* I’ve Joined the Club

Since I first learned that the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure [for breast cancer] would be held in Jerusalem on October 28th, I have had the date marked on my calendar. But a couple weeks ago I realized I would not be able to participate.

I recently went to see the dermatologist for my annual check of moles and spots (I’ve got lots, but nothing has ever raised a flag). I also wanted to ask the doctor to remove what I thought was a fatty deposit on the side of my nose near my eye, since it was constantly irritated by the nosepad of my eyeglasses. Earlier this summer my ophthalmologist had identified a small bump on my eyelid as a trivial fatty deposit, so when this similar-looking (in my mind) bump appeared on my nose later in the summer I was not alarmed by it.

It took the dermatologist only moments to identify this bump as a basal cell carcinoma (BCC), a non-melanoma skin cancer, and to schedule me for a Mohs surgical procedure. (A biopsy confirmed the visual diagnosis, of course). I won’t go into details; you can google for information.

I had the surgery yesterday. Cancer is gone. I am fine!

For the first 24 hours I’ve got a bandage on my face that makes me look like I’ve got two noses, but by this evening I’ll be down to a simple bandage. Internal stitches will dissolve. External stitches will be removed in a week. Until then, I am forbidden from doing any exercise/sports activity. So I will be at the Komen Race in spirit only.

I guess this puts me in the cancer survivor club, even though it doesn’t seem I belong there.

P.S. A few months ago I began taking supplements due to a vitamin D deficiency (besides diet, commonly caused by lack of sunshine/too much sunscreen), so it seems ironic that during this same period I developed a skin cancer that is caused by excessive sun exposure. Go figure.


* Insights of an MTBO Amateur

Now that I have biked in about 20 mountain bike orienteering (MTBO) events, 17 of which were Israeli MTBO league meets, I’ve reached some conclusions about my relationship with this esoteric sport.

Insight Number 1. For me there are two kinds of events: the ones that make me say, “That was beyond my ability. I’m not going to do another MTBO event again”; and the ones that make me say, “That was a great challenge. I’ll be back for more.” It would be wonderful if every event could evoke the latter response, but that’s not the case. I’ve taken stock, and have counted 5 of those 17 events made me want to quit.

In those instances, a combination of two or more factors were to blame: (A) The trails and terrain were beyond my riding abilities, meaning I had trouble with rocks, sand, or steep uphills/downhills, not to mention my lack of skills on single tracks. (B) My actual total climb exceeded 350 meters, meaning I spent a lot of time off my bike pushing it up hills. (C) My actual riding distance exceeded 15 km. (D) Extreme heat.

But the statistics are in favor of continuing. The next few insights are really the strategies I’ve adopted in order to succeed and enjoy MTBO as a rider who is very much an amateur.

Insight Number 2. For ascents, it’s easier, and probably faster, for me to push my bike up a short, steep hill rather than ride a longer, gradual incline. Likewise (or contrarily), for descents, it’s easier for me to ride a longer, gradual downhill trail rather than attempt riding down a steep single-track.

Insight Number 3. Hat tip to David Lotz, who recently told me, “Most of our energy is expended in the first hour, after that we’re running on our reserves.” Having noted the truth of that statement (after nearly collapsing an hour into the ride at Herut, with only water in my bottle and no energy snacks in my pocket), I made a point of putting an energy drink in my water bottle for the event in Misgav. I drank most of it at control #5, which I reached at exactly the one-hour mark. It really gave me a perk, and helped me through to the finish half an hour later.

Insight Number 4. Avoid crashes and injury at all costs! I slow down, stop, and even get off my bike if I have even the slightest doubt of my ability to stay on it when the riding gets tough.

Insight Number 5. Do it for the challenge. Do it for the fun. Ironically, I keep getting medals for my efforts although that is not at all my motivation. I’d be happy to see some other W40s enjoying a visit to the podium.

Most important, and especially, thanks to my riding partner and husband, Yuval, who keeps me going.

