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Preview: A Mother in Israel

A Mother in Israel

The cutting edge (!) of homemaking and parenting in Israel and the observant Jewish community. By a mother of many, born in the US and now living in Israel. New posts are at AMotherInIsrael.Com

Updated: 2015-09-28T20:13:04.945+03:00


Announcement: A Mother in Israel Has Moved


This blog has moved to

I've put up a few new posts to make up for being absent over the last few days, and more are on the way:
Grabbing the Chapper: A Model of Israeli Tolerance and Cooperation
Update List of Injured Soldiers and Civilians
Why I Moved My Blog to Wordpress
Breastfeeding: The Optimal Way to Space Babies

Or you can read them all at once here.

Happy belated Tu Beshevat!(image)

Overwhelmed by Cooking? Check out CookingManager.Com


AMotherinIsrael.Com is still going strong. Get updates by subscribing below.

I started a new blog about saving time and money in the kitchen, called CookingManager.Com. If you want to cook more from scratch, use your appliances wisely, and learn about the best ways to make the most of your food budget, check it out.

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Guest Post: Breastfeeding and Working


Thanks to commenter Ariela for sharing her experience and recommendations. And as usual, don't miss the comments.

Working and Breastfeeding on

More New Posts at Goats, girls and prayer, parenting, tzniut and more


Join the discussions at my new blog, If you're having trouble accessing the feed in your blog reader, try typing in

Exclusive: Street Goats in Bnei Brak Don't miss these pictures.

Guest Post: Jewish Girls and Prayer. A discussion about educating girls in the Orthodox community.

Babies Need Company
. What is socialization for babies?

Blog Notes. Comments on moving house.

An Uninspiring Letter to the Women of Ramat Beit Shemesh.
Rafi posts a letter he received on the RBS list, thanking women for dressing modestly.

News from Around the Jewish Blogosphere Carnivals, congrats and more.(image)

New Posts at


Here are the newest posts at my new location,

Guest Post: Jewish Girls and Prayer
News from Around the Jewish Blogosphere
Exclusive: "Street Goats" in Bnei Brak
Environmenal Dissidence

The RSS feed for the new blog doesn't seem to be working. Until I get it fixed (and probably longer), I'll continue to link to new posts here.(image)

Updates on wounded soldiers


The list of prayers has been updated, with positive reports on several of the more seriously injured soldiers.

Dvir ben Leah's condition continues to be critical.
He has not woken up since he was wounded by a mortar
shell at the beginning of Operation Cast Lead.

Special prayers for his recovery are scheduled for TUESDAY
FEB 3 (10:20 AM NY Time/5:20 PM Israel Time)

Dvir’s family is calling on Am Yisrael to join in reciting tefillot (prayers)
and tehillim (Psalms) for their son.

Psalms to be recited: 13, 25, 30, 103, 112, 142

For Psalms in Hebrew and English, please visit:

May he and all the sick and injured have a refuah shelaima--a complete and speedy recovery.

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Link for list of injured soldiers and civilians who need prayers


List of injured Israeli soldiers and civilians, updated daily.

This is a sticky post and will remain at the top. Scroll down for recent posts.

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Ynet: Screaming babies ignored in Israeli maternity wards


In a personal column in the health section of Ynet, clinical psychologist Yair Tzivoni describes his experience in the hospital after his wife gave birth. While she went with a friend to the maternity ward, he brought the new baby to the nursery to await washing, blood tests and immunizations. His own daughter slept, but others screamed. The babies were supervised by one nurse, busy with her routine tasks. She completely ignored the crying babies.

Click here to continue reading.

View all posts at the new location, AMotherinIsrael.Com

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Exclusive: Official Haredi Guide to Modest Necklines


(image) This document is entitled: "Common Pitfalls Regarding Necklines." At the bottom (cut off) it reads: These pages have been viewed by Rabbi Nissim Karelitz Shlit"a and Rabbi Moshe Shaul Klein Shlit"a from the rabbinic court of Rabbi Vozner Shlit"a.*

Click here to continue reading.(image)

Shoes and fashions


After completing my errands I decided to collect a sample of fashion photos with my new camera. I wanted a shot of the slutty, jewel-studded platform sandals in little girls' sizes, but was stopped by an owner unfamiliar with the concept, "There's no such thing as bad publicity."

