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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


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.

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

Olive Oil 411

by on November 13, 2014

Did you know that different oils have different heat thresholds? Are you unclear on the benefits of olive oil and other cooking oils?  This video will give you a brief info session on oils!

Interested in more information on Olive Oil? Join us November 20, 2014 for A World of Olive Oil: From the Middle East to Your Backyard at the PJCC with California Olive Oil Council educator, Nancy Ash to learn about olive oil and enjoy a tasting.

Strength Training For Healthy Bones

by on May 12, 2014


by Kim Knapp, PJCC Personal Trainer specializing in Strength Training and Osteoporosis Prevention

Did you know…

• Women can lose 3-6% of bone mass annually for the first 5 years following menopause.
• 50% of women over age 50 will have an osteoporotic fracture
• Within a year, 25-30% of hip fracture patients die or end up in a nursing home. This is preventable! Continue reading

Creating The Lifestyle We Want

by on April 22, 2014


by Betty Burr

Want to discover some entirely new career?
Looking for meaningful volunteer work?
Hope to retire and travel or work on hobbies?
Want to continue in your current career, but find more time for other facets of your life?

Learn a unique 3-step process that involves balancing the head, heart and spirituality to build the lifestyle you desire. Continue reading

Fitness Tip: Bosu Squats

by on April 7, 2014

Utilizing a BOSU helps to engage a number of muscles that might get overlooked in a normal workout. Standing on the BOSU requires balance which works your core. Add in the squats to work your upper legs while giving your core a good workout.

This fitness tip is presented by PJCC Personal Trainer Cynthia Newman.

Video by Teddi Kalb

Adding An Extra Pinch Of Health To The Passover Seder

by on April 3, 2014


Like the 10 commandments, the passover seder menu can seem like it’s written in stone. Passed down through generations and laden with family tradition, it feels almost sacrilegious to deviate from what our grandparents served their guests. But it’s that very menu, with all the starch, fats and sugar coated desserts (most often eaten for two nights in a row) which can make you feel as if you actually at the stone tablets of the commandments for dinner.

Don’t let the tradition of the seder weigh on you. This year start your own traditions with a lighter and healthier version of two seder classics–Matzo Ball Soup and Flourless Chocolate Almond Cake.

Serves 10

Continue reading