Archives for June 2011

06.23.2011 – Interfaith aid for medics

Jewish Chronicle
By Jessica Elgot, June 23, 2011

Cambridge University is sponsoring a programme for Jewish, Christian and Muslim trainee doctors and nurses at five Israeli hospitals to teach them the Koran, the New Testament and the Torah.

The Cambridge Interfaith programme, part of the university’s divinity faculty, is supporting the new workshops, run by the Middle Eastern branch of the British-based Three Faiths Forum.

The workshops are designed to teach Israeli medical and nursing students about each other’s cultures and are a compulsory part of the medical training. Participating institutions include Jerusalem’s Hadassah Ein Kerem and Herzog hospitals and Kaplan hospital in Rehovot.

Medical student Uri Ehrlich, 28, from Rehovot, said: “I’ve never studied Torah with Christians and Muslims, even though they are good friends of mine. It was difficult but in the end eye-opening. I’m rethinking the way I view others in Israel, and my interactions with them in hospital when I become a doctor.”

Medical students have been studying portions of the text which are focused on health and healing.

The programme is being run by Miriam Feldmann Kaye, director of the Three Faiths Forum Middle East, who is a Cambridge theology graduate.

06.19.2011 – Bat mitzva girl donates her hair to wig for cancer patient

LAST UPDATED: 06/19/2011 23:01

Salon owner calls on anyone with long hair to follow Keren Urzach’s example.

KEREN URZACH lets Eli Ben-Zikri cut her hair.

Keren Urzach, a 12-year-old pupil at Jerusalem’s Evelina de Rothschild School for Girls, had her bat mitzva last week and gave a gift instead of taking one. She went to a wig salon for cancer patients run by Eli Ben-Zikri at Rehovot’s Kaplan Medical Center and donated much of her lovely, straight, light-brown hair, which she had been growing for six years.

The hair will be made into a wig for a 13-year-old girl who is undergoing chemotherapy for cancer and has gone bald.

“I thought about what I could do to donate to somebody for my bat mitzva. I started to make saucers and sell them to make a donation for the needy, but then I thought of my hair.

I asked my father if it was possible, and he went to the Internet.

Then he told me we were going to Rehovot to Eli Ben- Zikri. I was very excited.”

The Rehovot hairdresser, who had cancer in the past, volunteers to make wigs for cancer victims.

Keren’s parents, Stephanie and Shalom, are proud of their daughter, who has been growing her hair long since she was a small girl. They have three sons who are older, and before she was born, they thought they would have another boy.

“But to our joy, it was a girl,” said Shalom, who trains emissaries to summer camps in the US. “Her idea moved us very much, and there is no doubt that one gets much satisfaction from giving.” Keren has already persuaded her best friend to give hair, but it isn’t yet long enough to donate for the purpose.

“This is the beautiful face of Israeli youth,” Ben-Zikri said. “Keren’s initiative is a blessing.

I urge everyone with long hair to come to me at Kaplan and donate it so we can make new wigs for sick adults and children.

There is a great shortage of natural hair,” said the hairdresser, who set up shop two years ago to improve the appearance of cancer patients, calling his initiative PELEH.

The sudden baldness embarrasses and breaks them, said Dr. Noa Ben Baruch of the oncology institute. “They can’t hide it unless they have a wig.”

06.03.2011 – Record of 35 organs transplanted into 27 people this week

LAST UPDATED: 06/03/2011 05:50

Israel Transplant matched donor organs, which were rushed on ice to the transplant centers where the surgical teams were ready.

KADIMA MK Arye Bibi: ‘When I see these graphs and

A record number of 35 lifesaving organs were transplanted into 27 patients in the past week, according to Israel Transplant – which noted that the number of organs donated during such a short time is unprecedented.

Surgeons at Emek Medical Center in Afula; Rambam Medical Center in Haifa; Rabin Medical Center-Beilinson Campus in Petah Tikva; Schneider Children’s Medical Center in Petah Tikva; Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center; Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem; Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer; Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheba; and Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot worked around the clock to remove the organs from deceased donors and transplant them into patients.

Also contributing to the effort were hospitals’ blood banks, intensive-care units, imaging centers, pathology and tissue-typing labs, cardiac departments, catheterization labs and managements.

After Israel Transplant matched the donor organs, they were rushed on ice to the transplant centers where the surgical teams were ready.

Seventy percent of all organ transplants are done at Beilinson.

Four heart transplants were performed at Rabin, Schneider and Sheba; seven lung operations (some with two lobes, and some with one) were carried out at Beilinson; five livers were transplanted at Beilinson and Sourasky; an entire liver, liver lobe and kidney were transplanted at Schneider; kidney and pancreas transplants were performed at Hadassah University Medical Center and at Beilinson; and kidneys were transplanted at Rambam, Beilinson, Sourasky and Schneider.

