Sunday, July 29, 2007

Relative Suffering

Hobbling around on my ankle yesterday, I bumped into the woman who owns my Pilates studio, and she asked me how I am feeling and I answered "So-so." She knew, because we had discussed it last week, that I received a Grade II Ankle Sprain, and yet I got a five minute lecture about the power of positive thinking, that what I give out is what I get back (some version of the Law of Attraction), and that I need to start being a "half glass full" kind of person.

I have never been a fan of the "children are starving in Africa"/Clean Plate Club speech, nor do I jump for joy when someone tries to comfort me at a time of severe stress with the "G-d only gives us what we can handle" speech. I do believe a la Chaos Theory that there is a larger plan, and that my smallest view of the world cannot possibly take into account all the factors that are in play in a particular situation, and its ripple effect. But let me tell you that as someone who can count on one hand the number of times in my life when I have had a serious injury, this ankle sprain has given me pause for thought.

Since my injury, I have to think every time I get up from a chair, or see a flight of stairs. I had to ask a friend to do my supermarket shopping, because I could not imagine spending more than five minutes on my feet, wandering through a store. I cannot attend another friend's wedding tonight, because no one has room in their car and I am unable to drive. Needless to say, I have not participated in swimming or any substantial movement for the last four days.

I have always had issue with aging and crotchety old people, I would only like to live to 120 if I can do so in well-ness, that I would be able to basically take care of myself and enjoy an active lifestyle. I have also always had issue with asking for help, and if this ankle injury has taught me anything, it has shown me not only that I can ask for the assistance, but that my friends will reply with warmth.

Now we get to play the Relative Suffering game: last week, the same week as my fall, a group of teenagers went out on a hiking trip in the middle of the desert at the heat of the day, with no water. One of them died during the hike, another died within the first 24 hours after the rescue, and several others are in critical condition. In response, their ultra-Orthodox teachers issued a press release stating that their students' physical condition does not concern them, but rather their spiritual health; ultra-Orthodox students on vacation are now advised not to travel around the country because they may be exposed to a "poisonous" secular element. (The article was accompanied by a photo of two ultra-Orthodox men wearing thong bikinis and frolicking in the water, with their guts hanging over. Too much information, and not quite the modesty that their teachers would have preferred.)

Last week, the same week I was tested by my helplessness, a man left his nine month old child in the car, while he went into the car garage, only went back to check on his child when he got a call from his wife; and found his baby dehydrated, with second and third degree burns, dead. The paper, in reporting the funeral of this child, said that the mother complained bitterly, and the father was the only person not crying among the 250 plus attendees of the funeral. I don't expect that marriage to last past the shiva.

So I don't get to complain about my ankle, there are far worse tragedies in my little country, and I should be grateful to be alive. G-d only gives us what we can handle, and what doesn't kill us, makes us stronger; the cliches we invent to make us feel better.

The police have said that they will wait to question the father for negligent homicide until after the week of mourning has concluded, that the family has "suffered enough" with the loss of their child. In this modern life of bureaucracy, you need to take classes and tests for almost everything- gun permits, driver's license, Sororities, professional credentials- yet, there are no tests for becoming a parent, the most difficult and responsible and significant job for any lifetime. Any child after the age of 12 can have sexual relations and get pregnant, bring a child into the world and then, oops, leave it in car to die a horrible drawn out death.

This is not the first story I have heard of parents forgetting their young children in a car, or at home by themselves, leading to their death, nor will it be the last, unfortunately. I have seen people more concerned about their dog, opening a window for them when they leave them in a vehicle.

Our children must come first.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

How I Spent my Birthday

6 am After a series of unsuccessful negotiations, the new boss of the Labour Union decides to show that he can hold the country hostage, especially during tourist season. He declares a general strike, which shuts down: Public and Government offices, the Interior Ministry, the Israel Railway, garbage collection, Outpatient hospital clinics, the electric company (except for essential services), Customs, and the Land Authority. Closure of the Airport, ports and border crossings is delayed by 24 hours.

6:30 am I leave the house and take the bus (which has not been affected by the general strike), to meet my cousins and our merry band of travelers at the train station in Tel Aviv. I print up the bus schedule to Caesaria, just in case we have no other travel option.

8:30 am I meet my cousins and their friend Sarah at the train station, and we need to cross the street in order to get to our bus transfer point. The pedestrian crossing turns to red while we are in the middle of the crosswalk, and we scurry to the other side of the light, whereupon two female policeman pull us over for jaywalking. I get a slap on the wrist, because my last moving violation occurred in 2002, and the police woman starts writing out a ticket (100 shequel) for my cousin, who could only present her with an American driver's license. I explain to her that they are Americans, that they are in fact leaving the country tomorrow, and that we got stuck in the middle of the crossing, with no choice but to move forward. She lets my cousin go, no ticket, but I am instructed to tell him that I saved him from having a criminal record in Israel.

8:45 am While waiting for the last member of our group, a specialty taxi offers to take all seven of us for a single price, door to door service to our destination. Hooray, we travel with air conditioning, in style, for only 35 shequel each.

9:30 am Arrival at Caesaria, and immediately the two stray cats lounging at the front gate use their radar and realize that I would almost rather be spending time with felines than with human beings. They come up to me, and rub up against my leg, as my cousin (who is deathly allergic to cats, can't even breathe the same air as them) starts screaming, "Make them go away!"

9:45 am Forgetting for the moment that I am at an ancient archaeological site, I fall on some random rock formation and twist my left ankle, bruise my entire right side of my body. This is before we are meant to go snorkeling and walk around for several hours.

10:30 am Snorkeling and underwater archaeological tour of the ruins in Caesaria, highly recommended.

12 noon Weariness, salt water inhalation and my ankle is getting worse. We eat lunch.

1 pm Chris Noth, star of Law and Order and Sex in the City , with regular appearances in Israeli shampoo and aftershave ads, walks by our table and sits down for a cup of coffee. Despite the fact that he has sat down, I go over and apologize for disturbing him, and he pretends that he is some random Italian man who understands neither Hebrew or English. I quickly cover by saying, "sorry, you look like a friend of mine," and walk away.

1:30 pm I get birthday cake for dessert, very rich chocolate hazelnut creation. Yum.

2 pm My cousin's wife (pregnant) and I (f**ked up ankle) decide that we would like to see a few more archaeological sites, and then return to their home for a barbecue. She and her husband also realize that there will in fact be a strike tomorrow at the airport, and that they must rush home and pack and hope to get on an earlier flight, before the entire airport closes. We call our original taxi driver, who says we cannot count on him for a ride back, at that price; we scramble to find an alternative solution.

3:15 pm I pass by Chris Noth once again, at the ancient theatre, we smile at each other.

3:30 pm Walking way too much on an ankle that needs to be iced and propped up, perhaps even x-rayed. We find a cab driver who charges us 50 shequel each to take us back to TA. I practically faint in the car from the exhaustion, dehydration and pain.

5 pm Arrive at my cousins' home in Tel Aviv, giant chaos as they pack up the rest of the house in an hour and do a barbecue simultaneously, while I unfortunately, have to sit on my gluteus maximus. I put ice on my food and burst out crying, partially from the pain, partially from the fact that I need medical attention and am being ignored, and partially because doctors make the worst patients. I call a friend of mine who doesn't quite live close by, but has access to a car, and plead with him to pick me up and take me home.