All in all I think the religious fashions have improved over last year, although I wouldn't wear most of these necklines:
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Questions to Ask When Choosing a School for Your Children


We're approaching the time of year when parents make decisions about schools for their children. With the oldest, some parents believe they will find the perfect school. But it's much more likely that they will have to make compromises. This post, geared toward choosing an elementary school, will help you think about the issues.How to find information:Ask parents with children in the school. Keep in mind that their information will be biased. Once children are settled in a school, parents sometimes need to justify their decision to themselves and may minimize issues. They may also have an interest in encouraging parents to send to their school. And not all parents are equally aware of a school's internal problems.Ask parents who chose to send to different schools. I find that you can learn the most from parents who had children in a school you are considering, but pulled them out or chose a different school for subsequent children. Of course, such parents have their own biases. Sometimes they blame a school for issues that it could not control.Talk to teachers, volunteers, and others who have interaction with the schools. Do they have biases too? You bet.The school itself. Go to the open house for prospective parents, read its literature and website, visit classes, and schedule a meeting with the principal. A school may gloss over problems, but it's important to see how it presents itself to prospective parents.Below are suggestions of questions to ask. You won't want to ask every question to every school, but you need to decide what matters to you. As you talk to other parents, you will get more ideas.Technical concernsLocation. Don't discount convenience. An extra hour of commuting is hard on the whole family and adds cost--make sure it's worth it. Or it may be a convenience, because it means less babysitting time. If your child will travel on a school bus, check that there is appropriate supervision and safety measures including seat belts and insurance.Facilities. Is the school clean, including the bathrooms? Is there room outside to play? Ask about a library, computers, and sports facilities.School schedule. Find out about half-days, afterschool programs, and extra-curricular activities. Fees. Include tuition, insurance, school supplies, meals, transportation, gifts for staff, and class activities. Ask if there are scholarships and how they are distributed.Class setup. How many kids are in a class? If there is more than one class in a grade, how are they divided? Will the class stay together, or are they redistributed each year? Are classes split up for certain subjects and if so, are they split randomly or by level?General ConcernsViolence, "behavior" problems, and learning issues. Despite strict admission standards, there will be kids who hit or disrupt class. You need to learn how the school deals with these issues. What is their policy regarding violence--and is the policy followed consistently? Can the school accommodate children with learning disabilities or giftedness? If the school employs a counselor or psychologist, how often are they present? Access. How easy is it to reach the school and talk to staff and are they pleasant? I've encountered schools that don't answer the phone, making me wonder how I could reach my child in an emergency.Atmosphere. How do you feel when you are in the school--tense or calm? What is happening in the halls--are kids running around or working quietly? Listen to the way the administration speaks with staff, and the staff with students. Is the principal or vice-principal on-site and accessible?Student body. How diverse is it? Even parents who value exposure to other lifestyles and cultures may draw the line at their child bei[...]

A long speech and a double-duty Torah reading


Chanting the Torah takes skill and preparation, so traditional synagogues assign someone to chant the weekly biblical portion. Sometimes members take turns, while some synagogues hire a professional. Lion of Zion is one such professional who often writes about the intricacies of the cantillation symbols.

My husband has been chanting, or "leining" as it is known in Yiddish, since before his bar mitzvah. He has prepared every portion at least once and tries to review each week, since he never knows when he will be called on in a pinch.

A few weeks ago he arrived in the synagogue to learn that the neighboring synagogue sought him as a last-minute replacement. My husband declined, as he was scheduled to read in ours. But when the rabbi got up to speak before the Torah reading, my husband decided to check if he was still needed. He asked our son to run and get him as soon as the rabbi finished.

He got to the second synagogue just as they were taking out the Torah scroll. They were glad to see him. I don't know whether he speeded up his pace or not [he just told me he did], but he returned in time to catch the last twenty minutes of the rabbi's speech.(*) Fortunately the rabbi has what to say.

