Tour of the Absorption Center

The Absorption Center's Director, Arik, then proceeded to give us a tour of the facility.

It's very organized, clean, and neat. It basically looks like a boarding school, which is an apt description of what it actually is, I suppose.

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Eating Lunch with the Olim

We proceeded to eat lunch with the Ethiopian Olim.

These kids were just amazing. Considering that they were learning Hebrew and that they had only been there a few weeks, we could actually carry on conversations using English and my very sparse command of Hebrew! Also, considering that these people hadn't even seen a fork a month or two ago, their table manners were very good!

I was very impressed with their attitudes, humor, brightness, and friendliness. This encounter was really the highlight of this trip so far!

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Meeting the Ethiopian Olim

We went to an Immigrant Absorption Center where Ethiopian and Russian Olim are educated in Hebrew and Israeli cultural norms. Mostly we met Ethiopians, another "shift" of TA1'ers met the Russians earlier in the day.

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Americans Bearing Gifts

Laura & Josh hold up their bags of toys in front of the Immigrant Absorption Center that we visited.

The center that we visited is for kids in their teens to early twenties, so they were a little dissapointed that their gift wasn't really appropriate for the kids that were there.

However, at the end of our visit, the director of the center told them that these kids families, most with younger siblings, are staying in a nearby center. Every Purim that other center sends Hamentashen over to the teens who don't really have anything to send back. The director told Laura & Josh that they planned to use their toys so that the teens could have something to send back to the other center.

That more than made up for their initial disspointment, they said.

G'd's ways are indeed mysterious, but we should trust in Him. Posted by Picasa

Up on a Hill

We next went up onto a very high hill that's actually on a settlement in the west bank.

The Coastline was barely visible from this hill, but visiblity was down because of a heavy haze out that day. Not only could I see the coast, but I could make out the towers of Tel-Aviv too.

Our guides told us that when Ariel Sharon was still a general, he used to bring foreign diplomats to the top of this hill and showed them just how vulnerable Israel was to the West Bank. They said that prior to the 1967 war, Israel was only eight miles wide at it's narrowest points!

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This young lady is Rachel and she's from Rochester and was on our bus today. I asked her if I might take a picture of her because she bears an incredibly striking resemblence to my nephew Jesse's girlfriend, Yonina. Click on the link to judge for yourself, I think she could be her big sister!

Rachel says she gets comments like that pretty often and that she must have a stereotypical Jewish girl's face or something. Posted by Picasa

Another from Security Barrier

Josh & Jon pose with the wall portion of the barrier in the background. Posted by Picasa

Visiting the Security Fence

We piled into one of the buses along with people from the rest of New England (excepting Boston) and with Eastern New York State and drove out to the Security Fence.

The fact that the drive only took about Twenty minutes from our hotel on the ocean in Tel-Aviv drives home the fact of just how vulnerable Israel is from the "wasp waist" that is formed by the west bank.

Our tour guide for the day was Dov Friedman (maybe a long lost relation?). We had an IDF Major (whose name escapes me) who explained to us the history and neccesity of the fence as well as some construction details.

He showed us the section that's just plain fencing and the part that's a concrete wall. I would never have noticed the plain wire fence parts if they hadn't been pointed out to me; it looked just like any other agricultural fence with a road running next to it.

The part made up of a concrete wall that we observed looked very similar to a highway sound barrier really. The Major told us that this section was built as a wall and was financed by the private owners of a Toll Highway that runs by the barrier. The owners of the toll road, quite sensibly, figure that if snipers started to take pot shots at drivers, that business would switch to a safer and likely toll free road.

Here we are listening to the Major explaining about the security fence. We never did get any closer than about 5oo yards to the fence.

Deb listening intently to the Major. You can just see one of the towers in the wall in the background

Mindy and Andrew pose in front of the barrier whose concrete portion is visible behind Mindy

Another picture of us all listening to the Major. He was a very knowledgeable and engaging speaker, and fiercely patriotic too- which was very refreshing. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday at Tel Aviv One

Here's a nice shot of the crowd walking from the morning plenary to the buses to go on the "ROUTES and ROOTS" tours. There was a crowd of people walking up the sidewalk and crossing the street at the intersection and walking back on down to the parking lot with the buses.

