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9th Graders Escape Floods


Ninth-graders from one of Israel's top yeshiva high schools narrowly escaped a devastating flash flood Friday while learning an unexpected lesson Friday on the powers of nature. The class of 34 from the Susia High School, which emphasizes knowledge of Israel and the Bible, were on a geology field trip to study rocks in a dry riverbed south of Matzada near the Dead Sea.

Bomb in Tel Aviv Market Kills 3, Wounds 32

By VOA News, & Ha'aretz

A Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up in a crowded Tel Aviv market at about 11:15 a.m. on Monday killing at least three people. Fifty people were reported wounded. The blast tore through a kiosk selling dairy products in the open-air Carmel market in Tel Aviv. Rescue workers arrived on the scene to find dead and wounded shoppers scattered among the debris of wrecked market stalls.

Tel Aviv Police Chief David Tzur said that there had been no specific warnings regarding an attack of this nature in Tel Aviv. He said that the bomb had caused more damage than its relatively small size would have indicated. A Zaka volunteer described the scene as one with "usual scenes of destruction, blood, body parts - and remains of fruits and vegetables,

The terrorist, whose remains were found nearby, was reported to be a teenaged male from the Askar refugee camp in Shechem.

Ya'ir Levy, a market vegetable stand owner, said: "After the blast, we left our stands and ran towards the scene of the attack to see how we could help. Some people had gone into shock, and the first thing we did was evacuate them from the area in case another blast was to go off." Asked if he was afraid, he said, "No, life has to go on." Though some market employees said that security in the area was weak, Levy said, "We have no complaints against the police or their work." Both Arabs and Jews work side by side in the Carmel vegetable market.

One of the injured was a 36-year-old market employee named Dror. He said he was standing "10 meters away from the suicide terrorist. He was at a cheese booth, right across from my meat stand. The market was packed with people. I heard the blast, and an object hit me. I couldn't identify exactly what it was, because pieces of the booth flew in all directions." He too said he would return to work at the market.

Palestinian Cabinet Minister Saeb Erekat condemned the bombing and called on the international community to work to revive the peace process. He said it was the only way to break what he termed this vicious cycle of violence. The attack came as concerns are growing of the possibility of instability among various Palestinians factions as they maneuver to fill the vacuum caused by Yasir Arafat's departure Friday ago for medical treatment in France. Israel has said it would exercise restraint in its battle with militants during Arafat's absence so as not to aggravate the situation.

The last suicide bombing in Israel occurred on September 22 when a Palestinian woman blew herself up near a bus stop in Jerusalem killing two Israeli policemen. On August 31st two Hamas suicide bombers blew themselves up on two city buses in the central Israeli city of Be'er Sheva killing 16. Last month more than 30 people died in separate attacks in Egyptian Red Sea resorts in the Sinai. The attacks at the Hilton Hotel in Taba and at two campgrounds further south targeted Israelis.

Arafat's Health Leaves Palestinians Pondering Future

By Sonja Pace (VOA-Jerusalem)

Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat continues to undergo medical tests in Paris as doctors try to diagnose the mysterious illness that recently befell him. Palestinian officials say. Arafat's condition is improving and they expect him to resume his duties.

Arafat may be out of town, but at the Muqata, his battered headquarters in Ramallah, his presence is still felt. A huge banner hangs on one wall of the compound, showing the long-time Palestinian leader in his usual garb - a brown military uniform and a red and white-checkered kaffiah, the traditional Arab men's head covering.

This is how Palestinians have known their leader for close to four decades, and despite the vehement criticism often lodged against him he remains their symbol of the fight for an independent state.

"My name is Yusuf. He is the president of Palestine and without him we are nothing," said Yusuf, one of the plain-clothes security men at the Muqata. Such expressions of loyalty are widespread among Palestinians.

Since he fell ill last week Palestinian officials have maintained that they fully expect Arafat to return home and to his duties. They say Arafat's condition is improving and that he has spoken by phone with officials in Ramallah.

