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January 23, 2017 / 25 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Time’

Gain Discipline, Gain Time

Friday, November 25th, 2016

Do you wake up every morning and do everything you planned to do that day?

Do you always finish the tasks that you started?

Do you wish you had more sitzfleisch?

Most people probably wish they had the ability to accomplish all of their plans, finish what they start, and sit for long periods of time. While some people call it sitzfleisch, others call it self-discipline. And, according to many, self-discipline is the single most important factor in determining a person’s overall success. In his book, The Seven Laws of Self Discipline, Brian Cagneey writes, “When it comes to achieving the goals and happiness that you want out of life, there is one simple thing you can do that will increase your chances of success 10 fold: improve your self-discipline.”

Cagneey later explains, “While those who lack self-discipline likely think that it is an innate behavior, in all actuality it is a skill, which means that like any skill it can be improved with practice over time.” If you can improve your self-discipline through proactive steps, then it can make most many things in life significantly easier – mostly because you won’t be spending all of that time motivating yourself to do those things that you aren’t looking forward to doing.

Recently, I read an article by Rick Riddle, an author who writes about maximizing personal effectiveness on ways to improve your self-discipline and resolve. But, first you must want to make better choices in the future. As Cagneey cautions, “Your future self is directly influenced by what you choose to do in the present, so do yourself a favor and choose wisely!”


Ways To Improve Your Self-Discipline

Stick with a daily routine. That routine should likely include a to-do list. That to-do list should be the order in which things should get done (based on importance and deadlines). Then, go through it, in order, each day. Just the sheer act of writing up the to-do list the night before and crossing items off the following day will create a sense of routine and accomplishment that will encourage replication.

Switch between things you like and don’t like. When you put together your to-do list, alternate between things that you find pleasant and those you don’t. This way, you will rush to get through the unpleasant. Once you turn this into a habit, you can feel the “reward” of getting through unpleasant tasks by getting to a pleasant one.

Remind yourself of consequences. There are obviously rewards to getting your tasks done and those are great to remember, but you should also remind yourself of the consequences if you don’t get them done. For instance, maybe you will let your kids down by not picking up the school supplies they need, maybe you will let your employees down by not finishing the tax reports before the deadlines, or maybe you will let your boss down by not getting her presentation edited on time. Remind yourself that your non-completion of tasks can negatively affect you and those around you.

Make time for breaks and rewards. Self-discipline requires you to work even when you don’t feel like it, but no one can just work all the time. We all need to schedule breaks and rewards into our days (and weeks and years). Therefore, plan short breaks throughout the day and plan vacations (or staycations) throughout the year. This will keep you disciplined when it is time to work.

Organize your space. A clear desk or office helps you focus and work. If you are staring at all these other things that need to be sorted, filed, or cleaned, you won’t be able to get to the task at hand. Before you finish your work for the day, tidy up your workspace and have your next day’s to-do list ready to go.

Talk to yourself. Sometimes it is great to state your goals out loud because it allows you to verbalize and actualize what you plan to do. The verbalizing of the plan can also help you avoid distractions and procrastination. Thinking, “Okay, now I’m going to sit down and write next week’s column” gets me motivated and on track every week.

Keep your eye on the prize. You have your everyday to-do list, but those everyday tasks likely add up to something larger. What is your ultimate goal? Remind yourself of that goal and how your work each day will get you closer to it.

None of us feel good when we procrastinate. In fact, procrastination only makes us feel worse as this poem clearly expresses:

Putting it off only makes fear grow
Like a monster of abnormal proportion
Face it early and quick you will see
It is fear that gives life distortion

Do it now before you doubt
Or excuses will be your dictator
For if you don’t want to do it now
Then why should you want to later?
– Chelle Leigh


Let’s all gain some sitzfleisch and get things done. Then, we can all take a much-deserved vacation!

Rifka Schonfeld

Jewish Geography, Part I: Through The Mists Of Time

Friday, November 25th, 2016

Before “Jewish Geography” was a game played at simchas and other social gatherings, there were intrepid Jewish travelers who set out to explore the world. Sometimes they were in search of new markets for commerce, sometimes they were in search for glory – and sometimes they were seeking their long-lost brethren, descendants of the Ten Lost Tribes. In this four-part series, we’ll follow some of these adventurers.


