“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.

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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

 

Clash Of Cultures To Cultural Understandings

Ultra-Orthodox Bnei Brak Meets Unorthodox Aviv Geffen

By David E. Kaplan

Addressing the plight to the entertainment industry caused by Corona, Israeli filmmaker Avi Nesher (“The Other Story,” “Past Life”) asserts:

Culture is not a luxury, but a global strategic asset.”

How true it has been revealed during these months of Covid-19.  People may have been physically ‘confined’ but not their minds – nor their senses. And this is partly thanks to our entertaining artists who have been finding ways to entertain us in our living rooms; as if we were sitting amongst a live audience in an auditorium, open air park or amphitheatre.

Aviv Geffen in an acoustic performance – Shuni Amphitheater – 07 April 2020

For some, it has also brought new understanding on issues of what is important in life and understanding the “other”!

In a touching and at times emotional interview with Dana Weiss on Israel’s Channel 12, Israeli rock musician, singer, songwriter, producer, keyboardist, guitarist and proudly secular, Aviv Geffen, laid himself bare before the Israeli public.

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Face The Music. Seen here at the EMI, the Israel Artists Association, lifetime achievement awards ceremony in 2016, Israeli singer Aviv Geffen has never shied away from taking on the establishment. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

To the question as what lessons Corona taught him, the artist responded with new-found humility that “I was a pig! I always went for the label or brand, whether to buy the tomato from Spain or the Louis Vuitton bag; it was disgusting, and then came the Corona and said, “Friends here I am, good night and goodbye”.”

“So that’s it;  you are ready to discard all that was so important to you?”  asks a surprised Dana.

Yes,” answers Aviv. “I have outside a luxury car that I stupidly bought; I’ll also sell it because it completely embarrasses me now”.

“What,  suddenly everything was foolish, and your life is all about vanity?”

The brands yes; I think the world has positively opened its eyes.”

For Geffen, yesterdays prized possessions are today irrelevant. This has been the first lesson of Corona. More were to be revealed.

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Rebel With A Cause. Geffen hit the Israeli scene in 1990 and became known for Goth-like makeup, a Mick Jagger-like snarl and being an outspoken peace activist.

Geffen then relates about performing ALONE at the old amphitheatre in Shuni near Binyamina. Yes, it was a LIVE performance but there was no audience, at least not in front of him. His audience were all at home watching on TV. They could see him; he could not see them!

I had not prepared what I would say,” he told Weiss, and then the thought came to him about what was most dominating the news – the ultra-religious community in Israel; how they were suffering more than most with Corona. How they were experiencing the most cases diagnosed and the most deaths and then being blamed because of their beliefs. As if they deserved it!

The media was full of it; being battered by the disease and then by the media. The worse hit of the ultra-orthodox communities were the citizens of Bnei Brak who had been “fenced off” like in a “ghetto” with roadblocks at all entrance points.

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Under Scrutiny. An Israeli police officer speaks to a strictly Orthodox student in Bnei Brak. Not since Corona has the lifestyle of the ultra-Orthodox in Israel come under such scrutiny in the media. (Photo: JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Suffering And Stigmatised

These were the thoughts that percolated in the rock musician’s mind between performing his numbers when he appealed, to let them be; to leave them alone. Suffering enough, they did not need to be subjected to public ridicule and rebuke.

Explaining to interviewer Dana Weiss:

I said, “leave Bnei Brak alone. They are not guilty; they believe in God; I believe in Google.”

Laying bare the cultural chasm, Geffen might have thought that was the end of the matter until he finished the show. Suddenly:

 “I leave the stage and I see on my telephone, without exaggeration, 420 messages. I start opening them, scrolling, and learn that someone had given my number to all of Bnei Brak. And I cried. I could not leave the empty amphitheatre. The love, the division in the nation, suddenly everything came together. The love I received came from people I had denigrated since I was nineteen and now responded with love and tears. ‘Thank you so much Aviv for thinking of us,’ I read.” I was sitting on the stairs, the amphitheatre was empty, and I was reading the messages and crying. At four in the morning, the theatre staff got me up and told me: ‘Go home.'”

Relating this in the studio, Aviv again breaks into tears, soliciting from the interviewer:

“Wait a minute; you cried why? Because you feel guilty of what you once thought of this community or about the sudden love you discovered from them? Do you really know why you cried and why you are crying again?”

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Up Close And Personal. A tearful Aviv Geffen relates in interview on Channel 12 how moved he was to the online personal messages he received from the ultra-Orthodox citizens of Bnei Brak.

Aviv does not hide the fact that artists by nature are egoists. They feed off the audience; they need that reassurance, that affirmation. However, all this is denied by Corona because there is no real audience only a virtual one. “And then suddenly, I receive these hundreds of messages from Bnei Brak” that were genuinely moved by his words and  the song  Kotzim (‘Thorns’) that he had dedicated to the ultra-Orthodox community in Israel. (See the words in English at the end of the article).

Trying to make sense of it all to the bewildered interviewer, Geffen continues:

 “I cried because of all those years we learned how to hate the other – the religious and the secular. ‘He’s religious, he’s secular.’ I, too, was a soldier in this game. Suddenly I saw the other. You ask: So how did the corona change me? Just like this: I learned to respect. A flame of love, simply amazing, was lit. I cannot even describe it in words, only in tears.”

Still not completely satisfied with this answer, Dana Weiss persists in her enquiry:

So what! Are you thinking that your attitude back then about the ultra-Orthodox was a crime or a sin? Is this what brought on the tears?”

Geffen answers emphatically and an admission:

No, not at all. It was because for the first time I saw them.”

Hope For The Future

Aviv Geffen’s next appearance would again be before a live audience but this time not in front of their TV’s but on Tel Aviv beachfront at the Charles Clore Park. The concert on the 21st May was the biggest gathering since the Corona virus struck Israel.

Most appropriate for Corona, Geffen broke into “The Hope Song” an iconic hit he wrote following the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin that is often compared as Israeli version of John Lennon’s “Imagine”.

