Posted by Rob Eshman
At the World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland, former President Bill Clinton told Israeli President Shimon Peres, “I don’t know what we would have done without the Israeli field hospital in Haiti.”
According to a report on ynetnews.com, the web site for the Israeli newspaper Yediot Acharanot, Clinton told Peres Israel’s field hospital in Haiti was the only operational unit that could perform surgeries and advanced examinations.
According to officials at Israel’s foreign ministry, Clinton told Peres, “In the name of the aid workers that operated in Haiti, in the name of the people who live there, and on a personal level I want to thank, we all want to thank, Israel from the bottom of our hearts.”
Peres pledged to continue Israel’s aid to Haiti.
“Israel will continue to employ all of her abilities to assist the reconstruction efforts in Haiti,” said Peres.
After the plenum President Peres convened with former U.S. President Bill Clinton and the two discussed in detail what Israel can do to help the international rehabilitation efforts in Haiti.
In a column in The Jewish Journal, Asaf Shariv, Israel’s consul general in New York explained his country’s fast action in helping Haiti:
Israel, a nation of 7.5 million, immediately sent more than 220 people to Haiti, even though no Israeli citizens were missing or declared dead. The delegation consists of Israel Defense Forces rescue units, Magen David Adom, Israel Police and a medical staff of more than 120.
Most of the delegation are IDF reservists called up especially for the mission. More aid and delegation members are arriving daily. Israel is sending food, water and equipment.
The help is ongoing and evolving to the needs of the people.
As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “Our decision to immediately dispatch a large delegation of doctors, nurses, medics, rescue forces as well as drugs and medical equipment to Haiti expresses the deep values which have characterized the Jewish people and the State of Israel throughout history.”
Search-and-rescue teams combed the area looking for survivors while an Israeli field hospital was established in Port-au-Prince.
The Israeli Home Front Command Field Hospital can handle 500 patients a day, and includes an emergency room, two surgical rooms, X-ray equipment, a maternity ward, an incubation ward, a children’s ward, a pharmacy and more. While the field hospital will largely treat trauma patients, similar to those encountered in a war, specialists in various other fields also have been sent. But this is only the beginning.
For years Israel has volunteered its experience in search-and-rescue operations around the world, from previous earthquake disasters in India and Turkey to recovering from recent terror attacks in Kenya.
But Israel’s aid does not only come during times of worldwide attention. Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation, MASHAV, has been helping countries from around the world on a variety of issues—from areas of agriculture to helping create small businesses—for more than 60 years. Before the quake shook Haiti, Israel had been working with the people there to help them establish business and better provide for their families.
The Israeli aid to Haiti will not end with the delegation. The Israeli hospital will be operating there for as long as it is needed, offering services beyond emergency care. It has social workers on the ground to deal with the trauma of the ordeal and the smallest victims of the quake’s aftermath: Haiti’s orphans.
Currently recuperating in the Israeli field hospital is a 7-month-old girl. The doctors don’t know her name; no one else from her family survived the deadly earthquake. She has no one left in the world. What will happen to her once everyone goes home?
Trying to find solutions to such issues is why the Israeli delegation will stay in Haiti.
In Hebrew we use the phrase tikkun olam, literally meaning “repairing the world.” As a prosperous nation, Israel not only has the passion but also the means to better society as a whole. Working to help the people of Haiti is just one more project MASHAV has taken on. As long as they want us, we will be there for the Haitian people.
Israel places a high value on a human life. We strongly believe in the Talmudic teaching of “whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.” Our doctors and medical personnel in Haiti see this as a mitzvah and not a job.
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January 26, 2010 | 6:12 pm
Posted by Julie Gruenbaum Fax
Somewhere near the intersection of Torah discussions with his rabbi wife and his obsession with comic books, Isaac Brynjegard-Bialik discovered paper midrash.
“I look for things that the rabbis talk about, things from the tradition, and I let myself go with it. I figure tradition didn’t stop at certain place, and who says we can’t participate? So I bring my interpretations to those stories and use my art to share them with others,” said Brynjegard-Bialik, a graphic designer who has been creating Jewish papercuts and paintings for 15 years.
“Paper Midrash,” Brynjegard-Bialik’s first solo show, featuring 23 paper cuts and 4 paintings, will run at the Slutzky Art Gallery at the Merage Jewish Community Center of Orange County Jan. 24 through Feb. 27.
For many of the paper cuts, Brynjegard-Bialik carved up comic books to add layers of meaning to the works. In a piece called “Pillar of Cloud, Pillar of Fire,” Brynjegard-Bialik cut up images of The Watchers, a 1960s Marvel Comics extraterrestrial race that teams up with the Fantastic Four. Watchers were meant to just observe mankind, but most often became involved.