(*)Depending on the length of the weekly portion, reading can take 20-40 minutes.
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Israeli Army Chaplains and Sabbath Observance


Our Shiputzim posted a letter about army chaplains accompanying soldiers to the Gaza front. The letter's author, YAR, and YAR's brother, one of the chaplains, are relatives of "Our Shiputzim."

I'll wait while you read it.

On Shabbat, our rabbi spoke about this incident and the question of Sabbath observance by chaplains. He maintained that there was absolutely no question that the chaplains were permitted to accompany the soldiers, Shabbat or not. Apparently the army employed Druze drivers (not mentioned in the letter quoted in Our Shiputzim) to minimize the violation of the Sabbath by Jews. The rabbi insisted that this was unnecessary.

Let us pray for the day when we will no longer need to ask this type of question.

Unfortunately, I have needed to post an updated list of injured soldiers and victims, including additional names. Thanks to those who have sent updates and corrections; I passed them on.

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Updates and list of injured soldiers and civilians


UPDATE February 10:This blog has moved to latest update can be found at this link:Update on Injured Soldiers and CiviliansIf you came here from another website please notify the blogger or webmaster of the change.I am reposting the following from an email list called Survival During Hard Times. Please send updates or corrections to Jews pray for the sick, they include the patient's Hebrew first (and middle) name, the word "ben" for son of or "bat" for daughter of, and the mother's Hebrew name.Updated February 2, 2009Please pray for our wounded soldiers and civilians. This list below isincomplete. Please send us any more names that should be includedhere, mother's names where missing, corrections and/or any otherupdated info about the condition of these soldiers.May we only hear good news and may they all be healed b'ezrat HaShem(G-d willing).Today Feb. 2, 2009, Army Radio announced that Aaron Yehoshua ben ChayaShoshana is being transferred from Intensive Care to rehabilitation BH.He was the soldier who returned to his troops in Gaza the day after hiswedding and was seriously injured in his head. May HaShem continue to heal him and bless him with a long life, a happy marriage and healthy children.The Yeshiva World » Update on Some of the IDF Wounded » Frum Jewish News_ ( F+Wounded.html) Update on Some of the IDF Wounded February 1, 2009 Following is a report on the condition of some of the wounded from the Gaza War. 2nd-Lt. Aaron Yehoshua ben Chaya Shoshana continues to astound physicians Baruch Hashem, and before Shabbos, he was able to ambulate with the assistance of a walker. If you remember, he sustained a serious head injury in the war and his prognosis was grim at best. Aaron made international news when his story broke, that he left his wife the morning after their wedding to return to his troops. Dvir ben Leah 21, a Golani Brigade soldier, was critically wounded in the fighting. His father, Tzviki, reported on erev Shabbos that the family continues tefillos and remain hopeful as he shows very slight signs of improvement. Dvir’s family is calling on Am Yisrael to join in reciting tefillos and tehillim for their son on Tuesday, 9 Shvat (3 Feb) beginning after Mincha, at 5:20PM (Shkia). Tehillim prakim 13, 25, 30, 103, 112, and 142 will be recited. Li’el Hoshea ben Miriam also sustained a serious head injury. In my last reported, I explained that following a day-long surgery, he opened his eyes and said a few words. I spoke with his father, Effie, on Sunday morning, and Li’el has since undergone three surgeries, with the latest yesterday, on Shabbos, lasting three hours. “It is really hard. I am trying to be strong but each surgery gives hope, but then there is another. His head is full of holes” states Effie in a tired voice. I asked how Chagit, Li’el’s young wife is doing. Effie told me he sent her with her parents to a hotel for Shabbos while he and his wife remained with Li’el. Neriya ben Rivka was also seriously wounded and also in Soroka Medical Center, but in a different department that Li’el. He is reportedly speaking with his family. (Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel) This message was forwarded to us:Netanel ben Mazel Tov, Israeli soldier wounded in his right arm andleg, asks us to convey this message: "Thank you for all your prayersfor us soldiers. All the prayers help. May G-d repay you only good."Then he beseeches us to pray for his buddy Ben, who needs prayers farmore than he does. Ben ben Batya is in critical condition.Please [...]