Let’s go dream,
Without race and nationality.
Let’s try.
Until it’s good,
Until it is.

We’ll bury the guns,
And not the children.
Let’s try.
Until it’s good,
Until it is.

Let’s go dream,
Without race and nationality.
Let’s try.
Until it’s good,
Until it is.

We’ll bury the guns,
And not the children.
Let’s try.
Until it’s good,
Until it is.

We will conquer peace,
And not the territories.
Let’s try.
Until it’s good,
Until it is.

To eternal freedom,
To my children.
Let’s try.
Until it’s good,
Until it is …

Until it is …

(The Hope song- Aviv Geffen & Shahin Najafi – 06:30min)

Geffen’s peace hymn was all the more powerful and poignant; when partnering him on-stage before an audience of 6000 was exiled Iranian artist Shahin Najafi. What is more, they sang in Farsi – the language of Israel’s archenemy Iran  – and in Hebrew.

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Language Of Love. Iranian Shahin Najafi (right), and Israeli Aviv Geffen (left) rehearse in Tel Aviv. Geffen and Najafi say their Hebrew-Farsi fusion offers hope in a volatile region. (AP Photo/Dan Balilty)

The pair showed that despite the bitter enmity between their countries, ordinary people can find common ground.

From the ultra-Orthodox to Iran, Corona was providing a platform for revealing “common ground” and giving credence to Avi Nesher’s astute assertion that:

Culture is not a luxury, but a global strategic asset

Thorns -קוצים (Kotzim)

(English translation)

Thorns are all that is left of me

The flowers you have given me have died by now

Ways I have walked in

I am now retracing my steps

After not finding that which I have searched for

Everyone can dream

Paper boats in water

I just wanted to sail as far as I could

I am a man from nowhere

Just searching for a reason to breathe

Look, I have built us a house

When he was born I gave all that I didn’t have

Thorns, forcefully reminding

Not granting me forgiveness

Cutting through us and not letting go

https://lyricstranslate.com/en/kotzim-thorns.html-0

 

Jan Smuts vs Corona

A colossus against global evil – the Nazis –  how would South Africa’s WWII leader have shone today against a global disease – Covid-19?

By Philip Weyers, great-grandson of General Jan Smuts.

A few days ago, “Lay of the Land” Editor, Dave Kaplan, posed to me what I thought to be an interesting question:

“How would a Jan Smuts’ government have dealt with the Corona crisis?”

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Professor Frederic William Maitland (© National Portrait Gallery, London)

Before being a Soldier-Statesman, my grandfather was a brilliant scholar. While one of his tutors,  Professor Frederic William Maitland – regarded as the modern father of English legal history – said of Smuts “the most brilliant student” he had ever met,  Lord Todd, the Master  of Christ’s College, said that “in 500 years of the College’s history, of all its members, past and present, three had been truly outstanding – John MiltonCharles Darwin and Jan Smuts.”

While offered by his old Cambridge college, Christ’s College, a fellowship in Law, he declined, choosing instead to return to the Cape Colony, determined to make his future there. He sure did!

Apart from leading his country inspirationally through WWII, Smuts contributed substantially to the creation of both the League of Nations and the United Nations – writing the preface to the U.N. Charter. Participating in so many milestone happenings of the 20th century, it should come as little surprise  that the only person to have signed the charters of both the League of Nations and the United Nations was General Jan Christiaan Smuts. Sadly, Smuts’ United Party lost the election in 1948 to the Nationalist Party of D.F. Malan that introduced Apartheid  – system of institutionalised racial segregation – that existed to the early 1990s.

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Mobilising People Support. Smuts won the South African vote to join the war against the Nazis.

Of course with Smuts gone for nearly 70 years any attempt to answer the question relating to Corona would be purely speculative and based on our understanding of his personality and how in the past he confronted monumental challenges.

I do however believe we have sufficient evidence to create at least some credible scenarios.

Covid-19 made its presence known with people dying in droves in Wuhan, China, subsequently high percentage of deaths followed in Italy, Spain, the UK and the USA where New York City has been the worst hit.

The South African Government did react relatively swiftly applying lockdown measures with individual movement restricted to medical reasons and the purchase of essential items. Socialising of any nature was forbidden. Initially there was understanding and compliance from the vast majority of the urban population, but in the informal settlements, life continued much as usual. It is important to note that the initial lockdown included prohibitions on the sale or purchase of inter alia cars, clothing, hardware, children’s toys, stationery including puzzles and of course the two “sin” items – alcohol and tobacco products.

 

It is reasonable to believe that Jan Smuts would have reacted in much the same manner initially; he would have been attempting by best means possible to combat what was for the entire world  – a complete unknown. It is also fair to believe that Smuts would have permitted a larger component of the South African economy to remain active than was the case, under conditions to minimise the transmission of the disease.

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Two Men And A Baby. In the gardens of the British Embassy in Cairo on the 23rd August, 1942, Winston Churchill (left) and Jan Smuts fuss over Victor Lampson, the baby son of the British Ambassador. (Photo: Birmingham Mail and Pos)

After nearly five weeks of what was advised to be “Stage-5” of the lockdown, President Ramaphosa advised that their efforts had been successful in slowing down the spread of Covid-19 and that there was to be a move to “Stage-4” on 1 May. Perplexing the public – some amusingly others irritatingly – the sale of alcohol remained illegal, while tobacco products could again be purchased. Much joy and relief followed this announcement, not least of all the11 million South Africans who smoke!

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Corona Crazy. A cartoon by Zapiro in the Daily Maverick that satirizes South Africa’s policies to Corona.

Those who were missing a drink resorted either to the highly active and exorbitant black-market or started brewing their own mampoer  – South Africa’s highly intoxicating “moonshine” derived mainly from pineapple. Within days of President Ramaphosa announcing a relaxation of the sale of tobacco products, it was announced by Nkosana Dhlamini-Zuma, Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, that the matter had been re-assessed and the tobacco would remain embargoed, resulting in astonishment and much anger amongst the population.

It is at this point I believe that Jan Smuts’ path would have taken a significantly divergent course to that adopted by the South African Government, and in a number of ways.