Mystery Merchants

The Roman Empire was a dim memory. The gulf between Christian Europe and the Muslim world was growing wider every year. But wealthy people will always have a yen for exotic, luxurious things – rare spices and perfumes, soft silks and furs – and pay a good price to get them. Therefore, a group of Jewish merchants seized the opportunity and created a trade network that stretched from Spain in the west to China in the east, and from the northern kingdom of the Khazars to the southern lands of Arabia, India and Ceylon.

They were called the Rhadhanites in a document penned by ibn Khordadbeh, a 9th century postmaster and spymaster for the Caliph in Baghdad. Not much is known about them, besides their trade routes and the fact that they were multilingual. For instance, was the word “Rhadhanite” a general term for Jewish merchants, or did it refer to a specific family or clan? Were these Jewish merchants from the area around Baghdad, or did they originate near the Rhone River, the end point of their various trade routes? Historians have studied ancient documents, languages and maps to solve the puzzle, but so far the Rhadhanites have kept their secrets.

astaire-112516-drawingWhile no one doubts their role in bringing brocades, furs and swords to the Orient, and carrying back musk, aloes and cinnamon to Europe, other claims remain in the realm of conjecture. Was it the Jewish Rhadhanites who brought the Chinese art of papermaking to the Western world and not the Arabs? It’s possible, although it’s also possible that both Jewish and Muslim traders were involved. What about those Hindu-Arabic numerals that replaced Roman numerals in Europe? According to Avraham ibn Daud, a 12th-century Jewish astronomer and historian from Spain, it was Joseph of Spain who brought the simpler 10-digit system of counting from India. But who, exactly, was this Joseph of Spain? We know he was a merchant during the Rhadhanite era, but whether or not he was a Rhadhanite – there were other traders abroad – and whether or not he was the Joseph of Spain who authored several medieval mathematical treatises, which would explain his interest in numbers, is not known.

For the Rhadhanite trade network to work, the merchants needed a relatively stable world order, one that would allow them to move freely across borders and cultures. That stability was shaken in the 10th century by the fall of China’s Tang Dynasty and the destruction of the Khazar Empire. The rise of mercantile Italian city-states such as Venice and Genoa also led to the Rhadhanites’ demise. But for a 500-year period that lasted from approximately 500-1000, the Rhadhanites played an important role in the continuation of international trade, and they may have been a conduit for the flow of new ideas and inventions as well.


The Elephant in the Room

While the Rhadhanite traders usually liked to buy and sell luxury items that could be easily transported, Isaac the Jew, an emissary of the Frankish King Charlemagne, had the task of transporting an unwieldy elephant from Baghdad to Northern Europe. By all accounts, it wasn’t easy.

The incident is recorded in the Royal Frankish Annals, which cover the years 741-829 and are an important source for Charlemagne’s reign. Charlemagne, like other rulers before and after him, invited Jewish merchants to settle in his mainly agricultural kingdom to develop its commerce and trade. Jews could also be found in various positions at the royal court, thanks to their knowledge of languages and their international connections.

We don’t know the official title Isaac the Jew held, but he seems to have been a trusted diplomat because when he set out in 799 for Baghdad, he had been charged with an important mission. Along with two other diplomats, he was sent to establish friendly diplomatic relations with Harun-al-Rashid, the fifth Abbasid Caliph in Baghdad, so that Charlemagne could have access to the Holy Land.

Avraham ibn Daud

Avraham ibn Daud

Harun al-Rashid ruled during the peak of the Islamic Golden Age and it is his court that is described in the fictional One Thousand and One Nights. As was customary, the diplomats from the Frankish kingdom exchanged gifts with the Caliph. Harun al-Rashid got Spanish horses, hunting dogs and Frisian cloaks – expensive woolen cloaks that could be dyed white, gray, crimson or sapphire. In return, he gifted Charlemagne with silks, perfume, ivory chessmen, a water clock with mechanical knights that announced the hour, a huge tent with many-colored curtains and an Asian elephant named Abbul-Abbas.