Of all the organs, five were given to children and teenagers.

On Friday, a first-ever day to collect new potential organ donors via the ADI Organ Donors Organization and Israel Transplant (as well as a blood drive for Magen David Adom), will be held around the country, with help from students at the four medical schools. Please call *6262 for more information.

06.02.2011 – IVF worldwide unit directory Newsletter

IVF worldwide unit directory Newsletter 
Irit Granot PhD, Laboratory Director and Research Coordinator of the IVF Unit, Kaplan Medical Center,Rehovot, Israel, Gabor Vajta, MD, PhD, 

06.01.2011 – Israeli-Arabs join Israel’s national service

1 Jun 2011
Though their numbers are still small, young Israeli-Arab volunteers are bucking political pressure and realizing the benefits of national service.
Israeli Arabs working with Magen David Adom, can work with their own communities.
Israeli Arabs working with Magen David Adom, can work with their own communities.

By Rivka Borochov

“Anyone who volunteers for national service will be treated like a leper and will be vomited out of Arab society.” These were the words of Jamal Zahalka at a rally in 2008. He’s a lawmaker with Balad, an Israeli Arab political party. His harsh words were intended to stop young Israeli Arabs from volunteering in Israel’s National Service program. But they are not working.

Israeli Arabs do not have to serve in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Today, only about 300 Muslim and Christian Arabs (Muslim Arabs make up three-fourths of the Israeli-Arab sector) serve in a special unit of the IDF. But now they have the option of participating in National Service instead, along with Jewish Israelis who cannot go to the army for religious or medical reasons when facing mandatory conscription at age 18.

Despite the pressures in their communities and from Balad not to participate in National Service, gradually more young Israeli Arabs are going against the grain; this year, about 1,500 Israeli Arabs are enrolled in the program.

An alternative to the military

National Service became an option for Israelis as an alternative to the usual three years in the IDF for men and two years for women. Many different non-profit organizations coordinate the placements, typically in education and health facilities. About 90 percent of the volunteers are women. They serve for either one or two years, receiving a monthly stipend of about $200, and are rewarded afterward with benefits commensurate with time put in. Money earned can be used toward a new business, or higher education after their service.

Israeli Arabs have been joining National Service since an initiative of the Israeli government in 2007 to open Israeli national civic service to all populations. Now, as Israeli-Arab Muslims, Christians and Druze look to serve alongside their Jewish counterparts, they not only gain the concept of “giving back” to society, but also are entitled to the same attractive benefits – which also include better terms on a mortgage, good deals on eyeglasses and social benefits.

A success story

One of Israel’s first-ever Arab volunteers is Nasra Hmod. Today she is a confident mother of three living in Ramle, not far from Tel Aviv. In 1994, when she graduated high school, she ran out of options. “I was looking for a framework to work within and couldn’t find it. For Arabs, it’s hard to find work and I didn’t find the place where I wanted to study,” she says.

Hmod heard about National Service and inquired at Shlomit, an NGO that helps coordinate placements. “I really wanted to volunteer for the Magen David Adom[the Israeli Red Cross] but didn’t succeed. Then I heard about National Service, and contacted Chaya at Shlomit and told her I was an Arab.” Almost right away, Shlomit had arranged a placement for Hmod in the emergency department of Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot, where today she works as a receptionist – basically the same work she is did as a volunteer, but now she has more responsibilities.

Hmod is a big fan of National Service and encourages other young Arabs to join. “I lied,” she says, when asked how her community accepted her decision to volunteer. It was only after her year of volunteering was over that she told her family she had been involved in National Service. They wouldn’t have accepted it otherwise, she says. To cover up for her lack of money, she’d told her family that she was in school.

When she met Jews on the job, they would always tell her “kol hakavod”, a Hebrew expression of admiration, which literally means “all the honor goes to you.” Hmod encourages young Arabs to do national service, even though it delays their plans to study, travel or make some quick money.

New energy pervades civil service program

When Israel was formed as a state in 1948, its Declaration of Independence called on all Arabs in Israel to “participate in the upbuilding of the State on the basis of full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its provisional and permanent institutions.” Though Israeli Arabs are citizens of Israel and enjoy equal rights, many still face discrimination, as minority groups in any Western country generally do.

But through its Administration for National-Civic Service in the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Israeli government tries to accommodate all citizens able and willing to complete National Service, and at the end of their term offers them similar benefits to the young Israelis who serve in the army – regardless of religion or ethnicity.