The Great Communicator

Jan Smuts was an accomplished communicator, and believed in the value of accurate, comprehensive, and regular communications. He was a prodigious correspondent and a highly accomplished writer – in longhand – of his own speeches. It would be inconceivable that at a time of such perceived threat and uncertainty, he would not regularly appear on all media platforms, placating and reassuring the population, certainly he would not have been silent for weeks at a stretch.

We can see today from Smuts’ many speeches how his voice resonated with his audience and how he instilled confidence. This is precisely what is needed today and is surely lacking!

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General Jan Christiaan Smuts

Furthermore, it would be inconceivable to believe that a Smuts Government would not have consulted every credible source of expertise covering such essential aspects as the economy, medical (in particular epidemiologists both locally and abroad), commerce and business and modelled the regulations imposed according to guidelines that he would have gleaned from such consultations. A balance between all critical elements would have been achieved as far as possible.

Smuts would have realised from the start that trying to legislate a population into compliance, would have produced at best short-term results. He would not have been autocratic, aggressive nor condescending when dealing with the people. He would have been well aware that compliance would result from cooperation rather than legislation, particularly when the regulations would seem  – with some justification –  to be nonsensical and of little tangible value.

To achieve public compliance would invariably have involved law-enforcement but certainly no heavy-handed and unnecessary force. Violent enforcement would not have been tolerated – particularly of petty contraventions.

There can be no doubt that following the initial lockdown and greater scientific data became available offering the wisest counsel to this “mystery disease”, Smuts would have moved swiftly to get the economy back on track. It would have been clear to Smuts that without revenue, a government is restricted in its ability to control or treat the virus.

Disrespect To Disregard

Essential to gaining the people’s support and compliance is to return their lives to as normal a situation as possible. Smuts would realise that a population will only adhere to regulations while they present at least some logic and make sense even at an unsophisticated level. Nonsensical and seemingly irrelevant restrictions would enjoy a short period of compliance before the public at large despaired and disregarded them. The extended restrictions on clothing, for one, were apparently devoid of logic and benefit.

One could buy a long-sleeved shirt, but not a short-sleeved one! Ladies could buy “winter” shoes but not shoes with open toes!

Smuts would not have countenanced such nonsensical regulations believing them rather to further aggravate an already incensed population.

One can of course hypothesize almost without end how the ‘soldier-statesman’ Smuts would have mounted a campaign to counter Corona. In truth, we could never really know. I sense that a Smuts Government would not have acted very differently to the Ramaphosa government in the initial four-week period, but beyond that period, there would have been a marked divergence.

Therefore I feel confident to surmise, that under a Smuts leadership, South Africans would be in far better position than that in which we currently find ourselves.

 

 

About The Writer

PHILIP WEYERS1.jpgPhilip Weyers is Past Executive Director of General Smuts Foundation. An “Amateur historian” on Jan Smuts, the South African Air Force and the Royal Air Force, Weyers is President Emeritus of the South African Air Force Association. He is currently a member of SAAFA NEC; SAAF/SAAFA Liaison, Foreign Relations. As a “Friend of Israel” and like the “Oubaas”, a confirmed Christian Zionist, he addresses audiences in Israel and England.

 

 

 

‘Marathon Man’

From running marathons to running Israel’s medical system, Ichilov Hospital’s Prof. Ronni Gamzu is now overseeing Israel’s senior living facilities

By David E. Kaplan

While Corona grounded Israel’s traditional Independence Day flyover, it did not stop four training planes taking off and flying over the hospitals throughout the State of Israel in salute to the medical teams who  – like our soldiers in uniform – are risking their lives daily.

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Aerial Appreciation. The Israeli air force devoted its annual fly-by to health workers, with four planes crisscrossing the nation and performing aerial acrobatics over hospitals and medical centers.

From my balcony in Kfar Saba, our family watched the planes fly over nearby Meir Hospital and then two of them perform a spectacular vertical maneuver leaving a huge while trail in the sky in the shape of a giant heart.

Residents from balconies draped in the blue and white Israeli flags, clapped and cheered. Everyone knew someone affected by Corona whose lives were dependent on the men and woman to whom the pilots in these planes were paying tribute.

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Independence Day. Looking as if he had just crossed the finishing line in a marathon, CEO of Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, Ronni Gamzu, cheers with his team members the Israeli Air Force acrobatic team flying over Ichilov hospital in Tel Aviv on Israel’s 72nd Independence Day. April 29, 2020. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

One of the most vulnerable sectors of the population are our seniors and so my thoughts went out to Prof. Ronni Gamzu who I had interviewed back in 2016 for Hilton Israel Magazine and had been pleased to learn had in early April 2020 been placed in charge of the Ministry of Health’s efforts to combat the virus in homes for the elderly. In other words – to oversee senior living facilities throughout Israel.

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Tomorrow’s Man Today. Professor Ronni Gamzu in front of the Morris Kahn Research in Personalized Medicine Research Center at Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center. Sponsored by the Israeli entrepreneur and philanthropist, former South African Morris Kahn, the Centre hosts state-of-the-art research laboratories, where scientists, researchers, and doctors from diverse disciplines conduct research destined to define the future of medicine.

His appointment followed a number of coronavirus-related deaths in homes for the elderly followed by a public outcry and a High Court petition to which the state was required to respond. The Health Ministry responded – most notably by appointing Prof. Gamzu, the director general of Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center aka Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv, to coordinate between government departments and formulate a national plan of action.

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Exporting Expertise. With Israel frequently hosting overseas delegations keen to learn more about Israel’s unique system of Public Health, seen here is Prof. Ronni Gamzu (left) then Director-General of Israel’s Ministry of Health hosting a delegation from France, led by its Minister of Health, Marisol Touraine (right).

Within a few days, residents at senior living facilities were being tested around the country.  My thoughts went back to that interview looking at the huge heart in the sky.