“For many people there is such ambiguity about God.” Brynjegard-Bialik said. In ancient Israel, “God was constantly involved in the people’s lives, performing miracles, talking to prophets. This piece asks, how do we see God’s presence in our lives now? Is God involved? Is God a Watcher. Is God a pillar of fire?”
In “Revelation,” interlocking swirls of colorful clouds funnel onto a patchwork mountain.
“The rabbis say Sinai resembled a kiln, the way smoke was rising from it,” Brynjegard-Bialik said. “What does it mean to think of Sinai as a kiln, a place where things are created?”
One of the more whimsical works, “Make Yourself an Ark,” evokes a model cutout kit, complete with ark, mini Noah and family, animals, even pots and pans.
Brynjegard-Bialik, who is a communications director at Deloitte business services, says his three daughters are now into comics as well. His wife, Rabbi Shawna Brynjegard-Bialik, is an assistant rabbi at Temple Ahavat Shalom in Northridge.
January 21, 2010 | 9:12 pm
Posted by Jay Firestone
With one day left in the competition, one hundred of the nation’s charity organizations are campaigning to win a big cash prize. Chase Community Giving is offering $1million to the charity that receives the most votes in this latest facebook competition.
Each ‘registered’ voter is given 5 votes to spread across Chase’s 100 preselected charities. The charity with most votes wins $1million. The five runner-ups each take home $100,000 (not bad.)
Two competing organizations that recently contacted the Jewish Journal are:
Info provided by Chase Community Giving on Facebook.
Cancer impacts entire families, not just patients. Children of cancer patients lives are turned upside down when the joys of childhood are replaced with fears of losing a parent. Without support, these kids withdraw experiencing low esteem, social & academic challenges. Camp Kesem (CK) provides children of cancer patients with a free, fun-filled week of overnight summer camp. CK campers befriend peers facing similar issues, build esteem & gain confidence to cope with their parent’s cancer. CK is the only nonprofit that serves families coping with cancer while developing the next generation of leaders. College students want to make a difference now, while developing leadership know-how for tomorrow. CK student leaders plan, fundraise, staff & operate CK camps, gaining essential business & leadership experience. With 1.7MM new cancer cases in the US each year & 5,000 colleges educating potential CK student leaders, $1MM will fund exponential CK growth; impacting countless lives forever.
Since 2000, Camp Kesem launched 23 camps, empowered 3,600 children of cancer patients & developed 2,000 college student leaders with a passion for helping others. For a decade, the CK model has proven to be repeatable, scalable & self-sustaining. The plan is to accelerate growth to 123 mature CK programs within 3 years; providing life changing experiences for more than 12,000 children of cancer patients & 8,000 college student leaders every year thereafter. The plan has 3 proven steps: 1) PREPARE: CK Program Directors will identify, recruit, train & supervise student leadership teams to launch 100 new CKs; 2) GROW: CK Student Leaders will increase awareness in their college & cancer communities, train new student leaders, recruit new campers & fundraise to maximize the number of campers age 6-16 served annually; 3) SUSTAIN: Transfer knowledge to incoming student leaders, broaden & accelerate community partnerships & fund raising to ensure the long term sustainability of CK nationally.
100% of $1MM in new funding will be invested to achieve 4 measurable outcomes within 3 years: 1) Operate 123 mature, self-sustaining CK programs in perpetuity; 2) Empower 12,000 children of cancer patients annually with life-long friendships, improved self-esteem & self-confidence. Before & after CK camp effectiveness surveys measure levels of camper self-esteem & self-confidence to deal with a parent’s illness or premature death from cancer; 3) Provide leadership development opportunities for 8,000 college student leaders annually & improve programming for the annual CK student leadership conference for active student leaders & CK alumni seeking to stay connected with the CK mission; 4) Employ 10 CK Program Directors (PDs) to facilitate & run CK programs nationwide. PDs are college grads that ran successful CK programs & desire careers in non-profit leadership. $1MM will fund the magical experience of a lifetime for kids of cancer patients & the college student leaders who serve them
Millions of families have children with learning, developmental or physical disabilities such as Autism, Down syndrome, Cerebral Palsy or ADHD. Life takes a challenging turn when their child becomes labeled as “different,” resulting in fear of the unknown and worst of all, social isolation. Most parents wonder: Will my child make friends? Will he be accepted by the community? Will she ever have a job?
Friendship Circle‘s mission is to bring those families back into the circle by pairing their children with teenage volunteers who are taught to acknowledge their friends’ place in society and make them feel part of the community. We provide the individuals with tools to enter society confidently, by teaching them social and life skills within our unique facility. We also provide the community with the tools to welcome these individuals, through education and training. The lives of everyone involved are enriched by experiencing the beauty of friendship, advocacy and selfless giving.