Lior Shohat of the Administration for National-Civic Service says that prior to 2007, the Civil Services department was only “inspecting” to make sure that those volunteering were accountable for their whereabouts. Now, a new kind energy has invigorated the notion of civic service in Israeli society. And while it will probably never be mandatory, a growing number of Israeli Arabs are now signing on.

In 2007, there were about 300 people from this community who registered, while this year among the 18,000 Israeli Arabs of age to volunteer, about 1,500 of them are currently in the program along with roughly 14,000 other volunteers performing civic service in Israel. Most of the jobs they want to do are similar to those Jewish volunteers are interested in doing, Shohat says – community daycare or helping the elderly in medical and hospital settings.

The mark of a liberal society

The Administration for National-Civic Service is slowly winning a difficult battle against the influence of Balad and others like it. “We are dealing with a very big campaign in the Arab media,” says Shohat. “Their campaign is on the Internet and radio, going from town to town convincing people not to join the service. “They [Balad] tell the young Arab youth that this is the first step is to make them join the army, and they create all kinds of stories that are not correct. If we created a national service in Israel and did not invite [Israeli Arabs], now that would be discrimination,” he says.

Shohat’s administration works to show young adults, that no matter who they are or where they come from, that getting something from society also means giving back.

Maybe in Israel, getting and giving don’t come in the order that Israeli Arabs would prefer. Many feel that they are not getting the same quality of social services and education as their Jewish counterparts receive. However, as Shohat points out, it’s a two-way-street. “Most don’t see the issue of giving. They feel deeply deprived and discriminated against. This is their main claim. The young Israeli Arabs are saying, ‘First give us good roads and education, and give us good health services and then we will talk about contributing,'” says Shohat.

But despite all that, the statistics are encouraging. A while back, there was so much demand that there weren’t enough placements for all the potential volunteers, but that’s changed. Some 70 percent of the placements are arranged and paid for by the government, and another 30 percent are run and subsidized by non-profit organizations, including those that satisfy the political inclinations of any volunteer. Left-wing Arabs, for example, may volunteer through Amnesty International to advocate on behalf of Palestinians in jail.

The mark of a liberal society? “This is one of the perfect examples of how liberal we are,” Shohat responds.

A role model for givers

Chaya Shmuel, co-founder and director of the 18-year-old Shlomit organization, says hers was the first group to bring Israeli Arab volunteers into the fold. Set up specifically to help integrate people other than religious Jewish women into National Service, the pluralistic non-profit organization now also works with members of Jewish religious communities.

In 2011, Shmuel oversees about 500 Israeli Arab volunteers, making sure their time in service goes smoothly and that they get the benefits and services due to them. Going all the way up to the Supreme Court, Shmuel was instrumental in helping fight for the right of anyone who wasn’t a Jewish religious woman to be part of civil service. “The law didn’t allow Israeli Arabs to serve and spoke only about the Jewish religious women,” she relates. “We helped change the law … and we won.”

And now Israeli Arabs, too, seem to be gaining a heightened sense of civic duty to society. “The most popular reason is that they want to feel like they are equal citizens and they have to give back what they got from the state,” Shmuel surmises. “This is their main point. They also know there are benefits from the service and they need those benefits – like for university.”

When Arabs sign up for national service, they can request where they would like to be placed. Though transportation costs are covered for all National Service volunteers, most Arab-Israelis opt for the chance to live at home with their parents and do service in their own towns and villages, she says. “It’s their choice. They can prefer where to go,” says Shmuel.

She is aware of the fact that some Arab leaders are pressuring the youth not to join Israeli national service. Many of the young people now, she adds, do not agree with these sentiments. They are seeing things another way.

Arab and Jewish teens have similar concerns

Do Israeli Arabs now feel that what they get out of society is comparable to what they give? “We believe in it and speak about it with them,” says Shmuel. “We also bring groups of Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs together – and not touching political subjects, we are speaking about the same problems, as Arab and as Jewish youth. “The Israeli Arabs say that they want to feel equal. But the Jewish girls and boys are saying the same things. It’s a good experience for them to meet one another,” she says.

Another benefit of having Israeli Arabs as volunteers is that they can directly help their own communities, says Shmuel. When they volunteer for Magen David Adom, for example, the young Arabs can serve as translators for the many Arab and Palestinian patients seeking care at Israeli hospitals.

One of Shmuel’s goals is to foster a greater sense of volunteerism in the Arab community. “Some of their leaders have told me in the past, ‘You know, we are not used to giving in the Arab community.’ And I do agree, it’s not the same as in the Jewish community,” says Shmuel. But she is a believer in paying it forward, hoping to inspire a new generation of givers and getters.