6 pm Pickup, I hobble to his car. (G-d, I hate feeling like an invalid, and I am still learning how to ask for and accept help.)

6:30 pm Sitting in rush hour traffic, feeling nauseous and experiencing a headache, and pain in my legs. I decide that since, in theory, I have been able to put weight on my leg and I don't want to sit for hours with the striking night shift at the hospital, I would rather go home than get an x-ray.

7:45 pm Stop off at pharmacy, pick up brace for ankle and Advil. Today coincidentally is the Best Sale of the Whole F**king Year Sale, so the lines are long, people are pushing me and I almost lose my balance several times. I start to cry so my friend tells me to find a bench somewhere and he will stand on the checkout line.

8 pm Home, must deal with my own cats and unpack and continue to hobble myself into bed and throw some Arnica on the area of inflammation. Self-medicate with a single malt whiskey.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

High School Bashing

Noah Feldman, in his New York Times Magazine article Orthodox Paradox (7/22/07), laces into his Jewish high school experience, and uses the opportunity to rile against Modern Orthodoxy in general. Before I address some of his specific points, I want to point out several facts about the author and Maimonides High School, which I also attended and from which I graduated several years before Mr. Feldman.

Regardless of his many accomplishments as an adult, Mr. Feldman was one of those arrogant teenagers who felt himself above the pack, who got bullied and beaten up on a regular basis in high school. He dated the sister of my best friend, they were the golden couple, both intelligent and attractive, and from wealthy families who invested heavily in the school and served on various executive committees. Indeed, he married a non-Jewish Korean American, and he can hardly be surprised that a Jewish school - whose sole purpose is to imbue generations of Jewish children with Orthodox values - would not trumpet the triumph of intermarriage. Even if Mr. Feldman is close personal friends with President Bush and has a heavy hand as co-architect in America's policy vis a vis the incredibly unpopular war in Iraq.

Frankly, given the multi-cultural atmosphere and population in Israel, if I saw a Jewish man with a Korean woman, my first assumption would be that she had converted, or was adopted by a Jewish family at a young age. Living in this country, you learn that Jews come in different shapes, sizes and colors. Turns out, Mr. Feldman's wife has no intention of converting.

I hated Maimonides, I was one of those kids who operated outside the box, got good grades because I worked at studying, and not because I could goof off until the last minute. When I was in the tenth grade, I took an art course outside the school, at a prestigious program in the Boston area. When they found out that I might be drawing nudes, they ordered me to cease the class immediately, because "good Jewish girls" don't draw nudes. When I applied to college, the college advisor - who resented every moment as a high school administrator and later had a nervous breakdown from the stress - told me that he had sabotaged some of my college applications, because he didn't like me and felt that I didn't deserve to have a choice.

You could not pay me enough money to redo high school, I am far too happy with the person I have become to repeat that suffering.

That being said, I wish to address certain points that Mr. Feldman raises in his article.

"Some part of me still expects - against the judgment of experience - that the individual human beings who make up the institution and community where I spent so many years of my life will put our longstanding friendships ahead of the imperative to define boundaries."

With all respect to his genius, the high school as an institution is made up of individuals who represent the party line. They will support the goals and directives of the institution, in order to maintain consistency of message, in this case the message of Modern Orthodoxy, which admittedly, exists in a gray area relative to other sects of Judaism.

"Senator Joe Lieberman...his run for the vice presidency in 200o put the 'modern' in modern Orthodox, demonstrating that an Orthodox Jewish candidate could be accepted by America at large as essentially a regular guy."

I fear Senator Lieberman as a candidate, not because of his political background and qualifications, but especially because he is a modern Orthodox Jewish candidate; he would then feel the need to bend over backwards to show a distinct lack of favoritism to Jewish and Israeli causes, both local and abroad. Bad for the Jews, bad for Israel and bad for America when someone in a position of power must be reactionary to prove a point.

"One of the best taught me eighth grade English when he was barely out of college himself, before he became a poet, a professor and an important queer theorist."

That would be a reference to my most excellent English teacher, Mr. Wayne Koestenbaum, who wrote a highly acclaimed book about the role of homosexuality in theatre, opera and entertainment. We girls had a crush on him, he had that well-dressed preppy look and opened us up to a world we had never encountered before; we had no idea that he was gay, and frankly, I wouldn't have cared. His book was reviewed by Time and Newsweek and the New York Times, and I have no doubt that the school would disavow knowledge of his sexual preferences.

My brother's best friend from high school - a tall, handsome, and bright person whom I watched grow up - recently came out of the closet, married his non Jewish Spanish partner, and has love and success in his life. I could not be happier for him (at least he managed to find a partner in marriage, good for him!) and again, I have no doubt that when he wins the Nobel Prize, the school would ignore his accomplishments because of his sexual preferences.

As a heterosexual and as a Doctor of Chiropractic, I would like to see any public institution acknowledge that homosexuality is also a genetically encoded trait which manifests itself at birth. I look forward to the day when the gay community does not have to have parades in order to make a statement of acceptability; call me a prude, but I believe that bedroom activities should remain private for everyone. Our planet has not arrived in that place yet, not among the Jews and not among other religions.

"Yigal Amir, the assassin of Yitzchak Rabin, was a modern Orthodox Jew...In 1994, Baruch Goldsten massacred 29 worshipers in the mosque atop the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron. An American born physician, Goldstein attended a prominent modern Orthodox Jewish day school in Brooklyn..."

Noah Feldman is no better than the anti-Semites in the movie "Borat" or the anti-Israel groups that proliferate the planet. Not every modern Orthodox Jew is an assassin or a murderer, the same is true for Muslims and Christians and aliens from space. True, it is easier to call upon known examples and generalize to a larger group, but I would expect better from a "scholar" such as Mr. Feldman claims to be.

"Our life choices are constitutive of who we are, and so different life choices would have made us into different people - not unrecognizably different, but palpably, measurably so."

Feldman states that he loves his wife, his children and the professional choices he has made; apparently he still needs that high school stamp of approval to assuage his insecurities. If Noah can accept that life derives from our choices, and claims that he is happy, then he must accept that his choices make it unacceptable to publicly laud his behaviour in an academic institution that seeks to preserve a particular and religious way of life.

Speed Reader

I have been a Speed Reader since the second grade, not to be confused with my childhood literary hero, "Easy Reader", as played by Morgan Freeman on The Electric Company. Dressed in my party outfit and waiting for my parents' guests to arrive, I finished an entire Nancy Drew book in less than a half hour; totally absorbed and scanning the text, I hadn't noticed the adults milling around with their drinks and their appetizers until I had finished the book.

This changed slightly in graduate school, when my mind would get stuck on the more complex and crucial medical terminology, as I forced myself to read more slowly, to make sure not to miss information. I have over time, however, developed another nasty reading habit, which I employ most liberally with murder mysteries and fiction: I read the last chapter before I start the rest of the book. Yikes, you're thinking, doesn't that ruin the suspense? Yes it does, and it is a remnant of my Type A control-freak behaviour, I need to know the ending so I can spot the clues to the resolution in the rest of the text.

