Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Yad Sarah lends medical gear to Israelis and tourists

I feel a sense of pride to write the following the story of Yad Sarah as my daughter- in-law is heavily involved as a volunteer in the organisation, acting as manager of a branch of the organisation in the city where she lives. She spends time day, and sometimes night, to ensure the smooth running of the branch.

So many countries have adopted this model which helps to save  vast amounts of money that would otherwise be spent in the healthcare system. My wife and I have had cause to use the services in the past, so we know how effective they are.

Rivka Borochov 12 Sep 2013

Yad Sarah saves Israel an estimated $400 million in medical costs every year
by offering equipment and support to people in their own homes.

The 6,000 people who volunteer for Israel’s charity Yad Sarah are known by people in
their communities as angels, not only because they help save the Israeli economy
an estimated $400 million in medical costs every year, but also because they offer their
time to bring a longer and higher quality of life to people who might otherwise have to
be cared for in hospitals or geriatric centers.

Through its 102 branch offices, Yad Sarah lends out more than 300 different kinds of
medical equipment to Israelis and tourists -- rich or poor, Jewish or Arab.

Yad Sarah also provides 16 support services, from rides for the disabled to the
doctor’s office or just out for a cup of coffee with friends, to toy libraries for parents of
children with special needs.

About 20 percent to 30 percent of the people who turn up at the Jaffa office are from
the Arab community -- Muslims and Christians who come to get wheelchairs,
respirators, crutches, cribs, breast pumps, sleep apnea devices, baby monitors,
hospital beds and all the other items Yad Sarah lends out for up to three months with
nothing more than a small security deposit asked up front.

Countries including Turkey, El Salvador, South Korea, Italy, Jordan, Angola and
South Africa -- and many more -- have adopted the Yad Sarah model in various

Yad Sarah started out as a small charitable fund in 1976 in the apartment of Uri
Lupolianski, a young teacher who would later become the mayor of Jerusalem. In his
religious community in Jerusalem, he noticed that every winter children would be
taken to hospitals by ambulance and then returned home the next day.

The reason for this burden on the healthcare system, he found, could be fixed with
humidifiers and ventilators to moisten the dry air created by the heating systems in
these old Jerusalem apartments. But the parents in his neighborhood couldn’t afford
the basic equipment to solve the problem every winter.

Creative solutions to improve life quality
Yad Sarah offers a whole range of services: clean linens for the bedridden, security
systems for the lone elderly, meals on wheels, home visits, legal services, and even a
service to help people put their life story into print to share with their family after they
are gone.No other country in the world has this kind of service with everything at one address.

Anat Ben Zaken, who is in charge of the Life Story operation, says that Yad Sarah
volunteers created about 100 Life Story books last year alone. A volunteer who is an
expert in writing will arrange 10 to 15 visits at the home of the elderly or dying person
so their life story can be recorded digitally. Later it is transcribed and edited into a
book to be shared with the family.

This is especially important for Holocaust survivors, adds Feldman, because often
they haven’t told their story to anyone in the family before; the memories were too

But easing the pain is what Yad Sarah does best –– and it does it with an impressively
low budget.

Most of Yad Sarah’s operational costs come from inside Israel, from donors and also
from clients who donate the security deposit after an item has been returned.
The massive organization – Israel’s largest charity and the world’s largest lender of
medical equipment -- employs only 200 people and relies on its thousands of
volunteer “angels,” mainly pensioners, to staff management and office positions at its branches.

Feldman says Yad Sarah’s annual operating budget is about NIS 80 million, or about
$20 million, and 94 percent of that comes from donations locally and internationally.
They believe in keeping people at home in their own communities as long as possible,

for both humanitarian and economic reasons.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

More Palestinians work in Israel

The number of Palestinians from the West Bank working Jewish settlements there and in Israel has increased from 96,000 in the first quarter of the year to 103,000 in the third quarter.

The numbers were released in a report by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics on Thursday. 51,000 of the Palestinian workers employed in Israel had work permits while 34,600 did not have permits, according to the report.

The bureau reported that there were 1.161 million people total in the Palestinian workforce: 761,000 in the West Bank and 400,000 in the Gaza Strip.

The number of unemployed Palestinians hit 275,000 individuals, 145,000 in the West Bank and 130,000 in Gaza. 

The unemployment rate in Gaza was 32.5% and in the West Bank the rate stood at 19.1%. 43.1% of the unemployed were between 20-24 years old and half of all people with academic degrees were unemployed. The report found that among Palestinian cities Hebron in the West Bank had the highest unemployment rate at 22.3% and Khan Younis was the unemployment leader in Gaza at 35.8%.