Unfortunately, the other two members of the diplomatic mission died before the return trip began. It was therefore up to Isaac to bring the elephant and the other gifts safely home. Researchers have retraced his steps, following his progress from Baghdad across northern Africa, where he boarded a ship from Tunisia to cross the Mediterranean Sea. After Isaac and Abbul-Abbas landed in Genoa, it was just a hop, skip and a jump over the Alps to Charlemagne’s royal residence in Aachen. They arrived on July 20, 802.

The elephant became an immediate sensation, and its name was frequently mentioned in writings of the time. As for Isaac, who passed away in 836 when he was in his mid-eighties, not much else is known. But at least one writer, Jeff Sypeck, author of the book Becoming Charlemagne, has an appreciation of the difficult feat Isaac accomplished: “Whatever reward awaited him for leading an elephant across 3,500 miles, it could not have been enough.”


An Eye for Travel

There were other Jewish diplomats who traveled extensively for their monarchs, such as Jacob ibn Tariq, who was sent by the Caliph to Ceylon during the 9th century to pick up some books on astronomy. There were also many other Jewish merchants doing business along the ancient trade routes. Indeed, the medieval period is sometimes described as a time when the Jews were constantly on the move. But during the 12th century, a new kind of Jewish traveler took the stage – people who recorded their experiences while on the road, describing the people and communities they encountered, along with the sights. One of the most famous of these early travel writers was the 12th century author of Book of Travels, Benjamin of Tudela.

Benjamin left his native Spain around the year 1160 and was on the road for more than a decade. His final destination was Eretz Yisrael, which was then ruled by the Christian Crusaders. Some historians suggest Benjamin might have been a merchant and that doing commerce was another reason for his trip. Marcus Nathan Adler, in his 1907 book The Itinerary of Benjamin of Tudela: Critical Text, Translation and Commentary, suggests yet another reason. During those uncertain years, when many of northern Europe’s Jewish communities had been destroyed by the Crusaders and the Jews of Cordoba were being persecuted by their Moorish rulers – the Rambam’s family fled Cordoba, along with many other Jews who chose exile over forced conversion – Benjamin was perhaps searching out safe havens for Jews to flee to, if necessary.

Benjamin’s travels followed a Mediterranean route, visiting cities with established Jewish communities, such as Barcelona and Gerona, Narbonne and Montpellier, Genoa and Rome and Salonika and Constantinople, before arriving in Jerusalem. On his return trip, he visited Damascus, Baghdad and Basra and Alexandria. While he writes about Persia, China and other parts of the Far East, it is generally thought that this part of his travel diary relies on hearsay rather than eye-witness reporting.

Yet, it’s not only the number of places visited that gives Benjamin’s diary an important place on the medieval bookshelf; the breadth of his interests and observations offers us a rare glimpse into medieval communities and their everyday life. Thus, we are told the names of the Torah scholars who were prominent in each city and learn about medieval Jewish professions, such as silk weaving in Thebes and glass-working in Aleppo. He also describes the way synagogues were organized in Egypt.

A highlight of the diary is his detailed description of his travels in Eretz Yisrael, which included a visit to Har Tzion, where he hears a legend about King David’s burial place, and to Chevron, where he describes his visit to the Cave of Machpelah:

The custodians tell the pilgrims that these are the tombs of the Patriarchs, for which information the pilgrims give them money. If a Jew comes, however, and gives a special reward, the custodian of the cave opens unto him a gate of iron, which was constructed by our forefathers, and then he is able to descend below by means of steps, holding a lighted candle in his hand. He then reaches a cave, in which nothing is to be found, and a cave beyond, which is likewise empty, but when he reaches the third cave behold there are six sepulchers, those of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, respectively facing those of Sarah, Rebekah and Leah.


On the Move

Benjamin of Tudela

Benjamin of Tudela

Benjamin of Tudela’s travel diary was translated into many languages and can still be purchased today, which is probably why he is the best-known medieval Jewish traveler. But there were others. For instance, Rav Petachiah of Regensburg (also known as Ratisbon) made a journey around the same time, which probably began in Prague and took him through Eastern Europe until he headed south to reach Eretz Yisrael.

Yet another traveler was a Barcelonian Jew named Yuceff Faquin, also known as Yosef the Physician. According to a document of King James IV of Majorca, dated 1334, Faquin was sent by the king to circumnavigate the entire known world, making him one of the best-traveled people of his day.