On the late afternoon of our interview in 2016, this gynaecologist and obstetrician who had brought “over 1000 babies into the world,” had his own to look after – his young baby daughter, Anouk – “our first”. So instead of meeting at Ichilov Hospital, we met in a garden in Ramat Gan, within “easy running distance” to the hospital and his home – whichever emergency might summon him at any moment. The interview proceeded uninterrupted with neither a ‘cry’ from Anouk nor patients.

It was well known that back in 2016 Prof. Gamzu participated in major marathons around the world which invited my first question. His answer proved revealing – a metaphor on his approach to medicine.

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On Track. Prof. Ronni Gamzu (left) with overseas participant at  the  Tel Aviv 2016 Marathon. 

Running in the London, Paris, New York and Tel Aviv marathons, explained Gamsu “is very different than running in the Jerusalem marathon which is hilly.” The point the professor was making is that conditions and topography vary, and one must correctly read the landscape and understand its complexity to successfully negotiate “the road ahead”.

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Dream Team. Prof. Ronni Gamzu CEO of Ichilov hospital (9th from right) with hospital staff at the 2016 Tel Aviv Marathon.

Prof. Gamzu has always been focused on “the road ahead”. This would explain how he perceived early in his career, the need to be equipped with a broad and varied education that spread well beyond the discipline of medicine.

Following degrees in medicine at Ben Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and a PhD in fertility research from Tel Aviv University (TAU), I asked why he felt the need to add to his academic armory an MBA and a degree in law.

“Well, ‘armory’ is the right word,” he replied because “these degrees literally helped me to surmount loads of legalese and achieve goals that I may not have without them.”

During his earlier tenure as the Director General of the Health Ministry (2010-2014), he explained, “we made major progress in expanding the general services covered by our national health insurance. My predecessors in the Health Ministry tried for years without success – always coming up against a bureaucratic wall; not seeing a way forward. With my legal background, I found a way around it.”

“What do you mean by “a way around”?” I asked.

“The standard approach was to look to the Knesset (Israel’s Parliament) to either pass or amend legislation. This is understandable but problematic because of political coalitions and so many competing interests that, to reach consensus about extending provision for any public service, is never easy. Military matters are always easier because they are considered a national existential issue. This is not the case with social services. This is unfortunate as the issues from education to public medicine are no less existential to the wellbeing of a nation.”

So, with his legal training, “I buried myself in reading all legislation pertaining to national medical coverage and realised that we did not need to proceed through the Knesset – we could bypass it, as there were pre-existing regulations that permitted us to proceed forward. In this way, we made major breakthroughs that have dramatically changed the lives of Israeli citizens.”

Can you cite examples?

“Yes, we expanded our general health services to include mental health issues that had been limited, and dental care that had been mostly private, and prohibitively expensive. Under the new plan, family doctors started referring patients with emotional and mental problems – such as depression, phobias or panic attacks – to psychiatrists, psychologists and other therapists for treatment, without themselves writing prescriptions for psychiatric drugs, as they did before.”

With regard to extending dental services, he explained:

“Dental hygiene is no less important than other areas of personal health. Periodontal or gum disease that ranges from simple gum inflammation to serious disease that results in major damage to the soft tissue and bone that support the teeth, affects too many Israelis of all ages. It is important to treat at a young age so that teeth are not lost in early adulthood. Whether gum disease is stopped, slowed, or gets worse depends a great deal on how well people care for their teeth; this requires regular diagnosis by professionals and this is where we came in, making it affordable to those who had previously neglected their teethnot because they felt it was less important – but because they felt they could not afford going to private dentists and hygienists.”

Under the new system, Gamzu explained, “they still pay but considerably less with the result that dental health has now become affordable – not the luxury of the wealthy, but a right to all. The new system of dental cover is now more in line with the fundamental egalitarian philosophy of Israel’s founding fathers.”

Asking what specifically he meant by this, Gamzu replied, “Well Israel can be truly proud of not only its superlative cutting edge medical services but of how we provide this quality service to all our citizens at affordable costs to the recipient.

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Health Services To New Nation. Residents of a Ma’abara (transitional settlement for new immigrants) near Tel Aviv waiting in line outside a “Kupat Cholim” clinic in 1949, one year after the establishment of the State of Israel.

For this, Gamzu said “we are indebted to the founding fathers of the modern State of Israel.” Combining the traditional Jewish concern for all people with an emphasis on societal needs, “the Zionist Movement in pre-state Israel, regarded public health as a top social, political and economic priority. By the time Israel declared its independence in 1948, we already had a national health infrastructure in place.”

Gamzu cited as examples “Tipat Halav (Mother-and-child care centers) administering vaccinations to new-born babies and counseling parents on proper care for their infants, and Kupot Cholim (Health insurance funds) offering day-to-day consultations with doctors and specialists, and insured members for hospitalization.”

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Health For All. Long before the state of Israel was established in 1948, Tipat Halav (“Drop of Milk”) family health stations were established for everyone regardless of race and religion (Courtesy of Hadassah Women’s Organization).

With medical cover a challenge in any society, “and we see how it dominates debate in US elections,” I asked how will Israel sustain its special features of affordable cover to all?

“You are right; it is a challenge of our public health system and it’s a challenge that I am committed to,” answered Gamzu. “However, we have seen that even with Israel’s transformation from a socialist to a capitalist economy, some of our most cherished values remained intact because it’s part of our ethos and ingrained in our culture. As future needs arise as was the case in extending services for mental and dental health, so we need to be on guard and adhere to our founding principles.”

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Flowering Achievement. Beth Protea in Herzliya, one of the many retirement facilities across Israel where residents and staff were all tested for Coronavirus. One of its first residents was the late Rona Baram (née Moss-Morris from Durban, South Africa) when as a pioneer on kibbutz Kfar Blum, opened the first Tipat Halav (family health clinic) in Kiryat Shmona in the north of Israel in the 1940s.

“Do you think Israel can teach the world about its concept of Public Health?” I enquired.

“Sure, and we do. Israel has been a pioneer in the practice of Public Health, and we host many visitors – particularly from the developing world –  keen to learn of how Israel developed its system of Public Health. Just so we understand, while medicine treats the health needs of an individual, Public Health (also known as public or social medicine) deals with the health requirements of society as a whole and despite absorbing wave after wave of immigrations, bringing with it a host of medical challenges, Israel has one of the world’s healthiest populations with one of the highest average life expectancies in the world.”