Terror in Judea and Samaria

Last week, Shoval, a combat photographer for the IDF travelling in Samaria reports
I saw my life flash before my eyes, and felt the terrible fear of dying.
I was traveling on a road in Samaria. A bus full of children returning from school came down the opposite lane. Suddenly, out of nowhere, I saw a firebomb fly directly at the bus. I blinked and saw in my mind one of those horrifying images of an exploded bus you see in the newspaper, only this time it was right there in front of me.

When I opened my eyes, I breathed a sigh of relief. I didn’t know if it was luck or something else, but the firebomb missed the bus, flying right over it.
One split second later, that sigh of calm turned into one of the most fearful moments of my life. The bomb was now heading towards me! I can’t explain how that felt in words – those few milliseconds felt like an eternity. I managed to step on the accelerator of my vehicle and the bomb landed in a bush a few meters away from me.

I sped up and drove to a military position at a nearby crossing, and alerted the soldiers to what had happened. They quickly returned with their commanding officer to the scene of the crime to catch the terrorist. We heard on the radio that another IDF force had already arrived there.

The saddest part of this attack is that this truly non-trivial event has become a dangerous routine. Israeli civilians in Judea and Samaria suffer from attacks like this daily, attacks which the media deem insignificant. After living through this experience today, I feel the importance of being there, as a soldier, even more strongly.”

Terrorists have committed dozens and dozens of firebomb attacks this year across Judea and Samaria. When a terrorist throws a firebomb, he immediately puts lives at risk. Unfortunately, Shoval’s story is just one of many. Share this testimony and show the world the true face of the constant terror attacks that go unreported in Judea and Samaria.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Eat and enjoy but switch off your phone

Associated Press report that a restaurant owner in an Arab village outside of Jerusalem says he is on a mission to save culinary culture by making diners a simple offer: Turn off your cellphone and get a 50 percent discount.
Jawdat Ibrahim says smartphones have destroyed the modern dining experience. He hopes the generous discount will bring back a more innocent time when going to a restaurant was about companionship, conversation and appreciating the food, rather than surfing, texting or talking to the office.
"I'm changing something. It might be something small, but maybe in some small way I'll be changing the culture of eating," said Ibrahim, 49.
Ibrahim is the owner of Abu Ghosh, a well-known restaurant named after its hometown, located about 10 kilometers (six miles) outside of Jerusalem. The town is known as a symbol of coexistence, and its restaurants, serving up platters of creamy hummus and grilled meat, are popular with Arab and Jewish visitors alike.
Ibrahim, who opened the restaurant in 1993 with winnings from an Illinois lottery, said mealtime conversations have long been a staple in this cellphone-obsessed country. But the situation has worsened in recent years as smartphones have become more sophisticated. He said he became dismayed as he saw groups of friends or married couples sitting in silence, staring at their screens and ultimately asking him to reheat their food.
For the whole story see 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Why do we need checkpoints?

From a report via the Emek Mediical Center

This morning, 19 year old newly enlisted IDF soldier Eden Atias boarded a bus heading to Afula from neighboring Nazareth.  Sitting next to him was 16 year old Hussein Jawadra, a Palestinian who had illegally entered Israel from nearby Jenin.  In the next moments, by the time the bus had entered Afula’s central bus station, the young Israeli lay mortally wounded after being stabbed in the neck in an unprovoked vicious attack by the Palestinian teenager. 

Eden died in Emek Medical Center before we could save his young life.  The young terrorist is currently being treated in another Israeli hospital after being injured during his apprehension. 

Another horrific example of life and death in the Valley of Armageddon, where Israel – committed to the sanctity of life - offers medical aid even to an enemy.  Even to a politically motivated deranged murderer. 

We stand proud as Israelis, while we share bitter tears with the Atias family and our people. 

And  many are still asking why we need the checkpoints!!      

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Bedouin in the Negev and the Begin Plan

View of Bedouin town of Lakiya in the Negev

The Bedouin in the Negev, numbering approximately 210,000, is one of many communities which comprise Israel's pluralistic society. Unfortunately, historically this community has been ranked low in socio-economic indicators.

Recognizing that the Bedouin of the Negev need assistance, the government of Israel created a comprehensive policy - called the Begin Plan - aimed at improving their economic, social and living conditions, as well as resolving long-standing land issues. 

To this end, Israel has allocated approximately 2.2 billion dollars (8 billion shekels), including over 330 million dollars (1.2 billion shekels) for specific economic and social development projects.