Some of Arafat's long-time trusted lieutenants have for now divided up the duties. Former Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas has taken over running the Palestine Liberation Organization, while current Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia has assumed responsibility for the daily running of the government.

Palestinian legislature member Hanan Ashrawi says it is important that Palestinian institutions function normally during Arafat's absence. "We want to make sure that things proceed smoothly, that institutions function, and that despite the fact that the president is indisposed there is a political system functioning," she said.

But, there are signs many Palestinians are beginning to think about a post-Arafat era as Birzeit University engineering professor Hussein Zitawi explains. "We hope that Mr. Arafat comes back safely, but if, God forbid, he does not, well you know we do not have a vice president so probably the only solution to solve this problem is to have a combination of a few persons whom the president felt like they constitute the power here."

Palestinian sociologist Nader Izzat Sa'id of Birzeit University regularly polls Palestinian public opinion. No surveys have been conducted since Arafat went to Paris on Saturday, but Sa'id said Palestinians have to think about a post-Arafat era. He said rule by a group of Arafat's trusted loyalists is likely for an interim period once the veteran leader leaves the political stage. But, Sa'id said that in the long term Palestinians would want elections and those, he predicts, would oust the old guard to which both Abbas and Qureia belong.

"Most of what we would call the old guard they would get nothing in the elections. They have no popularity whatsoever. In the latest poll that we have done someone like Mr. Abbas or someone like Qureia would get much less than one percent of the vote when someone like Marwan would get 50 percent of the vote."

Marwan Barghouti, the charismatic leader of Arafat's Fatah faction in the West Bank, has often been cited as a likely successor to the Palestinian leader. The problem is. Barghouti is currently in an Israeli jail serving five consecutive life terms for terrorism. Barghouti denies he is a terrorist and says he was only involved in opposing Israeli occupation.

There are also concerns that violence and chaos could erupt if Arafat is unable to resume his leadership. Sa'id says sporadic violence is possible, but he believes the existing institutions and civil society are strong enough to prevent chaos or a Palestinian civil war.

A Million Minutes of Mitzvot


Jewish students at the University of Florida have launched a unique program with a highly ambitious goal: getting their fellow classmates and community members to perform a million minutes worth of mitzvot by the end of the school year. The program, which is being run by the campus Hillel, encourages students to sign up and pledge some of their precious spare time to doing good deeds on behalf of others.

Wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan "Got A Minute?," Hillel staff members have handed out flyers with simple suggestions for short- and long-term mitzvah projects that students can undertake throughout the year. Activities have included helping a local synagogue raise funds to pay for a double-lung transplant for one of its members, as well as building a home through Habitat for Humanity for a member of Gainesville, Florida's Jewish community.

Sophomore Samantha Brazer expressed enthusiasm for the campaign, noting that, "It just takes a minute of your time to make someone's life better... it made me realize every minute counts, and it's an important way stay aware of opportunities to help other people."

Students taking part in the program can register on the campus Hillel's website, where they can also record the projects to which they have chosen to devote their time. "Our hope is to get students active in the community and excited about doing good deeds," said Taal Hasak-Lowy, assistant director of the University of Florida's Hillel. "We want them to start volunteering through our Million Minutes of Mitzvah program and then continue on with it in their own lives."

With more than 46,000 students, the University of Florida is one of the largest institutions of higher education in the United States. An estimated 6,000 of the school's students are Jewish.

Israel's Elderberry Remedy Sambucol Provides Solution to U.S. Flu Vaccine Shortage


Americans are nervously bracing for the expected flu vaccine shortage as health experts predict people will begin feeling the effects of the flu by this month. But as the hundreds of thousands of Americans who use Israel's elderberry extract Sambucol will tell you, vaccines aren't the only answer to alleviating the flu's debilitating symptoms.

