Out Of The Desert Innovation Blooms

by on January 21, 2015


A desert state in a modern era, Israel has sparked the way as a world leader in resource allocation with pioneering innovations in solar energy and irrigation development. In fact, contemporary Israel is a major player on the world stage of technology, medicine, and engineering, boasting more scientists, technicians, and engineers per capita (140 per 10,000) than any other country in the world.

For a country so young, and so fraught with turmoil, an astonishing amount of life-enhancing productivity and innovation abounds. Here are just a few Israeli contributions that have made their way into our lives.

More Than a Drop in the Bucket
Credit Simcha Blass for drip irrigation, an invention that has aided agriculture and helped put food on the table in 150countries. His technique, developed in the mid-60s and since refined, has helped the world grow more with less water.

That Israelis are responsible for drip irrigation was no surprise to PJCC Programs Director Stephanie Levin who was first introduced to the concept as a camper at Camp Swig. “We learned about the water-saving system and then made a working model ourselves, which we used successfully in our camp garden,” she recalled. “It stuck with me all these years.
It’s why I was so determined to use a drip system in the PJCC’s Grow Justice Garden.”

This Pill is Easy to Swallow
Technology names and jargon can often come across as complicated, but PillCam (shown below) is exactly what it sounds like: It’s a diagnostic camera that you swallow. Developed by Israel’s Given Imaging, PillCam is commonly used to detect gastrointestinal disorders.

“As an internist, I’m familiar with the PillCam,” said PJCC member and retired Kaiser Permanente physician Jerry Saliman. “The small intestine is an area of the GI tract that cannot be reached by upper endoscopy, which is a tube placed via the mouth, or by colonoscopy. Before the PillCam, patients had to endure four uncomfortable hours drinking barium. This thick, chalky drink would traverse its way through the intestinal tract while x-rays were taken periodically by the radiologist. The PillCam is a remarkable invention!”

Sound Sleep for Worried Parents
For parents who are concerned that their children might have sleep apnea, BabySense allows the entire family to rest without having to take shifts clutching the baby monitor. The system by Hisense operates with a control unit and two sensor pads placed under the mattress that monitor baby’s breathing. Sleep apnea occurs when a person stops breathing for 20 seconds or more and often triggers a slow heart rate in a baby. This product was designed to detect apnea and set off an alarm notifying parents of breathing irregularities.

Did you know these were Israeli inventions?

  • The Cherry Tomato  - A popular salad fixing that ripens slowly and doesn’t rot in shipment.
  • The EpiLady  – The first electric hair remover that spares users nasty razor cuts.
  • MobileEye  – A tiny digital camera with algorithms and a steering system-linked device that sounds an alert when a driver is about to change lanes inadvertently, warns of an impending collision, and detects pedestrians.
  • EarlySense  – A continuous monitoring solution that allows hospital nurses to monitor patients remotely through a contact-free sensor under the mattress. The system’s built-in tools include a wide range of reports on the status of patients, including alerts for falls and bedsore  prevention.
  • Pythagoras Solar  – A solar window that works as, but doesn’t look like, a solar panel. It uses direct light to generate energy, making it an attractive concept to architects and homeowners.

Upcoming Related Events

PJCC Art Gallery exhibit
Israeli Innovation

January 14 – March 23, 2015
Catch a glimpse of Israel’s start-up spirit on display in our award-winning art gallery.

Rube Goldberg Exhibit
January 14 – March 23, 2015

Program Series:  Then There Was Light: Jewish Contributions to Advancements in Science, Medicine and Technology
January – March, 2015

Contributor Kimberly Gordon is the PJCC Cultural Arts Director.

Norovirus – The Winter Bug

by on January 16, 2015


Thanksgiving weekend 2014 was a time to forget for our family. My wife and I planned for the arrival of our children, their spouses, and four grandchildren for months. One of my granddaughters would Facetime daily to see what toys she would play with when she would eventually visit. The night before Thanksgiving, one son-in-law became acutely ill with a GI bug, and he wasn’t able to go to Thanksgiving dinner. The day after Thanksgiving, two of my daughters became acutely ill. By Thanksgiving weekend, the illness had ravaged through our entire family except for my wife and one granddaughter who was protected through the magic of breast feeding. It also hit several members of our extended family. I don’t know how my wife escaped this illness, but I suppose it was because she was taking prophylactic Pepto-Bismol or because of her diligent hygiene. In retrospect, the offending GI bug was the norovirus.