This January 2013 policy - named after then-minister Ze'ev Binyamin (Benny) Begin - is designed to solve a wide range of problems affecting the Bedouin population. Among the numerous initiatives that have begun or are planned are the expansion of technological and adult education, the development of industrial centers, the establishment of employment guidance centers, assistance in strengthening Bedouin local governments, improvements to the transportation system, centers of excellence for students and support for Bedouin women who wish to work or start businesses.

Ahmed Al-Karnawi in his greenhouse in Rahat in the Negev
As part of the Israeli government's efforts to reduce Bedouin unemployment, he and other Bedouin have
received government plots to set up small agricultural businesses. Al-Karnawi cultivates  roses (which he
exports abroad) and vegetables.
Israel is working with the Bedouin community on all aspects of the Begin Plan. Indeed, the plan was developed through dialogue and in close coordination with the Bedouin: In an attempt to expand on the previous Prawer Plan, Minister Begin and his team met with thousands of Bedouin individuals and organizations during the development stage. As a result, Bedouin traditions and cultural sensitivities were taken into consideration, and a plan was formulated to reinforce the connection of the Bedouin to their culture and heritage.

Furthermore, contrary to some claims, Israel is not forcing a nomadic community to change its lifestyle. The Bedouin in the Negev, who moved to the area starting at the end of the 18th century, began settling down over a hundred years ago, long before the establishment of the State of Israel. By now, most Bedouin citizens live in permanent homes. 

Still, one of the major problems facing the Bedouin is housing.  Almost half of the Negev Bedouin (approximately 90,000) live in houses built illegally, many of them in shacks without basic services. Isolated encampments and other Bedouin homes may lack essential infrastructures, including sewage systems and electricity, and access to services such as educational and health facilities is limited.

There are solutions to this problem and to the many other difficulties facing the Bedouin. For example, under the Begin Plan, the government is giving every Bedouin family (or eligible individual) that needs it, a resident plot. These lands are being developed to include all the modern infrastructures and will be granted free of charge. Bedouin families can then build houses according to their own desires and traditions. Those that move will be offered their choice of joining rural, agricultural, communal, suburban or urban communities.
A street in the Bedouin village of Drijat, "the first Bedouin solar village"
The village was converted in 2005 to a modern solar village by a governmental project of installing there a
multipurpose solar electricity system. Thus, many houses, the school, the mosque and the street lights in Drijat
are powered by solar panels.

Most of the Bedouin citizens will remain in their current homes. 120,000 already live in one of the seven Bedouin urban centers or eleven recognized villages. Of the remaining 90,000 that live in encampments or communities that are not zoned, only 30,000 will have to move, most of them a short distance (a few kilometers at most). The other 60,000 will have their homes legalized under Israel's initiative, which will develop their communities and grant the residents property rights. 

Much has been made of those Bedouin who will have to move. However, almost half of them (14,000-15,000) have settled illegally within the danger zone of the Ramat Hovav Toxic Waste Disposal Facility. Given the threat to their health, and even lives should there be an incident at the facility, the government of Israel has an obligation to relocate these families.

The Begin Plan will also resolve land claims made by a number of Bedouin in the Negev, most of which have been in dispute for decades. Currently, there are 2,900 land claims regarding 587 square kilometers (227 sq. miles). Although these claims have no legal basis under Israeli law (and were not recognized under the previous Ottoman or British land law systems), Israel wants to resolve the issue. It will do so by adopting a compromise according to which all the Bedouin claimants will receive compensation in land and money equivalent to the full value of the land claimed. The Bedouin will no longer have to engage in lengthy court cases while the compensation process will be based on the principles of fairness, transparency and dialogue

There have been attempts to attack the Begin Plan (which its detractors deliberately misname the Prawer Plan in order to associate it with an outdated proposal). Many of those acting in the international arena against Israel's plan for the Bedouin belong to the camp which seizes upon any opportunity to harm Israel's reputation. Others have purer motives, but have based their opposition on false information distributed by Israel's opponents.

This opposition is unfortunate, particularly for the Bedouin who will benefit greatly from the Begin Plan. This new policy constitutes a major step forward towards integrating the Bedouin more fully into Israel's multicultural society, while still preserving their unique culture and heritage.

Most importantly, the Begin Plan guarantees a better future for Bedouin children. No longer will they have to reside in isolated shacks without electricity or proper sewage. Now they will live closer to schools and will be able to walk home safely on sidewalks with streetlights, alongside paved roads. They will have easier access to health clinics and educational opportunities. Their parents will enjoy greater employment prospects, bettering the economic situation of the whole family. To oppose the Begin Plan is to oppose improving the lives of Bedouin children.

