summer. It’s extremely important to me to be here today.”

Sign of the Times. Rachel and Michael, two protestors holding signs during a pro-choice protest in Tel Aviv, Israel, June 28, 2022 (Photo Simcha Pasko/i24NEWS)

Not everyone at the protest was born in the US or even had a personal connection to the country like Rut. While many expressed feelings of solidarity with the women in the US who have had their access to reproductive healthcare revoked, others shared fears that their own rights would be taken next, that the ‘infection’ that has inflicted the US could spread like an all-to-familiar pandemic.

Is this another Covid coming our way?” was the prevailing sense of fear.

This fear was emphatically conveyed to The Jerusalem Post by a protestor who requested to remain anonymous. Having no connection whatsoever to any family or friends in the US,  she said that the overturning of Roe v. Wade indicated:

 “worse things to come for women everywhere, not just in the US.” She went on, “…. It doesn’t make a difference where in the world it’s happening – a woman is a woman is a woman. It can happen to all of us.”

Redirecting ‘Aim’. A woman holding a sign reading “Pro-life would be regulating, not this,” with a picture of a gun and a uterus at a pro-choice protest in Tel Aviv, Israel, June 28, 2022. (photo Simcha Pasko/i24NEWS)

This was not the first time that Pelosi had responded to worldwide events through poetry or even the first time she has cited this particular Israeli poem by Ehud Manor – “I Have No Other Country”.

Awarded in 1998 the Israel Prize, the country’s highest cultural honor for his contributions to Israeli music, Manor remains an icon in Israel. Why his songs remain ever so popular, his widow Ofra Fuchs, whom Pelosi has met on her visits to Israel, explains:

 “the perfect language, which sounds contemporary to this day. That is why young singers keep performing his songs, and that means that Ehud is still alive. He had the ability to create perfect harmony between the words and the music.”

Lasting Legacy. Considered to have been Israel’s most prolific lyricist of all time, having written or translated over 1,000 songs Ehud Manor with his wife Ofra Fuchs.

May the day soon dawn when Nancy Pelosi might find cause to recite another of Manor’s poems In the Year to Come  (BASHANAH HABA’AH), where the refrain reads:

Just you wait and you’ll see
How much good there will be
In the year, that’s to come, that’s to come

Clearly, major battles will have to proceed before!

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 (0&EO).

Can women across the world move freely in their cities?

A British study says no – an Israeli app now says yes

By Diana Grosz

Most people would say that life today is far safer compared to previous centuries. International agreements and treaties protect us from wars; innovative medicine saves millions of lives from diseases, and local and international laws provide security and a feeling of safety on the streets in a majority of Western countries.

However, despite these monumental developments, half the world’s population is not truly protected – even in highly developed states!

Even though politicians and the media constantly talk about equal rights of all citizens and the growing success in the fight against gender inequality in recent years, feeling safe and secure is still a privilege reserved mostly for men.

According to a research in 2019 bythe British international Internet-based market research and data analytics firm, YouGov, around half of all women feel unsafe in various routine situations. Men however, in the same context, feel relatively secure and safe.

50% of women say they always or often feel unsafe walking alone at night.

The insecurity and awareness of women in this study are related to them moving from one place to another; whether it’s a walk from work to their home or traveling to another country. For instance, the average man is able to easily travel by hitch-hiking, while among women this practice is considered high-risk. Such an evident polarity in opportunities leads to thoughts about the difference in men’s and women’s freedom, which are in the end validated and maintained by our own societies.

The situation seems even grimmer after realizing that the surveys from 2007 have very similar data as the same surveys from 2019, and the data hasn’t significantly changed during the last twelve years.

For instance, 62% of women that had to go out at night were afraid to go alone, and 66% of interviewed women were afraid to go through certain neighbourhoods.

Women are as insecure while using public transport, walking in the park, or going out alone as they were more than ten years ago. This is according to the data provided in 2007 by Stéphanie Condon, Marylène Lieber, Florence Maillochon in their research entitled:


understanding women’s fears’ .

