Thursday, July 30, 2009

Recruiting Retired Doctors

Reported by Shalle McDonald
Written by Kasey Barr

In 2004 the Histadrut Labor Federation established a mandatory retirement age in the civil service as well as a few other sectors including government funded hospitals. The 2004 Retirement Age Law sets compulsory retirement at 67 for men and 62 for women. While there are exceptions based on special agreements, most employers do not go through the trouble and some even push employees toward earlier retirement.

Many skilled physicians have been pensioned off and hospitals have been left with staff shortages. Medical professor Mordechai Ravid, believes he has found a profitable solution for elderly doctors and non-governmental hospitals. He is recruiting the retired and has met with excellent results both administratively and economically. Ravid is medical director of Mayenei HaYeshua Medical Center (MYMC), and at age 71, he understands and values the experience and wisdom that comes with age.

He has recruited teams of doctors who have been forced into retirement yet still have incredible skills and a desire to keep practicing the trade they love and to which they dedicated so many years. Through recruiting the retired, Ravid, along with MYMC CEO Dr. Yoram Liwer have brought the hospital out of long-standing dept. The hospital profits are now allowing for growth of new units and the ability to see more patients.

Israel has four types of hospitals - government-owned hospitals; health fund hospitals; and private and public NGO-funded hospitals. "These public hospitals, ourselves included, get no government support and are players in the free market,” said Ravid. “We are not subject to any union agreement. And that's why we can employ people beyond their official pension age."

Ravid and Liwer employ a team of what they refer to as “The House of Lords”, or the retired. Prof. Gabriel Oelsner, age 71, ran the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Sheba Medical Center for over 20 years. Now at MYMC, he has set up an Ob-Gyn department with 820 births per month, almost 10,000 births per year.

Prof. Gabriel Gurman, age 72, was former chairman of anesthesiology at Beersheva's Soroka University Medical Center but was forced to retire. At the same time MYMC was outsourcing anesthesiologists because of a 17 year shortage of these professionals. Ravid hired Gurman in 2007 and in just 18 months the department has grown to a team of 12, with nine specialists despite the shortage in the field. “The atmosphere is unique and constructive, people didn't come here to advance administratively or enrich their CV. They came to serve a population," says Gurman.

Dr. Israel Doron, a lecturer in social work and gerontology at the University of Haifa, believes that people who want to continue working should be allowed to do so. For years, the focus has been on the vulnerability of older adults,” Doron says, “Not enough attention has been paid to the potential this group has.

Even with the mandatory retirement laws, MYMC and the private sector have found a ways to employ the aged and experienced with happier and healthier patients, doctors and hospitals.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tisha B'Av: One thing I ask

By Kasey Bar

Today's sunset ushurs in the eve of Tisha B'Av. It is a day which marks great tragedy in the Jewish Calendar. Both the first and second temples were destroyed on Tisha B'Av. The first was in 586 BC when the Babylonians conquered and the second was when the Romans demolished the temple in 70 A.D. Since the second temple fell the Jewish people have mourned for its rebuilding.

Though it may seem strange at first, this day reminds me of my wedding. I married a Jewish man and we had a Jewish wedding complete with the breaking of the glass when the groom recites the words of Psalm 137 verse 5:

If I forget you Jerusalem
May I forget my right hand
May my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth
If I ever don't think of you
If I don't raise up Jerusalem above my highest joy

Though there are many interpretations of what the broken glass symbolizes, many see it as a memorial to the destruction of the temple. My husband explained that the broken glass is to remind us that even in moments of our greatest joy we must not forget the loss of the temple and the importance of Jerusalem.

Our ceremony was one of the most treasured memories of my life and when my husband broke the glass I thought about the temple and Jerusalem. I felt grateful that even during one of the happiest events of my life, I was reminded that God's glory is above mine. I really treasure the Jewish symbolism that speaks to us of a narrative that is far greater than our own.