Norovirus frequently goes by other names such as “the winter bug,” or “food poisoning,” or “stomach flu.” It is not the “flu” or influenza because influenza is a respiratory virus. Norovirus is the leading cause of disease outbreaks from food contamination. It can be spread by eating contaminated food or by being in contact with someone who’s infected. The CDC estimates that each year 20 million people contract the illness, and even if you had it once, you can get it again. It is most common in the months from November to April.

Most common symptoms are diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, and stomach pain. Less common symptoms are fever, body aches, and headache. Many people feel extremely ill, but usually recover in 1-3 days. Some people who have Norovirus infection may not have any symptoms, but they can still shed virus in their stool.

Norovirus is extremely contagious. One often hears about it when it spreads quickly through daycare centers, schools, nursing homes and cruise ships. A person is most contagious during the acute illness and the first few days after recovery. It is spread by eating or drinking contaminated food or beverages, touching contaminated surfaces, or sharing eating utensils.

The norovirus can hang around in the stool for 2 weeks or more after recovery so careful hand washing is crucial after using the toilet or changing diapers. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are useful but not a substitute for washing hands with soap and water. Norovirus is a tough bugger. It survives temperatures up to 140° F, lives on fresh fruit and vegetables and in shellfish. Keep sick infants and children away from areas where food is handled. The norovirus can live on contaminated surfaces for a week or more so clean with a chlorine bleach solution. Handle any contaminated clothes and linens carefully, wash with detergent at maximal cycle length, and then machine dry.

There is no specific medicine to treat norovirus. Antibiotics do not work because norovirus is not a bacterial infection. There is no vaccine. The best treatment is to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Anti-diarrhea medicine can be taken, but never given to children younger than 3 years old. If one has high fever or bloody diarrhea, these medicines should not be taken.

Each year, it is estimated up to 800 people die from norovirus infection, most of whom are 65 years of age or older. Like our family who contracted the illness, it can dramatically ruin a holiday. About our Thanksgiving weekend, my mother-in-law quipped, “Man plans and God laughs.”

For further details of norovirus infection, go to this CDC website

Jerry Saliman, MD is a volunteer internist at Samaritan House Medical Clinic in San Mateo. He retired from Kaiser South San Francisco after working there more than 30 years. While at Kaiser SSF, Dr. Saliman was also Chief of Patient Education. He received the 2012 “Lifetime Achievement Award” given by the Kaiser SSF Medical Staff.

Editing acknowledgement: Ellen Saliman

Neither the PJCC or our guest columnists provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please make your health care decisions in partnership with your health care provider


Israel: Complex, Compelling, Clarified

by on January 13, 2015


Rabbi Dr. Donniel Hartman tackles complex challenges facing the country

Whatever our personal views about Israel, it is likely we all agree that Israel is among the most complex and complicated nations in the world. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict appears intractable, with both sides refusing even to acknowledge a common narrative of the genesis of the conflict. This has raised significant moral questions (often by Israeli writers and thinkers) about the appropriateness of Israel’s military response.

There are also conflicts within Israeli society. The relationship between Ashkenazi (Jews of Central and Eastern European descent) and Shephardi (Jews of Spanish and Middle Eastern descent) Jews is often strained; the growing gap between rich and poor is the cause of great consternation; Israel’s treatment of foreign laborers has prompted demonstrations; the relationship between Charedi (ultra-Orthodox) Jews and the rest of Israel society is replete with anger; the divide between religious and secular Jewish Israelis is growing.

How can the world-wide Jewish community, let alone Israeli citizenry, make sense of all these challenges?

Enter Rabbi Dr. Donniel Hartman

The son of Rabbi David Hartman (of blessed memory), an innovative and far-sighted Orthodox rabbi who made aliyah (the immigration of Jews to Israel) and founded the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, Rabbi Hartman has embraced his father’s vision and expanded upon it. As President of the Institute, Rabbi Hartman has shaped it into a center of transformative thinking and teaching addressing the major challenges facing Israel and global Jewish People. Committed to the significance of Jewish ideas, the power of Torah study, broadly defined, and the conviction that great teaching contributes to the growth and continual revitalization of the Jewish people, Rabbi Hartman has made the Institute a thriving academy for rabbis, educators, academics, Jewish lay leaders, Israeli army officers and leaders of other religious faiths.

