Parents of children with ATRX or 18Q22.3 chromosomal disorder wanted

Parents of children with the following conditions are wanted to provide support and information to others:

  • ATRX – Alpha-Thalassemia X-Linked Intellectual Disability Syndrome (a genetic disorder)
  • 18Q22.3 (a chromosomal disorder)

 

If you or someone you know are dealing with either of these conditions, you can make a major difference in someone else’s life. A few minutes of your time can help another family make it through.

If you can help, please contact Golda from the Beineinu organization: Golda@Beineinu.org.

Click here to learn more about the Beinenu organization in our Organizations Directory.

Check out our Guide for Children with Special Needs, as well as our All Rights Index (which is both searchable and browseable) for information on rights, services and entitlements.

Ebola Virus Guidelines

 

ebola_virus

The Ministry of Health has published the following “Guidelines for Preparedness in the Health System following the Outbreak of the Ebola Virus in West Africa”.

In view of the outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa, the Ministry of Health wishes to issue the following update and guidance:
The disease was first discovered in 1976 in an outbreak that occurred in the Congo close to the Ebola River. Thus the source of its name. After this, over the years, there have been additional sporadic outbreaks in Africa (e.g. in Zaire, Gabon). The current outbreak of Ebola virus disease commenced in December 2013 in Guinea in West Africa, and it spread to neighboring Liberia and Sierra Leone. A few cases have recently been diagnosed also in Nigeria, and in the last few weeks, a number of imported cases have been described in the United States and in Saudi Arabia, with no local transmission.

Thus far, there are no known diagnosed or suspected cases in Israel.

Guidelines for Persons Travelling To and Returning From Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone:

The Ministry of Health advises avoiding travel, so far as possible, to the countries in which the disease is spreading: Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
For persons who nevertheless do travel to the above countries, below are recommendations for correct behavior:

  1. Avoid contact with patients, their secretions and their belongings. 
  2. Take care with personal hygiene.
  3. Avoid contact with animals and their secretions, carcasses and even eating meat.
  4. So far as possible, it is advisable to avoid visiting heath care institutions. It is recommended to avoid receiving service at the local hospitals in these countries, except in case of an urgent medical problem.

After returning to Israel:

If illness with a fever of over 38 degrees appears within 21 days of returning to Israel from endemic countries (Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone), go to a hospital emergency room and inform them of the appearance of fever after having been in a country affected by Ebola. During this period, go only to the emergency room for medical treatment of illness with fever. Immediately upon entering the hospital, inform them of the circumstances of the case, in order to receive appropriate guidelines for protection.

It should be emphasized that this is a dynamic scenario, and the Ministry of Health is therefore monitoring data that are being publicized internationally and is in contact with all relevant parties, including the World Health Organization, the Disease Control Centers in the United States and in Europe, and is accordingly holding discussions with professionals.

In accordance with assessment of the current situation, the Ministry does not anticipate an outbreak of the disease in Israel, but there could be imported cases, which the health system is prepared to deal with. The Ministry of Health has distributed a circular to professionals, with the aim of increasing awareness of the possibility of the disease being diagnosed, and the ways for dealing with the case in the event of morbidity in Israel.

This announcement was originally published on the Ministry of Health website. Click here to view the original press release.

Click here to read about  West Nile Fever in Israel.

Illicit Colgate toothpaste being sold in Jerusalem

smiling-tooth

The Ministry of Health has announced that Colgate toothpaste manufactured in China and Thailand has been found being sold in East Jerusalem without Ministry of Health approval nor Hebrew labeling as required by law. Consumers are advised to not use this toothpaste as its ingredients and safety are questionable and the public is requested to report any toothpaste of this kind to the Ministry of Health. Click here to see pictures of the toothpaste in question.

Always look for the Ministry of Health seal and Hebrew labeling on products. You can also search the Ministry of Health’s Cosmetics Database to see if a product is under supervision and to find out other manufacturer information.

For more information call the Ministry of Health’s Health Voice call center: *5400.

West Nile Fever Activity, Summer 2014 – Ministry of Health Announcement

mosquito

The Ministry of Health advises that the West Nile Fever virus has commenced its activity for the summer of 2014

In the month of July this year, three patients were diagnosed with West Nile Fever, marking the beginning of this disease’s season in Israel.

Since the beginning of the year, 15 West Nile Fever patients have been identified; 2 with a definite diagnosis and 13 with a possible diagnosis. The spatial distribution of the virus was from the Haifa and Afula region in the North to the Ashkelon region in the south, in 12 townships/cities. In the Gush Dan area, 6 patients have so far been identified. In 2013, 71 cases were reported and 4 of these patients died, while in 2012, 89 cases were reported and two of these patients died.

West Nile Fever is usually a mild disease, but there are also cases of severe morbidity and even mortality from this disease. The Ministry of Health recommends that the public take the necessary precautions to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes. For example: use mosquito repellents, screens on the windows and suitable clothing.
It is recommended that cases of mosquito nuisances or stagnant water be reported immediately to local authorities.

