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Posts Tagged ‘israelis’

Israel, US Ranked for Health in OECD Study

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

A new report by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) concludes that Israel has the 5th highest life expectancy of its 34 member countries.  The United States comes in at 28th.

Israelis average 81.6 years, according to the report, 2 years longer than the OECD average.   The average American life expectancy is 78.2 years.

Though Israel came in ahead of the United States, it came in below Japan, Sweden, Canada, and Holland.

Ironically, though Israelis enjoy longer lives than Americans, they do so with less medical resources.  While the average OECD country features 3.5 hospital beds for every 1,000 people, Israel has just 2 hospital beds per 1,000, which means hospitals are overcrowded. The occupancy rate of Israeli hospitals was very high – 96.3 percent compared to the OECD’s 76 percent.  In 2009, Israel spent 7.9 percent of its Gross Domestic Product on medical care.  The United States spent 17.4 percent.

Israelis also enjoy a lower discrepancy in life expectancy between men and women – women live 3.8 years longer than men compared to the OECD average of 5 years – and a lower than average infant mortality rate – 3.8 as opposed to the OECD average of 4.4.

In 2009, OECD members had an 84 percent five-year survival of breast cancer – in Israel, that rate was 86 percent.  The same year, Israelis came in leaner than the average OECD country, with a 14% obesity rate.  America’s rate stood at 34%.

Hyacinths And The Jewish Renaissance

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

It’s always hottest at the end of summer. I am not a meteorologist and I have not checked the latest statistics. I just know that right now, the sun’s rays are searing, the ground is dry as a bone and everything (and everyone) outside just seems limp and faded.


That is, everything except the hyacinths. Just when the summer heat seems to have baked our landscape and our senses into a dry, dull yellow, the hyacinths go into full bloom. There is something special about the hyacinths. How do they know – in the middle of this never-ending heat wave – that the seasons are about to change and that autumn is just around the corner? Obviously there is a botanical answer to that question. But for me, the hyacinths are a reminder of God’s Invisible Hand behind the scenes, directing every last detail in our world and bringing these exquisite flowers to bloom just when we have been convinced that the heat and dryness of the summer will be here forever.


Currently, the hyacinth phenomenon is being played out in Israeli society. In the midst of the insufferable dryness and pessimism so prevalent in current Israeli culture, beneath the gloomy headlines and the permanent despair that have become part of our lives, Israeli society has begun to wake up. Behind all the politics and repulsive scandals, we are witnessing a Jewish renaissance.


Let’s take, for example, the Jewish music scene that is in full creative bloom. Aharon Razael, Yonatan Razael, Ehud Banai and Shuli Rand (to name just a few) are regularly featured on mainstream Israeli radio by virtue of their talent and clean, rich compositions and lyrics – and not just to allow the radio stations to claim that they also cater to the religious public.


The authentic Jewish creative culture to which we are being treated is just the tip of the iceberg. Israelis are searching for their Jewish identity. The “Israeliness” that was supposed to have replaced Judaism – instead of endowing it with the depth of statehood – has turned out to be a false savior. So on whom can we rely? On Israeli politics? On its justice system? On the educational system? On our invincible army?


Israelis are returning to their roots. Not in the same way as in the ’70s. Israelis are returning to their Jewish roots without making major changes in their lifestyles. They are remaining in their neighborhoods and in their social circles and workplaces. They are simply putting more emphasis on their Jewish identity. Like the hyacinths, something is blossoming here before the change of seasons. A research poll publicized a few months ago showed that young people in Israel are more traditional than their parents. The researchers expected just the opposite. Once again we see that the typical image of drugged teenagers partying throughout the night conceals what is occurring under the surface. These young people have lost their faith in the system – and are returning to their roots.


What is most surprising – and what you will not see in the media – is the fact that the average number of children per family in Israel is the highest in the Western world. And no, it is not just due to the high birth rates of the religious and the Arabs. “I’m working on my fifth,” an obviously pregnant secular broadcaster recently told me. “Is that unusual in your circles?” I asked her. “Not at all,” she answered, smiling. “In the afternoon, the backyard of our North Tel Aviv [upper- class, secular neighborhood] apartment building is filled with children playing.”


This coincides with what Yoram Ettinger and his staff of researchers have been saying for two years. There is no longer a demographic problem in Israel. Israelis are having at least as many babies as Arabs.