Michael Pollan on food marketing sheds light on baby formula discussion


An interview on Alternet with best-selling author Michael Pollan (In Defense of Food) ties in to our recent discussion on breastfeeding and formula marketing. Emphasis mine:

Michael Pollan (MP): I remember my mother dutifully giving us all margarine instead of butter. She would say, "Some day they're going to figure out that butter is actually better for you than margarine," and we thought she was nuts. In fact, it turned out that margarine was lethal and butter is fine.

Alternet's Terence McNally (TMN): She was still feeding it to you suspecting that would happen...?

MP: The authority of mothers was essentially destroyed by the food industry. The $32 billion a year in marketing muscle out there has undercut culture's role in determining what we eat, and culture is a fancy word for your mom.

TMN: Just to emphasize that number, that's not the food industry, that's the food marketing industry.

MP: That's advertising, studying us, packaging, figuring out how to get us to eat more.

TMN: Food industry folks say, "We don't think we should regulate this sort of thing because Americans believe in individualism and free choice, but we're all for public education." So maybe we'll throw $100 million of education up against that $32 billion of marketing.

MP: $100 million is one snack food's annual budget. The entire USDA/FDA effort to educate people about food equals one chip. [laughs] There's no contest. They control the information about food.

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Pictures of Israeli Soldiers Treating Palestinian Weapon Smugglers


I received these pictures today along with the Hebrew text below.For redistribution to all: Pictures of Israeli soldiers rescuing Palestinians from a tunnel (used for smuggling weapons) in Gaza.In the most moral army in the world, instead of blowing up the tunnel, they [the soldiers] rescue the one who is trying to kill you.After smuggling weapons they [the Palestinians] receive: Medical care, blankets, a cup of tea.I remind you what the three reserve soldiers received when they went into Ramallah [in Samaria in the West Bank] . . . by mistake!!That is the difference between us and the Palestinians.[MiI: There were two. One of them lived several blocks from my home. When his wife got the news she went to stay with a family member living on our street. Even before the victim's name was announced we watched as the reporters gathered in front of the building. The two soldiers had been brutally tortured and murdered.] New blog posts can be found at A Mother in Israel.Subscribe to in a reader[...]

Central Area Instructed to Prepare Shelters (awaiting confirmation)


Update: I'm still waiting for confirmation of this story. I haven't heard of a public announcement by the Homefront Command.

Breaking news via Jameel:

Update: There was no announcement about this on the 3:00 news.

2:04 PM IDF Homefront Command starts to distribute emergency directions for Rocket Tel Aviv. (source, see below for scanned copy)

With Hamas Rocket ranges now reaching 60 kilometers (as reported here at the Muqata, from Israel Radio), the IDF Homefront command has started preparing for the eventuality that Hamas rockets will reach the Tel Aviv area. Also included is the Beit Shemesh area, Modi'in, Ramla, Lod, Bnei Brak, Rechovot, Holon, Givaatayim, Petach Tikva...
That's us, folks.

UPDATE: Jameel calculates that Petach Tikva, where I live, is just outside of the sixty-kilometer range. So we are okay for today.

Ynet has more (now in English). I will try to update with more information during the day.

You can also follow my updates at My user name is @mominisrael.

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Guest Post: Miracles of Motherhood