Of course you don't need this methodology when reading the works of Charles Dickens, because every ending is the same: "And when the author fulfilled his word requirement, it turned out that the sad waif hungry orphan boy was really the son of the Duke, he married his true love who was able to look past the sad waif hungry circumstances of his life, and they raised proper Victorian children." When I speed read, I must get through the first 50 pages in order to capture my interest; I don't think I have ever gotten past the first 50 pages of any Dickens novel, even when I had to read it in high school.

Today, I stood on line - though not in costume - in anticipation to receive the last book in the Harry Potter series. In my excitement, the pre-order reserve form has been taped to my front door for the last three days. I read the New York Times review, which did not give away any spoilers, those bastards...

I now hold the book in my hand (the British version) and have a most important decision to make: do I read the epilogue first?

Duh, of course I do.

Confessions of a Former TV Addict

While flipping channels yesterday, I came upon the latest reincarnation of Power Rangers and realized that the current Black Ranger, "Dr. Tommy O" is actually meant to be a wink so to speak to fans of the older show; Tommy, the pony-tailed Green Ranger who then became the White Ranger, was always my favorite and my faith in him has been justified; apparently he has achieved higher learning and become a professor and continues to fight evil, even as a grown-up.

Who could forget the political correctness of the original show, five teenagers representing the full spectrum of American society, though somewhat clothed in a less than politically correct way: Zack, the black kid, was the Black Ranger, Trini, the Asian, received the color yellow. The Red Ranger represented the white trash sector of the population, Billy the Blue Ranger represented the geeks, and Kimberly was all girl as the Pink Ranger. Kitch thrived in this show, and in its cousins, shows like Transformers, Thundercats, and that cross country race show where the only character I remember is Penelope Pitstop, who drove the pink girlie car.

Kitch defined lots of the television I watched during my formative and impressionable years, and I fully admit to watching way too much television. The Sunday morning ritual for my brother and myself gave my parents a chance to sleep in, as we were glued to the idiot box from 5:30 to 10 am, starting with classics likes Bugs Bunny and Road Runner, and Rocky and Bullwinkle - who taught me literature and opera and politics - and continuing on with cartoon like shows with terrible pre-CGI graphics.

That was its appeal, we knew that this did not represent reality, that each scene was filmed with little models later available at the toy store, that acting was not required, but rather extreme and deadly overacting. To this day, I would choose Captain Kirk over Captain Picard. Kirk overacted, broke all the rules, convinced computers to self-destruct by showing them their feelings, and got all the women; all this with a gut that would be unacceptable on television today. Picard, played by a gifted Shakespearean actor, ordered tea. Recently, watching a rerun of an original Trek show, the ship gets hit by an enemy vessel and the crew on the bridge starts flinging themselves around; if you look carefully, several of the extras are doing cartwheels on the set, celebrating their red shirt status. Now that is classic television.

These days, as a result of my toxic overexposure to television as a child, I have become quite selective of the television I do watch, and frankly, with the pace of my real grown up life, I have very little time during the week to zone out. As a Law and Order fan, I have no problem seeing former Senator Fred Thompson become President, he has more experience than Barack Obama, and inspires the kind of confidence and bravado that should keep the international community in line.

My one nasty television vice involves Survivor, the world stops when I watch that show, one of the first venues on television that exposed the greed and baseness of human nature (if you don't count the game show, Let's Make a Deal). I watch it as a sociologist, observing the depths of deception to which people are willing to go for money, and realize that perhaps my "Lord of the Flies" view of the world has some justification.

My friends tell me I should try out for the show, that I have the athleticism and brains to get far, maybe even win the million dollars. I hate to admit it, but I have become spoiled by basic creature comforts, and could not see myself living for 40 days without a shower, a steady supply of food and a good night's sleep. Gone are the days when I could go camping for several weeks, and stop paying attention to body odor. Besides which, as a scientist who has studied the data of Survivor, I know that the strong woman makes it to the jury but does not get the million dollars; ultimately, it's a man's world in TV land, and they won't allow a woman to out-sport them, or out-class them.

Unless you distract the men with a fantastic set of breasts...

Friday, July 20, 2007

Bread Lines, Child Poverty

As of next week, the price of bread will increase by 10-12% because of an increase in the price of flour. The three major bakeries in the country would like to strike, because while their overhead increases, the government, rather than the direct supplier, will be determining the price of bread and will cut into the bakeries' profit margin, and their right to run their own business.

My favorite religious MK and Minister, Eli Yishai - the Israeli Voldemort to Harry Potter - has demanded that the government increase financial subsidies to the religious poor, who will be able to buy less bread for their perpetually expanding families. These same families who refuse to use birth control, who do not serve in the army and do not pay taxes, are now asking an already tenuous social welfare system to spread itself even thinner. Some of them even actively work against the Israeli government, but when they do not deign to find a job and take an active role in improving the lives of their family, the government they decry is expected to pick up the pieces.

From the threats of bread shortages and strikes, you would think we lived in the USSR , waiting on line for bread; and bringing Israeli children into the world - over a million and a half who live below the poverty line - who do not have enough money in the house to be properly fed and clothed and educated.

I believe that it is irresponsible at the very least, if not amoral to bring children in the world because God said "Be fruitful and multiply," and then expect God (or the government) to provide while those who can work, choose instead to sit on their gluteus maximus. I would like to believe that there is a small percentage of religious men learning in seminaries who have a brilliant mind and who will contribute to the spiritual and social well being of their community, and to the Jewish community at large. Let us reward quality over quantity; David Ben Gurion, a secular Zionist, felt it was important to have a core group of religious Torah students. I doubt that he anticipated his program would become a cancer in Israeli society.

The government should not encourage those who use religion to shirk their responsibility to family and to State.

Civil Servants, as Played by The Three Stooges

Featuring Concerned Chiropractic Citizen (CCC)

Scene One, "The Bank"

CCC has been examining her bank records for the month of June, and realizes that some of her money is missing. She goes, with the proof of the deposit slips, to her bank and presents them with the evidence.

Larry: Are you sure you are not mistaken?
CCC: Take a look at the receipts, I could not forge these very easily.
Larry: (With annoyance) Damn, I will have to go through the records. This could take a while.

Three hours later

Larry: We deposited your money in someone else's account.
CCC: OK, and...
Larry: (Angrily) We gave it back to you, are you happy?!
CCC: Yes, thank you. (Pause) While I am here, can I get change of this 100?
Larry: No, we ran out of money.

Scene Two, "The Police"

A white Volvo sits on the corner of the street, covered in so much dirt that teenagers are leaving messages for each other on the windows. The last time its owner paid attention to it, he put blocks under the wheels so it wouldn't roll down the street into traffic. That was six months ago.

CCC decides to call the police to get the unsightly car towed away.

Calling police station, getting automated phone menu, trying every possible extension until finally someone in Human Resources answers the phone, and connects me to the front desk.

Fifteen minutes later

CCC: Hello and good morning. I am calling about an abandoned car on my block, I would like to get it removed as soon as possible.
Moe: Why are you calling us?
CCC: Because you are the police.
Moe: Oh no, you want the OTHER police.

Scene Three, "The 'Other' Police"

CCC: Hello and good morning. I am calling about an abandoned car on my block, I would like to get it removed as soon as possible.
Curly: Very well, please give me your name, your phone number, your favorite ice cream flavour, your bra size, the license plate number of the car, the color of the car and your address.

