Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

28 Iyar 5764 - May 19, 2004 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








Summer Heats Up

by R. Kolin

Summer Clothes

The increase in temperatures as summer sets in requires drastic changes in clothing and footwear for the entire family. The coats, sweaters, wool socks and closed shoes occupying all the closet space make way for lightweight, breathable clothing and sandals.

"Every year when the summer clothes arrive we are flooded with shoppers looking for cotton clothes most of all," says A.D., a saleswoman in one of Jerusalem's clothing stores. "Cotton shirts of all types and designs are snatched up from the store shelves while synthetic fabrics are invariably left behind. It's plain to see that appreciation of the importance of comfort has increased in recent years. Today cotton apparel is available for every occasion--Shabbos, simchas, weekday wear. Cotton is the best solution for summer heat."

In addition to the type of fabric, many buyers also take color into account based on the belief that lighter is better because it absorbs less heat. But as Dr. A. Friedman, a senior dermatologist at one of the hospitals in the center of the country, explains that lighter may be cooler, but it is not healthier. Dark fabrics absorb the sun's heat rays, but they also serve to filter sunlight much better than light fabrics. Heat gets absorbed, but not light rays.

To demonstrate his point Dr. Friedman points out that the Bedouins, with their wealth of natural experience in living in the sun, are careful to wear an outer layer of dark clothes. The more the skin is covered, he said, the better the protection.

Dieting --- Now's Your Chance

Guilt pangs over Pesach weight gain, the new season, summer fruits and the body's adaptation to the changing climate -- all provide a good opportunity for dieters. Now is the time to carry out the pledges of "next week," "after the holidays," "before the holidays" or even still "after Pesach."

Mrs. Rali Abel, director of the diet and nutrition unit at Klalit Health Services' Central Region, reveals the secret of diet and dispenses with some common assumptions. "People often think winter is a time of weight gain because the cold increases appetites. But this is completely untrue since the cold causes the metabolism rate to increase, thereby burning more calories. The only factor that makes weight loss easier is the reduction in appetite during this season, compared to other seasons.

"For those who want to lose weight, the real solution is not dieting in the traditional sense, but a change in lifestyle. Repeated drastic diets are dangerous. When weight decreases and no other changes take place, fat tissue decreases and muscle tissues atrophy. On the other hand, when weight increases only fat tissue increases, while muscle tissue remains unchanged. Thus if the only thing you do is lose weight by dieting and then gain it back again, repeatedly, muscle tissues are harmed time after time, possibly irreparably. Furthermore sudden dieting is liable to lead to a drastic decrease in blood pressure and blood-sugar levels.

"In order to both lose the weight and maintain one's health, it is important to alter one's lifestyle permanently in terms of nutrition. One must get it into one's head that the idea is not to go on difficult, passing diets, but to lead an orderly lifestyle that, when maintained, will lead to certain and steady weight loss. It is very important to eat three square meals a day. Bread, cheese, eggs and vegetables in the morning and evening and chunks of chicken or turkey and fish for lunch. These are foods that cool the body and are very easy to digest. Between meals one can eat summer fruits such as melon, watermelon, peaches, etc., but nothing else. Those who maintain this type of nutritional program, along with physical activity such as walking several times per week, will achieve satisfactory results.

"Those who insist on taking off some weight quickly at the start can remove carbohydrates from their menu for two to three weeks. During this period do not touch rice, pasta, bread, crackers, etc. In addition to the significant decrease in weight, avoiding carbohydrate consumption diminishes the sense of hunger."

Mrs. Abel's lifestyle program reduces the number of unwanted pounds and helps keep weight steady. Above all, she notes, by adhering to it one carries out the mitzvah of venishmartem lenafshoseichem.

Sun Safety

Our obligation to guard our lives and well-being does not end with correct nutrition, but extends to every area of life. During the summer we must beware of the harmful effects of heat, sun and dryness. The risk of heatstroke and dehydration is a reality.

According to Magen David Adom Spokesman Yeruchom Mendola, despite the large number of calls for heat-related incidents, in recent years public awareness has increased. He says people now exercise more caution, which has led to a decrease in the frequency of heatstroke and dehydration.

Natan Kodinsky, director of Magen David Adom's community education department, explains which steps should be taken to prevent harm from sun and heat. "On hot days you should drink more than the amount needed to quench your thirst. Dehydration has no warning signs, therefore you should constantly drink large amounts. It is also important to be sure to keep heads covered when going out into the sun."

Kodinsky also explains the difference between heatstroke, which results from bodily exertion in a hot environment, and dehydration, which results from a lack of bodily fluids. "The signs of heatstroke are weakness, headache, dizziness, impaired speech, impaired balance, confusion and delirium. In such cases, after summoning help, one should ensure the breathing passage remains open and to begin cooling the victim with tap water and by moving him to a shady, cool location.

"The signs of dehydration are reddened skin, nausea, dizziness, rapid pulse, extreme dryness of the mouth, anxiety and a general decline in bodily functions. The primary treatment for dehydration victims is restoring liquids to the body. Liquids should be given orally. The victim should cease all activity and lie still in a cool, shady location. If the victim loses consciousness, liquids should not be given orally."

In addition to the dangers of dehydration and heatstroke, there is also the danger of overexposure to the sun. Awareness of this danger has risen in recent years and the number of skin-protection products for children and adults has risen concomitantly, but still only half of those who spend time in the sun use sunscreen.