  • West Nile Fever is a disease caused by West Nile Virus (WNV). This virus is found in nature in birds. Mosquitoes that bite infected birds can convey the disease to humans.
  • Infection usually passes without signs. In some cases, an influenza-like illness occurs that resolves by itself. Signs are: fever, headache, weakness, joint and muscle pain, conjunctivitis, rash and sometimes nausea and diarrhea. In approximately 1% of patients, the disease is severe, with neurological signs consistent with meningitis or encephalitis or acute flaccid paralysis.
  • The incubation period is usually 7 to 14 days, and in extraordinary instances, 3 to 21 days.
  • There is no specific treatment for this disease. The main effort is therefore directed to prevention.
  • Protection against mosquito bites is the cornerstone of prevention of this disease. This protection should occur at three levels: public (informing local government authorities of mosquito nuisances), domestic (intact screens, use of air conditioner, closed doors) and personal (long sleeved clothing and application of mosquito repellants in the afternoon and nighttime hours).

 

This announcement was originally published on the Ministry of Health website. Click here to view the original press release and you can read more about the fever and how to prevent it here.

Emergency Information in English – Operation Protective Edge

emergency information

We have put together some more resources for English-speakers during this time of crisis, including general resources in English, important phone numbers and emergency call centers, and resources for individuals with special needs and their families.

Important General English Resources and Websites:

Information and Call Centers (please note that some are better at providing service and support in English than others):

  • Home Front Command (Pikud HaOref) – Dial 104 from any telephone
    • SMS (for the hearing impaired) – 052-941-5520/1 (they will text in English, we checked)
  • Free English War-Time Support Line 24/6 – Call 02-9999-678 (x1) and/or email: Hotline@MagenProtects.org
  • Ministry of Immigrant Absorption Emergency Call Center – 03-97-33333
  • The Israel Center for the Treatment of Psychotrauma Hotline – 02-6449666
  • Natal – Israel’s Trauma Center for Victims of Terror and War – Trauma and Anxiety Hotline: 1-800-363-363
  • Ministry of Education 24/7 emergency call center for parents and children (emotional and therapeutic issues) – 02-5603733
  • Victims of hostile acts who receive support from the National Insurance Institute and require assistance may go to their local rehabilitation department or call 02-6709743 between 08:30-15:00
  • Emergency telephone number for the blind and visually impaired – *9366 (for instructions in Hebrew, Arabic or Russian)
  • Ministry of Economy emergency information center – 1-800-201-180
  • Ministry of Education – Dial 106 from any telephone
    • District Ministry of Education emergency offices (open 08:00-18:00):
      • South: 08-6263333
      • Rural Education Administration: 03-6883902, 03-6883879
      • Center: 03-6896851, 03-6896885, 03-6896849
  • Ministry of Tourism – 24 hr. call center for tourists stranded in Israel – 03-975-4260
    • The ministry is providing accommodation vouchers for those tourists whose airlines are not providing them with accommodation, as well as various other forms of support.
  • Israel Bar Association – Free legal aid for individuals suffering from shock or injuries caused by the current security situation – 02-6528099, Sunday-Thursday 08:30-16:00.

People with Special Needs

  • Emergency Information for People with Special Needs
  • Simple Emergency Instructions for People with Intellectual Disabilities
  • Israel Emergency Information #1, #2, and #3 (courtesy of Beineinu)
  • Azarim Comprehensive information about different assistive devices that can be helpful during times of emergency
  • Emergency audio instructions from the Home Front Command for the blind and visually impaired (Hebrew) on the Central Library for the Blind, Visually Impaired and Handicapped’s website
  • Hosting – Individuals with visual impairment living in harm’s way may stay at Migdal Or’s  residential facilities in Kiryat Haim.
    • For more details contact Shiri – 054-6174254 or Miri -03-7915531, email: miri@ibcu.org.il 
  • Hosting – Blind individuals and their families living in harm’s way are welcome to stay in the School for the Blind in Jerusalem. Stays must be coordinated in advance with the school and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services’ Blind Services Department.
    • There is no charge or cost involved – the project is being financed by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services.
      Contact Shabi for more details – 052-2685312
  • Hosting – Kesher is providing host-guest matches to find placements for “special” families who wish to leave their homes in the South and be hosted elsewhere, as well as other services. To find out more, contact Yael – yael@mrkesher.org.il or visit Kesher’s English page.
  • Respite for Special Needs Families – The Ministry of Education is arranging respite days for students in the South and their families. Students with special needs and their families living within 0-40 km can be directed to youth villages for some respite activities. This can be done through the principals of the schools and supervisors of the special ed system under the Ministry of Education, in the South.

 

More resources with Hebrew links (including those related to Miluim and employment) can be found in the Operation Protective Edge – Emergency Portal, translated as part of our on-going collaboration with Kol-Zchut. Thanks to Beineinu for a number of the special needs resources appearing on this page. 