Completing MTBO short course in Segev Forest, Oct. 2010 (Oren Lesman photo)

* Turn, Turn, Turn – A New Season on the Israel Trail

Segment 19 – Tel Afek to Tel Aviv, along the Yarkon River

September 25, 2010. Officially it’s now autumn. Our clocks have already been switched to winter (standard) time. But judging from the extreme and unbearable heat, it is still summer. That made it tough to be on the Israel Trail during the week of Succot, but we were eager to get back into the hiking mode.

To begin our hiking season I selected a easy segment close to home, along the Yarkon river. I gave Yuval the choice of direction. He prefered to end the hike in Ramat Hahayal where ice-cream and frozen yoghurt shops would await us. Our group comprised just 10 hikers, mostly core members and a couple guests, after several last-minute cancellations.  

We began our hike just outside the Tel Afek National Park, at the Rosh HaAyin train station, shortly before 8 a.m.  The sky was overcast and the air was still pleasant. Our first few kilometers sped by quickly. The trail soon brought us to the Yarkon sources. The water in this segment of the river is clear, pure and rich in vegetation and fish. At the spot where I’m standing in this photo, it is safe to swim.  

Israel Trail Tel Aviv Tel Afek

Since Avner and Saraleh had hiked the Yarkon segment of the National Trail several time in the past, they suggested an alternative route around the Mekorot Hayarkon (“Yarkon Sources”) National Park. We took their advice and intentionally deviated from the trail, circumventing the park on the north-east side, rather than going along the south-west side and the Baptist Village. It was certainly lush and lovely.  

Israel Trail Tel Aviv Tel Afek

One of the things I love about my hiking buddies is their knack for grazing. Here’s Saraleh enjoying a fresh fig.   

Israel Trail Tel Aviv Tel Afek

And Yuval picking wild blackberries from a high branch.  

Israel Trail Tel Aviv Tel Afek

Despite all its turning and winding, this segment of the Israel Trail runs alongside Highway 5 and major power lines. While we did have occasional encounters with the concrete and cable jungle, for most of the hike we felt as if we were in the wilderness.

Israel Trail Tel Aviv Tel Afek

Varda taking a moment to enjoy the flowers.   

Israel Trail Tel Aviv Tel Afek

One of several water crossings.   

Israel Trail Tel Aviv Tel Afek

Yuval about to enter a hidden pathway.   

Israel Trail Tel Aviv Tel Afek

We stopped for our mid-morning snack and rest in the beautiful eucalyptus grove surrounding the Abu Rabah mill (under restoration).  Just as we began munching our sandwiches, a few raindrops raised our hopes of a short shower to cool us off. No such luck.

Israel Trail Tel Aviv Tel Afek

Interesting trail blazes indicating a U-turn.

Israel Trail Tel Aviv Tel Afek

Another fun water-crossing. Avner, Ruthy and I took our shoes off and waded through barefoot. The water was warm, but my feet felt so much better (for a short time, anyway) after I put my shoes back on.         

Israel Trail Tel Aviv Tel Afek

Ruthy treats some through-hikers to slices of a melon she had gleaned from a field alongside the trail. We always enjoy meeting backpackers on the trail, and today was no exception. I was especially thankful for the 5 extra minutes of rest I got while chatting with these kids.

Israel Trail Tel Aviv Tel Afek

David helps resolve our water shortage (near the end of the hike) with a few grapefruits from an orchard alongside the trail.

Israel Trail Tel Aviv Tel Afek

At this point the Yarkon is highly polluted. Beautiful only to look at.

Israel Trail Tel Aviv Tel Afek

The high-rise office towers of Atidim business park signal the end of today’s hike. Eager to finish, we shortcutted our way through the orchards, and avoided the last few twists and turns along the riverbank (blue track in map at bottom).