I was just impressed with the sheer number of people involved in this event.

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At the Mall!

Mindy, Andrew, Jeff, and I went shopping before returning to the Hotel where we all went out to different restaurants all over Tel-Aviv. Can you imagine two thousand people decending on all those restaurants?

The food at the restaurant I went to was excellent, however the photo's I took didn't seem to transfer to the computer and I had the software automatically erase the memory chip!

In addition, the one thing I bought shopping that night, a T-Shirt with "Harley Davidson" written in Hebrew that I got for my brother Alan, I ended up leaving at the store after I bought it!

G'd I'm dumb!

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Teen CPR instructors

After visiting the virtual hospital, we visited the offices of Maccabi Healthcare Services.

Israel doesn't have a single payer system like the one that Canada uses, nor does it use a crazy quilt patchwork of insurance providers like we do here in the USA. Instead they provide universal healthcare in a semi-competitive environment of just a few companies.

Maccabi is one of the biggest in the country. One of the innovations that they are rightly proud of is a system of sharing imaging information (X-Rays, MRI, CT Scans, Ultrasounds) between clinicians and radiologists and specialists via The Internet.

After touring the facilities and getting a look at the cool imaging sharing software, we went to another part of the building where we got a presentation put on by high school students.

It seems that Israeli High School students have to do a community service in their Junior year. Maccabi decided to start teaching teens basic first aid and CPR. They said that their program has been immensely popular and that they have started classess for higher levels of care too.

The teens then go out into the community helping to teach CPR and first aid to people who probably don't know a thing about calling an ambulance.

To demonstrate these wonderful young people's skills, they had them teach us CPR. Unfortantely pretty much everyone there was a medical professional of one sort of another, so it was a bit redundant for all of us- but I have to say that my fellow practicioners made me very, very proud. Nobody let on to these earnest kids that we could teach them stuff about the subject and allowed them to carry on their instruction and we even participated!

In these pictures you see my sub-group's instructor, Sivan (I hope that I'm spelling that right), This sweet sixteen year old very carefully and accurately described the steps in the new AHA CPR course... all this handicapped by doing it in a second language! She also spoke about how she's thinking of being a researcher and about how she got to go to Hungary and instruct teens there about first aid and learn from them about the problem's teens face in Hungary.

Such a great kid. She really makes it obvious that the next generation isn't the totally vapid bunch that some commentators would make them out to be!

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UJC - Tel Aviv One - Blog

Hey, Tel Aviv One has it's own blog.

It's really just snippets from other folks here who are blogging about this event, but it's great to follow the links.

Hmmm... how to contact them to put up links to MY blog!

UJC - Tel Aviv One - Blog

The Virtual Hospital

On Monday afternoon we all went on so called, "My Tel-Aviv" tours. Basically these were dozens of tours themed on different subjects depending on your specific interests.

I myself selected the "Virtual Hospital" tour, even though I had no idea what it was. I figured that as a medical professional I might learn a few things about how they work over here in Israel.

Well, it turns out that the Virtual Hospital is two floors at the Chaim Sheba Medical Center called the Israel Center for Medical Simulation.

The center's a international leader in the effort to reduce mortality & morbidity due to medical errors. They use a unique mix of interactive dummies, microphones, simulations, actors, speakers, and peer review and debriefing to help practicioners get a chance to make mistakes in a situation where they won't hurt anyone and learn how to avoid such mistakes in the future. It's a very integrated approach and they say that their studies are showing signs of success in reducing the number of medical mistakes.

This pediatric interactive dummy had pulses in the dorsalis Pedis, Femoral, radial and carotid locations, provisions for eye opening, IV starts, intubation, cardiac monitoring, voice and sound effects. It was in a fully equipped pediatric emergency room that allowed the people testing to treat the patient (and the additional patient(s)) who came through the door just as if they were in their own ED.