If you have any resources, information or links which you think should be added to this page, please email us: info@shirapranskyproject.org.

 

If this information was helpful to you, please enable us to help others by supporting the project:

 www.shirapranskyproject.org/donate/

 

Emergency Information – Tipot Halav Mother and Infant Care Center Closures

emergency information

The following information was provided by the Ministry of Health and is effective as of July 9, 2014 until further notice. The original English message can be found here.

Tipat Halav – Mother and Infant Care Centers in the South

According to the Home Front Command, due to the security situation – at this stage Tipat Halav – Mother and Infant Care Centers in the southern region within range of 40 kilometers from the Gaza Strip that are not shielded will not be operating: 

  1. Be’er-Sheva – Station “Gimel” in 8 Wingate Street
  2. Be’er-Sheva – Station “Vav” in 7 Huberman street 
  3. Be’er-Sheva – Aburabia station in Shloshet Bnei Ein Harod street  
  4. Um Batin – Abocaf station 
  5. Lakia – Lakia A station 
  6. Rahat – Rahat A station in neighborhood 7 
  7. Tifrach – Tifrach station
  8. Ashdod – Station “Alef” public reception in station “Hei”
  9. Ashdod – Station “Beit” public reception in station “Daled”
  10. Ashdod – Station “Gimel” public reception in station “Zain”
  11. Ashdod – Station “Vav” public reception in station “Het”

Emergency Information for People with Special Needs

emergency information

The following emergency information and recommendations for people with the special needs provided by Pikud HaOref (Home Front Command) is intended for individuals with medical problems, limited mobility (and the home-bound), deafness or hearing impairment, blindness or visual impairment, intellectual developmental disorders, autism or dementia.  

The Home Front Command’s English website can be found here: http://www.oref.org.il/894-en/Pakar.aspx and the source page for this information here: http://www.oref.org.il/10660-en/Pakar.aspx.

Information for people with special needs concerning protection against rocket attack

These instructions are intended for people with special needs. Their aim is to help people with disabilities and their families, caregivers, friends, neighbors, acquaintances and professionals prepare properly and act in accordance with the required procedures in case of rocket attack.

Tips:

  • If you are in a secure space it is desirable that you remain with other people, especially people you know who can create a supportive environment.
  • It is a good idea to notify a neighbor, relative or friend as well as the assistance providers in the Authorities of the presence of a handicapped person at this location, and to give them telephone numbers, e-mail and SMS addresses, etc where you can be reached.
  • It is recommended that you apply to a relevant organization, to a professional association with which you maintain ties, or to the municipal call center to ensure beforehand that there is someone who will be able to help you in time of need. 
  • Prepare in advance all essential telephone and fax numbers, e-mail addresses and Internet support sites of contact persons.
  • For owners of mobile phones – ensure that the battery is fully charged and that the battery charger can be reached at all times.
  • You can call the service call center of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services (118) or the Local Authority (106) for the general community of handicapped and elderly residents

Preparation of the secure room

  • Select the secure space in advance in accordance with the instructions of Pikud Haoref and prepare the path to it in keeping with your needs and disability.
  • Clear away objects such as planters, various decorative objects, etc that might block or hinder your movement to and from the secure space.
  • Make sure that essential things and devices are in their permanent places, identified and easily accessible.
  • Equip the selected secure space with the special auxiliary devices you need, in your judgment, such as hearing aid, cleaning supplies and reserve batteries, television receiver with amplifier (if you have one) and power supply for the amplification system, fax machine with extra paper and spare ink cartridge, mobile phone for sending and receiving SMS messages, Zimunit (beeper) charger and computer batteries with Internet connection, multi-socket electric extension cord, writing tools and notebook, ID tag showing important information (such as “I read lips only”) and any warning systems you may have (such as baby-Minder system, warning of ringing telephone, fax, alarm, amplifier or blinking light indicating knocking on the door or ringing doorbell, emergency button, whistle or bell used to call for help).
  • Be sure that all devices and objects are within easy reach.
  • It is recommended that you equip the room with water (at least one liter per person), some food and a first-aid kit.
  • All Pikud Haoref instructions will be broadcast over the media. Ensure in advance that all communications devices in your secure space are in working order and locate them in a place with good reception.
  • Click here for instructions concerning what to do in case of an event.

For people with medical problems

  • In so far as possible, prepare medical documents signed by your treating physician that indicate the following: the state of your health, the medication you take including required dosage, list of regular tests you have to undergo, an extra prescription and any other information that may be relevant, such as dietary instructions, other doctors’ orders and Health Fund membership card.
  • Be sure you have a sufficient quantity of medicines and take care to prepare a list of times at which you must not take them.
  • Make sure to prepare any equipment you need, such as insulin syringe, oxygen, etc.