But that day would soon be coming to an end. European monarchs were searching for a better way to reach the Indies, either by sea or by new overland routes. What they found instead was a new world – and they did it with the help of a new kind of Jewish geographer, whom we’ll meet next month in Part II of Jewish Geography: the mapmakers who made those long-distance voyages possible.

Libi Astaire

Netanyahu Matches Ben-Gurion’s Record for Consecutive Time in Office

Sunday, November 20th, 2016

On Sunday, November 20, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud) has concluded a consecutive seven years and 235 days in office, matching the record of Israel’s legendary first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion (Mapai-Labor).

This means that, barring a Knesset vote of no confidence on Sunday, as of Monday Netanyahu will become Israel’s longest serving PM in consecutive years.

However, when it comes to time in office, Ben-Gurion is still way ahead of his much younger successor. When combining his two terms, Ben-Gurion clocked 13 years and 127 days, compared with Netanyahu’s mere 10 years and 252 days.

Interestingly, Netanyahu’s most ardent foe these days, Ehud Barak, served the shortest term in office as Prime Minister: eight months and one day.

And to those of you, political sports fans, who are interested in these stats, here is the full list of also ran:

3. Yitzhak Shamir: 6 years and 242 days (first term: 339 days; second term: 5 years and 268 days)

4. Yitzhak Rabin: 6 years and 132 days (first term: 3 years and 18 days; second term: 3 years and 114 days)

5. Menachem Begin: 6 years and 113 days

6. Levi Eshkol: 5 years and 247 days

7. Ariel Sharon: 5 years and 39 days (Including a 100 days period of “temporary incapacitation” wherein the Prime minister’s authorities were delegated to the Designated Acting Prime Minister)

8. Golda Meir: 5 years and 19 days

9. Ehud Olmert: 2 years and 351 days (In addition, served as Acting Prime Minister, wherein the Prime Minister’s authorities were delegated to him) Shimon Peres: 2 years and 264 days (first term: 2 years and 37 days; second term: 227 days)

10. Moshe Sharett: 1 year and 281 days


An Act That Echoes Through Time

Friday, November 18th, 2016

“And Avraham awoke in the morning, hitched his donkey, and took his two lads, and Yitzchak with him. He split wood for the sacrifice and went to the place that Hashem had commanded him to.” – Bereishis 22:3


Avraham Avinu was given a supreme test, and one of the greatest challenges ever presented to man: “Take your son, your only son, the son that you love…

One has the right to ask, “What was so great about this act?” Even today we witness people who are willing to slaughter themselves – or their children – in the name of their beliefs, and we certainly don’t consider them great. Why is this act considered one of the ultimate accomplishments of man?

The answer to this question lies in understanding not so much what Avraham did, but how he did it.

Avraham lived to serve Hashem. His every waking moment was devoted to spreading Hashem’s name and bringing others to recognize their Creator. However, he knew that only through a distinct and separate people could the name of Hashem be brought to its glory. His destiny and ultimate aspiration was to be the father of the Jewish nation.

Yet for many years that dream didn’t come true.

Avraham was 100 years old when he had Yitzchak. He waited month after month, year after year, begging, beseeching, and imploring Hashem for this son – but to no avail. Finally, in a most miraculous manner, at an age when both he and his wife couldn’t possibly parent a child, the angels told him the news: “Your greatest single ambition, to be the father of the Klal Yisrael, will come true through this child Yitzchak.”

Avraham’s Relationship With His Son

From the moment Yitzchak was born, he was the perfect child. Not only was he nearly identical to Avraham in look and in nature, from the moment he came to the age of understanding, he went in the ways of his father. Avraham had many students, but there was only one who was truly devoted to knowing and understanding the ways of his teacher. That was Yitzchak.

The bond of love and devotion Avraham felt toward his son is hard to imagine. The nature of a tzdaddik is to be kindly, compassionate, and giving. When a tzaddik connects to an almost equally perfect tzaddik, the bond of love and devotion between them is extremely powerful. For years, this relationship grew.

Avraham wasn’t asked to kill his child; he was asked to bring him as an olah, to perform all of the details that are done to a sacrifice in the Beis HaMikdash. Many a person has difficulty learning the particulars of bringing a korban when it is done to a sheep or a goat, but this wasn’t an animal. This was his son.