Israel Trail Tel Aviv Tel Afek

Zvi Gilat’s Israel Trail guidebook (3rd edition, 2005), erroneously states 18 kilometers as the length of Segment 19 (from Tel Aviv port to Tel Afek).  Last winter we hiked from the Tel Aviv port to Ramat Hahayal, about one-third of the segment. That day my GPS recorded a track of about 8 kilometers, so I assumed today’s hike would be about 14-16 km. I had a lot of apologizing to do — my GPS recorded almost 21 km. We were on the trail for nearly 6 hours. And it was oppressively hot by the time we finished. Far beyond what I had anticipated. But cold Cokes and frozen yoghurts at the end of the day revived us.

The red track on the map below shows what we actually hiked, including our eastern bypass of the park. The purple track is the Israel Trail.

Israel Trail Tel Aviv Tel Afek

(Subsequently, I checked the MAPA online version of Gilat’s guidebook and found it gives a more accurate distance of 23 kilometers for Segment 19. My GPS always registers a longer distance than the “official” distances, but I don’t know why it was so significantly greater on this hike. Perhaps it’s due to all those twists and turns.)

I definitely want to revisit this section of the trail on my mountain bike. Will have to get the timing right — to avoid summer heat and winter mud.

See the complete set of today’s photos (Flickr).
Click on the SLIDESHOW button for quick and easy viewing of the set.

Please use the Comment box on my blog to share your feedback with me and the other hikers and readers. Hebrew or English is welcome!

* Nahal Anabe and Municipal Megalomania

I am trying to save a sliver of nature and history. I am hoping that sanity will prevail over megalomania.  

In the not too distant future, when you see the natural landscape of Nahal Anabe and Ben Shemen Forest obliterated by 4- and 6-lane thoroughfares, remember this blog post. Remember how some citizens-who-cared tried to convince the bureaucrats and elected officials of Modiin that preserving the city’s “backyard” habitat is just as vital for city residents as creating commerce and jobs.

Until recently I had never been involved in environmental activism. That changed this past spring when I was enlisted by my friend Alon Tal to join a group of petitioners in an effort to divert a road leading  from Highway 431 to the Business Park in Modiin (Ligad). [Alon is one of Israeli’s leading environmentalists. He founded Adam Teva V’din – the Israel Union for Environmental Defense and the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies. He was recently selected by The Marker financial magazine to its 2010 list of The Most Influential Israelis, 101 people who have had the greatest positive impact on Israel’s economy and social fabric.]

Nahal Anabe, a seasonal stream that runs dry nearly all year long, begins its course less than a kilometer from my home. Its point of origin is nearly within viewing distance as I look beyond my computer screen and out my window.

Nahal Anabe starts near Maccabim, northeast of Modiin

Once it passes Maccabim, Nahal Anabe goes underground beneath Emek Hahulah boulevard in Modiin. It emerges in Anabe Park near the city center, and courses along until joining Nahal Ayalon near the new Anabe interchange on Highway 1.

We often ride our bikes on the dirt trail that runs alongside the Anabe stream bed from the park to the Ben Shemen forest. It is one of the few trails we can easily reach directly from home, without having to transport our bikes by car. Indeed, it is one of the few remnants of natural landscape within the municipal borders. We also orienteer in this area. The Israel National Trail passes nearby. So I care a lot about protecting this small slice of wilderness.

Nahal Anabe Road 4 bridge site

Our petition is a rather complicated matter. Suffice to say that we are trying to get the city to divert a road whose construction is imminent. The road plans include a massive bridge (7 pilings) to be erected across Nahal Anabe exactly on top of two limekilns — the most significant and visible archeological remains along the nahal. Remains of a winepress and a water cistern are also found there. While the plans require the preservation of these two limekilns, it is highly unlikely they will survive such a construction project.

Limekiln in Nahal Anabe(photo by McKaby)

At our first court appearance, the judge did not dismiss our petition, but ordered us to meet with the city mayor and city engineer — the only two people (!) whose signature is required on the construction permit — and to attempt to resolve the issue. Should we fail to reach an agreement, we will be back in court at the end of October for the judge to hear the case.

You can see our proposal in the diagram below. The thick red line (with the sharp right turn and sharp left turn) is the planned road. The thick beige line is our proposed alternative. It crosses Anabe at a point where construction will be far less destructive. 