Preparations for people who are home-bound

An extended period in the house or secure space may result in attacks of anxiety and stress, which may negatively impact your own function and that of your family members in an emergency. As a rule we recommend that you prepare a family emergency plan, including games, conversation and other activities that will help the family to cope with the challenges and difficulties accompanying an extended emergency situation.

For the deaf and hearing impaired

For the blind and visually impaired

  • Organize the secure space and ensure that it affords maximum accessibility and convenience.
  • Remove any objects that may interfere with unlimited mobility.
  • Prepare a personal identification card including first name and family name, ID number, name of health fund and treating physician, name of accompanying caregiver, list of medications, blood type, special needs, allergies, critical medical information and telephone numbers of family members and friends.
  • In the secure space prepare guide dog equipment and important personal equipment.
  • For additional information, you may contact the Rehabilitation Section, Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services at Tel 02-6708181 or Fax 02-6703646.

For people with limited mobility

  • Choose a secure space appropriate for the nature of your disability so that when you hear a siren or the “tzeva adom” broadcast alarm you will be able to reach it in safety and within the time specified in the Pikud Haoref instructions. If you need more time to reach the secure space than that specified in the instructions, either choose a different secure space or make preparations in the secure space that will allow you to sleep in the secure space you have chosen.
  • Arrange the secure space and the approach to it in order to ensure maximum accessibility and convenience. Remove any objects that may interfere with unlimited mobility. If you use a motorized wheel chair or a “Kalnoit” mobility scooter be sure that extra batteries, a battery charger and a non-motorized wheelchair are available.
  • Be prepared for situations in which it is impossible to use an elevator and you will have to be carried, without your personal wheelchair.
  • Be prepared for the possibility of a flat tire. Prepare a tire repair kit with the possibility of filling the tire with air as needed or prepare spare inner tubes and a pump.
  • Consider the possibility of equipping yourself with heavy-duty gloves so that you can turn the wheels to move the wheelchair on rough ground.
  • Prepare a folder indicating your personal information and equipment for a prolonged stay in the secure space, packed so that it can be attached to the wheel chair, walker, Kalnoit, etc.

For people with foreign assistants

Advise the foreign assistants of notices published in the media in foreign languages and on the website as well as in the information center of Pikud Haoref at Tel 1207.

For those with intellectual development disorders or autism

  • It is advisable to rehearse  the things they have to do to reach and enter a secure space and what they should do when they hear the “tzeva adom” broadcast alarm or siren.
  • Prepare medications, necessary auxiliary devices and important personal equipment. It is a good idea to prepare extra clothing, personal hygiene necessities, food and drink in accordance with the personal taste of the people in question. If special food is needed, prepare food that has been ground in a blender or food substitutes.
  • It is important to create a calm atmosphere in the secure space, with pleasing and relaxing activities. Tension and pressure can be dispelled through relaxation, involvement, calling the person by name, breathing exercises, etc.
  • If a person with intellectual developmental disorders has additional limitations (such as limited mobility or psychological problems), refer to the pertinent instructions for these limitations.
  • Prepare a personal identification card including: first name and family name, ID number, name of health fund and treating physician, name of accompanying caregiver, list of medications, blood type, special needs, allergies, critical medical information and telephone numbers of family members and friends.

Instructions concerning the secure space

In an emergency, warning sirens are sometimes heard. These sirens let us know that we are under missile attack. When you hear the siren, you should act in accordance with the following instructions immediately:

  • If you have a Mamad (a secure space in your home or apartment), enter the room and close both the door and the window. If there is enough time, you can go down to the shelter.
  • If you don’t have a secure space in your home or apartment and there is no way or time to get to a shelter, you should go to the place in your home that offers the best protection possible. The best-protected place in the home is an interior room that has few windows and no outside wall. If you live in a multi-story building, you can go to the stairwell.
  • Wherever you may find yourself at the time, you should stay away from windows and wait until the alarm ends and then wait a few more minutes to be sure that the attack is over.
  • It is desirable to be with other people – in that way you will feel more secure. In the meantime, you can speak with them or think about good things in order to calm yourself. When all is over, you can return to your house. Most important of all – don’t panic!

Preparations for people suffering from dementia

  • Locate a secure space in the house ahead of time and become familiar with it.
  • Become familiar with the shelter procedures for emergencies. 
  • Identify the contacts, treatment and rehabilitation people who can help you in an emergency, if relevant. When escalation occurs, it is advisable to get medications, water and food in time.
  • If you have questions concerning yourself or members of your family, please contact an available clinic or rehabilitation facility.

 

For tips on coping with stress and anxiety see the NATAL (“Israel Trauma Center for Victims of Terror and War”) website in English.

