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The Jerusalem Netletter Sivan-Tamuz Edition 5773

Shalom from Jerusalem, where it's sandal season.

The greeting that follows the spring holidays of Pesach and Shavuoth, is kayitz tov, "a good summer." We are in the season of graduation parties and planning for vacations. Here's hoping your summer plans include a trip to Israel. Let us know so that we can arrange insider visits to Hadassah projects. I love to hear back from you about your chapters, families and Hadassah ideas.


We were all proud that the hospital team in Boston, after the Marathon terror attack, was following life-saving protocols learned from Hadassah physicians. We wish the terror survivors a full and speedy recovery, but according to Dr. Isabella Schwartz, who heads the Hadassah Mount Scopus Physical Medicine and Rehab Department, recovering from terror requires extra time and patience. "Our research on terror victims shows that they need longer to recover. Despite higher levels of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome than regular patience, they can make full recoveries, so families and therapists should be optimistic even if progress is slower than expected."

On a different note, we've learned physicians in China have adapted a method of doing pre-natal ultrasounds developed by Hadassah's Professor Simcha Yagel. (Yes, the name of this obstetrician is really Happy Joy! ) They call it the "Yagel method" in Chinese.

Just in case you were wondering, 18 million babies were born last year in China.


A warm welcome to Hadassah Medical Organization's new Director General, Dr. Avigdor Kaplan. Kaplan was chosen unanimously by the HMO Board of Directors, to be HMO's ninth director general. He grew up in Zichron Yaakov, in a family of five children, and served in the Communications Corps of the IDF. He received a B.A in Economics and Statistics and a masters in Business Administration from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

He holds an M.Sc. degree in Industrial Management Engineering from the Technion Institute of Technology in Haifa and earned a doctoral degree in Medical Administration from Ben Gurion University. Kaplan is well-known to the Israeli public for steering Clalit Health Fund, Israel's largest health fund, from deficit to financial solvency and building CLAL Insurance Enterprises which he joined in 1997, into the nation's largest insurance company. He's already at the bow of the ship and we salute him!


The 2012-13 Young Judaea Year Course participants have completed their outstanding year. Most have headed back to the US, many to provide Zionist, educated staffing for summer camp. Let's hear what a few of them said before they left. Yoav Shaked of Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, will begin Harvard University in the fall. "In essence, the past nine months have been a transition away from the extremely sheltered environment I knew back home to living life independently in a world where one must care and look out for oneself.

The events that have occurred around us have definitely made our time on year course in Israel unique. We experienced historic general elections, environmental phenomena unheard of for fifty years, and most important for me, a military operation... Our experience during this time was parallel the experience most Israelis have during flare ups with one of Israel's enemies. Personally this experience helped open my eyes to the fragile peace Israelis deal with on daily basis and the fact that that peace can be broken at any time."

Sydney Ryan, of Pittsford, New York will be returning to Israel to join the Israeli Scouts group Garin Tzabar in the IDF.

"I knew coming into this program that I loved Israel and I was so excited to come back. What I didn't know, was that by being surrounding by the culture, the people and everything else that made up Jerusalem, was that I would fall in love with this place. And with love, comes commitment."

Best of luck to all the Year Course grads. We look forward to seeing you taking leadership positions in Hadassah and for the Jewish people everywhere.

It's also time to wrap up the school year at our youth villages, Hadassah Academic College and the schools of medicine, nursing, occupational therapy and public health. School doesn't get out for a few weeks, but graduation ceremonies often precede the actual end of the year. Barbara Goldstein, Deputy Director of Hadassah's Offices in Israel, recently spoke at the Meir Shfeya graduation. Said BG:

"Ninety five young men and women standing proud and tall. It was impossible to tell apart the kids who were boarding students from challenging home environments and the children from affluent homes in Zichron Yaakov and Binyamina. Whatever cultural, social-economic differences, they all stood together on to the next journey in their lives- the Israel Defense Forces. Hadassah can be proud of our role in being part of the building of the next generation of young people to take their place in Israeli society."

About a third of the 330 dorm students are from Ethiopian families, a third from the former Soviet Union, and a third from troubled sabra homes. Among those standing with the graduates was a young man from none of those groups. His name is Sami. He was among the first refugees from Eritrea, a war-torn country in Africa, who arrived in our youth villages.

He'd fled from a refugee camp in Sudan, leaving his mother and siblings behind. He didn't want to study. He wanted to work and send money back home. He'd used all his family's cash to pay an illegal smuggler at the Egyptian-Israel border. In the desert, he managed to survive jackals, real animals and those on two legs: human slave-traders. At the border, he ducked the shooting of the Egyptians. Bedouins smuggled him across the border. In Israel, he was arrested. When he was examined by the police physician, it was determined that he was 16 at most.