In recent years there has also been an increase in the incidence of deep sunburns, including second-degree burns. One of the reasons is the lack of awareness among certain segments of the population. In order to reduce the risk one should avoid exposure to the sun between 10:00 am and 4:00 p.m. Beachgoers and all those who spend time in the sun should be careful to rub sunscreen on their faces and the other parts of the body exposed to the sun's rays. According to studies, at least SPF (Sun Protection Factor) 15 is most recommended. People with light complexion or sensitive skin should apply SPF 24 or SPF 30 products. People with very light complexion who spend an extended period of time in the sun should use SPF 42 sunscreen.

Air Conditioners Save the Day

Not only does the sun pose a health hazard, but it can also cause much discomfort. On days when temperatures reach into the 90s in the shade, sitting at home or in learning institutions can be very difficult. The air conditioner comes along to save the day. R.G., a teacher in several schools in the Central Region, says the girls she teaches are much more alert and attentive in air- conditioned classrooms.

"In a classroom without an air conditioner the attentiveness of girls, who are hard-working and attentive during the winter, drops dramatically. Oppressive heat makes them testy and I often have to stop the lesson to give them unscheduled breaks. As a rule I believe it is very important to be understanding with students during these heat spells. One must remain flexible and give them periodic drinking breaks. Based on my experience this has a positive effect on their concentration and participation afterwards."

Today there are 2-, 3- and 4-horsepower air conditioners, central and split systems of varying quality and air conditioners so well hidden behind attractive furnishings that only the pleasant air they release gives them away.

According to Motti, owner of an established air-conditioner store, air conditioners consume 70 percent more electricity during the summer months than when used for heat in the winter. He says the almost unbearable heat and the decease in prices draw customers from every segment of the population. "It's very hard without an air conditioner," he says, summing up the matter.

Institutions and homes that do not have air conditioning generally use fans as a substitute, along with other means of alleviating the heat. According to the experts, keeping the house shaded all day long helps keep temperatures down. Only after sunset should the blinds be raised to air out the house.

Summer Tourism

In many cases people prefer to stay inside on days when the sun beats down. With or without air conditioning the home is cooler than a trip or a vacation, both of which include hot activities. Yet in recent years there has been a steady increase in the number of families going on vacation during bein hazmanim. The desire for relaxation and a change of pace to revitalize oneself for the next zman help the tourist industry prosper. But oftentimes tempting vacation packages prove to be unrelenting torment when temperatures at the hotel described as air-conditioned rise into the high 90s, the food is cold as ice and the "activities" consist of one passive activity at most.

The various tourism companies and hotels are already making preparations for families arriving during the next bein hazmanim.

The three-and-a-half years of the current intifadah have struck a blow to tourism nationwide. Fear of terrorist attacks have kept many would-be tourists far away from hotels and guest houses, which until recently stood virtually empty even during the summer and other peak seasons. Recently, Ministry of Tourism officials have reported about significant improvements in the tourism industry. They say the increased stability in the state of security has raised tourism levels and this summer they are expecting a significant increase.

According to Mrs. Rachel Goldberg, who chairs the Jerusalem Hotel Association, the city's hotels look primarily to the religious and chareidi sectors, which provide the lion's share of Jerusalem tourism. "Every year, right after Pesach, we begin to prepare to receive the tourists who come during the summer. This year too, we have already begun an advertising campaign to promote sales. Of course, now is not the time of peak activity. But we are already taking reservations, though not in large numbers. The majority of reservations are in the month of Av, right after Tisha B'Av. During these weeks we have much higher occupancy than all of the preceding months, thanks to the observant public, for whom Jerusalem is the preferred vacation place."

Mrs. Goldberg does not expect a large number of tourists to arrive this year, but compared to last year and the preceding years she predicts the figures will be much better. "If last year hotel occupancy in Jerusalem reached 20 percent over the whole year, this year we predict over 30 percent. But in order to achieve a true state of recovery from our standpoint, we need at least 50 percent occupancy."

The shaky security situation, says Goldberg, is the main factor for the decline in tourism in Jerusalem and around the country. But she says, this year, there has been a noticeable decrease in the number of cancellations following security developments. After the Yassin assassination, for instance, Mrs. Goldberg says the number of cancellations remained well below the cancellation rate following previous assassinations and incidents.

Wrangling Over the Time of Day

When daylight savings time began this year, Interior Minister Avraham Poraz, known for his great loathing for every dovor shebekedushoh, presented an idea to set the clocks one hour forward in the winter and two hours forward in the summer.

Almost every year, a longstanding dispute erupts when the time draws near to "spring forward." Innumerable discussions have been conducted over the issue. The only thing all of them have in common is an attempt to harm the interests of the religious public.

When Rabbi Yitzchak Peretz served as Interior Minister, he set up a committee to assess the effects of daylight savings time from every perspective. According to the committee's findings, setting the clocks forward causes economic losses and above all, more deaths due to car accidents. The committee's report was quickly sidelined and the opposite claims soon followed, despite the committee's scientific investigation.

One of the problems more familiar to the religious public is making the clock change after the chagim. Almost every Tishrei, people try to end daylight savings time before Rosh Hashanah, or at last by Yom Kippur. Standard time makes the tefillos and the fast easier. But the battle is not always won. On Yom Kippur 5763, for example, daylight savings time was still in effect. The truth is that a lot of people who are usually against religious matters support changing the clock for Yom Kippur since they fast as well.

The stubborn insistence by secular figures, year in and year out, to change the clocks at highly inconvenient times reveals their real objective is to antagonize the religious community. Drawing out daylight savings time until three days after Yom Kippur is clear proof of their true intentions.

In any case, this year daylight savings time will end on Erev Yom Kippur, unless new legislation passes.


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