 

If this information was helpful to you, please enable us to help others by supporting the project:
 www.shirapranskyproject.org/donate/

 

Gabe Pransky Educates Health Officials About English Accessibility

On April 2, 2014, Gabe Pransky, the founder of The Shira Pransky Project, spoke as part of a seminar organized by the Ministry of Health for 25 top healthcare officials responsible for instituting measures of cultural accessibility throughout Israel. The seminar is part of a larger training initiative by the Ministry’s Health Economics and Insurance Division aimed at improving implementation of a circular released by the Ministry of Health director to reduce cultural and linguistic gaps in the Israeli healthcare system. Participants in the seminar came from across the country and represented a broad spectrum of healthcare service providers, including health funds, general hospitals, and psychiatric institutions, among others.

Pransky used the platform to promote the needs of English-speakers in the Israeli healthcare system, imploring those present to recognize Israel’s English-speaking community as just that, a distinct immigrant community with its own difficulties and needs. He requested that those present appoint specific individuals in their organizations to be responsible for fielding questions from English-speakers and helping them handle their problems. He also offered the assistance of The Shira Pransky Project to these organizations in order to help them better serve English-speakers.

Ministry of Health official Dr. Emma Averbuch, who organized and hosted the event, noted that “Gabriel’s appearance was received with very positive responses and great interest from the participants,” adding, “We hope that this encounter will increase awareness regarding the provision of suitable services for English-speakers, and networking and cooperation between the organization and the other organizations that took part in the meeting.”

 

Inspirational Thoughts on Running 10k for Shira Pransky

[Editor’s note: For several reasons, not least of which is the difficulty of expressing the strong emotional connection many of those involved in The Shira Pransky Project feel for its namesake, this blog and website does not contain many personal notes about her legacy. For this reason we are supremely thankful for Chaim Goldberg’s following touching thoughts containing many sentiments that we all share.]

Who Was Shira Pransky

By Chaim Goldberg

I very nearly didn’t run in the Jerusalem Marathon. A few weeks prior, I had heard that the Shira Pransky Project (SPP) had a group running in the marathon, but for better or for worse, there was a shabbaton I had previously committed to which precluded my participation in the marathon.

However, one day, it suddenly became clear that plans for the shabbaton were changing, and it would no longer be that week. Immediately, I thought of the marathon and SPP, and gave the group coordinator, Syma Davidovich, a call and found out I was within 24 hours of the registration deadline. (That’s hashgacha pratis [Divine Providence] , isn’t it?)

Aside from my preliminary interest however, I actually had no idea what the project was—not its mission, accomplishments, nor vision. As we spoke though, that spark of interest I had grew stronger and stronger, and by the time the conversation finished, I had committed to running 10K for SPP and raising money towards its cause, with all of two weeks left until March 1st (the marathon).

Raising $500 in two weeks as a yeshiva student away from home struck me as being a bit formidable of a task, but certainly within reason, and something I would just have to put the effort into.

Most daunting though, was the running. You see, I hadn’t done any rigorous exercise in over 3 months! Beyond that, even at times that I have had a regular exercise routine, I’d never run longer than about 3 ½ miles (5K). So why would I commit to something that in all probability I wouldn’t be able to do?

Because past performance was no longer relevant. Exercise, for me, had always been a decision about personal benefit, whether for health, fitness, social, or any other number of considerations.

This was entirely different. I wasn’t running for myself; I was running for Shira. And I knew, quite clearly, that the body running selflessly could reach exponentially higher heights than the one running selfishly. So with two weeks to train, I did my hishtadlus (personal effort), putting in a couple of training runs, even running longer than I ever had before – 6 ½ K!

Of course, that was still well short of what I was going to do a couple days later, but it was abundantly clear to me that my body was capable; the only question was how long my mind would be able to motivate my body. Truth be told though, that too was not a question. Here I was honoring Shira Pransky’s memory—was it at all possible that my ratzon (will) could be lacking?

Shira was a woman of unfathomable strength and ratzon. Through 9 years of incalculable hardship, both physical and emotional, she remained a beacon of light to those around her. Visitors were never denied her trademark smile, and the will to keep fighting stayed strong. Those who came to strengthen, left strengthened, and those who came to encourage, left encouraged. When there were simchas of family and close friends to attend, at times when most anyone else in her position simply would have excused themselves—justifiably so, mind you—she put forth every effort she could to be together with them.

With an angel-like figure like that driving me, is it any wonder that I finished the 10K with ease? As I neared the finish line and digested what I just accomplished, I was overtaken by emotion. My realization of having transcended all previous limits—albeit ones most physical in nature—and for whom I was doing this, connected me to the Ribbono Shel Olam in a way I had never experienced before.

So is it any wonder that I didn’t actually stop at 10K, unable to let go of the experience which characterized Shira, that of rising above one’s physical boundaries for a greater mission? For me at least, it was truly a metaphysical experience.

Notwithstanding the awe-inspiring event the marathon was, allow me to let you in on an open secret of mine: I never knew Shira Pransky. In fact, I didn’t even know who she was until nearly 4 years after her passing, just a couple months prior to this Jerusalem Marathon.