This refined, caring, loving tzaddik was asked to slaughter and then prepare his most beloved child and talmid as a sacrifice – not to sit by and allow it, not to witness it, but to do it with his own hands.

You would imagine that if such a person could actually muster the self-mastery to do this, it would be with a bitter and heavy heart.

Yet that isn’t how the Torah describes the events.

And Avraham got up early in the morning, hitched up his donkey,” and set off on his journey.

Rashi quotes the Midrash that explains this was out of character. Avraham was an extremely wealthy and honored individual. He had hundreds of loyal students, and many, many slaves. Hitching up his donkey was not something he normally did. It was done for him by a servant. Yet this time was different because “love blinds.” Avraham was so enraptured with this great act that he got carried away and did something he never would have done himself. He hitched up his own donkey.

The Crescendo

With a calm demeanor and joy in his heart, Avraham set out on a three-day expedition to accomplish this great mitzvah. Along the way, Yitzchak discovered he was to be the sacrifice. He said to his father, “Please bind me so that I don’t twitch and spoil the sacrifice. A korban must be slaughtered in a particular manner. Any deviation and the sacrifice is invalid. Yitzchak was afraid he might inadvertently move and spoil the process. Therefore he said, “Please bind me.” (Hence the term “akeidas Yitzchak,” the binding of Yitzchak.)

Avraham did just that. He tied Yitzchak’s arms and legs behind him, put him on the mizbeach, and raised up the knife to kill his son.

The Midrash tells us that Avraham stood over Yitzchak “with tears in his eyes and great joy in his heart.” The tears in his eyes were the tears of a father parting with his most beloved son, but there was joy in his heart because of the fantastic opportunity to show Hashem that nothing, not even his most beloved son, was more precious to him than serving his Creator.

The question becomes: how is it possible for a man to make the ultimate sacrifice in a manner that seems to transcend every emotional limitation?

Akeidas Yitzchak was a singular event that actualized the years of extraordinary perfection that represented Avraham Avinus life. Because he lived in this world, he felt real love for his child, but even that love was something he harnessed to show his greater love of Hashem – the perfect balance of a man in complete control.

Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier

Battling The Scourge Of Cancer, One Drug Cocktail At A Time: The Work Of Medical Pioneer Dr. Howard Bruckner

Thursday, November 17th, 2016

On a balmy evening in a neighborhood restaurant on New York City’s Upper East Side, I sit across the table from renowned oncologist Dr. Howard Bruckner. “Today,” he tells me, “I gave the news to a longtime patient that the cancer was in remission, baruch Hashem.”

A small black yarmulke perched on his head of graying hair, Dr. Bruckner acknowledges the words of the rebbes who call on his help: “Everything but everything in life is orchestrated by Hashem; the doctor is a shaliach.”

He has earned a reputation of being the doctor of last resort for those battling complex gastrointestinal and gynecological cancers with high mortality rates. He notes that Jewish philosophy categorically rejects hopelessness. “A sensible scientific plan and a ‘can do and must try’ attitude benefit everyone and are absolutely necessary.”

Dr. Bruckner explains that he has identified special criteria for integrating lessons learned from testing tumors in leading laboratories. He has further refined these findings in his laboratory in order to integrate them with the most promising clinical treatments from the leading cancer centers. This approach has made formidable inroads in enhancing their application to integrative and personalized medicine, thereby already extending many (and potentially countless) lives.

His earliest discoveries for exceptionally ill patients have now become fundamental parts of standard treatments used both before and after surgery. They substantially improve long-term survival. He hopes that because his current innovations are more potent they will have a greater impact on both heavily treated and new patients than his earlier successes that are now used worldwide.

He explains that from the onset of a patient’s diagnosis tumors are too often already recognizably resistant to standard treatment, and he expresses the hope that the new technology, which can identify resistance, will allow his safer treatments to provide earlier help for many previously resistant patients.

“We’ve discovered,” he says, “that as a result of these treatments, patients with our most challenging cancers often survive two to three times longer and more often. ”

A pioneer in the field of designing new moderate low-dose chemotherapy regimens to treat a variety of tumors that are often resistant to standard treatments, Dr. Bruckner has been a member of more than 20 national professional societies and committees, a consultant and reviewer for numerous professional journals and pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, and has authored and co-authored more than 150 peer-reviewed reports and articles.