According to the law in Israel, he had to go to school. Who would take him? You got it- Meir Shfeyah. He graduated last year. When Sami first came, he was hostile. He didn't want to study. He wanted to work. But as he became more comfortable in the village, he admitted that once he'd had dreams of studying. The staff found jobs for Sami on weekends and vacations so he'd have some money to send home. Today he's studying Criminology at Ruppin College. Every student needs a computer. Barbara Goldstein delivered his, a gift from a Hadassah donor.

The representative of the parents at the graduation ceremony was an immigrant from Ethiopia. She spoke of the promise Shfeyah made to her four years earlier, that her daughter would be taken care of and succeed in the village. "As a mom", she said, "that was my dream-and my dream is fulfilled tonight seeing the glow on my daughter's face. Thank you Shfeyah, thank you Hadassah"


Delegates of Hadassah's Centennial remember that Women of the Wall leader Anat Hoffman was arrested at the special event we held together with the Women of the Wall. As upsetting as that was, that evening marked a turning point for the women who have been praying at the Wall on Rosh Hodesh, the first of the Hebrew month, for nearly 25-years. Rain or shine, they're there at 7 AM. This Sunday, on Rosh Hodesh Tamuz, some 200-300 women were escorted by and protected by the police to the far right side of the Kotel plaza. Other women, maybe two dozen in all, stood in the left side of the women's section. To the far left were the men, a mix of men supporters of WoW and others. Despite a few catcalls, the harmonious voices of the women were raised in joyous prayer, and the service proceeded without disturbance. Marching down to the Wall, the women sang what has become the group's theme song, drawn from Hallel:

"The Lord is my strength and song, and has become my Salvation."

The times they are a'changin'


Can we improve our memory by eating right? That was one of key questions raised at the annual Women's Health Day sponsored by our Patricia and Russell Fleishmann Center for Women's Health recently at the Israel Museum. We'd all be glad to take a daily memory pill, but life isn't that simple. The opening lecture by Prof Zeev Meiner, a senior neurologist in the Department of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the Mount Scopus campus, described why information retrieval is harder as we age.

Life experience and wisdom usually compensate for the difference between the usual memory challenges of not being able to remember the name of the hotel you stayed at, he said. That shouldn't alarm us. His overall advice: what's good for the heart is good for the brain. "We say 'use it or lose it' in terms of mental functions. Learn something new. Read. Don't let yourself fall into depression. That's bad for your brain." Dorit Adler, Hadassah's Director of the Nutrition and Dietetic Department drew a large crowd to hear what she had to say about improving our diet to preserve our brains. A slim and trim working Mom, she urged us to go back to cooking-making uncomplicated home-cooked meals instead of relying on prepared foods.

A study at the isolated (shh) nuclear facility in Dimona showed that healthy eating not only prevents further damage, but can fix what we've already messed up. Best results (better than low carbs and low fat) were from the so-called Mediterranean Diet. Olive and canola oils replace butter and margarine, herbs provide flavor and salt is reduced, red meat is limited to a few times a month, and poultry and fish are on the menu at least twice a week. Adler also recommends making one or two days a week "no-meat days". Research has shown that following a Mediterranean diet was associated with a reduced risk of overall and cardiovascular mortality, a reduced incidence of cancer and cancer mortality.

You've probably noticed that I've skipped the often-prescribed evening glass of red wine. According to Adler, the jury is still out for women and wine consumption. "In the meantime, if you're drinking wine, make sure you drink it with food, " she says. One of the relative surprises of the talk was Adler's strong recommendation to drink up to 4-5 cups of caffeinated coffee and 2 cups of (any) tea a day to protect your brain. The old advice about not skipping breakfast holds fast. "Your brain starts conserving energy when you're hungry and you simply can't think well. You need to break your night fast every morning". She also stressed the importance of enjoying meals with family and friends, so that we build new positive memories and reminisce over old ones. Adler also spoke to participants on the Young Judaea Year Course, many of whom are cooking for themselves for the first time.


The funny lumps on little Yaakov's face were the focus of hurtful teasing by his kindergarten classmates. Surgery didn't help. New immigrant Hadassah physician Adam Farkas, 32, brought a new technique with him along with the suitcases he and his wife Tamar packed for themselves and their four children to Israel. Dr. Farkas is an interventional radiologist, and treats vascular abnormalities, like Yaakov's bumps or varicose veins, without surgery. Plastic tubing the size of a pencil point, is inserted into the blood vessels, and then he closes with glue! Not a stitch is needed. Yaakov's lumps are gone, now a fading memory. The process also replaces painful stripping for varicosities. " If Hadassah members traveling in Israel have aching legs from varicosities, they can have the treatment, and be back with the group by dinnertime,"says Dr. Farkas. adam@hadassah.org.il, www.jerusalemveinclinic.com)