Nicknamed 'nature's flu fighter', Sambucol - which is produced by Jerusalem-based company Razei Bar - has been clinically proven to eliminate flu symptoms within one to two days. A standardized extract, the 100% natural Sambucol contains a potent antiviral compound, AntiVirin as well as a high amount of three flavonoids, naturally occurring plant antioxidants.

Developed by prominent Israeli virologist Dr. Madeleine Mumcuoglu, Sambucol is derived from the black elder tree, Sambucus nigra L. Beginning in the 1970s, Mumcuoglu began research that led to her discovery of the key active ingredient in elderberry.

"I became interested in the natural healing elements of elderberry when I did my PhD on it in Switzerland," Mumcuoglu told ISRAEL21c. "I isolated the active substances from the elderberry and tested them against the flu virus, and found them to be effective. After finishing my studies, I came back to Israel and continued to work on research for about 10 years at the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem."

According to Mumcuoglu, the black elderberry has been known since the 5th century BCE and was mentioned in the writings of Hippocrates, Dioscurides and Plinius. It can be found in every pharmacopoeia. Elderberry wine was traditionally used for influenza and the ill effects of the chills, and the juice of the black elderberry has historically been an invaluable remedy.

After assessing its effectiveness against the flu during her research, which was conducted in collaboration with the Department of Virology, Hebrew University School of Medicine, Mumcuoglu decided to commercialize an elderberry supplement she named Sambucol, and founded Razei Bar in 1992. Mumcuoglu was able to test her products on patients during a flu epidemic in southern Israel in the winter of 1992-93.

The results were very encouraging. Within 24 hours, 20% of those patients taking Sambucol had dramatic improvements in symptoms like fever, muscle aches and pains and coughing. By the second day, 73% had shown improvement, and by Day Three, 90%. In the untreated group, only 16% felt better after two days. The majority of that group began feeling better only after a week.

Another double-blind placebo-controlled clinical study was conducted using Sambucol during an outbreak of influenza B Panama. A significant alleviation of symptoms, including fever, was seen in 93.3% of the cases in the Sambucol treated group within 2 days. A complete cure was achieved within 2 to 3 days in nearly 90% of the Sambucol treated group compared to at least 6 days in the placebo group.

Most recently, in a randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled study conducted in Norway, Sambucol was shown to significantly reduce the duration of the flu by approximately four days. The use of rescue medication (pain relievers, etc.) was significantly less in the group receiving Sambucol than in the placebo group.

The study concluded that Sambucol stimulates the healthy immune system by increasing production of inflammatory cytokines. Cytokine production was measured using monocytes, derived from the blood of 12 healthy volunteers, which were incubated with four different Sambucol products: Sambucol Black Elderberry Extract, Sambucol Black Elderberry Syrup, Sambucol Immune System, and Sambucol for Kids.

Mumcuoglo will not divulge the exact makeup of Sambucol and what makes it different from other elderberry extracts, but stressed that Sambucol stands alone among elderberry extracts.

"I was the first to introduce the elderberry in the U.S., and now there are about 70 copycats. But to our credit, we still have about 80% of the market. We have a very special recipe. It's very easy to destroy the active element, which is why most of those other products aren't effective," she said. Even though the product is produced and manufactured in Israel, the elderberries are imported from Europe, as the Middle East does not offer the proper climate for growing them.

Sambucol costs $12 for 30 lozenges, and can be found in just about any health food store in the U.S. It's distributed by Nature's Way Products. Sambucol is also sold in Canada, the United Kingdom, Holland, Belgium, Norway, Denmark, Israel, South Korea, Singapore and New Zealand.

"I think that Sambucol has a great role to play - it really can save lives. To my knowledge, it's the only product that can cut the duration of the flu in half, before complications have a chance to develop. At least 30,000 deaths are reported due to flu complications every year in the US.," Mumcuoglo said.

"I'm very concerned about the situation in the US. Half the population that has been receiving the vaccine in the past will not get it this year. Many of them will get sick, and transfer the flu to their families and friends. It's important to pass the message on: you need to stem the flu immediately, as soon as you experience a symptom."

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