In his 40 years as an academic and full professor, he was a frequently invited speaker for various symposia and lectures. In addition to training at both Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Yale University School of Medicine, Dr. Bruckner has held appointments at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and State University of New York (SUNY) Downstate Medical Center.

He began his own practice in the Bronx in his sixties, when many doctors start thinking of retirement, Under his leadership, the staff of physicians and nurses work as partners with their patients to find the best treatment plan for each.

* * * * *

“My approach,” he says, “is to substantially add to the options offered at major cancer centers; to work toward complementing and refining existing treatment programs. In essence, we are not here to compete with the standard oncology practices but rather to build on them by providing complementary interactive treatments in time to help patients.”

It was while Dr. Bruckner was immersed in immunological research at Albert Einstein Medical College that he was offered a coveted position at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) where he would work with a Nobel prize-winning physician. He did not take that position or an already offered postdoctoral infectious disease position at Harvard. He recalls that during an interview for the NIH position, the associate director of the NIH’s National Cancer Institute (NIC) “told me of a number of best research projects they had started and offered me my choice to join any one of them. I explained to him why each one would not succeed because the technology was not up to par in order to measure the critical pathological factors under study. After giving what I had said some thought, he said I was ‘a very good critic.’ ”

Asked whether he could propose practical research objectives, Dr. Bruckner suggested investigating why therapy causes infections and offered testable stratagems to make cancer therapy safe, which became his key career-long priority.

Startling revelations quickly emerged from Dr. Bruckner’s first experiments as a special assistant to the NCI associate director. Offering an explanation in layman’s terms, Dr, Bruckner said he used a very important but dangerous leukemia drug and injected it into laboratory mice. He then gave the mice antibiotics to protect them from infection, as this mimicked everyday clinical practice. The wholly unexpected finding was that the antibiotic was not helping. The opposite, in fact, was true.

Dr. Bruckner came to understand that the action of antibiotics also improved the use of cancer drugs against the tumors. Most important, recognition of the problem led to solutions, still applied, that make many cancer drugs safe and increase their therapeutic benefit.

He then began to create “models” that mimicked critical problematic strategies in cancer therapy in a lab setting in order to test drugs in depths impossible to achieve in the clinical research. This remains his preferred research method.

“In six months, I showed how the normal human bacteria would affect radiation and drugs, making them safe and unsafe. Bacteria determined the metabolism of the oral and intestine mucosa and bone marrow, and the metabolic rate determined safety.”

After NCI, while at Yale Medical College, Dr. Bruckner found that most international cancer research and treatment had not been applied to ovarian cancer. The ovarian cancer survival rate was a dismal 5 percent. This became a pivotal factor in his decision to move on to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City where he found a strong working interest in gynecologic cancers. It was also an ideal setting in which to explore the numerous science-based treatment opportunities.

“In essence, we knew about a promising platinum drug that was too toxic to use. I figured out how to use it safely and that led us to discover step-wise how the drugs could work even more effectively without killing people. We made it usable. We have made and can make many drugs safer and more effective.”

* * * * *

It was working on patient safety and ovarian cancer that led to Dr. Bruckner’s novel laboratory and clinical methods designed to optimize drug matching: finding a better and safer dosage and comprehensive team comprised of a cocktail of partners for drugs. This even led to successes with patients suffering from pancreatic cancer, which he describes as perhaps the “worst and most dangerous form of cancer.”

“You can’t just pair any two drugs,” he says. “Drugs that barely work individually will work with the right drug partner, especially multiple partners.” Through his lab work he found multiple simultaneous moderate and low-dose safe partners for combination drug therapy that has since had unprecedented success against resistant cancers.

Recently, leaders in cancer drug development have afforded multi-drug methodology new praise. They recognize a possible HIV analogy, where multi-drug methodology provided both critical safety and efficacy breakthroughs. Dr. Bruckner says that when this approach is applied to cancer it results in not only safer additional drug treatments but also safer drug interactions. It also empowers anti-vascular tumor starving drugs and promotes immune stimulation.