Twenty minutes later

Curly: Wait a minute, you said this car was abandoned?
CCC: Yes
Curly: We don't deal with abandoned cars, only suspicious cars.
CCC: So if I had said that the car was ticking and was about to blow up, you would have taken care of it?
Curly: Yes.
CCC: And it's too late for me to change my story, just to get this car towed.
Curly: Yes.
Curly: You have to call the Jerusalem Municipality.

Scene Four, "The Municipality"

CCC: Hello, I would like an abandoned car moved from my street.
Shemp: Is it abandoned or just parked there?
CCC: Parked there, for a really long time, six months.
Shemp: How do you know they will not come back for it?
CCC: Because it hasn't been touched for the last six months.
Shemp: Does it have parking tickets on it?
CCC: No, but it is dirty, and is blocking the entrance to the street, and the last time I saw its owner there, he opened the engine, took out a bunch of essential parts and propped it up with blocks. That was six months ago.
Shemp: OK, give me your name, your phone number, a 500 word essay on "What I did on my summer vacation," the license plate number of the car, and your address.

Ten minutes later

Shemp: The car is white?
CCC: Yes.
Shemp: Well, according to our records, he has paid up on his insurance, so he can park wherever he wants and for as long as he wants.
CCC: This is why I pay taxes?!
Shemp: Well aren't you glad that we have this policy? Imagine if you went to Brazil for six months and while you were gone, your car got towed.
CCC: Well, I wouldn't leave a non-functional car on a dangerous corner in a neighborhood in which I do not live.
Shemp: Maybe you should speak to the police about this.

Fade to Black

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The State of Israel vs. Harry Potter

As the release date of the final Harry Potter book arrives, the frenzy spills over into every country, into every aspect of life. The Israeli government, apparently resigned to the fact that JK Rowling is promoting witchcraft to children, has a larger issue with the fact that the book will be released on a Saturday, and that bookstores all over the country will violate the Sabbath in order to give Potter fans their fix.

The Minister of Industry, Trade and Employment, Eli Yishai, is a religious Sephardic member of the Shas party, and is threatening to impose fines on any local book distributor who puts their customers first. Technically, he has the law on his side, the "Hours of Work and Rest Law," which stipulates that businesses must be closed on the Sabbath; in theory, this country was established based upon Jewish (halachic) law. Yishai claims that by violating the Sabbath in order to fulfill the agreement with the publishers abroad - not to mention us crazed muggles -Israel has lost its religious identity as a "light unto the nations," preferring instead to emulate the other inferior nations, and thus bring us down to their level.

This reminds me of the hullabaloo each year as more and more businesses sell leavened bread during Passover, also a technical violation of the law, but the government becomes more impotent each year in enforcing the letter of the law. Yishai fights a losing battle, as more supermarkets and clubs and malls remain open on the Sabbath; there is clearly a victory of marketing and commercialism over religion.

Israelis do what they want, when they want. Over three years ago, a law was passed that forbade smoking in public areas, big red signs with an "x" through a cigarette popped up in every coffee house. Yet another example of a "law without teeth" (as it is referred to in Hebrew). Go to any restaurant or coffee house or office building, and you will find several Israelis smoking in a cluster, happily sitting under the big red sign. If you politely point out that they are in violation of the law and your personal air space, that they are causing irreparable damage to their body and to those around them due to second hand smoke, they merely shrug their shoulders and continue their break.

Furthermore, the Torah forbids smoking, according to the phrase "And you shall live by them," meaning that any action done by a person that will physically endanger their body and their very existence represents a violation of the precepts of the Torah. Yet, the religious are one of the worst offenders, introducing students even of the age of 13, in every religious institution, to the "benefits" of smoking. You don't see their teachers rallying against smoking or trying to prevent its proliferation, just because G-d said so.

While claiming to fight an objective battle for the law, Minister Yishai is in actuality abusing his power as a minister, a position gained by hypocritical party maneuvering, to try to impose a way of life on those who do not have to accept his view of the world, of G-d and of religious observance.

I find it ironic that on the same day that the religious sector of the State of Israel has declared war on Harry Potter, these same members of the Knesset are purposely delaying a law which would protect minors from sex offenders, and would result in hundreds of people who have sexually assaulted minors in the past to freely walk around the streets of Israel without supervision, eager to strike again at an innocent victim. A nation that claims to aspire to be a "light unto the nations" must first re-align its priorities to its citizens and to the planet it inhabits.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Fire the Grid

Rather than ruin the telling of a story of miracles, I would first direct you toward the site,, and encourage you to read it yourself. Whether or not you believe in events that seem to operate above the natural physical order, and whether or not you believe that your actions can affect Gaea, open your mind and read her story and be amazed.

On the site, she speaks about today's date, July 17th, and the specific time of 11:11 am as a time for healing on a personal and planetary level. She asks that for an hour, starting at your local time all over the world, you involve yourself in acts of meditation, giving and joy. This specific intention toward repairing the disconnect of the people on this planet will "fire the grid" of Earth, will reconnect people and places energetically, and hopefully prevent a terrible global event in the near future.

I most definitely believe in miracles, having experienced several first hand. At the age of three, my mother and I had traveled to help my grandmother, who was sitting shiva (mourning) after the death of her father, my Great-Grandfather Danzig. After spending several days in New England, driving home early in the morning on the Mass Pike before it was well lit and safe, my mother suddenly felt the car spinning out of control and heading toward a wall of rock. In the early 1970's, there were few rules regarding driving with children, and so I had fallen asleep with my head on my mother's lap, stretched out on the front seat. By all rights, my head should have gone through the steering wheel, and my mother should have gone through the windshield. Instead, I slept through the entire event, we both walked away without a scratch, and my mother says to this day that it was my recently deceased great grandfather she saw and heard, protecting us from harm.

Years later, after having moved to Israel and at the start of the Second Intifada, a Palestinian sniper missed by head by less than two inches, my car ("Cher") took the bullet for me. I felt then as I felt now that my great grandfather was watching over me, and that the Higher Power had spared my life again for a reason; that I have a real purpose to fulfill.

Today, my day off from work, I involved myself in the usual errands, and for that hour I joyfully shopped at the supermarket, bought gifts for upcoming weddings, and bought a few gifts for myself. That might sound trite, that I defined my joy as the day-to-day affairs with a twist, with a little less stress and a little more give and take, but in Israel that's a big deal. Just turning on the radio for the news in the morning starts the day off with the standard level of stress; then there's the driving on Israeli roads, the daily story of political travesty, the frustrating lack of action regarding the kidnapped soldiers; not to mention your own issues in your life and within your nuclear family.

An hour of joy is exactly what Israel and the world needs, an hour in which you extend the better part of yourself and assume that the best is yet to come.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Seven Silly Wonders

Once upon a time, the world felt much smaller to the native ancient inhabitants of the planet, because they didn't have the Internet, or even snail mail service. They did not have planes with which to fly over and survey the entire planet, though they did not have inefficient security measures in airports to delay their travel either.

They came up with a list of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, based upon their limited exposure to their neighbors and their construction projects. Modern man has decided that this could be a fantastic money making venture, and in case you missed the momentous event, a new set of Seven Wonders have been chosen, by those who felt it was important to spend the money and therefore, cheat the system, by voting more than once for their local tourist attractions. (Hooray for the Spanish speaking countries...) Because if your attraction got named on this list, it meant that you made even more money.

