Sunday, October 21, 2007

Strikes...a National Reality

It seems that someone, somewhere, somehow, is always on strike in Israel. Some strikes last for a long time, some for a short time. Some are prevented before they begin, others seem never to end.

Last year, I don't remember how many school strikes there were, but the universities were on an extended strike for many weeks, leaving students having to attend classes and takes tests long into the summer break.

This year, as September rolled around, the teachers in the Secondary Schools made their annual threat to strike, the university professors threatened to strike, the airport workers has a slowdown in anticipation of a strike and...all around, no one know what was going to happen.

The school year started - kids went to school...and then the secondary school teachers went out. They've been out for over a week now - and today, when the universities were about to begin, the professors announced that they too would be striking.

So, what makes this year's strikes different than in the past? Well, now there's a Yahoo group being started - communication in the 21st century!

Here's some information about the group - if you are a teacher, parent, or student (and who isn't?) - you might want to join and get the latest information. From their website ( :

This forum has been created for all parents, teachers and children affected by the school strike in Israel.The strike at high schools and some junior high schools has entered its second week with rhetoric heating up as teachers and parents plan rallies and government officials claim the educators are refusing to negotiate.

"We're going to keep on as long as it takes, and we'll succeed," a Secondary School Teachers Organization representative said ahead of Monday night's demonstration at the Tel Aviv Museum.

Secondary School Teachers Organization officials said the government had backed down on threats to turn to the labor courts to stop the strike, and that the strike would not be broken through legal action.

Various parties continued to call on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to personally intervene to end the stalemate between the Secondary School Teachers Organization and the Finance Ministry.

"Education, even after the [Second] Lebanon War, is no less important than security," said former National Security Council chairman and Tafnit Party founder.

This forum will serve to provide the latest information regarding the school strike in Israel, where rallies and demonstrations are planned and where teachers may provide information regarding private classes for their students.

Teachers in Israel deserve an honest, fair, just and respected wage for their professionalism and full time dedication. Our children deserve a quality educational

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Israeli research and brain power!

Let's hear it for the amazing researchers at Israel's Technion University - they have discovered some amazingly wonderful side effects of having a nice relaxing cup of tea!


Researchers at the Technion Institute of Science in Haifa have shown that feeding green tea extract to mice with Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease protects brain cells from dying, and helps 'rescue' already damaged neurons in the brain. Numerous studies around the world have suggested that drinking green tea may help support the brain as people get older. But now comes evidence that it can actually repair brain cells!

Tea consumption is inversely correlated with the incidence of dementia, Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease, which may help to explain why there are significantly lower incidence rates of age-related neurological disorders among Asians than in Europeans or Americans.

But, according to Dr. Silvia Mandel of the Technion's Eve Topf Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, the study she led was one of the first to show how the main antioxidant polyphenol of green tea extract, EGCG, actually works when it gets access into the brain. Mandel presented her findings last month in Washington DC to a rapt audience of colleagues at the Fourth International Scientific Symposium on Tea and Human Health.

"Researchers have been actively searching for better ways to support brain cell repair for many years," said tea and health expert Dr. Carol Greenwood who attended the DC conference.

"This finding that green tea, a natural product consumed by millions of people every day, can help repair them is especially exciting."

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Heart of a Child...knows no borders.

According to the Israeli-based organization, Save a Child's Heart...

Two Iraqi children set to arrive in Israel today for emergency heart surgery.

Two Iraqi children are set to arrive in Israel today for emergency heart surgery. Both children were screened by Israeli doctors during a one-day cardiology clinic set up for 40 Iraqi children in Jordan, organized by Israeli-based organization, Save A Child's Heart on October 9th, 2007.

Israeli doctors immediately referred a 5 month old girl and an 11 year old boy from Iraq for emergency medical treatment in Israel due to the severity of their heart conditions, which if not treated, would leave them at risk of dying at any moment.

40 Iraqi children, accompanied by their parents, made the journey from Iraq to Jordan where they were screened by a SACH medical team, including, Dr. Akiva Tamir, Head of Pediatric Cardiology, Dr. Alona Raucher-Sternfeld, Pediatric Cardiologist and Dr. Sion Houri, Director of Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, based at the Wolfson Medical Center in Israel. General Electric equipped the team with a state of the art, portable echocardiogram machine which greatly assisted with the diagnosis of children.

Logistical support for the mission was provided by the Christian group, Shevet Achim and medical facilities were offered by the Red Crescent Hospital in Amman.

Since January 2007, SACH has operated on 18 Iraqi children. To date, a total of 35 children from Iraq have been treated by the organization at the Wolfson Medical Center in Holon. Iraqi children who arrive in Israel with their family, reside at the SACH Children's Home in Azur.