From the data, it appears that society is indifferent to the problem of women’s safety and hence makes little effort – if at all – to effect change. The statistics reveal that women’s freedom of movement is constantly violated and somehow it has become the norm, sadly even for women themselves.

As a consequence, women might not even try to move freely anymore, their mindset programmed to accepting this ‘reality’ as a normal part of life.

Regrettably, this constant sense of danger leads women, instead of availing themselves of various creative methods to protect themselves to instead succumb to their feared situation and restrict their lifestyle accordingly.

Six in ten women – fearing a sexual assault or street harassment – will avoid walking in certain areas or walking alone preferring instead to travel in their own vehicle or take a taxi.

Most women say they regularly take steps to avoid being sexually assaulted.

The point therefore is that women adapt their routines and daily activities to meet safety considerations, when safety should not even be an issue.

What do women need to do to feel and be safe?

The evident obstruction of women’s rights and freedom due to safety concerns has challenged people towards creating solutions to protect women in potentially dangerous situations.  The market already offers women and girls access to self-defense tools and techniques that might be useful for particular live situations.

On such is the Israeli app SafeUP, a social network for women that allows them to help each other in real time to feel safer and prevent incidents of harassment and sexual assault.

For those 50% of women who feel safer when accompanied, SafeUP is the perfect and simple solution to their day-to-day worries.

No neighbourhood will ever be too scary or dark when knowing that a community near you will have your back.  Just pull out your phone and within seconds our SafeUP guardians will be with you.

It was an incident as a girl that sowed the seed for 30-year-old Israeli Neta Schreiber Gamliel to made her first steps in the hi-tech world and cofound  SafeUP. The start-up’s CEO explains:

I went out with some friends to a party at the villa, when one of my friends disappeared from us. We went to look for her and after a few minutes we found her in one of the rooms with two men, half naked, half conscious. When they entered the room, the men ran away and we realized that we had saved her life. From that moment on, we created a system of internal laws between our friend group that was designed to protect each other.”

Co-Founder and CEO of SafeUP, Neta Schreiber Gamliel.

A decade and a half later, this event ignited the creation of SafeUP, which she launched with her partner Tal Zohar together with the Tel Aviv Municipality. Within three months, they had reached 11,000 users and six local authorities paying for the service. Breaking into the US market, the Israeli duo have created communities of female guardians in Boston, New York and Washington that protects women walking alone at night.


But these solutions are for real-time situations. It is still imperative to change society and its vision on women’s safety. We should all be able to comprehend that actions such as catcalling, whistling, unwanted sexual comments, unwelcome sexual touching, or following girls as an attempt to demonstrate interest, joke or to get her phone number is not acceptable. 

Any of these inappropriate behaviours that are usually perpetrated by men, even if they think it’s funny or not, are the main reason why women do not feel safe while out on their own.

However, until the process of educating people on gender violence, its roots and how we can solve it,  women must have the right and opportunity to create communities and safe spaces in which they can share their experiences and perspectives on the subject. The idea of creating empathic and trustworthy communities, where its members could assist each other in dealing with difficult and even harmful situations – is one of the main goals of SafeUP.

We are trying to not only provide women with a useful and secure app but also to show them how important and meaningful the power of community can be. By joining SafeUP,  women are provided the means to connect with women willing to help and support them, and the chance to be the ones who provide this support and help.

Only by combining powers and aspirations to protect our right to feeling confident regardless of whether we are walking at night, during the day, wearing a mini or maxi dress, can women begin to change the reality we live in.

The greater our numbers, the greater our power. By joining SafeUP and becoming a guardian, you can easily take an active role in helping women feel safer wherever they are going.

Join a global solidarity of women, to belong, be free and be safe together

About the writer:

Diana Grosz  is a history teacher, Middle Eastern specialist, and a women’s rights advocate. Diana’s mission is to raise awareness about women’s issues and promote equality. She started her journey in South America and later immigrated to pursue her passion of helping women in the Middle East.

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 (0&EO).