Hey Look, My Thumb!

Well besides that, this is the view of that pediatric ED's "control room". There are video cameras at several angles to catch all the action that happens, there's a one way glass so people can observe what happens as the chaos ensues. From here they can speak through the dummy's mouth and control all it functions. They can make the infant dummy that's also in the room have a febrile seizure! Pretty impressive...

Here, our host Dr. Amitai Ziv, demonstrated the use of a real endoscope in a esophogeal exam. Since he hadn't sedated the patient or anything, the software had the patient gagging and vomiting- facinating to watch on the monitor. Right next to it, blocked by one of my fellow TA1 participants, is dummy for abdominal laproscopic surgury where the good doctor showed how the software allows you to make mistakes... he intentionally perforated the patient's liver in the simulation.

We weren't allowed to take pictures of the rooms where they had IDF medical officers training on a simulated battlefield, with realistic sound effects and smoke and lighting (or rather, lack of it)

All in all, I am *very* impressed with this holistic approach to simulation and that Medicine should treat training and re-certification more like the aviation industry does.

I highly recommend that you visit their website and browse around. Posted by Picasa

IDF Speakers

I went to a forum on the Israeli Defence Forces on Monday. The speakers gave some really great presentations on the fact that the IDF really does a lot more than just break things and kill people. They help educate new immigrants and assist other parts of the world during times of disasters.

I already knew that the IDF was an army with a good conscious, but these presentations and the Q&A that followed strengthened my faith in that.

Above is Batell Valentine Balish, the IDF's 8th and youngest femaile naval officer. She gave a great presentation on her experiences, and also invited us all to her birthday party (24 years old) this coming Friday!

This is Col. Dr. Yaron Bar-Dayan. He is the IDF's chief medical officer for the Home Front Command. He gave a great presentation on how the IDF went down to Kenya and helped in the rescue and recovery of people and bodies in the aftermath of a major building collapse. It was very moving and inspirational.

Here are the two speakers mentioned previously along with Lt. Naama Gorni who is an officer in the Aliya department of the IDF's education corps. She gave a speech about how the IDF educates new Olim (immigrants) who join the army how to speak Hebrew among other things.

I didn't get a picture of her at the podium because she's sort of short and her face was obscured by the microphone! Sorry Naama!

This is Col. Miri Eisen who is head of doctrine of the IDF's combat Intelligence Corps. She is also the official spokesperson for the IDF.

Col. Eisen didn't give a speech per se. but instead moderated the Q&A forum that followed the speeches. She did add her own comments on a couple of occasions, and I found her candor and directness very refreshing. Posted by Picasa


The whole group from Greater Hartford eating our breakfast! Posted by Picasa


There was hair and a girl's hair rubber band thingy in the shower! Ewww! And the shower curtain was stuck in the rail at one part.

Taking a shower was an adventure the first time since there was so much water pressure that the shower head, which was a hand held type hung up on a sliding hook, sprayed water all over the place like a fire hose!

Housekeeping was very good about fixing the problems once I informed them about them. Posted by Picasa


The things I do for family...

When I opened up my bags after the opening ceremonies and the excellent meal they served us, I found a bit of a mess in my bags.

My sister had telephoned John, whom I was staying with before I left, and asked that I bring some epsom salts to soothe Marissa's episiotomy along with some peanut M&M's, zip lock bags and trash bags.

Well, as you can imagine, El Al Security found these items very interesting and it caused a bit of a delay while they checked them out. Of course they handed them back to me wrapped up diferently than I had them, which may have contributed to what happened.

Sometime during the trip, the epsom salts sprang a leak and made a mess in the inner compartment I was keeping it in. Luckily there weren't any clothes in that compartment, but I have yet to determine whether my spare eyeglasses were scratched.

I was able to clean out the compartment and dump the loose salt into the tub. I salvaged the rest into one of those laundry bags that the hotel provides...

Guess they'll just have to wait for the stuff until the bris, I suppose! Posted by Picasa