I personally felt hurt and shocked that Stonehenge did not make the final seven; anyone who has been there cannot deny that it has a primal energetic pull. When I visited, I was ready to build a house on the grassy area and live there the rest of my life. I also felt that given globalization and the ease of travel, restricting the modern list to seven automatically left out several worthy candidates. Ten might have been a more realistic number.

But my pain does not match that of the Egyptians, who boast the only remaining original Wonder, and one of the many sites that did not make the cut this time around. Egypt will not accept being an "honorary" member of the list and claims that by being removed from the list by a so-called popular vote, all humanity has insulted ancient history and the importance that the Pyramids played in the development of the modern world as we know it.

Let's face it, politics and history aside, it comes down to money and tourism. They simply didn't get enough people who were willing to pay extra to name them. They should find comfort in the fact that the Pyramids have forever changed the look of the dollar bill, Mummy horror movies, the secret rituals of Masonic lodges, and the Kosher for Passover industry.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Homespun Health Tips

As a Chiropractor, I work in cooperation with conventional medicine, and in fact enjoy a respectful and reciprocal relationship with MDs in my area. I do, however, believe that a natural and non-invasion approach should be attempted first, and so I present some health advice that comes easily, cheaply and naturally from your home. (Note: I have not specifically received requests for endorsements from any of the brand products listed below.)

1. Colgate toothpaste makes an excellent salve for burns.

2. If your muscles ache from a serious flu infection, mix one tablespoon of horseradish in one cup of olive oil. Let the mixture sit for 30 minutes, and then apply it as a massage oil. Achy muscles will also get relief from a combination Calcium-Magnesium supplement, which acts as a natural anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxant.

3. The plastic surgeon's secret for eliminating puffiness under your eyes is a dab of Preparation H, carefully rubbed in the skin while avoiding the eyes. The hemorrhoid ointment acts as a vaso-constrictor.

4. Pimples getting to you? Cover the blemish with a dab of honey and place a Band Aid over it, overnight. Honey kills the bacteria, keeps the skin sterile and speeds healing.

5. Soak your toenail fungus in Listerine antiseptic mouthwash. Also works as an antiseptic for a broken blister.

6. To remove a splinter with no fuss, pour a drop of Elmers glue over the splinter and allow it to dry, then peel the dried glue (with the splinter following along) off your skin.

7. Massage corn oil in your cat's ear to eliminate ear mites, then clean with a cotton ball. Repeat daily for three days.

8. The next time your dog or cat comes into the house after playing outside in the rain, wipe the pet down with a Bounce dryer sheet, and you can avoid that wet animal smell.

9. If Rheumatoid Arthritis runs in your family, you can relieve the pain in your hands by heating up an oven mitt (*make sure it does not contain any metal fibers) in the microwave for approximately 30 seconds, and then put your hands inside. Alternatively, you can mix two cups of Quaker Oats with one cup of water in a bowl, warm in the microwave for approximately one minute and allow it cool slightly. Apply the mixture to you hands for soothing relief.

Try these out, and please let me know how they work for you.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Out with the Old Folks, Down with Political Dynasties

Today, 84 year old Shimon Peres gets sworn in as President of Israel, and he has already made it clear that he intends to transform a symbolic and non operational political post into his own private forum; if the President is technically "the head of the State," he will single handedly turn the State around, after all, he already has a Nobel Peace Prize under his belt. He has announced an "one hundred day plan," which includes intervention in all sectors of the government and the State, except ironically, the return of the three soldiers who were kidnapped over a year ago. Apparently he will leave that for Prime Minister Olmert to screw up.

Small problem with Peres: he does not believe in the democratic process. It's not just that he told me this personally in 1990, when I was working as a Parliamentary Assistant in the Knesset. Minority leader at the time, Shimon Peres told me that "Democracy is an illusion meant to placate the masses; it is all about power, and when I am in charge again, I will exact my revenge on those who kept me down."

He has mellowed over the years, in order to obtain victory in this Presidential election - he has never emerged victorious in any other election in his entire career - he at first proposed nullifying the secret ballot, so that other members of Knesset would be too ashamed not to vote for him. When the "Peres Law" did not pass, he bullied his opponents to drop out of the race before the final results were announced, and so he won by default, he was the only one left standing.

Rather than paraphrase badly, I quote an op ed piece by Doron Rosenblum from the Israeli paper Haaretz this morning: "This also discloses the degree of the Israeli public immaturity; it's need to hang on with all its might - even in its 60th year - to the apron strings of the founding fathers...[Peres] is perceived as the missing link between us and David Ben Gurion's generation of leaders; as the one who bears the key to some genetic code of leadership that has vision, momentum, authority and responsibility - a key their heirs mislaid."

I have a thought: the Jews traveled in the desert for 40 years, and when it came time to enter the land of Israel, Moses and his siblings (the triumvirate that lead them out of slavery) were not allowed to lead them into the land, for fear that the new generation of Jews viewed them as demi-gods, with direct connections to the Higher Power, the ultimate apron strings. The new nation, needing to conquer a land and create a new consciousness of nation-hood would be unable to do so if they were reliant upon the crutch of the older generation of leaders. I don't doubt that this analysis applies in this situation: get rid of the political leaders and their entourage who are so entrenched and so dirty that they cannot adopt to the new reality of the Israeli people and the Middle East. The younger generation will make its own mistakes, but at the least they will be ours.

I also dare to apply this lesson to the upcoming American presidential elections. We have had enough of the Bush family and the Clintons to last several political lifetimes, and now a new set of candidates must be allowed to rise to the top, to repair the damage done by Bush's isolationist policies and anti-Constitutional Homeland Security Act. I do not, however, endorse Barack Obama, as I feel his charisma and political correctness as a candidate cannot outweigh his inexperience in foreign affairs. It is time for governments of the world to unite, to get past nationalist agendas and work toward a planet that will sustain human life past the year 2050.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Raising Our Parents

I am a grown up, with a successful career, a string of mostly positive life choices, fun hobbies and good friends. I am single, to the extreme disappointment of my parents, because after hundreds of dates, several long term relationships and one broken engagement, I would rather be happy and single than be married and miserable with the wrong person. Through life experience, lots of hard work and introspection and a little therapy, I have become a person whose company I enjoy, almost unrecognizable from the person I was growing up.

My mother still speaks to me like I am the sullen, introverted, judgemental 13 year old, living in her house. My friends tell me that no matter how much they have achieved in life, their parents treat them the same way, it's "natural" to fall into habits that were set years ago, modes of relating and behaviour that are so hard wired that even a complete Reset would not get rid of it.

I give others the benefit of the doubt that I afford myself, if I can change, if I am willing to put in the effort and the pain of examining the proverbial elephant camped in the middle of the room, so why can't my parents? Several weeks ago, with no apparent trigger, a routine phone call with my mother turned into a psychological nightmare. My mother launched a ten minute diatribe, actual character assassination; that she does not enjoy speaking to me and that there is nothing in my life that she be proud of. That I reflect her failure as a mother, and I must leave my independent life, move back into my parents house so they can fix me.