This year I won't make it to Jerusalem, but I remember spending Tisha B'Av in Israel's capitol city in the past. Thousands of Jews from around the world come to Jerusalem to walk around the Old City Walls. I went with one of my Jewish friends, Sara Revai, and and other Christian friends who also wanted to participate. Sara took us to a large center square on Jaffa Street. We joined the enormous crowd in sitting on the floor as a Rabbi read from the Book of Lamentations:

The elders of the daughter of Zion
Sit on the ground and keep silence;
They throw dust on their heads
And gird themselves with sackcloth.
The virgins of Jerusalem
Bow their heads to the ground.
Lamentations 2:10

After the entire book was read the crowd filed out to walk around the walls. During this time I could hear both joyful signing from those who were focused on the hope of a brighter future as well as mournful tunes accompanied by tears from those who were weeping for what had happened in the past. I saw a few men wearing sackcloth and ashes. It was really amazing to me because it was something I had only read about in my Bible and there it was right in front of me.
Finally everyone ended up at the Western Wall, also known as the Wailing Wall. It is the only remnant of what is left of the Holy Temple. Thousands and thousands of Jewish mourners have visited this place. They come weeping over the loss of the temple and yearning for the day it will be made new. The wall is a symbol of sorrow but also of great promise and redemption.

Tisha B'Av is a somber day and yet there is undeniable beauty in it. As I recall seeing so many people in Jerusalem gathered together, longing for God's presence in their lives and in their land I am humbled. It is a sight I recall with deep emotion. As I remember my wedding day and the broken glass reminding us of the loss of the temple, I am humbled. This day has taught me something of great worth. Despite how busy life becomes and no matter if I am thrilled by happy occasions or discouraged by hard times one thing transcends it all – one thing. King David expressed such a sentiment in the 27th Psalm:

One thing I ask of the Lord,
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in His temple.'
Psalm 27:4

The one thing is not simply a building of great worth, power and beauty, but the one thing is to be near the great worth, power and beauty of the One who inhabits the temple. Tisha B'Av is about the great and awesome glory of God. His presence once dwelt physically in the temple and on Tisha B'Av we mourn that loss, yet we look forward to and long for the day when we will behold Him in His temple. The day when His Kingdom will be on earth as it is in heaven.

First published for Travelujah at

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Laying claim to Jerusalem Part II

by Daryl Hedding

This is a follow up to my blog about the mystery that is Jerusalem and the struggle that still rages over its sovereignty. As if to prove the point I made about President Obama laying a foundation upon which Israel's claim to sole sovereignty is denied, his administration has now been found to have asked Israel not to build apartments in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem.

There are numerous problems with this development.

The primary issue goes back to Israel's sovereignty. What's apparent is that Obama, like so many other Presidents before him, lusts after the Holy Grail of world peace; reconciliation between Israel and the Arabs. What's frightening is that he's decided Israel's natural expansion in the land is the greatest impediment to that peace being achieved. On the one hand, it's confirmation of the fact that Israel's contribution to this conflict has little to do with its military endeavors, and a lot more to do with the outrage and violence that is produced on the part of the Arabs as a result of Israel's very existance on the land. On the other hand, it shows a complete lack of impartiality, and even a dangerous tendency to support the notion that Palestinian areas should be Judenrein.

In this particular case, the land in question was in fact purchased by an American Jew in 1985, and is currently abandoned. It was not annexed, stolen, nationalized or assumed control of by any method other than in a legal manner as exercised in most parts of the world where exists the rule of law. Unfortunately, for a President who believes that Israel's right to exist flows from the horror of the Holocaust, it is not surprising that a different standard is applied to the Jew when seeking to operate as any other citizen in the world.

It is my belief that the American administration is working hard to ensure that the final peace deal does not fail. To do that, they have decided that Israel must understand that their claim to sovereignty over Jerusalem is not only under contention, but is ultimately to be denied. To put it another way, the issue of Jerusalem, which was always a final status item, has already been decided upon by Obama, and now Israel only has to submit and the Holy Grail will be securely within his grasp.

Netanyahu must be commended for standing firm under the mounting pressure. There's much at stake. After all, either Jews have a right to exist in the land of their forefathers or they are just refugees displaced after the great and many evils of World War II.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Grocery Shopping in Israel:
Experiencing the 10 items or "more" line

By Lori Miller

What is it about holidays that makes one so homesick? I am currently living in America where I was born and raised. Having spent a number of years in Israel, I frequently find myself homesick and missing the craziness of life in Israel. Over the recent July 4th holiday it hit me again. I know, I know…July 4th is America’s Independence Day so why am I homesick for Israel on an American holiday? I think it happened when I was standing in a very orderly checkout line at one of our giant American supermarkets.
I remembered back to my pre-holiday grocery shopping in Israel and a wave of nostalgia washed over me. Life in Israel is at times very harsh, and yet there is so much passion and vibrancy in the culture. Standing in that checkout line, surrounded by self-absorbed and yet oh-so-polite Americans, I allowed my mind to wander back to one of the many wonderful, frustrating, hilarious, irritating and always entertaining experiences at my local “makolet” in Jerusalem. I documented one such experience. Those of you who have had the pleasure of living in Israel may be able to identify.