How then, you ask, could I have written all this? Perhaps—inasmuch as you don’t doubt my sincerity—I have a penchant for exaggeration, you wonder?

The answer, quite honestly, is no, there was no embellishment in this story. As to the first question, the answer for me personally is grounded in the privilege I have had of getting to know Shira’s special family and friends. They themselves are each individual towers of strength, and through them all, Shira’s presence shines through.

Authenticity, genuineness, and heartfelt emotion cannot be artificially manufactured; when talking to Shira’s close ones, that’s no obstacle, as everything is utterly sincere.

What’s important though is the reality that you need not have known Shira to become a part of the Shira Pransky Project. You need not even get to know her family or friends, though simply for your benefit, it is worthwhile do so. Beyond their own unique qualities, they will certainly open a window for you into the person Shira was and the persona she represented. But what’s important is the recognition that you can honor Shira’s memory, commit to improving the transition for Anglo olim, and support the Shira Pransky Project even as someone not personally connected to Shira.

It is my hope and prayer for those, like myself, who were not fortunate enough to know Shira, that this piece here can give you a glimpse into her world and her community. There were hundreds or thousands of people she impacted in her lifetime. But there is a growing community of those people she never knew, yet has still profoundly impacted upon them. Count me among this community, and we hope to welcome you as well.

 

 

New survey: Millions of Israelis struggle with language limitations

According to information released by Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, nearly 1.7 million Israelis ages 20 and above, do not consider their Hebrew to be “Very Good”. The ramifications this has on access to healthcare and government services cannot be emphasized enough. According to the statistics, which were taken from the 2011 Social Survey, about 210,000 Israelis avoid utilizing government services of one form or another due to language restrictions, and 17% of them have difficulties when they require medical services.

These statistics underscore the importance of increasing accessibility for English speakers and all non-native Hebrew speakers in the Israeli healthcare system and regarding all public services. The Shira Pransky Project is continuing our fight to help English speakers know their rights and navigate the Israeli healthcare system.

To view “Selected Data from the 2011 Social Survey on Difficulties with the Hebrew Language” on the Central Bureau of Statistics website, click here (in Hebrew).

To view an article in English on the survey’s finding from Israel Hayom, click here.

To view an article in English on the survey’s finding from Ynet, click here.

10k for 10k: Thoughts after the Jerusalem Marathon

The following thoughts were penned by Syma Davidovich, the main organizer of the 2013 SPP Jerusalem Marathon Team:

Left to right: Nechama Selig, Avital Netzer, Nechama Rausman, Syma Davidovich, Joani Davidovich, Noach Davidovich, Zecharya Davidovich (baby), Gabe Pransky, Chaim Goldberg and Amihai, Chaya Bracha and Anava (baby) Zippor in the background.

Left to right: Nechama Selig, Avital Netzer, Nechama Rausman, Syma Davidovich, Joani Davidovich, Noach Davidovich, Zecharya Davidovich (baby), Gabe Pransky, Chaim Goldberg and Amihai, Chaya Bracha and Anava (baby) Zippor in the background.

I keep wondering how many biblical cubits there are in a 10k? I googled it, but the most promising site asks me to push a button that says “convert me” and I’m just not comfortable with that.

I do not have any athletic goals. I did not participate in this year’s Jerusalem Marathon because I love to exercise, need to break a record, or want to loose weight. The Jerusalem Marathon has options of full, half or 10k routes. I chose to sign up for the 10k, and prepared myself for the worst. I joined SPP team to help raise money and awareness for a cause I believe in. I think its nothing short of incredible that my little family (my husband and I switched off pushing our toddler in the stroller) participated in our first ever marathon and it was in Israel’s capitol.

The Talmud says “one who walks 4 cubits in the Land of Israel is assured of being an heir to The World to Come.” Because of the intrinsic Holiness of the Land of Israel, a person gains spiritual merit by walking here. This is just another one of those great Talmudic passages that make an Oleh like myself walk a little taller…..and keeps a mathematically challenged person like myself, totally flummoxed. (If 4 cubits are aprox 6-8 feet, and there are 5280 feet in a mile, and one mile is 1.609344 kilometers………how many cubits are in a 10k?!? My brain hurts.

The point, for me, was not the 10k. It was the 10k. Let me explain. This year, each participant in the SPP team, had a personal goal to raise 500$. I hoped our team could raise 10,000$. A worthy challenge, as last year’s team managed to raise 1,667$ for SPP’s Marathon participation. This was yet another first for me. I have never fundraised before (unless you count selling girl scout cookies or chocolate bars for my elementary school.) I think the idea of raising money seems difficult at first, but I think what made our team so successful is that we had a core group of people who are passionate about the Shira Pransky Project (and its namesake) and the fundraising somehow took on a life of its own.