While I’m not overly optimistic about our chances of getting the road diverted, at least I will be able to say: I tried.

If you feel the same way, show your support. Click on Modiin Road 4 Alternative at the top of this blog to send a protest message to the mayor.  Sign the SPNI petition. Put a bumper sticker on your car (contact me for one). Help us get the word out.

Save the date – October 16 – and come out to Anabe for an SPNI Alternateva happening and orienteering event. We may still be able to save Anabe.

Save Nahal Anabe bumper sticker

* Truths My Mother Taught Me

I did not write this post. The title’s “Mother” is my grandmother, Ruth Radman Meyer; “Me” is my mother, Bernice Meyer Saltzman. My mother wrote and delivered this speech in February 1995. Fifteen years later, I am still impressed and inspired every time I read it. This tribute to my grandmother is also a testament to my mother’s outstanding abilities as a scholar, writer and parent. I am publishing it this week to honor my mother’s memory on her 10th yahrzeit (anniversary of her death).  

Truths My Mother Taught Me

Presented by Bernice Meyer Saltzman
to the Jewish Women’s Club of Richmond VA
Tuesday, February 28, 1995

Bernice Meyer Saltzman 1994

Bernice Meyer Saltzman 1994

One of the blessings of being sixty-something is that you are in the position of learning from people both older and younger than you. Recently the young 39-year-old Rabbi Simeon Glaser of my synagogue in West Hartford titled his shabbat sermon, “Truths My Father Taught Me.” I quickly saw a variation of this title as appropriate for my presentation to the Jewish Women’s Club. I also liked the title because “Truths” contains my mother’s name (Ruth Meyer).  

My rabbi’s father, Rabbi Joseph Glaser, had died at age 69 two months before his son gave this sermon. I think this particular sermon, not in any way a eulogy but rather a loving exposition of his father’s ideals, advice and actions, may have been part of my rabbi’s grief-healing process.  

My mother died a year and a half ago at age 85. My grieving process actually began about two years before she died, when I saw her becoming very frail and started to think what life would be like without her. From that time I began sorting and organizing with her during my visits, her vast collection of memorabilia and photographs, a joint project that gave her much pleasure. (Ruth was probably the only teenager of her generation who owned and used a box camera and she saved everything!). I’ve continued the sorting and organizing on visits since her death. It’s an activity that keeps her present in my life and made it easy for me to accept the invitation to speak to this group because so much of what she saved relates to the JWC. I believe that this presentation marks the end of my grief-healing process. Its preparation has been an opportunity to think about, without grief or sadness, what my mother taught me about Judaism and about living.  

Ruth Radman Meyer 1955

Ruth Radman Meyer 1955

I owe this opportunity to my dear-friend-since-childhood, Martele Sporn Wasserman, who thought of me when she was assigned to program this meeting and who suggested I build the topic on my mother as my first and best teacher.  

[I always have a wonderful sense of continuity whenever I’m in Richmond. It comes from the fact that I and my five childhood friends, Jo Elsner Adams, Jena Rosenbloom Sager, Doris Tartarsky Abraham, Dore Abramson Trestman, and Martele, never disconnected from one another though some of us left Richmond after marriage. We could look back to our mothers who were also friends from their youths, maintaining lifetime ties either in the JWC, the Temple Sisterhood and other organizations, vacations at Virginia Beach or around the bridge table. And today some of our children who became friends in childhood continue to keep in touch. With the passing of Martele’s mother, Jean, last November 11, all of our mothers are now gone. Gone also is our beloved Dore who died shortly after her 64th birthday. All of these wonderful women, the mothers and the daughters, are in my thoughts today.]  

• • • • •  

Jews know that Torah means much more than the Five Books of Moses. For us Torah includes the entire Bible and Talmud and all the products of the study of these treasures: midrashim, translations of Scripture, the Prayerbook, rabbinic responsa, ethical wills (sometimes even bubba meises). The rabbis further decreed that Torah is also to be found in the actions of any righteous person.  