I've "known" Barbara for years, as the only other Jew on a message board we frequented. I didn't realize she had been reading this blog until she left a comment on the pizzeria post. I knew she had an interesting story, so I asked her to share. It's not only miraculous. It shows how a proactive and informed mother can cooperate with medical professionals to override standard procedures and policies and ensure optimal care.It’s true what they say: all children are miracles-- just watch PBS’s NOVA that depicts the amazing process of pregnancy and birth. There are, however, stories that transcend the definition of miracle. I would like to share my two stories with you."What would you want to do THAT for?"At age 29, I made the drastic decision to lift “the girls” up off my waist and put them back where they belong--in other words, breast reduction surgery. At the initial surgical consultation, the surgeon asked about children and breastfeeding, I told him that I didn’t think I’d ever have kids, but if I did, I wished to preserve my ability to breastfeed if I could. My mother, who had accompanied me, was dumbfounded. "What on earth would I want to do THAT for?" she asked. I ignored her, and the surgeon agreed to do the best he could. A little over a pound was removed from each breast. The surgery went well, and I was thrilled with my new lightweight, perky friends.The first miracleAt 32 I (finally) got married, and three years later my husband and I decided to try and get pregnant. Two years’ worth of trying later, we found ourselves gearing up for a round of IVF when we got a call from the clinic. “Sorry, we’re going to have to cancel this round. You only have two small follicles, and that’s not enough for us to harvest.” Fed up with the nonsense (Clomid, 3 IUI’s, and now IVF) I declared, “That’s it…I quit…we’re just going to have a really good life without kids!” My husband agreed, and we decided not to go back for another round of IVF.A couple of months later I went to my annual OB/GYN visit. I mentioned that I hadn’t had a period in a while (a problem I’d had intermittently since going off birth control several years earlier). The doctor offered to give me a prescription medication to “force a period” if I wanted. I told him no, but asked if he’d mind doing a couple of tests “just in case." So you remember what I said about children being miracles, right? It turns out that one of those “small follicles” that weren’t good enough for IVF harvesting got fertilized the old-fashioned way! My daughter, who apparently likes surprises and chaos, arrived a month early via c-section. She weighed only 5 lbs. 14 oz., healthy except for jaundice.The breastfeeding miracleThe big question was: Would my artificially perky pals work? I had read as much as I could about BFAR (breastfeeding after reduction), but the bottom line was that I wouldn’t know until I tried. So I nursed. And I pumped (although I never got much using a pump). And I took Fenugreek. At her pediatrician’s insistence, we supplemented my daughter with formula, but I hated every moment of it. We kept up this crazy schedule for six weeks. Once she was past her jaundice issues and she had begun to put on weight I insisted on exclusive breastfeeding to see if it would work. The doctor was skeptical and thought it would be a huge failure (after all, the baby was taking the formula supplements, wasn’t she?), but after a nerve-wracking week that convinced me she was both starving[...]

War in Gaza: Report from the Home Front


Some bloggers thrive on war news. They excel at live blogging, or explaining Israel's point of view to the world at large. Neither approach works for me, as I avoid political discussions and have no inside information. And since my town is not directly affected, I find it difficult to write about the home-front situation. But here is my contribution.I found out about the operation Shabbat afternoon, from a neighbor whose son is an officer. He was in training exercises all day Friday, and was ordered to appear at the airport on Shabbat at 3PM. The family had to make arrangements for someone else to pick up the car after Shabbat. During lunch he took calls from his soldiers, who apologized profusely for calling on Shabbat. When his mother asked whether he'd be coming home this weekend, he said it wasn't likely.I've spoken to a couple of friends who are in the range of the rockets, including one who has been experiencing kassam rockets from Gaza over the years. Now, she hears our attacks in Gaza. She is relieved that action is being taken, but there is an additional emotional toll. "Hannah," she said, "You have no idea what one of those explosions sounds like. Even when you know it's your side, your heart just flips over."My son in yeshiva is also in rocket range, and has had to go into a shelter a couple of times. He's pretty blase about the whole thing so I guess I will be too, at least on his behalf.If you'd like to help, Treppenwitz provided a list of worthy medical organizations. In addition, I've been getting updates about the action in the south from Connections Israel. Here is one of the recent emails:Operation Cast Lead, Israel's response to almost eight years of unending rocket attacks in Sderot and its surrounding environs, is in full gear. We must remember what effect this situation has on residents of the south. Chanukah vacation, which was spent predominantly indoors, has now moved into bomb shelters for the foreseeable future; shopping malls are forbidden to open; schools are closed indefinitely. The sounding of the Code Red alert now screams through additional communities on a constant basis, followed by loud booms, smoke and fire. Children and adults, who have tolerated this situation for so long are at their wits end. Being cooped up in small spaces drains everyone of their coping abilities and adds new levels of stress. If your relative or friend were living under these circumstances, you certainly would spare no expense to get them some relief. Kol Yisrael Achim - we are all brothers. Help us give our brothers some respite from their living conditions. Operation Take-a-Break is underway. We are sponsoring full day respite trips for the residents of the south. Bus loads of individuals will be given a "day off" to engage in relaxing, fun and age appropriate activities out of the line of fire. Each bus costs $500. In other words, for just $10 you can make a real difference in the life of an individual. Better yet, sponsor an entire bus and spare a community!To donate visit Connections Israel, and subscribe to updates here.Subscribe in a reader[...]