Save A Child’s Heart provides life-saving heart surgeries for children from developing countries regardless of race, ethnicity, religion or gender. Since its inception in 1996, SACH has treated over 1700 children from 28 countries around the world including; Ethiopia, Zanzibar, Rwanda, Moldova, Vietnam and China. Close to half of the total number of children treated at SACH are Palestinian or from Arab countries including Jordan and Iraq. Follow up care and comprehensive medical training are also an integral part of SACH’s core mission and activities.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The Tree of Life

Among all the horror stories of the Holocaust, there are, every once in a while, some wonderful stories of brave individuals who chose to do the right thing. People who risked their lives and their safety to help another individual because they saw the humanity, not the religion.

Today's post has to do with an object, not a person. There was a tree, in a small village in Czechoslovakia. Though the tree had no choice, made no decision, it in fact saved the life of a young Jew. Jakob Silberstein has gone on, in the decades since World War II, to build a life for himself, to have a family, but he never forgot the hollowed out tree that gave him refuge for 9 hours while the Germans searched for him. Decades later, he found the tree and asked the current owner if he could buy it. The owner donated the tree for free, and Jakov brought the tree to Israel.

And now, the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum has honored the hollow tree that proved to be the salvation of 83-year-old Jakob Silberstein during World War II.

The Holocaust survivor spent 50 years tracking down the tree that saved his life, he said. “This tree, for me, is life,” he said during the ceremony. “It saved my life.”

The Polish-born survivor lost his entire family in the concentration camps, including his two parents and three brothers. For Jakob, it was the tree of life - and he has brought it to a place where it will be honored for years and years and years to come.

Combatting Anti-Semitism on the Web - Israel's Problem Too...

You can help combat anti-Semitism on the's as easy as a click.

Google and Search

The Google team recently posted an explanation of why one particularly anti-Semitic site is at the top of its search engine when someone searches for the simple term "Jew". Essentially, the reason

People are sending around an email about this site...and everyone is clicking on it to see if it is really as bad as they say (it is). That boosts them to the top.

To counter this, we need people to click on "good" links - here are a few. Please click on these links...and return to click on others on this page late today, tomorrow, etc. These links are further down in the search engine and as they are promoted, they should pass the bad sites and rise to the top. Let's hope - please do your part by clicking and asking others to come to this page and click too!

Jew: FAQ about Jews
Jew: Jewish Virtual Library
Jew: Encyclopedia Britannica's definition
Jew: Another Wikipedia entry

Reprinted from: PaulaSays

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Kassem and Katyushas

Yesterday and the day before, kassem rockets slammed into Israel from Gaza. Years ago, when we were all more naive than we are today, Labor Party Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer was horrified at the thought that we would be subjected to a rocket attack from Gaza. If they dare, he was quoted as saying, it will be war.

Well, the kassems came from Gaza and killed and injured Israeli children. The mortars came and the kassems continued to come and an entire area has lived in terror for several years now.

How far can you run in 15 seconds? It sounds like a child's riddle, a game you play. But the answer in Sderot is often, "not far enough." You have 15 seconds, if you hear the Color Red siren, to find shelter.

Last summer, when katyusha rockets were falling in the north, much of Israel went about its business. It was strange to go sit in a business meeting, to stand in line at the post office, to go grocery shopping and to make a barbecue outside...all while thousands of katyushas were raining down on our northern brothers. It's unthinkable that a nation should allow its people to be subjected to such a bombardment. What civilized nation would allow it? The answer, of course, is only Israel.

And today, a new red line has been crossed, a new atrocity against our country that, like the others, will pass in silence. The Ben-Eliezers of Israel hang their heads in silence - it doesn't bring war. Even the injuring of more than 60 soldiers as they sleep doesn't bring a response. Even the death of little four-year-old Afik Zahavi, the pride of his parents after many years of trying to have children, was not enough to trigger a meaningful response.

Yesterday it was kassems and mortars on Sderot. Today it was a katyusha near Netivot. Someone once was telling people how wonderful Israel was. People argued that he was blinded to the realities here and he responded, "I said Israel was the promised land, not the perfect land."

And so, today, Israel remains promised, but not perfect as we wait to see how our government will respond to this latest escalation.

How far can you run in 15 seconds...too many of us may find out too soon...this too, is Israel.

Friday, October 5, 2007

A Tree that Still Grows

Today seems to be a day where we are posting about the greater Israel...that which encompasses all Jews, all over the world, for all time. This post is about a tree...