When I reached my goal, I felt amazing. When I exceeded my goal I felt even better. And when my teammates did the same, I was thrilled. I am so proud. Proud to be a part of this team, this journey, this nation. Every time the walk got tough- and I tell you, some of those hills can make you want to hail a cab- every time my son declared he wanted “to walk also!” I thought about why I dragged myself (and my family) into this. I did it for the love of a city and state like no other. I did it for Shira. I did it to advocate for rights and education in healthcare. I did it to raise money for the Shira Pransky Project.

The newspapers and internet blogs may all report that Abrham Kabeto Ketler achieved the gold or that Mihiret Anamo Antonios broke records, but it sure feels like The Shira Pransky Project won the Jerusalem Marathon last Friday.

Most Comprehensive English Database of Israeli Health Organizations Goes Online

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – January 3, 2013

Most Comprehensive English Database of Israeli Health Organizations Goes Online

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL – The Shira Pransky Project (SPP), a small non-profit organization founded in 2011, has released what is now the most comprehensive English-language database of Israeli healthcare organizations.  The new database, which includes information on nearly 200 organizations, will make much-needed, potentially life-saving information available in English for the first time. For each organization included in the database, a brief description of the organization’s purpose, goals and activities, as well as contact information are included.

Organizations included in the database help patients with a wide range of diseases and conditions ranging from cancer to cystic fibrosis and ulcerative colitis. The database is categorized and each entry is tagged with additional services offered by each organization so that it is easy to use, understand and navigate.

SPP founder Gabe Pransky has said, “Our ultimate goal is to revolutionize the Israeli healthcare system, making it accessible to all English speakers; despite our limited resources, this is one major step we have made to make this vision become a reality.” While listings of healthcare organizations existed before the SPP directory was released, they were either entirely in Hebrew or included only partial information about the organizations’ activities and services.

Pransky says he hopes that the database will prove useful to anyone in Israel who understands English better than Hebrew, especially recent immigrants, English speaking tourists and international health professionals. The directory is now available to the public at: www.ShiraPranskyProject.org/directory.

About The Shira Pransky Project:

The Shira Pransky Project (SPP) develops programs that promote awareness of healthcare-related rights and support among English speakers in Israel. SPP works directly with Israeli assistance organizations to make the invaluable information, support and services they offer available to English speakers who can benefit from these important resources.

The Shira Pransky Project is currently the only organization in Israel dedicated to expanding resources that help English speakers know their healthcare rights and access much-needed support in the healthcare system.

To learn more about SPP’s on-going efforts, please visit: www.ShiraPranskyProject.org or www.facebook.com/ShiraPranskyProject

A Wikipedia of Israeli Social Rights

Have you ever heard of Wikipedia?

That question was supposed to make you crack a smile. You can quibble about the absolute reliability of the information on Wikipedia, but there’s practically no one out there that hasn’t at least used the site as a jumping off point for further investigation. The concept of the collaborative centralized knowledge base is magnificent, if flawed.

Enter Kol Zchut

So how about taking that concept and tweaking it to make a huge difference in people’s lives for a specific subject area, say, social rights in Israel? Well, that is exactly what the organization Kol Zchut (All Rights) is doing, and The Shira Pransky Project is proud to be taking part in it.

You can find out more about Kol Zchut in this recent JPost article, and by visiting their site, but the gist is that they have built a collaborative, Wikipedia-like, website for all information about rights and entitlements in Israel- and unlike Wikipedia, it is all written by experts, often by representatives of the goverment offices and ministries discussed.

Doing Our Part

Their mission is to improve the low uptake of social rights in Israel, especially among weaker populations, and The Shira Pransky Project is taking part on behalf of the English speaking immigrant population, specifically in the area of health rights and related circumstances.

We have begun by translating their healthcare related portals (categorized listings of articles on each entitlement) and have set up volunteers to start inputting these to the English side of the website. This stage is about alleviating cumbersome navigation to vital information, but the individual articles linked to these portals are still in Hebrew, for now.

The first step makes the information a little more accessible- and that may be enough to make a difference for a vast number of English speakers- but it is only the beginning. Of course we must go on to translate the hundreds of individual content articles describing rights and entitlements, who they apply to, how to access them, and all the related resources. This undertaking this will take time, more volunteers, and more funding, but its fulfillment will mean a huge leap forward for English accessibility to Israeli rights and support.

Let’s Get Excited!

We have always believed in the power of  accessibility through awareness, facilitating productive interactions with assistance professionals, aiding the infrastructure of support that is in place, and collaborating with others. It’s truly exciting to be working with another organization dedicated to these very same ideals, and on a project with so much potential for making our goals a reality!

If you realize the importance of initiatives like this, please consider making a donation to The Shira Pransky Project, or getting involved in other ways.

Waking Up!

I just got back from an amazing/inspiring/motivating yom iyun, focusing on the accessibility of patient rights. There were presentations from doctors, professors, administrators, social workers and government officials, all surrounding this urgent objective. 

A few important points:

Everybody knows the challenge

Only within the past few years the concept of bridging the awareness gap between patients and the help and support that they are entitled to has gained a life of its own. There are now several organizations dedicated to finding and implementing solutions, and many more institutions collaborating on these initiatives.