Another rabbinic formulation of the concept that one teaches best and most by example is their phrase, ma’aseh avot siman l’banim. “The deeds of the parents are a sign (or beacon) to the children.” The Ramban (Nachmonides) and other commentators used the phrase to describe the chapters in Genesis about the patriarchs, specifically to the fact that so many incidents in the life of Abraham are repeated or emulated in the life of Isaac and Jacob.  

Of course, my life has not been a repeat of my mother’s life. But her deeds have been and are a beacon and a model for me. Though I adore and admire my father for the constant and consistent devotion he has given to me all my life, I know he’d be the first to say that my mother was the one who transmitted the values and verities of Judaism to my brother and me.  

Like her Biblical namesakes, my mother, Esther Ruth Meyer, was determined, intelligent, modest and loyal. She taught me much of what I know about living – from the facts of life (when I was 10) to how to accept old age and death with grace and dignity. She showed me that Judaism is a source of strength and inspiration and informs almost everything we think about and must do in our world.  

How did she become such a source of wisdom and a sign for the way? She was born and raised in America as the eldest daughter of a typical East European immigrant Jewish family. Parnassa, earning a living, took precedence over religious observance and education. The only educational “enrichment” my mother received was several years of piano lessons, the seed, no doubt, of her lifelong love of classical music. However, Jewish holidays and life cycle events, Yiddish, tzadakah, kaddish, supporting the shul, etc., were real and present in her life from birth. They surely had a great deal to do with her and Leonard joining the small band of young families that founded Richmond’s first Conservative synagogue in 1933.  

In that same year Ruth became one of the eight (some papers show ten, some eleven) young women who started the Jewish Women’s Club, dedicated then as now to learning.  

In the last 10-15 years we’ve become familiar with such phrases as continuous education, adult education, personal growth, self-help or support groups, and women’s issues. I have long admired and marveled that the Jewish Women’s Club, founded as a weekly study group, pioneered these concepts before anyone put a name to them. I have no doubt that the JWC was Ruth’s “learning center” where she gained the equivalence of the college education that gender and poverty had denied her, where she acquired many of the skills that enabled her to cope with marriage, motherhood and maturity, where she harvested the truths that informed and enhanced her Jewish identity.  

• • • • •  

My mother had some choice guidelines on derekh eretz, decency or acceptable behavior. Actually she expressed many of them in timeworn cliches. But, reflecting on them the past year and a half, I know they had solid Jewish underpinnings. I’ll share a few with you.  

How many times I heard “If you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything.” According to the Talmud (Arakhin 15b), lashon hara – the evil tongue or slander, is a hideous capital crime. The sages remind us that slander kills three persons: the one who tells it, the one who accepts it, the one about whom it is told. One of my favorite condemnations of slander is by Ben Sira (19:10): “If you hear something said, let it die with you; have courage, it will not make you burst!” Continue reading

לכביש יש חלופות – לטבע אין *

For the English version of this post, click on Modiin Road 4 Alternative in the menu bar above.

שלחו מכתב לרה”ע חיים ביבס, מהנדס העיר רמי זיו, ולאנשי מפתח נוספים בעיריית מודיעין-מכבים-רעות.
תדרשו מהם לפעול לשימור שטחי הטבע תוך כדי פיתוח ובניית העיר.

(1) קלקלקו כאן כדי להתחיל את המכתב: שלחו מכתב לראש העיר
(במקרה והטקסט בשורת הנושא אינו קריא, העתיקו טקסט זה לשורה: לכביש יש חלופות. לטבע אין.)

(2) העתיקו והדביקו את הטקסט שלמטה לתוך גוף המכתב. תשנו את הטקסט אם תרצו.

(3) תחתמו. תשלחו!