It's a tree in Amsterdam...that grows just outside the secret annex where Anne Frank and her family hid from the Nazis. Though Anne was captured and died...the tree lives on. In mid-1944, Anne wrote, "Our chestnut tree is in full bloom. It’s covered with leaves and is even more beautiful than last year."

Recently, the Amsterdam municipality decided to cut the tree down...and after much protest...they have given it a reprieve. The Anne Frank organization has set up a live camera feed, where you can go and see Anne's tree. Maybe the more people that click and see it...the longer the reprieve will be - so, if you have a minute, click the following link - and while you are looking, think of a young, beautiful Jewish girl, who once stared out at the chestnut tree and dreamed of a better tomorrow...she didn't live to see that better tomorrow, but we have all been blessed.

You can "visit" the tree live via webcam:

Helping to Fight Anti-Semitism on the Web

Another part of being Israeli is worrying about Jews and anti-Semitism around the world. So here's an interesting idea that isn't really part of Israel...but is so incredibly Israeli.

There's a horrible website (I won't tell you what it is...because it doesn't matter) - Jews have been writing about it and sending it to others to protest...and each time, people click on the link - pushing that horrid website higher and higher in the Google search engine. Yes, I've seen it. It's filled with lies and hatred...the only thing that we are the catalyst helping them promote their hatred - and it's time to stop!

Now we are launching a global effort to bury that anti-Semitic site way down in the search - and here's the secret - I'm creating this link - help today - and click on it. Want to help again - come back tomorrow and click on it again, and again and again. Send this page to everyone you can and ask them to click on the link as well...

The more we click...the more THIS link will rise and those who are evil and seek to spread hatred...will fall. It's as easy as a click:

Want to help - just click this word: Jew
It'll take you to the Wikipedia entry for "Jew" - it's simple. It's neutral - and tons of clicks will bury those others in the ashes of their hatred. May that be our revenge!

Don't forget to come back tomorrow and click again!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The Helmet Law Comes to Israel

It's a great day in Israel!

Starting today, a new Israeli law goes into effect requiring bicycle riders and those using roller-blades or skateboards to wear helmets. The Knesset passed the law requiring the helmets two months ago and hopefully, from today on, people will follow the law.

It's a silly thing really - not the law, but the fact that it has to be a law. It really is common sense. It really is so simple. But it really doesn't matter - because today, Israel accepts a law that will protect our children and those speeding along, hopefully enjoying themselves - safely!

Although there are laws in various states and localities in the US, there is no nation-wide law requiring helmets and in fact, more than a dozen States in the US have no law requiring helmets. So, as of today, Israel joins a handful of nations in the world...only a handful...who have made this law. It is yet another sign that we cherish our children and will do all that we can to keep them safe! This is Israel!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Taking 2nd Place...

Taking second place isn't always a bad thing - sometimes, it can be amazing.

According to a recent article in YNET, Israel's very own Boris Gelfand has taken second place in the chess world championship. Israel has traditionally placed high in many chess tournaments and this was no exception. Reports YNET:

Israeli chess player Boris Gelfand tied former chess world champion
Vladimir Kramnik of Russia for second place Sunday with a masterful display of
cunning in the world chess championship in Mexico. Indian national Vishwanathan
Anand emerged the victor of the grueling competition.

The Israeli chess master was ranked seventh in the world at the beginning of the competition which made his accomplishment at the competition all the more remarkable.

Boris Gelfand was born in the city of Minsk in Belarus. He taught himself how to play chess at the young age of five. He and his family made aliyah nine years ago.

Double Serving in Israel

There is a much publicized debate in Israel about who is serving in the Israel Defense Forces and who is avoiding service. The left and non-religious sectors focus on the large number of ultra-religious Jews who avoid service in favor of spending years learning, while the right and religious seek to publicize the often ignored tendency among secular and prosperous non-religious Jews to avoid service by claiming illnesses or hardship, or simply avoiding the call.

During this back and forth dialog in which neither side is really addressing the issue...comes a heart-warming story of one young woman who could have joined so many others and avoided national service...and chose not to.

According to several leading Israeli newspapers and sites, Israeli tennis star Shahar Peer, who played in the U.S. women's quarterfinals last month, chose to return to complete her army service. Peer was awarded "outstanding athlete status" and given a deferral to enable her to practice every day. And yet, after the tournament, she chose not to join those well-known entertainers and athletes who chose to dodge the draft.

"There was no question," Peer said. "All my friends are going and I wanted to be a part of it," said the 20-year-old tennis star/soldier. Peer will complete her two year compulsory service for women, serving as a military administrative secretary. Her dedication and commitment to her community and country represent the best of what is Israel.