Rabbi Hartman is a principled pluralist, believing that all streams of Judaism have something important to contribute to the Jewish future. He has taught and written extensively on the relationship between ethics and religion, arguing in his soon-to-be-published book Putting God Second: Saving Religion from Itself that ethics is not the hand-maiden of religion but rather a guide to proper religious behavior. He has thought deeply about the rifts in Israeli socie`ty and how they might be healed. And he has been a constant commentator on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, making the case both for a safe and secure Israel as well as for the religious injunction and the need to create a true and lasting peace with the Palestinians. His blogs in the Times of Israel are a must-read for anyone seeking to understand the complexity of Israeli life and in quest of a reasoned centrist approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Rabbi Dr. Doniel Hartman is the North Peninsula Scholar in Residence February 9-18, 2015.
For details about his speaking engagements visit www.pjcc.org/scholar.


Wellness Coaching. What’s In It For Me?

by on January 6, 2015


As a wellness coach, I am asked this question on a regular basis. I like to respond by relating the coaching I do to that of any other coach: A coach is someone who can help you make specific improvements to your technique which will add value to your overall game.  A good coach does this by shining a new perspective on an activity or simply holding their pupil accountable to their goals. You use a running coach to improve your running skills and timing. And if you want help to improve your wellness, you hire a wellness coach.

Defining Wellness

Generally the term “wellness” is to have a healthy balance of the mind, body, and spirit that results in an overall feeling of well-being.  Relationships, sleep, exercise, work and spirituality (to name a few) are all areas in life that can cause a great deal of joy as well as stress. They feed our energy and vitality, much like eating food does. To achieve long-term wellness one must take care to keep all these elements in balance.

When practicing full mind/body wellness it helps to go beyond the surface to tap into the root of your internal roadblocks and inspirations. Take note of areas in your life that are out of balance, what makes you happy and compels you forward versus what brings you down and derails your plan.  But seeing  and/or acknowledging areas that need work may not be as easy as it sounds.

Education + Accountability = Success

A wellness coach is trained in techniques which help you take that deeper look at what you would like “more” or “less” in your life. What brings you joy and what causes stress. In other words, we work with our clients to identify areas in life that could use a positive facelift. Using this as a starting point, the coach then becomes a mentor to help educate and motivate you to take the baby-steps to a more balanced life.

In the supportive and self-empowering environment provided by a wellness coach, you begin to succeed in areas you’ve been wanting to change or improve upon for a long time. Together with your coach, you will create a plan and schedule that will allow you to keep things on track, allowing for more succeed.  It’s truly amazing how even the slightest changes can have dramatic impact on a person’s lifestyle balance and health. Developing a history of success only creates positivity which leads to self-confidence and is often followed by more success. But at times we all need a helping hand to take the first step and keep moving forward. That’s when it’s time to enlist a wellness coach.

Here are a few questions to help you get your wellness plan started:

What is your stressor area you need to work on?

What is one thing you’ve done in the past to deal with this issue?

What is one thing you can do today to help your wellness picture became more balanced and how will accomplish it?

Visit the PJCC website to see all of the classes and activities that can help you achieve your goals!

Strategies For Reinventing Your Resolutions

by on December 31, 2014

new year resolutions

Making, and then breaking, the same promises every year can be exhausting. Jeannie   Solomon, PJCC Wellness Coach, uses helpful strategies to help clients stay on track. Here, she shares her “tools of the trade” to help you reinvent your resolutions and—ultimately—yourself.

Define Your Wellness
Relationships, sleep, exercise, work, and spirituality (to name a few) are all forces that can cause great joy as well as great stress, feeding our energy and vitality. To achieve long-term wellness, it’s important to keep all elements in balance. When practicing full mind/body wellness, go beyond the surface to tap into the root of your internal roadblocks. Identify areas in your life that seem out of balance: what makes you happy and compels you forward versus what brings you down and derails your plan?

Be Determined Not Discouraged
Our inner voice has a huge effect on how we move forward toward reaching our goals and determination is a powerful tool. When we berate ourselves for not doing what we think we “should” be doing, our self-worth wavers and we let our guard down. The next time, notice when you feel discouraged and replace that negative voice with a positive one. In time you will own that determination and you will succeed.

Success Feeds Confidence And Confidence Leads To Success
Nothing feeds personal confidence better than success. Pick small attainable steps to achieving your goals and acknowledge every milestone. No small victories should be overlooked, specially while you’re just starting your journey. When you falter, don’t linger in that place. Remind yourself that failure is temporary and move on.

See The Change
Visualization is a powerful tool that successful people love to use because it works! One of the best and easiest tips is to surround yourself with visual reminders to help boost your motivation. Start each day by visualizing the person you want to be and setting a personal goal for that day. Revisit your intent throughout the day and don’t give up.

Focus On The Possibilities
Lifestyle changes are a process that take time and require support. Once you’re ready to make a change, the difficult part is  committing and following through. Do your research and make a plan that will prepare you for success. Careful planning means setting small goals and taking one step at a time.