Friendship Circle’s Ferber Kaufman LifeTown is a 23,000 sq. ft. building with an activity wing housing eight therapy rooms and a unique 5,000 sq. ft. true-to-life indoor city - Weinberg Village, which operates at capacity every day. Its eight storefronts include a bank, medical office, library, drugstore, theater, and beauty salon. With this grant, we will expand the Village, doubling its facilities and the number of people it serves. The addition will include a copy center and pizza parlor to provide valuable occupational training for adults with disabilities.
We will hire professional educators to train our 800 volunteers to become Ambassadors of Friendship, advocating for respect, inclusion and friendship for all people with special needs. Modeled after our innovative program, there are over 70 Friendship Circles with 11,000 volunteers nationwide. We will share this training with these other organizations to create a global network of advocates for individuals with special needs.
Inside Weinberg Village, individuals with special needs learn essential life skills such as using crosswalks, banking, tipping service people, and more. In time, they gain confidence to transition these skills into their real life communities.
Our proposed expansion of Weinberg Village will result in a waterfall of change for Friendship Circle. Currently, with the help of over 800 volunteers, we serve 2,500 individuals with special needs from 155 different schools. The new expansion will allow us to serve more than 5,000 students annually and add over 500 volunteers. In addition, adults with special needs will be able to utilize the Village for vocational functions such as job application, interviewing and workforce training.
Friendship Circle’s Ambassadors of Friendship will help spread the message of inclusion, respect and friendship in our society, creating a new social norm founded on acceptance and social responsibility.
January 21, 2010 | 3:03 pm
Posted by Julie Gruenbaum Fax
As Tiger Woods is reported to have entered rehab for sex addiction (see ESPN story here), the media and the blogosphere have reacted more with snickers than sympathy.
But experts I interviewed for a story seven years ago say sex addiction is as physiological a malady as alcoholism or drug addiction.
“There is still this judgment of ‘what a sleazy guy,’ but what they don’t understand is that the addict has a psycho-biological disorder in which he is seeking a drug that he himself produces,” said Robert Weiss, clinical director of the Sexual Recovery Institute, on Olympic Boulevard, just outside Beverly Hills. “He is literally dosing himself with his own neurochemistry, like a drug addict with a needle in his arm.”
And rabbis have no doubt it’s a spiritual malady as well.
“All addiction is caused by a hole in one’s soul, and a need to fill it with something,” said Rabbi Mark Borovitz, spiritual leader of Beit T’Shuvah. “It’s about loneliness and emptiness. We turn to addictive behaviors and substances as a solution to this experience of not fitting in, of not being good enough.”
The story I wrote looked at how the addiction nearly ruined the lives of a Chasidic father of 12 who was raped as a child in yeshiva, a Reform husband and father who was raised by alcoholics, and another rabbi who became a leader in 12-step programs after facing his own addiction to internet porn. It’s been seven years since I wrote the story, but I still receive feedback on it.
One Friday night 33 years ago, when Yisroel Richtberg was 12 years old, an older boy sneaked into his dorm room at his Chasidic yeshiva in Israel, pulled off Richtberg’s pajama pants and raped him. The same thing happened the next Shabbat.
The boy told Richtberg (not his real name) that if he ever told anyone, the two would be blacklisted at all the yeshivas, and the attacker said he would kill himself.
Richtberg didn’t tell.
Instead, he sank into a cycle of depression, shame and isolation, one that would lead to a 20-year addiction to prostitutes, pornography and drugs, fronted by a double-life as an upstanding Chasidic rabbi, businessman and father of 12.
Today, Richtberg is alive to tell his story because he got help from therapists and 12-step programs. He has made it his life’s mission to help others conquer an addiction so coated with shame that it resides at the very bottom of the hierarchies of addiction.
January 21, 2010 | 2:38 pm
Posted by Jay Firestone
Apparently there’s only room for one black box per airplane.
From NY Daily News:
A Jewish prayer box worn by a teen passenger caused a Thursday morning furor on a flight from LaGuardia Airport, forcing an emergency landing in Philadelphia, authorities said.
The mix-up involved the 17-year-old boy’s tefillin, a black box filled with Biblical verses and tied with leather straps to his head, said Philadelphia police Lt. Frank Vanore.
What are Tefillin?
Also known as phylacteries, Tefillin are a “set of small cubic leather boxes painted black, containing scrolls of parchment inscribed with verses from the Bible, with leather straps dyed black on one side, and worn by observant Jewish men during weekday morning prayers” (WIKI on Tefillin).