By Beth Zuckerman Beth Zuckerman, daughter of National Board Member Theda Zuckerman, served as intern in Hadassah Offices in Israel before giving birth to baby Hadas. Here's her personal story of making use of Hadassah's services. Dread? Anger? Despair? I can't express very well how we felt. But when the doctor says that your child may be sick, those emotions are just parts of the wave that envelopes a parent. And our pediatrician had just told us that our infant, 3 months old, might be showing some early signs of cystic fibrosis. The fear gave way to a desire to do something, but my husband and I were unsure about how to proceed. Who could help us? Would we be running around from doctor to doctor? Might we have to travel abroad? Thankfully, it turned out that the people who could help us were located less than an hour's trip away from home - on Jerusalem's Mount Scopus. The many family and friends who we had consulted were nearly unanimous in their recommendation for whom to turn to, and that was the Hadassah University Hospital's "Elie Douer and Family Center for Pediatric Genetic and Chronic Diseases."

We were very nervous when we arrived. We knew that by the time we left we would have an idea of whether our child would be healthy, or potentially very ill. After we checked in at the front desk, we settled into the bright, cozy waiting area. Sitting a few chairs down was a young mother rocking her toddler in a stroller. A smiling yeshiva student was chatting with the nurses in one corner; an olive-clad soldier sat at a table drinking water from a cup while engrossed in his book. And then a funny thing happened. It dawned on us that all of those around us were also either seeking diagnosis of or treatment for cystic fibrosis. We looked at each other and noticed a mutual transformation. Were we both still afraid and concerned for our child's welfare? Yes. But we were also feeling the stirrings of bravery. The sheer normalcy in the demeanors of those around us in the face of such a dramatic illness reassured us. This was no coincidence. The Douer Center exists as a "one-stop-shop" for its patients. The encouraging comments, conversation, and humorous banter among the patients and the medical staff showed that these regulars had created a community.

And if the "club" served to support themselves through the ups and downs of a difficult, chronic disease, it also helped to calm our worst worries about the unknown. After just a few minutes our name was called. We were escorted down the corridor by a young nurse to have our baby's blood taken. An unpleasant experience at any time, we braced ourselves for tears and wailing. We needn't have worried. The nurse expertly positioned and pricked our child before we were any the wiser. As he filled the vials, the nurse even got a smile from our baby with his humming of the Beatles' "Ob-La-Di". After a visit from a cheery medical clown, perhaps there more for us than for the baby, we moved on to the sweat test, the most crucial part of our visit. One of the only testable symptoms of CF is the level of chloride in sweat. As a result, the sweat test, in which sweat is collected and analyzed on the spot, serves as a simple but definitive diagnosis of whether a child does or doesn't have cystic fibrosis. The technician running the machine greeted us with a smile. She spent five minutes telling us how cute our baby was while setting up the equipment, a bracelet meant to capture sweat off of the skin. Our baby's arm wrapped up, we went off to wait.

We returned after a 15-minute wait, but the technician told us that there was barely enough sweat on the bracelet. She tried for several minutes to feed the bit of moisture into the machine for testing, but it wouldn't calculate an accurate reading. Her shift was ending and she needed to be elsewhere, but the technician didn't send us home to return another day. Instead, she set up the test again so that we could know one way or the other what our child's condition would be. With the air conditioning running and cool weather outside, we weren't sure if this second try would amount to much. As our next 15-minute attempt came to an end the technician came to get us.

She examined the bracelet and still found the sweat produced lacking. Not wanting to send us home, she told us to take a bit more time and to try our best to get some sweat. My husband and I piled all of our blankets and sweatshirts onto our little daughter to try to elicit a few more drops of sweat, but after a few minutes more, our time was up. Taking off the bracelet the technician was still unsure, but she tried a few times to get every drop into the machine. This time the machine gave a result: negative. The technician, my husband and I all laughed and cried at the news. We couldn't stop thanking her for going out of her way to help us. Soon we entered the doctor's office for his official diagnosis. We were thankful to hear Dr. David Shoseyov, an expert in CF, confirm that our baby did not indeed have any signs of the disease, but he didn't stop there.

The doctor inquired about the problems that had brought us to the Douer Center, and he spent a long time trying to advise us on how to help our child with those problems, mundane as they were. As we departed the Douer Center and Hadassah's Mount Scopus campus, my husband and I reflected on how lucky we were to have such a facility available to us. It wasn't just the convenience of being able to do under one roof things that might otherwise require setting multiple appointments at various locations over weeks or even months for which we were grateful. The Douer Center also embodies a place where some of the sickest children can come and be met with a medicine that was not just efficient, but that wore a smile. In our experience, those two components were crucial in tending to a patient's well-being. We are glad that our child won't have to visit the Douer Center again, but we are also glad that the Douer Center is there for those who need it. Thank you Hadassah.