I reflected on that 2016 interview as I gazed from my balcony on this Corona Yom Ha’atzmaut upon the giant heart in the sky over Meir Hospital and thought that despite our enormous challenges, we can be thankful for  Israel’s unique health system.

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Reunited. With Restrictions eased, 82-Year-old Malka Gamzu rubs elbows with her son Ronni.

There is a reason why Jews, when toasting, prefer to say “Le’Chaim” instead of “Cheers”.

After all, what can be more important to cheer about than “to Life”?

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Heroes In Green. Acknowledging the salute of appreciation, hospital staff wave national flags as the Israeli Air Force (IAF) fly over during Israel’s Independence day celebrations. (PIC: AFP)

MUSINGS OF A DIETICIAN IN LOCKDOWN  

 By Justine Friedman       

Daily, social media inundates us with memes and messages claiming that by the time we leave lockdown status our health status and physical bodies will be worse for wear. I constantly see pictures of what we will supposedly look like on the beach, on our couches, merely wearing a mask and gloves that fit our new bodies as no clothes in our wardrobes can cover our expanded forms.

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As a dietician and holistic coach these images concern me as it depicts quite clearly what people are emotionally experiencing. In making light of the need to throw caution to the wind and give into all kinds of physical cravings and urges when it comes to food and drinks we are falling prey to potential chronic diseases that will last longer than the corona epidemic.

It is very frustrating to be trapped indoors and not be able to do regular exercise, either due to lack of motivation or due to lack of access. I am very grateful that I have my trusty treadmill and that we are now allowed to move a distance of 500m within proximity to our home. The problem is I still need to motivate myself to utilise these avenues. In the first week or two of lockdown I found myself more motivated. But as time goes on and the full weight (excuse the pun) of this experience takes its toll, it becomes harder to stay focused and really set goals that will keep one healthy both physically and mentally.

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There is a clear relationship between sun exposure and the ability to produce hormones in the body that trigger feelings of well-being and emotional calm. Then there is the food component that either enhances or detracts from this balance that we so desperately need at this time.

I have always educated my clients on the effect that food plays in our physical and mental well-being. We literally are what we eat! When making food choices that are less processed and are preferably void of simple sugars and simple carbohydrates, our bodies respond with better energy levels and we produce higher levels of serotonin (the “happy” hormone) in the body. This follows a pattern of better thought processes and leads to our actions being less reactive and emotionally charged. The opposite is also true, by eating processed foods, high in sugars, salt and saturated fat we, in fact, produce less serotonin and as a result, our thoughts, emotions and moods jump on the roller coaster of being more irritable, reactive and causes further cravings of the foods that made us feel this way to start off with. It becomes a terrible cycle of cravings, low energy, anxiety, depression, irritability and frustration.

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Our bodies, however, are amazing vehicles that have the ability to regenerate. Just a few days of staying off foods that cause rebound cravings and mood cycles allow for a calmer and more focused state of mind. We also start to feel our energy levels improve and sleep patterns are also enhanced.

So how does one get into this mindset? How do we pull ourselves up off our couches and find the motivation to make better choices? The old adage that life is not a sprint but a marathon that must be tackled one step, or a couple of hundred meters at a time fits perfectly. We cannot look too far ahead and compare our position today with our final goal. Expecting instant results is what trips us up every time and sets the stage for failure. There are very few people who can just put their minds to it and never lose focus. Does it take effort YES, is it always easy NO! But all it takes is one day at a time and sometimes one hour at a time.

I have found that ensuring that I set a daily alarm and break the day down into sections of time helps immensely. Literally saying by a certain time such and such needs to be done clears the path for building a routine. Don’t wait for mealtime when you are hungry to start preparing food. It is moments of hunger like this that triggers impulse eating and before you know it you have made poor choices based on a body/ emotional response instead of a well thought out mind response.

Ask for help!

Today more than ever there is are an abundance of dieticians who are working online and who are medically trained to give individualised and realistic advice on meal planning and food preparation. Most people who say they never have the time to address this due to lives that are busy with work, lifts and travel are now in the best possible position to implement positive lifestyle changes that can be long lasting. It’s not always about being weighed and measured by a dietician. The relationship with a dietician goes far beyond this. One of the aspects of my work that I am most passionate about is working with a client to truly bring about positive lifestyle changes in all areas of their life not just when it comes to food choices.

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Eating sensibly for a sensible lifestyle.

Each and every one of us has the ability within the scope of our unique situation to take one step in the right direction. Don’t use the excuse that when this is over I will start (…fill in the blank…). Each day and moment that we have now is a gift (that’s why it is called the present). Believe in yourself enough to give yourself the gift of coming through this time a healthier more motivated person and your time behind closed doors would have been very well spent.

 

 

 

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

The Organ Courier

Without leaving airport terminals to avoid quarantine, Israeli volunteer organ courier travels the world saving lives

By David E. Kaplan

In every moment of darkness, it seems, there are countless moments of light. Time and again, individuals, communities and organizations have demonstrated that the direst situations tend to bring out the best in people. Literally illuminating this in the ‘Age of Corona’ is Omri Nahmias’ article in The Jerusalem Post (April 13) “The Israeli Who Never Leaves Ben-Gurion Airport”.  Well, not quite –  he does leave but mostly to other airports.

Of all the endless articles on Corona, Omri’s one resonated the most – I read it and then again three times!

While people the world over are rightly preoccupied with the health and wellbeing of themselves, a 47-year-old Israeli family man remains committed to the lives of people he does not even know. Mishel Zrian is a volunteer organ courier for awaiting recipients; whose lives are dependent on such organs arriving “on time”.

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Israeli Life Saver. Voluntary organ courier Mishel Zrian on a flight to the USA delivering bone marrow during Coronavirus pandemic (photo credit: Courtesy)

He has been volunteering for 20 years mostly transporting bone marrow to patients across the globe.