לכ’ מר חיים ביבס, ראש העיר מודיעין

הנדון: תוואי כביש 4 עירוני

חלקו הדרומי של כביש 4 העירוני, בין כביש 431 לבין צידו הדרומי של אזור התעסוקה מיועד לחצות בגשר את פארק נחל ענבה שמתפקד כשמורת טבע המשמש אותי כמו גם מטיילים ורוכבי אופניים ממודיעין וסביבתה. הנחל הוא שטח פתוח טבעי וציבורי עשיר בערכי טבע ואתרים היסטוריים. אנו מודאגים מהכוונה לסלול את חלקו הדרומי של כביש 4 בתוואי המתוכנן – בצורה הפוגעת בשטח הפתוח הסובב את העיר שלנו. תוואי החלק הדרומי יקבע את המשך הכביש ואת עתיד השטחים הפתוחים ושטחי פעילות הפנאי והנופש שלנו.

הכביש, יפגע באזור חירבת רגב וחירבת חרובה ובחלק גדול מיער בן שמן. כתוצאה מכך ייווצר ניתוק מוחלט בין תושבי העיר ובין יער בן שמן.

אנו מודעים לעובדה שיש צורך בחיבור כביש 431 לאזור התעסוקה, אך אנו בטוחים כי מחשבה נוספת תניב חיבור נכון יותר, מותאם לצרכי איזור התעסוקה ופחות הרסני.

אדוני ראש העיר, כיו”ר הוועדה המקומית לתכנון ולבנייה יש לך את האפשרות והסמכות לדרוש ממשרד השיכון לתכנן תוואי חלופי לכביש 4 שיתבצע על פי תחזיות תנועה מעודכנות ושימוש בתשתית קיימת.

יש אלטרנטיבות לתוואי כביש 4.

סלילת החלק הדרומי כמו שהוא מתוכנן כיום, מבלי לערוך חשיבה מחודשת עליו ועל החלק הצפוני, עלולה להיות בכייה לדורות.

אנו דורשים לבחון חלופות לכביש לפני שיהיה מאוחר מידי.



פרטים נוספים + חתמו על עצומה

חלופה אפשרית לתוואי הדרומי של כביש 4


חיים ביבס – ראש העיר: haim-bibas@modiin.muni.il
דנה דקו – עוזרת רה”ע: dana_d@modiin.muni.il
רמי זיו – מהנדס העיר: ramiz@modiin.muni.il
חנן ברנשטיין – מחזיק תיק התחבורה: hanan_b@modiin.muni.il
דינה קרמונה – פניות ציבור: dina_k@modiin.muni.il
לבנה שיפמן – מחזיקת תיק איכה”ס: levanas@gmail.com

* Israel Trail 2009-2010 Recap

Despite a 2-month suspension of hiking due to my retinal detachment in November, we completed 10 hikes on the Israel National Trail this (academic) year for a total of about 140 kilometers. It’s hard to be exact on the distance measurement. I activate the GPS recording when we commence walking, and stop it when we reach the end of the hike. Sometimes our hikes include a kilometer or more on a “connector” trail to the point where we pick up the Israel Trail. I’ve also accidentally paused recording a few times, and have had to estimate the length of the unrecorded segment. It’s really not critical. Eventually we will have bragging rights to 940 kilometers – the official distance of the trail. So far, we’ve done about 200.

The Trail is For Me!

The Trail is For Me!

Three of our regular hiker couples went off — independently of each other — to discover New Zealand this year. First were Saraleh and Avner Halachmi – check out Avner’s travel blog (in Hebrew). Then Ilan and Miri Berman took off – check out their gorgeous set of photos. Finally, David and Ruty Aloush made the journey. Varda also missed a couple hikes. As a result, Yuval and I are the only ones with a perfect attendance record.

Our group has coalesced very nicely, and I am no longer adding new names to the distribution/ invitation list, with one exception. We have a handful of unattached and hiking-without-husband women in the group, and I’d be happy if a similar number of men-on-their-own would join us and provide some gender balance.

Every hike this year was a pleasurable and memorable experience — with weather, terrain and social mix creating a different flavor each time.

You can take a look at our journeys through my collection of photos from the Israel National Trail.

Next year I intend to hike a couple 2-day segments south of Arad, which will probably entail hiring logistical assistance. I’m soliciting recommendations and advice — if you have suggestions, please post a comment or send me an email.