To the best of my memory, the last time that Israel experienced a baby boom was after the Six-Day War. That was a logical occurrence. The great victory and the romance of Israel’s return to the Land of the Bible created a sense of prosperity and national awakening that was reflected in the individual and the family. But now? With all the new Olmert scandals? With the wholesale release of terrorists? With the Iranian threat, the Kassams and all the other reasons for despair? What is the source of the optimism?


We are at the threshold of a new season. Just ask the hyacinths about the Invisible Hand. Somebody up there is waking us up and commanding us to blossom.


Moshe Feiglin is the founder and president of Manhigut Yehudit (the Jewish Leadership movement), dedicated to building authentic Jewish leadership for Israel. For more information or to order Feiglin’s newest book, The War of Dreams, visit www.jewishisrael.org.

Where Rain Reigns, Hail Is Hailed, And Israel Is Real

Wednesday, February 4th, 2004

Perhaps the one characteristic that unites people of all nationalities, cultures and creeds is a
fascination with weather, especially bad weather. Strangers at bus stops, friends in carpools, colleagues around the water cooler love to commiserate about plans ruined by rain, snow, sleet or wind.

Except in Israel. Four days into a recent visit, I experienced precipitation for the first time, as I had never been in Israel during the winter months. The Jerusalem -Tel Aviv area was drenched by torrential rains and battered by hail. To the north, snow covered the slopes of Mt. Hermon and freezing rain hit the surrounding areas. Yet although they were soaked, drenched, pelted and muddied, the residents of the Holy Land did not utter one word of complaint. Everywhere I went I heard the words, from secular taxi drivers to chassidic shopkeepers “Baruch Hashem l’egeshem.” – “Thank G-d for the rain” or “Zeh bracha min HaShomayim” – “it’s a gift from Heaven.”

Rain is appreciated, cherished and embraced in Israel, despite the soaked shoes, dripping hair and flooded roads. Israelis understand that short-term unpleasantness or inconvenience is necessary for long-term benefits. They are also aware that complaining about it is useless anyhow - so why bother?

For a people under daily siege - they are remarkably cheerful, energetic – and defiant. The
streets are full with passersby going about their business. The lineups in the pizza places are long, the seats on the buses are occupied, and the sidewalks are full of vendors, shoppers and children.

The media would like potential tourists to believe that they visit Israel at their peril. That
normal activities like eating at a restaurant or waiting for a bus are risky. These observation are
true, but based on recent news, buying a newspaper in Manhattan can be life-threatening as well, as a grieving family discovered when a loved one was hit by a taxi that careened into a newsstand. And going camping in California can be deadly also. Or taking the Staten Island ferry can be bad for your health. Or eating a hamburger that someone else prepared, or
passing a dog on the street, or walking under a tree, or going on a boat, in a car, in an airplane, or showing up for work or just sleeping in bed when an earthquake strikes or a plane falls out of the sky.

The only way a person can avoid death - is not to be born in the first place. Otherwise you are at risk for dying - anywhere and anytime.

King Solomon states in Kohelet that there is a time to be born and a time to die. In a dvar Torah I heard from Rabbi David Algaze of Havurat Yisrael, he asked the question of why King Solomon points out the obvious – that people are born and people die? Rabbi Algaze presented the story of a childless couple who tried all kinds of infertility treatments. One day,
they were advised to go to a rebbe for a bracha. A year later, they had a healthy child. The couple regretted not going to this rebbe years earlier. They were then told that it wouldn’t have helped – as it was not the time for their child to have been born.

This concept of destiny applies to death as well. There is a specific time when each person is slated to die (although tefillah - prayer, teshuva – repentance and tzedakah - charity - can extend one’s life.) That being the case – it is pointless to cower behind closed doors. Israelis are not afraid to be out and about and to live their lives. Not to do so would be to grant
victory to those who want to shatter our spirits as much as they seek to break our bodies.

If we are afraid to travel to Israel, which means the withholding of crucial tourist dollars for a country whose economic health revolves to a great extent around tourism – then we inadvertently are aiding the enemy in realizing their dream of undermining the State of Israel.

If making aliyah is not a feasible option at the time for all Jews in the Diaspora - the very least we can do is visit and financially support the country that belongs to all of us. Israelis are already shouldering the brutal physical effects of the war of attrition – how can we sit back and let them bear the economic burden as well?

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/where-rain-reigns-hail-is-hailed-and-israel-is-real/2004/02/04/

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