My only so-called failure in this case was my not hanging up immediately when she started spewing garbage. I have since not spoken to her, and through my father relayed the message that I await an apology, an apology that comes from the truth of knowing and understanding that you have hurt someone you love, an apology that says that she has examined her own motivations and will try her hardest not to repeat her performance.

Her version of the story is that I owe her an apology for hanging up on her, because she cannot admit her responsibility here, because she would rather be the victim than admit that she has victimized someone else.

I wait for this apology, hoping that this blackout period of communication will make a difference. I may be waiting for a long time...

Friday, July 6, 2007

Creating the Next Generation of Drug Abusers

(This blog is not meant to diagnose or prescribe treatment for any particular condition. Please consult with a qualified Chiropractor or MD in individual cases.)

By some estimates, in both the United States and Europe, 75% of elementary school children have been prescribed Ritalin, and all figures of ADD, ADHD and Sensory Deficit Disorder are on the rise. Ritalin is a Class 3 addictive drug, on par with cocaine, and many teenage children who no longer need the drug keep the prescription, in order to sell it to others.

I challenge school social workers and pediatricians to take a careful look at their process of diagnosis, and ask a few questions before creating the next generation of drug abusers and dealers:
Is the child acting out because he is bored or is he getting bullied in school?
Has the teacher labeled this child as ADD because he/she is overwhelmed and unable to control her classroom?
Is there another situation for this child in the home, such as neglect or abuse or divorce, that may account for the changes in behaviour?
Has the child been examined for food allergies, such as white sugar or cow dairy, as a chemical source of the behavioural problem?

I estimate that if doctors took more care to examine these aspects, the use of Ritalin and other such drugs would decrease to a level of approximately 15%, with children who genuinely have a chemical disorder.

A parent brought their 10-year old son to my office, stating that he has been diagnosed with ADD. When I spoke to the boy without his father in the room, he revealed to me that he did not like his teacher, and that he had few friends. When I spoke to the father, he told me that on the weekend, he and his son could sit for three hours at a time and study together, and that he "did not seem to need the Ritalin"; whereupon I insisted that this did not sound like a boy with ADD, and that he should be taken off the drug, and that the school issues should be dealt with.

I also have an adult patient who supposedly suffers from a Sensory Deficit Disorder, and he uses this diagnosis as a crutch to binge on food, to swear inappropriately and sadly, to drink himself to liver cirrhosis. He has consulted with multiple therapist who, he claims, have told him that he is a "light alcoholic", and that his outbursts against his wife and young son are "human nature." His parents reward him for abstinence from drinking by offering him "just a sip" of whiskey. His wife is in denial. He may have a physical and chemical disability, but his surroundings facilitate his behaviour and allow him to avoid responsibility for his actions.

The first step in health is owning your body, and your choices, rather than covering it up with a diagnosis or drug that ultimately cripples.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

The Ideal Chiropractic Patient

There is nothing more satisfying that finishing a day of work, knowing that I have given my clients my focused attention and care, that they have returned to their families and can live a more fulfilling life because they feel at their best.

As a doctor, I will take you on time, and try not to eat a garlic and onion sandwich first thing in the morning. As my client, here are the things you can do to get the most out of your Chiropractic care

1. Arrive on Time: At my last annual eye exam, the Optometrist made me wait an hour before he took me into his office. I did not appreciate that as a patient, as I feel that both the doctor's time and the patient's time has value.
If you come on time, I will take you on time. If you arrive a few minutes early, I will try to leave the waiting time to a minimum, and that depends mostly on the person who came before you.
If you arrive late, you will have less time with me, as I do not wish to make the person after you wait.

2. Keep Whining to the Necessary Minimum: Remember that pain is a symptom, and the purpose of Chiropractic care is to arrive at a point of optimal functioning and well-ness, by realigning the spine and the resulting compensation throughout your body. I will ask you what you are feeling subjectively, and I encourage you to give me feedback as the treatment goes on.
I will not encourage you to focus on pain, because it will slow down your improvement.

3. Commit: I have been receiving Chiropractic care from my father since I was a child, as I believe that my body is my responsibility, and that I must do everything I can to live to a ripe old age in the best physical and mental situation possible. The care I give you is only a piece of the puzzle, you live with your body every day, 24/7, and it is the choices you make when you are not in my office that will most affect your progress.
Take responsibility for your body, treat it nicely as the receptacle for your soul, and as part of that, commit to Chiropractic care joyously and willingly.

4. Respect the Treatment: If you do not want to get better, if you do not trust the intention of the treatment, your body will tense up and you will do yourself more harm than good. Chiropractic works because your body has an Innate Intelligence to repair itself; as your doctor I "cure" nothing, rather I give your body instructions and release any interference that my prevent you from feeling well.
Respect your body, it knows what it is doing., and know that above all, to quote Hippocrates, I will do no harm. Remember also that Chiropractic, like any other medical approach, does not claim to be a miracle "quick-fix," it will take more than one treatment before you feel radically different.

5. Pay on Time: You would not walk into a supermarket, eat a loaf of bread, and tell the manager that you will pay for the bread next week. You would most definitely not like to be told that your boss will pay when he feels like it. And the dog did not eat your checkbook.
Unless you have worked out a specific arrangement, paying on time tells the doctor that you appreciate and respect the work he/she has done, and everyone feels better.

6. Do Your Homework: When I give you suggestions about diet, exercise, ergonomic changes in the office or stress reduction at home, it is your choice to follow through, or not. It is your body, and the choice is 100% up to you. I can tell you not only from my own experience but also from the research, that a person who combines Chiropractic care with healthier living and exercise will get better faster.
Next time you come in, don't tell me that "it isn't working," if you have not done your part. This is a partnership, rather than a Band-Aid approach.

7. Refer Your Friends: My goal is to give you a higher body awareness and balance, so that you can avoid problems before they start. It would be my pleasure to have you come for preventative care, not because you are hurting but because you want to keep yourself in a state of health and well being.
When I have helped you, refer your friends and family. Let them receive the benefit of the care that you have enjoyed. I have treated whole families, from the baby who was just born (chronic ear infections, colic) to the working Mom and Dad, to their 90 year old grandfather; each with their own individual approach.

Don't you want to give your family and friends the opportunity to understand and communicate with their bodies, and to experience vitality on a daily basis?

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Protecting the Environment from Human Nature

Everyone is talking about the environment, the Swedes are giving up their SUVs, and Al Gore is winning Oscars. Even if it can be argued that the reports of the demise of the planet are premature, clearly something needs to change. The planet Gaea itself will survive, but we human beings will be unable of inhabiting her.

The Israelis understand this, and yet, after any major vacation day or a longer term holiday, the beaches are shamefully strewn with garbage, as if a hurricane just hit the coastline. "Someone ELSE will pick up our trash, that's why we pay taxes..." Children learn from the adults around them, and rather than throw out that ice cream wrapper, they might throw it on the ground, "someone else will pick it up for me..." The use of pesticides on produce is higher here than most developed countries, the law has not gotten around to amending the agricultural specifications.

Chaos Theory states that all actions, physical and energetic are connected, and that one small act (that damn butterfly flapping its wings) can start a chain reaction that affects the whole planet (that damn land war in Asia); and if you believe that the planet is a whole organism, and that we humans are perhaps the virus that infests it, we must immediately change our attitudes and behaviour.

