Grapevine: Body and soul

There are various fund-raisers earmarked for cancer research.

Breast cancer ribbon (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Breast cancer ribbon
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
 ■ THE ANNUAL cancer door-knock campaign begins on October 19. October is breast cancer awareness month, and each year a well-known landmark is bathed in a pink light to emphasize the importance of early detection of breast cancer. This year, the landmark was Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv.
In addition to the door-knock campaign, there are various other fund-raisers earmarked for cancer research. This week, for instance, lawyer Tamir Gilat, who is the chairman of the Israel Cancer Research Foundation, together with lawyer Keren Nahari, hosted a cocktail reception and gala dinner for 300 invitees at their home in Savyon to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the foundation’s activities. Guests included leading researchers, scientists, heads of universities, hospital directors, and of course prominent figures from the business community who are among the chief donors to the cause.
■ ALTHOUGH MORE attention appears to be paid to breast cancer than other forms of cancer, it is a sad fact that increasing numbers of children suffer various kinds of cancer, heart ailments and other life-threatening illnesses which necessitate the establishment of additional children’s hospitals or additional pediatric wings in existing hospitals.
One very recent example was the laying of the cornerstone for a new children’s hospital in Holon, which will be an adjunct to the Wolfson Medical Center and, when completed, will be a five-story international facility for treating heart diseases.
The hospital is being constructed in conjunction with Save a Child’s Heart, the humanitarian organization which for 20 years has worked within the Wolfson Medical Center to save the lives of more than 4,000 children from some 50 countries, regardless of whether those countries have diplomatic relations with Israel, or whether they are hostile to Israel. The only consideration guiding the physicians is the condition of the child’s heart and what they can do to repair it.
Much of the funding for the new hospital comes from the Kahn and Arison foundations, which have contributed handsomely to many projects in Israel and abroad, including the Israeli effort to land a spacecraft on the moon.
One of the happiest people at the ceremony for the laying of the cornerstone was Yoram Cohen, the chairman of Save a Child’s Heart, because with its operating theaters and state-of-the-art equipment, the new children’s hospital will be able to treat many more children than in the past, and will be able to give most of them a normal future, in which they will not only have a longer life span but will be able to engage in physical activities that they could not even attempt in the past.
■ ONE LAST health-related item pertains to 16-year-old Sigal Yotzker of Rishon Lezion, who was born with a deformed ear that not only looked strange but impeded her hearing. For several years, she covered the ear with her long hair for fear that schoolmates would laugh at her. But as anyone with long hair knows, it can be uncomfortable during hot and humid summer months, and Yotzker was sufficiently uncomfortable to sweep her hair into a pony tail. Of course her worst fear was realized.
The kids at school made fun of her, but she had psyched herself up for that and managed to overcome her embarrassment.
Three-and-a-half years ago, while visiting Jerusalem with her mother, someone suggested that a certain ear, nose and throat specialist might be able to transform her ear in more ways than one. So Sigal and her mother made an appointment with Dr. Shai Duvdevani at Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer. After examining her, he said that he could help her, but that it would be a long, drawn out and painful procedure. Sigal decided to take the risk, which included implants that enabled her to hear and cosmetic surgery that made her ear look much more attractive.
As it happens, her problem is not unique, and Duvdevani deals with some 30-plus similar cases each year. With the pain now behind her and the ability to hear in both ears, Sigal is a very happy teenager.
■ AN EXAMPLE of changing attitudes to religion in secular kibbutzim was at Kibbutz Tel Yosef, which for the first time ever was the scene of joyful Second Hakafot following Simhat Torah, inspired by the neighboring Beit She’an hesder yeshiva, whose rabbis and students along with students from other religious institutions came to the kibbutz at the invitation of one of its members who three years ago became religiously observant. The person in question also revived services in the synagogue on the kibbutz which had been unused for years.
The kibbutz members were pleased to join their guests in the enthusiastic dancing and singing. Rabbi Shlomo Shoshan, the head of the Beit She’an hesder yeshiva, told the kibbutzniks: “We are here to celebrate with people with roots, people who worked and settled the land and built the country. You are the descendants of the pioneers who with their own hands built the Jezreel Valley. We have a lot to learn from you.”
With that kind of religious diplomacy, it’s no wonder that secular kibbutzniks have become much more accepting of religious traditions and are even prepared to adopt some of them.