Personally, I’m amazed at how an idea can suddenly be “in the air”, with so many people recognizing it on their own and tackling it from different directions. At the same time that I was first formulating my concept and approach to English accessibility, the Hadassah social work department was just launching their Kivunim  information center, Amitai Korn was conceiving Kol Zchut, Bituach Leumi was revamping their website, and many more institutions were waking up!

English is a slice of the (humble) pie

Israel has much to be proud of in its institutions of public support and protection. Universal healthcare, the social safety net, and the protection of patient rights are all enshrined in law and continually maintained and improved upon. But (!), Israelis of all stripes are missing out on some or all of these entitlements. The statistics on uptake of the support programs that are in place (from Bituach Leumi and elsewhere) for all of the relevant populations are dismal.

Still, certain populations are particularly weak, foremost- immigrants. Yes, English speakers in Israel are immigrants, sharing all the challenges of integration encountered by the Russians, French, Ethiopians, etc. with a few unique hurdles of our own. Something must be done to bolster the awareness and acquisition of entitlements among immigrant communities and every participant in today’s yom iyun agrees. The Shira Pransky Project is making sure that the English speaking community specifically is recognized and addressed.

So what is being done right now?

The general director of the Misrad Habriut issued a directive to all medical service institutions in February 2011 that they must reach a certain standard of “cultural competence”. The gist- all information and services must be accessible in Hebrew, Russian, Arabic and… English! Many people and organizations, including The Shira Pransky Project, are working hard to push this objective and assist institutions scrambling to fulfill it (more about that in a moment).

Government institutions are upgrading and updating their websites, opening information centers, and even co-opting social media to inform the public, respond to inquiries and give directions. (We have direct assurance from Gov.il that they respond to English questions on facebook and twitter.)

Kol Zchut, Kivunim and other organizations, are all constantly promoting information and awareness via their programs. The Shira Pransky Project is working directly with these organizations and others to assist them in English accessibility with translations, recruiting bi-lingual volunteers, and more.

The Shira Pransky Project is also constantly engaging more organizations to advocate for the assistance non-profits to adopt, and maybe even lead the way, in meeting the Health Ministry’s standards for cultural competence, and  our website is in a constant state of evolution to better simplify and present useful information

So what can you do right now?

  1. Get Familiar

    Get to know your rights, entitlements, and avenues for information and support. You can start with our website, but also visit your Kupat Cholim’s English site, and the various English Government sites. Read your Kupat Cholim’s English brochure(s). Read the other English publications out there. Save yourself the pain and frustration of navigating the system, or worse- missed opportunity, by understanding the system you belong to right now.
  2. Speak Up!

    Your Kupat Cholim has an ombudsman’s office, and the Health ministry has an ombudsman’s office, dedicated to receiving complaints and protecting your rights. These professionals need to hear your issues about compromised service in English (or any other issues) in order to address them, and to emphasize the importance of English accessibility in their institutions. The public ombudsman from the Health Ministry spoke today specifically about how even a single complaint about an issue can help them raise flags and result in huge reforms! 

    Also, the public advocacy organization Emun Hatzibur has specifically called for complaints relating to language barriers in health service institutions. They will fight for you to address any imminent situation, and they will use your issue to bolster the Health Ministry’s directive on cultural competence. They can be contacted directly, or you can email these specific complaints to The Shira Pransky Project to be passed on to them.

  3. Unite!

    I’ve held back considerably from launching into a diatribe on the need for English speakers in Israel to come together as a community, especially over important issues. We want institutions to recognize and address the specific needs of our community, but we must also recognize ourselves as such. Whether you have been here for years or weeks you are walking in the shoes of all those ancestors that passed through Ellis Island, and all those other ports around the world, for generations. Yes, this time at least we are immigrants to our own homeland (ironically enough), but here once again, we need the support of our fellows in order to integrate and make it in our (please God) final destination.
  4. Get Involved!

    The Shira Pransky Project recruits bi-lingual volunteers to directly assist health and support organizations in English accessibility and for specific projects. We could also use some help ourselves. Of course, our efforts require financial support, so please donate to support English accessibility. And spread the word.

Congratulations!

You read the whole thing! I guess you agree that this is important stuff, so please share it with others, and leave a comment!

Connecting Volunteers To Israeli Health Organizations

As part of our efforts to raise the bar for English accessibility to Israeli health organizations, The Shira Pransky Project  is looking for volunteers interested in working directly with organizations in English content management such as proofreading/editing and updating website content. If this interests you, please email volunteers@shirapranskyproject.org and you will be added to a database of volunteers who are willing to help as opportunities arise.

Volunteers should have familiarity or willingness to learn basic web content/tech skills like uploading, editing and fixing links on web content managers, and moderate Hebrew proficiency (enough to communicate with Hebrew speaking staff at the different organizations).