Israel is a small and relatively young country, despite its wide coverage in the press. Israel has fought six official wars, not counting the two Intifadas and various continuing guerrilla wars of terror. The early Israeli attitude is to live for the day, because you could be dead tomorrow. So they travel around the world, drive dangerously, go into overdraft at the bank, and litter profusely, because they are betting that they won't be around to see the consequences of their actions. It is time to shed this survivalist way of thinking, and embrace the global future; Israel can no longer be considered a struggling third world country when it comes to the environment, as we are one of the leaders in advanced technology. We know better because we invented it.

I appeal to Israelis, and human beings all over the world, if you don't care about your own air and water, how about your children, or your grandchildren?

The Sopranos, State and Religion

The popular TV show, The Sopranos, recently ended its run, with much aggravation at the conclusion. Life isn't meant to be open ended and murky, it is meant to be clear, "they all lived (or in this case, died) happily ever after."

The Israeli Broadcasting system recently started airing their own version of the crime drama, called "HaBorer," starring the four or five Israeli actors who seem to appear in every tele-novella or drama. The Godfather in this case is a man who quotes halachic Judaism and the Torah, as he is justifying the murder or blackmailing of one of his foes. In one of the first episodes of the series, he donates dirty money to the local synagogue where he prays, and while he is helping to lead the service he almost gets gunned down. He expresses as much outrage at the fact someone betrayed him, as it happened in a "holy place." One of his sons (Avi "The Gallbladder") is modeled after the character of Sonny Corleone, his daughter (Naomi "The Spoon") is a religious Chassidic Jew who regularly curses their enemies, and he has an illegitimate son, who will locate and confront him in the next few episodes.

Calvin in his treatise on State and Religion advocated a country where Religion rules the States. Professor Yeshayahu Lebowitz - a scholar in his own right and brother to the biblical scholar, Nechama Lebowitz - pointed out the inherent contraction in a Jewish Country of having religious political parties. If, for example, you believe that the Torah should be followed and that the Torah outlaws pork, then you cannot say that you will be conveniently absent the day the Knesset votes on the import and marketing of pork, because the majority party has promised you another five million shequel for your institute of learning. You cannot forbid your sons from serving in the Israeli army, pay little to no taxes, deny the validity of a secular State of Israel (in which you live) and then demand protection and equal rights within the law.

Lebowitz demands consistency rather than hypocrisy in this area. A sacred text should not be used in political negotiations.

All this being said, the show "HaBorer" apparently stays true to the reality of organized crime in this country, a membership composed mainly of religious Jews and Russians. There is no black and white, only shades of gray. You can freely associate yourself with acts of fraud and murder, as long as you wear the right clothing and pray at the right synagogue, and put on the proper show for the outside world.

Unfortunately, in my line of work, I hear stories from too many women who are in untenable situations at home, issues of neglect and worse, abuse. They have no recourse because their religious community keeps things insular and quiet; and a woman going to her husband's Rabbi and teacher is more likely to be told that she is getting abused because she is obviously not pleasing her husband and she ought to work harder. A religious woman who divorces her husband in some of these communities gets black listed, and may never see her children again.

I myself have had experience with this phenomenon: a retired priest and a student in my class in Chiropractic school, flaunted the religious title proudly. He was, unfortunately, also known as one of the worst cheaters in the class, and as someone who used his previous professional affiliation to manipulate teachers and classmates. I once pointed out that he - as opposed to anyone else in the class who might have a particular religious affiliation - made himself a target of increased scrutiny. His negative actions not only reflected upon him as an individual, but upon any member of the cloth. (It did not stop his abhorrent behaviour.)

Three years ago, a French neighbor of mine hit my car and thought no one saw the incident, and drove away. When I finally got her to court, and she was not only confronted with two solid witnesses in my defense, but was also caught in several lies on the stand, her claim was, "but I am religious." As if all the evidence against her would be out weighed by some Divine intervention.

I consider myself Jewish, Observant and Spiritual. I have a great relationship with G-d, and less tolerance for the fear-based, misogynist strictures of Orthodox Judaism. Most importantly, I want to be able to get up in the morning, look in the mirror, and at the very least not be ashamed of my behaviour, and at its best, to be able to look myself in the eyes and be proud of the person I have become.

Tails of a Jerusalem Cat

On the occasion of my fifth birthday (that's 36 in Human terms), I have asked the Big Cat in the house to take dictation, as I share with you my secrets for successful and happy living. Pay attention, if only some of this simple yet sage advice were implemented, I believe there could be peace in the Middle East.
Best, Harry "The Highlander"

1. Proper Hygiene: wash yourself early and often.
2. Eat only when you are hungry. Just because there is a plate of food sitting there, doesn't mean you have to finish it and leave nothing for anyone else.
3. Ants are gross, especially when they invade your food bowl. Watch your food carefully in the summer.
4. One man's garbage is another cat's meal.
5. We all smell like something.
6. Drugs are full of chemicals and can be dangerous. If you get any indication that a doctor's visit is impending, run and hide, whimper and beg if you have to; it is not beneath you if it helps you avoid conventional medicine.
7. Clear and constant communication is the best way to have a close and lasting relationship with those around you.
8. Make friends with someone who has opposable thumbs, they come in very handy when you need to open a can of tuna.
9. If you father a child, you will have to take responsibility for it.
10. Go outside and play in the rain. Never miss an opportunity to appreciate nature.
11. Know how to identify an enemy in your territory, and when to let it go. Once you have identified the enemy, choose a plan of action and commit to it 101%.
12. Biting or scratching ends a game very quickly.
13. Sometimes, not matter how nicely you ask, the answer is still "No."
14. Everything has a purpose and an order; it's OK to mess it up now and again, and see what results.
15. A plastic bag is not a toy, neither are electrical cords and for G-d's sake, don't play in traffic. You could lose a limb, or worse.
16. When you are happy, express it freely and joyfully, from your gut.
17. Love unconditionally.

Oh To Be a Luddite or The Death of Chivalry

My Second Life Avatar - named after the literary anti-hero Holden Caulfield - has the long straight hair for which I have always wished, and she can fly, a feat of magic and fantasy that has been part of my ethos since I was a child and got lost in DC comics. Every morning before work and every evening as I am closing up the office I check four different email addresses. After checking my email, I check the multiple Jewish dating websites on which my profile is posted, to see if I have been winked at, emailed or "Hot Listed." Some of these sites allow men to randomly troll for me and stalk me, and some are supervised by matchmakers, who no longer have to meet with you or be on the same continent as you in order to propose a match.

Just in case my life wasn't full enough, I now manage my felines' social life, as they have recently received their own profile and email on, a virtual pet community that has grown out of the MySpace concept. Harry and Sarel are able to receive virtual treats, write and share a blog about their life growing up in Jerusalem, and send and receive emails with their furry friends.

"I think, therefore I am" has been replaced with "I Palm Pilot, therefore I exist." If G-d forbid my Palm ever crashed, I am fairly certain that I would wink out of existence. Gone are the days when doctors recorded their day with pen and paper, wrote out hand receipts and kept business records that were good enough for the IRS. My patients can read all about my education , my philosophical approach to Chiropractic, and my techniques on the company website. And the number of hi tech clients I treat for RSI, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and work related injuries grows exponentially.