Corona now complicates the process and procedure.

When Mishel’s employer told him last month that he was about to be furloughed until the end of April because of countries’ policies of lockdown and isolation, Mishel thought about the lives at stake and decided to take his volunteering work to the next level and “do it full time.”

But with “full time” came immense complications, inconveniences and personal sacrifices like not seeing his wife and children.

Since that fateful decision, he has landed in Israel five times but never left his country’s airport in order to avoid the mandatory 14-day quarantine!

Explaining to local media, Mishel says he has an agreement with the Israel Airports Authority that he is permitted to stay at the airport lounge “until I need to get back to carry the next bone marrow delivery. Sometimes, I can land in Israel from New York at 5.00 p.m., and by 10.00pm be on a flight in the opposite direction.”

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Confronting Global Enemy. Israeli soldiers are asked upon induction to voluntarily donate bone marrow samples that could be transplanted to recipients anywhere in the world. (photo credit: courtesy Ezer Mizion)

 

This type of selfless travel during a global life-threatening pandemic is proving to be hugely challenging but does not deter the intrepid volunteer.

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Israeli “ARM”y. An army recruit has his arm out to donate bone marrow.

Something to chew on

One of the many challenges is finding the time to eat – something most folks take for granted.

For this organ courier during Corona, “It’s hard to find an open restaurant when you are traveling,” he explains. “If I’m at the airport and I see an open place, I will eat chicken at ten in the morning. Why?  Because I don’t know when the next time will be to eat.”

In the hotels, “the situation is odd as well,” he continues. “Rooms are not always clean because of different guidelines regarding staff work, and if you need a towel or shampoo, you need to go down to the reception and ask for it. I have been in hotels with no breakfast or even coffee.” It is not uncommon for Mishel, he says:

for me to travel 24 hours without eating!”

But the main challenge, he said, is getting insurance cover.

“I couldn’t find anyone who would allow me to take out an insurance policy for the US,” he said. “I am worried about the possibility that I will get sick; so I do my best to practice social distancing while traveling.”

Bracha Zisser, founder and director of Ezer Mizion Bone Marrow Donor Registry and Collection Center, told the Post that before the coronavirus outbreak, hospitals around the world used to send a courier to pick up the bone marrow.

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Ezer Mizion is an Israeli health support organization offering a wide range of medical and social support services for Israel’s sick, disabled and elderly. One of Ezer Mizion’s most important services is its world’s largest Jewish Bone Marrow Donor Registry.

But things got complicated in the past few weeks. It is hard to deliver the bone marrow and to allow couriers to enter the country. So we are now working with Royale – a courier company with whom Mishel is volunteering and with El Al – that are helping us with no cost, in full volunteering,” she said. “They understand that it is about saving lives.”

Zisser revealed that in March 2020, Ezer Mizion was able to deliver 26 bone marrow donations:

– 14 to EU countries

– 10 to the US

–   1 to Argentina

–   1 to Panama.

Mishel says that despite all the challenges, he is determined to keep traveling because he knows that his work saves lives.

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Marvelous Milestone. Omer Babi was the 1 millionth potential stem cell donor in the Ezer Mizion Bone Marrow Registry.

The hardest part is to land in Israel without seeing my family. I have a wife and two children. Fortunately, they are supporting me.”

Mishel Zrian hails from the Israeli city of Petah Tikva, which aptly translates from the Hebrew: “Opening of Hope”.

Mishel does his city proud by living up to its name.

Israeli Company Revolutionizes Protective Masks

In the vanguard of cutting-edge fiber technologies, Argaman is protecting lives

By Gina Raphael

Outside of my family and business, my entire life’s focus has been working on behalf of the State of Israel. Each year, I look forward to a summer adventure focusing on philanthropic projects and visiting friends, bringing this mission to life. Memories of my summer adventures live on through pictures on Facebook but also through lives changed and bridges built.

 As Chair of the Women’s International Zionist Organization (WIZO) in Los Angeles, I am so honored to lead an amazing movement of Chaverot working on behalf of women and families in Israel. We are proud of our Women’s Shelters, Day Care Centers, Youth Villages, after school programs focused on Ethiopian Youth and so much more. It has also been a gift to work with and build connections between elected officials in California and our City of Beverly Hills with the State of Israel.

While my love for Israel has been expressed through philanthropic and leadership opportunities, we have continually pursued ways to carry products at Mickey Fine – our small chain of pharmacies – that are made in Israel. The goal has been to bring Israel to life in our stores in Beverly Hills not just through our love of the country but by bringing unique Israeli products into our stores.  Yes, there has been the occasional skin care, gift item and food product; and of course, the Israeli pharma company Teva, through our distributor McKesson Pharmaceuticals has been critical in our ongoing inventory.

What brought us this long-sought business connection to Israel from a commercial perspective has ironically been the Covid-19 pandemic. While Teva Pharmaceuticals has been an essential part of fighting the virus with its hydroxychloroquine product, our strongest connection ever has come from a leader in the scientific break-throughs, Argaman Technologies, their amazing founder, Jeff Gabbay and their BioBlocX Reusable Face Mask. Seeking a way to better protect our family, team and community, we literally sought out Argaman to bring a fresh perspective to the traditional face mask in this most challenging of times.

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Chief Scientist and President of Argaman Technologies, inventor Jeffrey Gabbay with copper-infused cotton fibers. (photo credit: FELICE FRIEDSON/TML PHOTOS)

Originally pursuing unique materials to cure hospital infections and better deliver cancer therapies, Argaman utilized revolutionary new applications that have been modified in face masks to battle the current pandemic.  The textiles have been tested on RNA viruses like bird flu and swine flu and have been applied to the current Corona virus. The cotton fiber of the mask is infused with compounds that are bad for bacteria but benign for humans. They use ultrasonic waves that are used to attach to the fibers.

According to Jeff Gabbay, President & Chief Technology Officer of Argaman, “the virus will wane but we have to make sure while the virus slows down that we are proactive and do what we can now to protect ourselves in  the event there will be a second wave; only we don’t know when. It means acting now to avoid the disorganization and anxiety we all suffered with this wave.”