Replace Expectations With Plans
One of the biggest deal breakers when it comes to striving toward a goal is a crushed expectation. Expectations are based mostly on emotions and are self-imposed ideas of what an outcome should be. Replace expectations with hard plans to follow through. This will allow you to set the tone and take ownership of your journey.

This Is Not A Sprint, But A Journey
Never give up! It’s important to move forward with the understanding that this is not a short-term change, but a lifealtering moment. Give yourself time. Be kind to yourself, but don’t go too easy. Embrace the challenge and you will succeed.

 If you would like a personal consultation with Jeannie Solomon, see www.pjcc.org.

Olive Tapenade: Easy to Make & Delicious

by on December 17, 2014



1/2 pound pitted mixed olives
1 small clove garlic, minced
2 Tbl. capers
2-3 fresh basil leaves
1 Tbl. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 Tbl. extra-virgin olive oil


  • Thoroughly rinse the olives in cool water.
  • Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor.
  • Process to combine, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl, until mixture becomes a coarse paste, approximately 1-2 minutes total.
  • Transfer to a bowl and serve!

Bon Appetit


For more on Olive Oil, listen to our Podcast with the California Olive Oil Council.

Baby Talk Before Baby Talks

by on December 16, 2014


How Baby Sign Language Can Help Ease Frustration

Every parent’s been there, those fraught moments when their cuddly, cooing, oh-so-cute baby suddenly turns into a cranky, frustrated infant or toddler, spitting food, constantly crying, or even throwing tantrums. When it’s a toss-up over who’s more frantic and confused, baby or mommy, and it’s definitely not colic, a bump or a burp, there’s an ingenious way to ask baby “What’s up?” The little tyke may not yet have any words but definitely demands to be heard.

To bridge this super charged communication gap, Touch Blue Sky’s Baby Sign Language dedicated instructors teach new parents how “to talk” with their young offspring via American Sign Language. The amazing results calm everyone, get baby’s message across and offer brain enhancing benefits: accelerated language ability, reduced aggressive behavior and positive interaction plus the bonus of a stronger bond between baby and parent.

The fun-filled classes with songs and interactive activities teach classic American Sign Language to parents (babies welcome), who then weave it into their infants’ everyday routines. Tricky to learn from a book, however an experienced “personal trainer” can fuse the nuance of signs, sounds and gestures that will work—and stick.

Parents begin Touch Blue Sky programs just as children’s long-term memory and motor skills kick in at about 6-8 months old.  At 8-10 months, as kids start mimicking adults and gesturing their wants, simple signing provides a jump-start for the verbal skills ahead. The 90 minute Introductory Workshop presents the basics and benefits of signing (with a proof-positive video of adorable babies signing), prior to the follow-up six weeks of themed, one hour courses designed to help absorb about 100+ signs (for foods, colors, clothes, animals, playtime, etc.), that cement the magic.

According to Teacher Bill, even the youngest babies want to be connected to the world around them and can be clever and resourceful while learning how. Infants will emphatically indicate, “all done” after meals and baths or begin moving their hand to their mouth when they’re hungry. Emotions shine via smiles and hugs to the unmistakably signal “I love you.”

With mom, dad and grandparents consistently reinforcing with words, expressions and body language, signing kindles indelible associations in the fast forming infant brain. “It’s like riding that proverbial bicycle,” explains Bill, “once learned, not easily forgotten.” Early communication in languages, whether signing, Chinese, English or all together, becomes natural, interchangeable, useful and fun. Babies just do it and quickly catch on!

As children mature, the pleasure of being understood enhances self-esteem that in turn, encourages confidence toward increased communication which leads to more effective signing…a lasting circle of learning that spirals on to pre-school and beyond.

Parents wholeheartedly endorse this training. From emails and letters, via Yelp and testimonials. Touch Blue Sky’s instructors are lauded and loved for their special expertise and super enthusiasm. Paraphrased excerpts include, “My baby is rarely frustrated and therefore so am I; my child was so excited when we understood him; such a fun way of presenting the material—never too rigid; my daughter adds signs together for sentences…like ‘MORE’ + ‘BOOK’.” And “the payoff is tremendous!”

As a speaker, Mommy’s Coach, and class participant, Carrie Vawter-Yousfi, says, “I especially appreciated Bill’s teaching by example, his wonderful stories of how signing with his own two young sons made their family life so much easier. I learned to start early, the sooner the better.”

Liza Baskind, mother of three, dispels the mistaken notion that signing will limit speaking. “On the contrary,” she says; “especially for so many children with delayed speech ability, signing will coax out more words, another factor in reducing frustration for parent and child.”