Hanging Stockings--an American Chanukah Custom?


From the Motherlode blog at the New York Times, on Jewish couples who have conflicts about holiday customs similar to those of intermarried couples:
I heard recently from Tami Kamin-Meyer, a lawyer with two sons, ages 10 and 14, living in Columbus, OH. “Both my husband of nearly 16 years and I are Jewish,” she wrote in an e-mail. “But his brand of Judaism is far more American than mine. My family is Israeli, and while I am a first generation American, my celebration of Jewish holidays, including traditions and attitudes, are closely aligned with Israeli customs rather than American.” When their first child was born, her husband wanted to hang stockings in the living room, but she did not. (They don’t.) He is more comfortable with prayers and holiday songs in English, which she prefers them in Hebrew. (They incorporate a little of both.)
I didn't know that hanging stockings is a Jewish-American Chanukah custom. But then I've been away a long time.

(I am being sarcastic here, but I guess it didn't come through. Sarcasm doesn't work so well on blogs.)
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Updated: Lessons for Life: Rude Pizzeria Owner Lambasted on Internet


Who could imagine that a rude storekeeper would attract such attention in our little country, never admired for its warm customer service?

According to financial magazine Globes, a woman came with her autistic child into a pizza store for a lesson in practical living, giving him a 20-shekel bill and instructing him to buy a slice of pizza and a can of tomato juice. The store owner helped another customer instead, despite the boy having stated his order three times. Finally the owner told the boy's mother, "This isn't a school." The mother put the story into an email decrying the owner's rudeness toward children with special needs and included his name and address. Thanks to the internet (she only sent it to fifty of her closest friends), the email spread far and wide and the pizza store owner was harassed. Mothers came into the store, dropped off a copy of the email, and left. Garbage was thrown. 25,000 members joined a Facebook group advocating a boycott of the store.

The Globes reporter was the first party to ask owner Shraga Gross for his version of the story. According to Gross, three mothers came in with their autistic children for this life lesson. The mothers did not coordinate with the store, and chose a time when it was full of customers. Gross claims that the boy did not utter a word, but he did tell the boy's mother, "This is not a school." He admits that he may have been impatient but objects to the personalized campaign against him.

Whichever version is correct, Gross didn't commit a crime. I've been ignored and treated badly by storekeepers and I'm not even autistic. It seems to me that learning that not everyone will go out of their way to be kind to people, whether or not they have special needs, is an important life lesson.

Hat tip: Commenter Keren
For another example of Israeli customer service see Benji's post here.

Update: I don't condone rude behavior. However, the mother was out of line in publicizing the storekeeper's name because of one isolated incident. It's not like the store has a policy that discriminates against autistic children. If she would have e-mailed the story without mentioning the name I would support her 100%.

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Bamba not related to mysterious deaths of toddlers


Over the last few weeks, four toddlers have gotten ill and died suddenly of mysterious causes. Two children remain hospitalized; one is recovering and one is still in intensive care. The Health Ministry debated over whether to announce that they are investigating the deaths as they didn't want to induce panic. But if word got out about the investigation, the ministry would be accused of withholding information. They are awaiting final lab results but so far there no connection has been found among the children, who came from different parts of the country and had different symptoms. It seems to be a statistical anomaly, and at least one of the children had previous health problems.

Earlier this week an email rumor began circulating claiming that the deaths were related to contaminated Bamba, the heavily marketed children's snack food. One email forwarded to me this morning was about an uncle working in Superpharm who received a call asking him to take Bamba off the store's shelves.

Manufacturer Osem's stock dropped six percent in the stock market as a result of this rumor. My readers know that I am no fan of Bamba. But as a pediatrician friend pointed out, if even one batch of Bamba caused illness Israeli hospitals would be full to capacity with sick children. Negative health effects of Bamba, Bisli, Crembos and other snacks marketed to children are only incremental.

Jameel also wrote about this story.

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