Take care of yourselves

A letter from Health & Science Editor Judy Siegel-Itzkovich to her readers.

Judy Siegel-Itzkovich (photo credit: Courtesy)
Judy Siegel-Itzkovich
(photo credit: Courtesy)
This is my last Health & Science Page in The Jerusalem Post; I have written more than 1,700 of them, all original material, every Sunday in the past 34 years. I am leaving the paper at the end of next week – not at my initiative – after having spent 16,494 days of my life in the newsroom. I have written 31,180 news stories, features and columns in the paper – far more, I am told, than any other journalist in the world. I have averaged more than two articles every single day, considering that I was off on Shabbat, holidays, vacations and maternity leaves. I have never had a boring day.
I arrived at the newsroom days after finishing Columbia University’s graduate school and a few weeks after my aliya at the age of 22 from New York. I had no journalistic experience but did come with a dream since age 12 of being a newspaper reporter. The editors gave me a chance to prove myself at it, my first job. Since then, I have witnessed history on a daily basis.
For some years, I covered aliya and absorption, the Jewish world, religious affairs, the President’s House and other subjects, but then I moved into my first love – health and science.
Starting in an era of manual typewriters and lead type, we Post journalists proceeded to electric typewriters, optical character recognition machines and then computers, email and Internet, the last of which seems to be the impending downfall of print journalism. Anyone with a Facebook account and fingers thinks he’s a journalist.
As health and science reporter and editor, I have tried to educate readers about how to live right and well; exercise regularly; to avoid smoking, obesity, unnecessary stress and accidents. Preventing illness and accidents, I have preached for decades, is more important than treating their victims; only recently has the Health Ministry realized it, although it is very far from serious implementation. Initiating a simple way to discourage adults from negligently leaving small children in hot vehicles and pushing for anti-smoking warnings at Jerusalem Light Rail stations have been only a few of the battles I have waged for lives and good health.
I have also tried to excite my readers about the fascinating developments in medical developments and scientific research that have emanated from the labs and hospitals at dizzying speed.
I know how much you’ve appreciated my writing, as you have sent me thousands of messages over the years. It has been my pleasure to act as your eyes and ears at hundreds of medical and scientific conferences and at thousands of interviews.
Reading huge amounts of medical and science journals, for two decades I have as a public service shared since the introduction of email much of the material with over 1,000 specialists in Israel and around the world, each in his or her own field. They have been very grateful for the updates.
With so much hype coming from individuals and institutions eager for free publicity and financial gain, I have tried hard on a daily basis to write the truth, weeding out endless exaggerations and downright falsehoods from vested interests by consulting when necessary with over 1,000 experts.
I have worked under over a dozen editors-in-chief and with hundreds of wonderful colleagues, and I have covered 20 health ministers – most of them substandard and unqualified and some of them even enemies of public health. But I have had the privilege of living in and reporting on the incomparable, if imperfect, State of Israel; there is no other bastion for a Jewish future.
I am leaving the Post, but – to my joy and thanking God – I will not stop writing health and science. Full of energy and curiosity, I am going to bigger and better things elsewhere and will be busier than ever.
Take care of yourselves!