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Jeffrey Gabbay at Argaman Technologies in Jerusalem. (TML Photos)

With mandatory usage of face masks in Los Angeles and in other cities as well, finding a reusable mask that provides a super level of protection became critical. In just a few short weeks, we have placed several orders and brought face masks for local and customers across the country. With the uncertainty of the virus, the belief in mighty Israel and brilliant Argaman to protect us is comforting at every level. Building distribution of this product line has been a top priority for us at Mickey Fine with the double mitzvah of protecting people while highlighting the innovation that Israel brings to the world.

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The writer demonstrating the revolutionary Israeli mask at her pharmacy in Beverly Hills, California .

While I am optimistic that my annual summer Israel adventure to Jerusalem will take place this August to work on behalf of philanthropic projects in Israel and finally meet my new friend Jeff Gabbay, I know that the world in which we live will remain forever changed. Most likely face masks will become a standard part of what we put in our purse and take on the plane. But we are also more confident that Israel is providing us that extra protection every day in our stores and for the community.

 

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Gina Raphael and husband Jeffrey Gross at Mickey Fine, a pharmacy with a soda fountain (JNF Impact – May 2016)

Gina Raphael and her husband Jeff Gross own Mickey Fine Pharmacy & Grill (www.mickefine.com), the leading independent pharmacy chain in Beverly Hills. gina@mickeyfine.com

 

 

“The Show Must Go On”

Can’t go to concerts, then ‘Corona Concerts’ come to you as top Israeli musicians perform nightly in our living rooms

By David E. Kaplan

How accustomed are Israelis that when the chips are down, they will not be denied culture and entertainment! It’s a hallmark of the character of this country and its people. Through wars, intifadas and incessant missile attacks, the message projected is that ‘The Show Must Go On’.

It’s in our national DNA.

Over a decade before Israel emerged as a state,  culture was foremost on the minds of those navigating its destiny.

On 26 December 1936, The Palestine Orchestra – the forerunner of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO) – was born.  Its genesis coincided with The Great Arab Revolt (1936-1939) that began in April 1936 when a Jewish convoy was attacked, and two drivers killed. If frightening violence against Jews prevailed in Palestine, it was the impeding genocide of Jews in Europe that was the impetus for the formation of the IPO.

The great Polish-born Jewish violinist and musician, Bronislaw Huberman, who foresaw the Holocaust, persuaded 75 Jewish musicians from major European orchestras to immigrate to Palestine, creating what he called the “materialization of the Zionist culture in the fatherland” on the sand dunes of Tel Aviv.

Striving for excellence, Huberman invited the greatest conductor of the time, Arturo Toscanini, to conduct the opening concert, to be performed at the Levant Fair in Tel Aviv on 26 December 1936. Toscanini abandoned his renowned NBC Orchestra for several weeks “to render paternal care to the newly born…”

Having escaped the rise of Fascism in his homeland of Italy, the great Maestro said:

“I am doing this for humanity…”

That thirst of a people for music prevailed and is embedded in Israeli culture.

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Origins Of An Orchestra. Violinist Bronislaw Huberman founder of the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO) and Moshe Chelouche, Chairman of the Palestine Philharmonic – forerunner of the IPO – (centre), greets Arturo Toscanini (left) on his arrival to conduct the inaugural concert of the Israel Philharmonic orchestra in Tel Aviv on December 26, 1936. Moshe Chelouche was a descendant of the family that founded Neve Tzedek in 1887 and later Tel Aviv in 1909 and 2nd mayor of Tel-Aviv.

When in 1948, South African Dr Jack Medalie the grandfather of famed Israeli songwriter Doron Medalie volunteered to serve in Israel’s War of Independence as a doctor in the front line, he recounted how  in the thick of war, “I was surprised one day  when we were taken to a desolate place in the Negev where our soldiers sat listening to an orchestra under the baton of a young American.” The name of that “young American” was –  Leonard Bernstein, who was touring the war-ravaged country with an ensemble of 35 members of the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra performing to civilians and soldiers alike  – a grueling schedule of forty concerts in sixty days.

Conducting several Beethoven pieces, “with a gusto of physical movement the like of which I had never seen,” recorded Medalie, “it was an amazing spectacle of an orchestra playing to an appreciative brigade of soldiers behind enemy lines.”

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Bernstein In Be’er Sheva. Leonard Bernstein at a concert given with members of the Israel Philharmonic for the armed forces, Be’er Sheva, November 20, 1948.

War might be raging, but culture was no casualty.

Recovering from his surprise, it did concern Medalie that between Beethoven and Bernstein “a few enemy bombs could have destroyed most of the Palmach in the Negev.”

Bernstein would later describe that of all his experiences in the nascent Jewish state during its war for survival, “the greatest being the special concerts for soldiers. Never could you imagine so intelligent and cultured and music-loving an army!”

Has any army anywhere been so described?

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Band On The Run. Hurrying from one base to another under fire, the Palmach’s musical and entertainment troupe, ‘Chizbatron’ is seen here with Chaim Hefer, the bands founder and chief songwriter, seated center right with the piano accordion.

Maintaining high moral during that war was critical, and whose ‘VOICE’ was most prominent was polish born Chaim Hefer who joined the Palmach in 1943 and took part in smuggling illegal immigrants through Syria and Lebanon. In January 1948 he was one of the founders of the Chizbatron, the Palmach army troupe, and was its chief songwriter. Hefer and his troupe would travel to combat units in the front line -their stage often a bed of rocks, a dusty dirt road or their tour truck. With the lighting furnished by a jeep’s headlights, the sun, the moon, or simply from a bonfire, the band often performed four to five times a day, each time before a different squad and sometimes sustaining casualties when some of its members were injured as their truck hit a landmine on the way to a performance. The fact that the ‘Chizbatron’ performed in the most dangerous places during the war, contributed to raising the morale, and some even say that “the Chizbatron was a battalion in its own right.”