With the increasing popularity and positive results of Touch Blue Sky classes, parents who consider saving for a far off college future can make a nominal investment of time and money for their babies today that pays huge dividends in just a few months. It’s proven that children who communicate early via signing are verbally ahead a year or more by age three. Along with Thoreau’s premise that “language is the basis of all knowledge,” Teacher Bill reminds parents that “You can never redo those most important first two years of life!”

For more information on Baby Sign Language classes please visit TouchBlueSky.com or sign up for an upcoming class  at the PJCC January 20.

Excerpt with permission from Parenting on the Peninsula and author, Evelyn Preston.

Podcast: A World of Olive Oil – Presented by the California Olive Oil Council

by on December 9, 2014


Click image above to listen to Podcast (50 min)

Kimberly Gordon, PJCC Cultural Arts Director, introduces  Lisa Pollack, Marketing Coordinator, California Olive Oil Council and Sandy Sonnenfelt who is a trained olive oil taster and is a member of California Olive Oil Council and UC Davis taste panels. For many years she was a judge at the LA International Olive Oil Competition and she also judges in many of the local olive oil competitions. She is a frequent presenter at olive oil educational seminars. Since settling in the Bay Area in the mid-eighties, Sandy has been involved in the creation and retailing of prepared foods. As the Prepared Foods Coordinator for The Pasta Shop, she and executive chef, Scott Miller, head up the innovative prepared foods program for which the company in nationally known. Sandy is also the director of The Pasta Shop’s fresh pasta program.

According to Sandy, California is riding the wave of a burgeoning olive oil market and is the maverick of the olive oil industry, similar to what happened with California Wines in the 1970’s.  California is winning prizes all around the world in international competitions. According to

This podcast may shatter some of your previous perceptions about olive oil, from  what makes a good oil to how long you can store it, to the process it goes through to get certified. And, according to reports, you want to make sure your olive oil is certified!

Listen to the podcast and then do a tasting of your own!

Here are some helpful tips when tasting olive oils to determine what you prefer.
Follow the 4 S’s:

  • Swirl – this releases the oil’s aroma molecules. Keep the oil covered until ready to sniff.
  • Sniff – uncover the oil and quickly inhale from the rim of the glass. Take note of the intensity and the description of the aroma.
  • Slurp – take a small sip of the oil while also “sipping” some air. This slurping action emulsifies the oil and helps to spread it throughout your mouth. Take note of the retro-nasal aroma as well as the intensity of bitterness.
  • Swallow – an oil’s pungency is judged by a sensation in your throat so you must swallow at least a small amount to thoroughly evaluate it. If the oil makes your throat scratchy or makes you want to cough, it is a pungent oil.

Oils being tasted in this podcast were:

  1. Corto Olive Oil – San Joaquin Valley, CA
    Arbequina/Arbosana/Koroneiki varieties
  2. Seka Hills – Capay Valley, CA
    Arbequina variety
  3. Frantoio Grove – San Martin, CA
    Frantoio variety

Depression — The Lowdown

by on December 2, 2014


News of Robin Williams’ suicide was a shock. How could a man devoted to making others laugh take his own life? His death brought the disorder of clinical depression to the forefront.

Depression is a common mental illness that is manifested by prolonged sense of sadness, and other symptoms such as loss of desire to do pleasurable activities, irritability, insomnia or oversleeping, change in appetite, loss of energy, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and sometimes thoughts of death or suicide. Depression affects 1 in 11 adults, and nearly twice as many women as men. Sadness and depression are different. Many people feel sad after losing a loved one, or losing a job, or ending a relationship. People who are depressed, however, can usually differentiate normal grief from the disabling continued weight of clinical depression. Although there is excellent treatment for depression, many people do not seek help because they mistakenly construe it as a personal weakness rather than a legitimate illness. Many celebrities have publically acknowledged their own battles with depression in hopes that others Continue reading

A Healthy Spin on Latkes: The “No-tato” Pancake

by on November 21, 2014

quinoa latkes

Traditional potato latkes are delicious but more and more people are looking for healthier ways to make these wonderful fried patties.  We’ve come up with a recipe that is heavier on protein and veggies and light on the carbs.  And, as a bonus, they taste great! Enjoy!

Quinoa & Veggie Latkes Recipe


3 cup cooked quinoa (use 1 part quinoa to 1 part water)
1/2 cup grated onion (about 1/2 medium onion)
1 cup each finely grated zucchini and carrot
1/4 cup potato starch
1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste Continue reading