Anyone who knew Hadassah's 23rd National President June Walker realized how devoted she was to science education. We held our breath as Marcie Natan, Hadassah's 25th National President, pulled aside the purple satin curtains that covered the name of the late Dr. June Walker, and officially dedicated the Dr. June Walker High School for Life Sciences and Agriculture at the Meir Shfeyah Youth Village. "We can all feel June's presence here today and how proud she is of the fruition of her dream of an expanded school building and laboratories for the students." Meir Shfeyah Board Chair Eli Wagner recalled hosting June Walker for a Shabbat at his home, and how she made him pledge that the laboratories would be completed.

"It's fulfilling to be here today as these laboratories are named for a wonderful person," said Wagner. Teacher Lauren Stern Kedem prepared a memorial presentation showing highlights of Walker's life, to the music, "For Good" from Wicked, a much-loved song which was sung to Walker by her granddaughter Stacey Richmond at a celebratory National Hadassah dinner.

Live music was performed by Meir Shfeya students. The lead singer was Noa Hazan, (yes, her last name means Cantor), a graduating senior who has been accepted into a prestigious IDF entertainment group for next year.


For O, the prized single brass candlestick her grandmother brought from Russia was a mystery. Was it used for a church ceremony, she wondered. Last week, O, and 47 other teenagers received their own silver candleticks-Shabbat candlesticks, of course-in the presence of National President Marcie Natan. The 11th graders, all students in Hadassah's three youth villages-Meir Shfeya, Hadassah-Neurim and Ramat Hadassah Szold, received their silver candlesticks at the graduation ceremony of the Eishet Hayil, Woman of Valor program sponsored by Hadassah to strengthen their Jewish identity.

The group included sabras plus Ethiopian and former USSR immigrants who were unsure about celebrating Jewish festivals and life cycle events. For a year and a half, they took part in a course about the Jewish holidays, tradition and women's empowerment. "There were girls from single-parent homes who didn't realize they and their moms could be making Kiddush and lighting Hanukkah candles," said Youth Aliyah Chair Benita Ross. "This course provides the basics and gives the girls the confidence and enthusiasm to practice." The day's celebration in Jerusalem included a meeting with Israel's first Ethiopian woman Knesset Member Pnina Tamano-Shata, a journalist and mother of two, whose husband, they learned, graduated from Hadassah Neurim.


Dr. Karen Friedman, a California-born Israeli, now a mother of eight, was a patient at Hadassah Mount Scopus. She met met many women going through fertility treatments including IVF. A psychologist with a doctorate from Harvard, Friedman joined the Hadassah staff and developed a cognitive-based therapy program for women trying to have babies. In addition, she recruited yoga teacher Elana Ben Hayim, to work with patients. A dozen women, all undergoing IVF treatment, took part in 12 sessions. "The doctors and nurses were completely supportive," said Ben Hayim.

"In such a family-oriented society as Israel, women who suffer from infertility often feel inadequate. There has been research showing the impact of yoga in stress reduction which is useful for reproduction." Said one of the participants: "I am learning to relax ,and not to be so depressed, to feel body and soul are together. I have more strength to cope." And another: "I am finally pregnant after 3 years of trying. I really feel that the therapy and Yoga were a winning combination that allowed me to become pregnant. I am now able to cope with stress, uncertainty, and I feel in control."


The week of Civil Defense national drills to prepare for a possible military conflict began with sirens, directing school children into shelters. At home, even if we didn't sit the required ten minutes in a sealed room, the sound made us aware that it would be sage to check our stocks of water and canned goods-just in case. And then, the Hadassah Mount Scopus parking lot was cordoned off as if a real war had started. The IDF announced that this simulation was of a chemical weapon detonated in Jerusalem. Even though we all knew this was a practice exercise, there was something eerie about ambulance after ambulance of soldiers and large orange rubber dummies arriving. A team of soldiers scrubbed down the "contaminated" dummies and they were allowed to cross the line and enter the hospital. Doctors and nurses had to wear protective suits and gas masks, hampering their ability to treat the 115 "injured patients."

Minister of Health, Yael German, Minister of the Home-Front Command, Gilad Erdan and Hadassah National President Marcie Natan were present during the drill, which was under the supervision of Dr. Osnat Levtzion-Korach, Director of Hadassah Mount Scopus. "I was very impressed by the high level of professionalism and seriousness displayed by Hadassah's medical team, the IDF and the Israeli government," Marcie Natan said "As someone who has been in Israel during wartime many times, all I can do is pray that we never need to use these skills."

Kayitz Tov-happy summer from Jerusalem,

Barbara Sofer
Israel Director of Public Relations
Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America


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