 

‘Golden’ Oldie

This is little doubt that one of the most iconic Israeli songs of all time is  “Jerusalem of Gold”. Written by the  “first lady of Israeli song and poetry” Naomi Shemer and released three weeks before the beginning of the Six Day War in 1967, the paratroopers who first liberated the Western Wall – then more commonly called the Wailing Wall – sang this song in triumph after the Old City’s liberation after 2000 years of “occupation”.

Written during neighbouring Jordan’s occupation when Jews could not enter the Old City and worship in their holy places, it describes the longings of the Jewish people for Jerusalem.

After the war, Shemer added the last verse and is a heart-wrenching ‘reply’ to the lamentable second verse:

“We have returned to the cisterns

To the market and the square.

The shofar calls on the Temple Mount in the Old City.

And from the caves in the rocks, a thousand suns glow again.

We will go down to the Dead Sea by way of Jericho. “

 The album “Jerusalem of Gold” was the most widely-sold album in Israel and there was hardly a home that didn’t have a copy of this record. The lyrics and tune resonated to Jews across the globe, awakening their eternal longings  – a musical affirmation of a people’s desire to survive and strive.

Maestro Mehta

Another “Classical”  illumination was revealed to me in an exclusive interview in 2016 with former IPO lifetime director and conductor Zubin Mehta who regaled on his solidarity concerts in Israel during the First Gulf War (1990-1991) when he, and violinist Isaac Stern, were presented with gas marks  “just in case.”

“We never needed them,” he said, “and we only performed during the day, as the scuds were mainly at night when the country was in total darkness.” However, what fascinated the Maestro was  “the grit of Israeli audiences. People were rightly worried of scuds landing anywhere in the country with possible chemicals,  and here we were, the Israeli Philharmonic, performing to packed  audiences. Israelis were undeterred – they wanted to hear the music they loved.”

Deafening alarm sounded in the hall, disrupting Mozart’s Concerto No. 3 for violin and orchestra. The orchestra players went offstage to wear their masks, and Stern stepped off the stage, too, wanting to continue with the concert, but it was impossible to continue playing the concerto while the musicians wore masks. He decided to play the Adagio from Bach’s Sonata Violin No. 1 in Bach Minor, with the alarm still wailing in the background, and the audience stood up and burst into applause, which was accompanied by a siren. Stern wore no mask.

 Play On

Fast forward to 2002 and in the midst of the Second Intifada, when people avoided public places due to random suicide bombings on busses, bus stops, malls, clubs and restaurants, the South African Zionist Organisation in Israel – Telfed – organized a solidarity concert at Yad Lebanim Auditorium in Kfar Saba, aptly titled – “The Show Must Go On”.  Actors, musicians, dancers and singers from all over the country  – including a dance troupe from Eilat – performed and while it was feared, “no one will come, people are scared to go out at night”, the auditorium of over 800 seats was a sellout.

The people’s spirit of solidarity through culture prevailed, and snippets of that show can be enjoyed by logging below (As the movie begins on YouTube halfway, you will need to ‘rewind’ to the beginning):

Corona Concerts

Clearly, come hell or high water, Israelis from the past to the present, love their music, so no sooner had the government introduced regulations limiting gatherings due to concerns about the spread of the novel coronavirus – including the cancellation of all cultural events until further notice –  many of Israel’s top performers signed up  to entertain Israel’s populace  stuck at home.

Writing in The Jerusalem Post,  Hannah Brown  expressed that “The missile barrages last November that drove residents of the south into shelters were a good dress rehearsal for the current health crisis. In that case, musicians went to the shelters and played for small audiences. But this time, even small numbers of spectators are not permitted, so the musicians are performing in empty auditoriums” and televised to the nation. Some of the musicians are performing in their own homes, like last Monday night’s concert in the garden of Omer Adam, whose music fuses elements of eastern “Mizrahi” and Western pop instrumentation.

Israel’s  2020 own “The Show Must Go On” series, kicked its first concert on a Saturday  night in March with Idan Raichel, one of the most well-known  Israeli artists abroad.

The diverse group of performers  appearing on Israel’s Channel 12 includes Harel Skaat, Amir Dadon, Maor Cohen, Asaf Amdursky, Dudu Aharon, Danny Robas, Knessiat Hasechel, Netta Barzilai, Marina Maximillian Blumin, Monica Sex, Natan Goshen, Idan Habib, Miki Gavrielov, Elai Botner, Amir Benyun, Kobi Aflalo, Karolina, Keren Peles, Shiri Maymon, Rami Kleinstein, Shuli Rand, the Shalva Band, Shimon Buskila and more.

Golan Einat, owner of the Zappa Group that is cosponsoring the ‘Corona Series’ together with Keshet, said: “In these difficult days, it is a great privilege for us to try to bring Zappa’s live performances directly into the homes of hundreds of thousands of people in Israel.”

And now all of you who might have missed these extraordinary concerts, can ENJOY at your leisure at home by linking onto the various performing artists below:

Omer Adam

Idan Reichel

Harel Skaat

Amir Dadon

Knessiat Hasechel

Danny Robas

Marina Maximillian Blumin

Nasrin

Ran Danker

Idan Habib

Elai Botner

Amir Benyun

Kobi Aflalo

Itay Levy

Keren Peles

Shiri Maymon

Rami Kleinstien

Shalva Band with Kobi Marimi

Shlomi Shabbat

Rotem Cohen

Liran Danino

Beit HaBubot (Dolls House)

Muki & DJ Jello

Roni Dalumi

The Revivo Project

 

Staying Healthy During Corona Crisis

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

By Lionel H. Phillips

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Bone Marrow and Leukocytes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Many Reasons to Drink Water Regularly Every Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

  9. Prevents Bad Breath and a Dry Mouth.

The percentage of Water in your various body parts are –

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

There are three stages of the attack of a virus:

First stage

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

Second stage

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

Third stage

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

How does it Transmit?

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

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

 

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

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

The main parts of the immune system are:

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

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

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

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

 Best wishes to all – Stay Safe.

Lionel H. Phillips D.O.

 

About the Author:

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

Exercise and Stretching Routines