A classroom in the Regional Center for Education and Rehabilitation of Disabled Bedouin Children (suffering 
from C.P.)  in the town of Tel Sheva in the Negev. The center, financed by Israeli governmental ministries, currently accommodates around 140 children with C.P., from pre-kindergarten to post high-school age, and will in the future accommodate 500 pupils. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Intn'l Conference - Gender Equality - Opening Ceremony

We were invited to attend the opening ceremony  of the International Conference "Ensuring the centrality of gender equality and women's empowerment - post 2015 " in Haifa this week. 

There is much talk about the lack of recognition of Israel in the corridors of the UN, yet this conference showed how much support Israel has. The conference is sponsored by MASHAV, Israel's agency for international development in conjunction with UN Women and UNDP (development progress).

In addition 4 other UN agencies were present and representatives from 33 countries. It was inspiring.

The entrance to the ceremony wit flags of participating countries.

Awaiting the arrival of the diplomatic delegations

Sierra Leone's representative

The Diplomats arrive

The Druze community is represented, of course

The official invitation

Mazal Renford, MASHAV's director

Entertainment provided by Bat-Shir Choir
of the Haifa Symphony Orchestra

Keynote address by Dr Babatunde Osotimehin
Executive Director, UN Population Fund UNFPA

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Solar Device Purifies Saltwater and Contaminated Water

If water covers about three-quarters of our planet, why do some 750 million people in 45 countries have little access to clean drinking water?

“About 97 percent of the world’s water is saltwater or polluted water,” explains the CEO of SunDwater, an Israeli company that is ready to market its solar-powered distiller to provide clean water for drinking and agriculture. 
The SunDwater unit converts contaminated, unsafe or saltwater into potable water without any need for infrastructure or an external energy source. 

The device was invented by a  couple of childhood friends patents were applied for in June 2011. Today there is a pre-market operational unit..

Mimicking nature

Here’s how the low-cost, low-maintenance system works: Saltwater or polluted water is pumped into the unit. The sun’s rays heat the water until it evaporates. The water vapor flows into a cylinder where it gets condensed back into freshwater, just like in the natural cycle of rainwater to clouds.

New water is constantly pumped back into the closed system as the water evaporates, so the device produces clean water at five times the rate of similar systems -- 400 liters (423 quarts) per day, or thousands of liters if multiple units are joined together as a water farm.

The basic premise is old as the hills. “You could go back 2,000 years and find sailors taking seawater and putting it in flat beds to let it heat and evaporate to separate from the salt,” says the CEO, Zimels. “But with the technology we’ve used until now, you’d need a very big footprint of space to get a small amount of water.”
The breakthrough was to make this process workable on a commercial level by concentrating the sunbeams on a four-square-meter (43-square-foot) round dish to make the water heat and evaporate quickly.

“There is no need for electricity,” Zimels emphasizes. “We are just using nature to improve nature itself, not creating new environmental problems.”

The device will be targeted to urban, rural and remote communities for basic fresh water needs.

Deslination not practical for spread-out populations

“Taking in account that the vast majority of the people in need reside in developing countries, our focus through the development process was to deliver a smart but very simple-to-operate and relatively cheap solution to assure that they are able to purchase and operate the units on their own,” Zimels says. 

Israel is not one of the target markets.

“Here we’ve built mega plants to desalinate enough seawater for our needs, but we are a small country,” Zimels points out. 

“For a country where people are more spread out, desalination plants won’t resolve the problem because they are too expensive to build and it’s too expensive to transport the desalinated water. Today these populations drill wells, or get transport of bottled water, or even use contaminated water despite the huge health risks. Our solution is efficient, green and easy to implement.”

A demonstration and research SunDwater unit is set up in an industrial park at Kfar Adumim, a sunny Judean Desert town not far from the Dead Sea. The distiller can convert the salty, mineral-rich water from the Dead Sea into a clean glass of drinking water within half an hour.

“The system is working very nicely,” Zimels reports. “In the last six to nine months we’ve had a lot of ideas of how to improve it, making it smaller and quicker. We want to build a much larger unit, about 20 square meters [215 square feet] to generate 5,000 liters per day Now we need capital to start building the whole supply chain, to train the communities in need how to operate the unit and to continue the development and improvement of our solution”

Customers in Madagascar, Nigeria and other African and Indian countries have expressed interest in the product. SunDwater is working with an Israeli water consultancy for rural areas, WaterWays, to implement the solution most efficiently for those potential buyers.

“We believe in the long run the unit could be manufactured in the country where it will be installed; we’d send somebody to install it and train the local operators,” says Zimels. “That offers an added financial advantage to those countries.”