It was a Friday morning and after enjoying a four mile run with a friend I decided to stop at the local grocery store to pick up some good ‘ole Coca-Cola. One simply can’t be without Coke on a holiday weekend. The place was a madhouse as is typical on a Friday and for sure on a pre-holiday Friday. I got my Coke and proceeded to the “10 items or less” cashier. Now the “10 items or less” line at supermarkets (I use the term ‘supermarket’ very loosely) in Israel is just like every other law in Israel. It is merely a suggestion. Laws…any laws…are meant to be obeyed when it is convenient for one to do so. When it doesn’t fit into one’s schedule, these same laws can be either ignored or debated vehemently with the enforcing authority.

So the “10 items” line was long. Again, I use the term ‘line’ very loosely. It was more like an American football huddle…a mass of people all bunched together and jostling for position. (I'm all about football huddles...I just prefer them on the football field and not at the checkout line in the supermarket). I managed to determine who was last in “line” and planted myself firmly behind him. In the ten minutes that I waited in “line”, I can’t even tell you how many times my personal space was invaded. Now my definition of personal space has changed drastically in the past several years. When I moved to Israel, I would have told you that anyone coming within two feet of me was invading my personal space. That’s been cut back to about 2 inches. Keep in mind that I was on my way home from a run on a hot Jerusalem morning. This did not seem to be a deterrent. Every time another person bumped into me, I wanted to shout “Personal space, people, personal space!!!” but I refrained.

The man behind me had a cart full of items, well over the 10 items permitted. But this is Israel so, by all means, pull up to the “10 items” line with your cart full…why not? Because of people like him, those of us trying to merely purchase a bottle of Coca-Cola get to stand in line for 10 minutes while being accosted by the gazillion others in this huddle who are all jockeying for position. No lie.

After a few minutes, this guy remembered that he needed tomatoes. So he trots off (pushing me aside in the process) to get his bag of tomatoes. He comes back (pushing me aside in the process) only to trot away again (pushing me aside in the process) to get the cucumbers. Of course, one must have cucumbers to go with one’s tomatoes. The last time, and only the last time, did he manage to miss bumping into me. Then he proceeded to get into a discussion with the lady next to him in the “line” about whether he was behind me or whether she was. Loud shouting and aggressive hand gesturing ensued. I did not step in to clarify because in Israel, these things always work themselves out without bodily harm to anyone. Ok, and I was entertained. Just when I thought it was going to get really out of control, the lady remembered that she was, in fact, after him and not before him in this huddle/line. Smiles all around. Crisis averted. Whew.

So then the guy in front of me gets a call on his cell phone right when it’s his turn to pay. He manages to juggle paying and talking on his cell phone (yes…a man who can multi-task…impressive). But after he’s all paid up, he still needs to bag his groceries. This is something that he should have been doing while the cashier was ringing him up, but judging by the raised voice and the hand gesturing, his argument with the person on the other end of his mobile was of greater importance than expediency in a grocery line. So now, he and I are both trying to bag our groceries at the same time. He gets done just before I do and starts to walk off, forgetting his potatoes. So I grab him and remind him about his potatoes. He smiles a bit sheepishly and thanks me.

I gather my bags, finally finished with this rather traumatic Coke buying experience. I walk outside and exchange a pleasant “Shabbat Shalom” with the security guard and I walk on home. I should be completely frustrated and annoyed with the whole scenario but I find that I don’t have the energy. So I just smile thinking “I do so love this country”. Not that I would be opposed to a nice big Kroger, Giant Eagle or Publix on my street. A Kroger with large enough aisles to avoid the football huddle experience. A Kroger where the people actually line up in a line. A Kroger where 10 items or less means 10 items or less. But then again, if everything was orderly, lined up, and clear about who belongs where in the line, what would we have to argue about while we pass the time?