January 20, 2010 | 8:51 pm
Posted by Tom Tugend
The Israeli film “Ajami” has made the first cut in the Oscar race by being named among nine semi-finalists in the foreign-language film category.
The nine movies were selected from among 65 entries and will be winnowed down to five when all Oscar nominations are announced Feb. 2.
“Ajami” paints an unsparing picture of Arab-Jewish and intra-Arab tensions in a mixed quarter of Jaffa. Its co-directors are two young Israelis, Scandar Copti, a Christian Arab, and the Jewish Yaron Shani.
Also picked was Germany’s “The White Ribbon,” which has gotten the most buzz and won the Golden Globes pick for best foreign movie. The film by Michael Haneke is set in a rustic German village around 1914, whose seemingly placid life holds the seeds for the Nazi flowering to come.
Other semi-finalists are:
Argentina, “El Secreto de Sus Ojos.”
Australia, “Samson and Delilah.”
Bulgaria, “The World Is Big and Salvation Lurks Around the Corner.”
France, “A Prophet.”
The Netherlands, “Winter in Wartime,” in which a Dutch boy aids a downed British pilot during World War II.
January 19, 2010 | 7:59 pm
Posted by Ryan Torok
Best lineup in years.
My first time at Coachella was during my senior year at Milken. It was a great period in my life. I was obsessed with music and little else mattered. Radiohead headlined the festival. They were my favorite band. Their set blew me away.
Yes, life was simple.
Since then, I have made the trek out to the desert—to Indio, past Palm Springs—several times. Over the course of the decade, the festival has seen a lot of changes. It is no longer a 2-day festival, but has grown into a 3-day event. The crowds have gotten younger (or maybe I have just gotten older).
The subsequent years failed to capture the magic of my first time, but I guess that shouldn’t be surprising.
Today, Goldenvoice, the festival’s longtime organizer, announced this year’s lineup. I have to say, this is the best they’ve put together in years. Radiohead returns, in a way. Thom Yorke will be one of the third day’s headliners. He will be performing solo material with a band he has put together, which includes Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Is that it? Hardly. On day 3, the Gorillaz, the recently-reunited Pavement, Phoenix and Sly and the Family Stone are all playing. On day 1, you’ve got Jay-Z, LCD Soundsystem, Them Crooked Vultures (made up of Dave Grohl, Josh Homme and Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones), Vampire Weekend, Grizzly Bear and Passion Pit.
In my opinion, day 2 is the weakest. Still there is plenty to see, like Muse, Tiesto, MGMT, Jack White’s The Dead Weather and festival regulars Hot Chip.
Thank you, Coachella. After a mediocre experience last year, I thought you and I were going our own ways for good. I spoke too soon. To my friends, on April 16-18, if you’re looking for me… try the main stage.
January 19, 2010 | 3:50 pm
Posted by Rob Eshman
Sunday on CNN a reporter visited a makeshift American hospital and interviewed Dr. Jennifer Furin, of Harvard Medical School, as she stood in desperation over a dying patient. Frustration brought Dr. Furin near to tears. The man had survived the earthquake only to die a slow and agonizing death from infection in an ill-equipped hospital.
“I’ve been here since Thursday,” Furin said. “No one but the Israelis has taken any of our patients.”
Cut to the Israeli field hospital near Port au Prince. The reporter tours the facility speechless by what she sees: an MRI machine, patients on respirators, operating stations and beds. In a matter of 48 hours, the Israel Defense Force medical mission and search-and-rescue crews arrived in Haiti. The medical team established a field hospital adjacent to Port-au-Prince’s soccer stadium that can treat as many as 500 patients per day. The field hospital is equipped with:
• Operating rooms
• An intensive care ward
• A maternity ward
• A pediatrics ward
• Incubator units
• A pharmacy
• X-ray equipment
• 10 tons of medical equipment
• 90 beds, 66 intensive care beds and two delivery beds
• Approximately 250 personnel, including 40 doctors and specialists, 20 nurses and several paramedics.
The IDF team included medical personnel from Sheba Medical Center, ZAKA, Magen David Adom, IsraAID/First and other organizations.
“Our medical aid delegation to Haiti expresses the true heritage of the State of Israel and the Jewish People,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “This act joins similar action we have taken in the past in Mexico, Kenya and Turkey. We may be a small country, but we are a country with a big heart. This is the expression of Jewish ethics and heritage – to help others.”
Cynics will say this is just Israel trying to burnish its image. They will say it hardly makes up for the damage Israel did in the last Gaza War. But fair-minded people will hear the report below and understand, to paraphrase Ben Gurion, It doesn’t matter what the critics say, it matters what the Israelis in Haiti do.
Just ask the Haitians.
CNN’s coverage of Israel in Haiti