Fern Sidman

CBS: For the First Time Ever, Jewish, Arab Fertility Rates Identical

Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

An announcement by Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) on the occasion of the International Child Day 2016 states that, for the first time since the creation of the state in 1948, Israeli Jewish women’s overall fertility rate has matched that of Israeli Arab women: 3.13 children per woman on average. This means that the Jewish demographic trend is on the upswing, while the Arab numbers are slowing down. Kindly share this by the Thanksgiving table when the issue of the “demographic time bomb” rears its predictable head.

The announcement shared a fascinating list of facts and figures on the heartwarming topic of Israeli children. Such as that by the end of 2015 there were 2.798 million children ages 0 to 17 living in Israel, constituting 33% of the population. In Jerusalem children are 40% of the general population, in Haifa 23% and in Tel Aviv only 21%.

Out of Israel’s children, 1.996 million are Jews (71.3%), 718 thousand are Arab (25.7%) and the rest, 84 thousand children (3%), are neither.

By the end of 2015, the average number of children under age 17 per household was 2.4. The largest number of children per household was in Beit Shemesh — 3.8, B’nei B’rak — 3.4, and Jerusalem — 3. The lowest number of children per household was in Bat Yam — 1.8.

Here’s another heartwarming bit of data: a whopping 92% of Israeli children live with both parents; only 8% — 210 thousand children — live with one parent, 92% of them with their mother.

How about child brides? In 2014 865 girls under the age of 17 got married, 88% of them Muslim. Then, in 2015, 216 girls under age 17 gave birth, out of whom 248 were Muslim and 58 Jewish. For 7% of those it was not their first birth.

In 2015, 200 thousand children lived in homes where no one was employed, 5.5% of the Jewish population, 14% of the Arab population.

In the Jewish year 5774 (2013/14) 10,673 criminal files were opened against children ages 12 to 18.

In 79 thousand households children were the victims of theft, violence or threat of violence, sexual violation, and cyber crime.

Economics: the average net income for a household with children was 1.3 higher than a household with no children — $55,135.32 annually, compared with $42,539.52. However, expenses for the households with children was 1.4 higher, $45,831.6 vs. $32,545.44.


Shiloh Musings: Time for Me to Just Wait and Watch American Presidential Elections

Tuesday, November 1st, 2016

With just over a week to American Election Day, I think it’s time for me to just find a comfortable seat to observe the fireworks. This is possibly the most bitter election campaign ever. Even when in 1964 Barry Goldwater ran against Lyndon B. Johnson, two very different candidates, it was nothing like this. OK, in 1964, nominees were still chosen by politicians and party “machines,” not by primaries. So, Goldwater didn’t have the super long build up of primaries campaigning that Donald Trump has had.

And if you don’t know, Goldwater was totally trashed by LBJ. I was in my teens, and I still remember one of, or the main, campaign slogans you heard from the Goldwater camp:

“In your heart you know he’s right.”

Now over fifty years later, decades after Ronald Reagan did the unthinkable and got elected by the “silent majority,” I see Donald Trump as another step in the rising confidence of the Right.

America has changed a lot in these last fifty-two years.

Hillary Clinton was also a teenager when Goldwater ran against Johnson. I wonder if she had her plans to run for President hatched by then. Or was she more inspired by the aim to correct George McGovern’s highly competent wife, Eleanor, who seemed to make peace with her role as hostess during the 1972 Elections, rather than using her talents for higher office. And just in case you don’t know, Richard Nixon defeated George McGovern.

And about the upcoming American Elections, there’s no unity in the polls. It seems that the various companies or NGOs that poll people about their voting plans each ask different segments of the American public whom they plan to vote for, because there are enormous discrepancies. Also,  there has been a rise in Trump’s numbers and a drop in Hillary’s.

I watch BBC TV News, and they are now trying to prepare people for a surprise. There’s no consistency in poll results, so they have just been showing the range of numbers.

Considering that Hillary’s supporters find Trump despicable, and Trump’s supporters consider Hillary a criminal, whoever wins will have an awfully hard time governing and making Americans feel like one country.

And it’s not just a matter of how the two disparate groups of supporter feel. I don’t remember ever hearing such foul and nasty remarks by presidential nominees about opponents ever before. This does not bode well for the United States of America!

Batya Medad

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/shiloh-musings/shiloh-musings-time-for-me-to-just-wait-and-watch-american-presidential-elections/2016/11/01/

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