When I shop on Amazon, the highly evolved Big Brother software immediately recommends a series of books, music, films and DVDs, clothing and electronic equipment, based upon my history of purchases. Most often, their recommendations are completely on target, or it is something I already own.

It scares me and saddens me. This same technology that has created a global community, and has made personal and professional communication move at the speed of a nano-second, has turned this generation and those to come into virtual reality addicts, anti-social couch potatoes who would rather IM, talk on their cell phone, send an SMS and email their network of friends - all at the same time - than actually spend physical time space with their friends and family. No wonder obesity, both childhood and adult, runs rampant anywhere where there is access to an ADSL line.

I can be reached by land line, fax, cell phone, Skype and email 24 hours a day. We human beings have lost our privacy, the luxury of time to mull over a business proposal, and the essential time we need to allow our body and mind to relax. We suffer from Adrenal Overload, as we strive toward more hours per day than the solar system allows.

I especially feel the degradation of social norms in my dating life. The separation of body from mind makes it simple to create a false identity: a man who "appears and feels younger than his chronological age" is actually 60 years old, missing several teeth and has no hair. A man who describes himself as "athletic" or "large boned" actually looks pregnant, as he has neglected his gut for too long. A person who lists his profession as an "environmental manager" is actually a garbage man; if a man writes that he is "exploring his options," he means to say that he is perpetually unemployed. A photo of a man with that movie star smile could have just as easily come from a picture frame he bought at CVS. Most Israeli men want to interview you over the phone, as if you are applying for a job, before they decide that it is even worth buying you a cup of coffee and speaking in person.

But how can you know the truth of a date or the possibility of a relationship, if you do not see each other, talk to each other, enjoy (or not) each other's company? I miss the days when I could go to a party or a meal with friends, meet a new person and converse, feel that chemistry, and with chivalry, be asked out on a proper date.

I cringe when I sound like I am of my grandparents' generation, "Kids these days..." but clearly the virtuality and invasive nature of the World Wide Web threatens the basis of our humanity, that is people experiencing life, and experiencing each other.

Ten Year Anniversary

I gave up a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be the team Chiropractor for the Boston Bruins, in order to fulfill my dream of living and working in Israel.

Since moving here, I cheered as the NASA shuttle lifted off, carrying Israel's first astronaut, and mourned in shock as Ilan Ramon and his crew died upon their return. I have gone to Sinai on a vision quest, and scuba-ed in coral reefs in the Blue Hole. I have helped a patient through her pregnancy and have cried for that same baby girl, who was murdered by a Palestinian sniper. I have eaten at the table of an accomplished Israeli lawyer and her family, and have paid a shiva call when their 20 year old son died tragically and unnecessarily in an army training exercise, right before Passover. I have met friends for coffee at Cafe Hillel on Emek Refaim in the German Colony, the same place where a young bride was killed by a suicide bomber, the night before her wedding. I have gone to the open market at Mahane Yehuda and feasted - both visually and physically - on the array of colors and tastes and human encounters at the fruit and vegetable stands. I have waited in line with friends to snag tickets to the Sting concert in Tel Aviv.

Living here has allowed me to accomplish certain personal goals as well, I received my purple belt in karate; reconciled with my biological father, with whom I had lost contact for many years; had my first black and white photography exhibit, and recently finished writing the first draft of two books that have been floating around in my head for the last twenty years. The Type A woman I was, growing up in The City, has been replaced by a self-aware, relaxed person who is fun to be around.

I am continually amazed by the ability of the Israeli people to speak their mind - much like some New Yorkers I know - and to pull together when challenged. The rudest driver on any other occasion can place personal needs aside for the Greater Good, especially during periods of war.

I have also paid my dues to society, I serve on the Executive Board of the Israel Chiropractic Society, working toward the advancement and awareness of our profession in this country, and all of the Middle East. Once a month I walk around my neighborhood in a police uniform, carrying an M1 rifle that was manufactured before my mother was born, touring the area as a Civilian Guard. Last summer I served as a Chiropractor with my colleagues at the Maccabia, treating Jewish athletes of the highest calibre from all over the world. I am also a member of the Society for the Protection of Jerusalem street cats, and in fact inherited one of my rescues.

I arrived in Israel in 1997, single, with no family or support system, armed with idealism and a Phi Beta Kappa pin. I was so sure that my high levels of Hebrew and my desire to be a true Israeli would allow me a seamless immersion, that I would be accepted as a full member of this society. It took me six years to not be ashamed that most of my close friends were Anglo Saxons, that I much preferred reading the New York Times on line than plodding through the Hebrew papers; it was faster and took less effort. I realize also that dating Israeli men presented a particular challenge, with a tremendous gap in the dating culture. Stated simply, most English speaking men I know will treat me with respect and equality, in the way that I was raised.

I will openly admit that it has been a tumultuous ride, in 2001 at the start of the second Intifada I was almost killed by a sniper's bullet. And I will always speak Hebrew with an American accent. I am still single, and I am most ready to share my life with a spouse and become a mother. But I grew up in a Zionist home on the East Coast, any political discussion around my parents' or grandparents' table revolved around the Jewish State; which American presidential candidate was good for Israel, which Jewish charities were most worthwhile. It was most natural for me to move here, and it feels joyous to be able to celebrate ten years of this transition in my life.

Sharing Sugar in the Sauna

I am a Doctor of Chiropractic by profession, a political scientist by nature, and a photographer by passion.

Since I believe in practicing what I preach, I try to exercise every day, eat healthy, and have never been a smoker, and find it hard to even kiss a smoker. I take a Pilates studio course twice a week, and the rest of the week I swim.

In addition, since childhood I have received preventative Chiropractic re-alignments, as I know that the treatments keep me healthy.

I have a routine, swim one kilometer, and then I sit in the dry sauna for ten minutes to allow my muscles to relax and to allow my skin to breathe. What better place to meet interesting people and exchange stories, and get the pulse of the nation, when we are all sitting and sweating and hanging out?

Prime Minister Olmert is out, in a big way. Sauna enthusiasts across the political spectrum want him gone. Everyone wants to bring our kidnapped soldiers home, but not at the price of releasing known Palestinian terrorists.

Last week, a British gentlemen named Sean told me how he had experienced sexual assault in the lap lanes. Apparently every time he would pass a certain woman, she would slap in the gluteus maximus. He figures that since it happened ten times, in the same place, it was more than random coincidence. We had a laugh together, laughing with him of course, and not at him.

I also had a close encounter of the uncomfortable kind, when I was sitting alone in the sauna and the pool security guard came in, fully clothed, and told me that he wanted to get to know me better. Which meant him pushing me against the wall, putting his hands where they should not have been without permission, and trying to get his tongue in my mouth. Needless to say my martial arts training came in handy, and he was summarily fired.

This morning a Russian woman offered to share with me her secret "peeling" ingredient, and showed me a plastic bag with fine white crystals. At first I declined, because I assumed that it was an expensive spa-like product, or an illegal drug. Then she explained that it was in fact plain old white sugar, and that if you rub it on your skin while you are in the sauna, it acts as an extremely gentle and effective exfoliant.

I tried it, it felt wonderful, and my skin felt so smooth afterwards. To think that women spend so much money on facials and skin products, when the local supermarket has all you need, and at a fraction of the price.

Word of warning, shower after use, otherwise you will find yourself quite popular with the flies!