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January 13, 2012

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JANUARY 13, 2012 PAGE 15A By David Rosenberg The Media Line Couch potatoes of the world, arise. You have nothing to lose but your weight. It's not just that you are avoiding exercise and scarf- ing down pretzels. By allow- ing you posterior to carry the full load of your body for hours on end you are actually stimulating your fat cells to multiply. Lying down and spreading the burden of your weight across the full length of your body eggs on even more fat cells. That is the surprising conclusion of research con- ducted at Tel Aviv University, which found that the static stretching created by a per- son's weight when he or she is sitting and lying down encourages the body to create new fat Cells. More specifi- cally, it causes preadipocyte cells the precursors to fat cells--to turn themselves into fat cells faster. "Often when we think about obesity or gaining weight, we think about con- suming more food than we can burn in calories," Amit Gefen, of the university's biomedical engineering de- partment, told The Media Line. "What this research tells us is that it's not only nutritional balance the equation of how many calo- ries you put in and how many you burn -but that there is mechanical element as well." Obesity rates worldwide have doubled in the last three decades, rising from about 5 percent of men and 8 percent ofwomen in 1980 to 10 percent and 14 percent, respectively, by 2008 and creating a range of health problems including cardiovascular disease, can- cer and diabetes. But Gefen wasn't motivated to carry out his research by the horizon- tally challenged. He was s~udying the prob- lem of people who are bed- ridden or wheelchair bound due to disease or disability, and typically suffer atrophy- ing muscles from their pro- longed inactivity. Examining MRI images of patient muscle tissue, Gefen noticed that cells and tissues that stimu- lates fatto invade muscle and stimulates muscle to retreat." To test that hypothesis, Gefen and his graduate stu- dent Naama Shoham placed individuals preadipocyte cells on a flexible elastic substrate attached to a cell-stretching device. The cells were all given glucose or insulin to stimulate 50 percent more lipiddroplets. It appears, Gefen said. that cells can sense mechanical loading and that triggers chemical processes. Practically speaking, the results show that even people who eat well and exercise will see some of the benefits of their healthy lifestyle un- done if they also go through long periods of inactivity, to three years to complete, aims to more closely mimic the human body. Gefen and his fellow re- searchers will also be inves- tigating how long a person can sit or lie down without the mechanical load becoming a~ factor in fat production. The goal of the studies is to create models ~:esearchers can use to better understand over time ~at cells were in- them into becoming fat cells, like hours sitting at a desk. obesity and its causes. Such i0 vading major muscles. This but one group was subject to For those committed to a models can be used in the suggested that mechanical longperiodsofstretchingthat lethargic lifestyle, getting early stages to test the effi- load the force placed on mimickedtheeffectoflyingor up from your swivel chair or cacy of new drugs or medical an area by weight on the sitting down while a control living room sofa and walking deviceswithoutusinganimal cell--could be encouraging fat tissue to expand. "What you see in their tissue is the replacement of muscle tissue by fat," said Ge- fen. "You start seeing stripes of fat going from the fat layer into the muscle layer until the muscle layer is gone. We believe there is something of mechanical environment of group was not. Both groups developed lipid, or fat, drop- lets, but after only two weeks the stretched cells developed significant more and larger lipid droplets. By the end of the study, which was published in the American Journal of Physiol- ogy -- Cell Physiology this month, the stretched cells had around may help alleviate the impact of mechanical loads, Gefen said. Elastic substrates are not the same as the human body, which is more complex and three dimensional (in the case of couch potatoes exception- ally three dimensional). So Gefen's next study, which he estimates will take two studies and beforethey are subject to clinical trials with humans. Gefen's team also included Ruth Gottlieb, Uri Zaretsky and Orna Shaharabani-Yosef from the biomedical engineer- ing department and Dafna Benayahu from the Depart- ment of cell and developmen- tal biology. By Nathaniel Rabkin Tablet For the last four years. Israeli television viewers have been captivated by an unconventional crime show called "Ha-Borer." or "The Arbitrator." An action- packed comedy drama, the series tells the story of an Orthodox mobster, his frac- tious Sephardic family and his long-lost illegitimate son. In some ways it's an Israeli version of "The So- pranos." But the makers of the series gave this genre a distinctive, Israeli-Jewish bent. "Ha-Borer" uses the world of organized crime as a backdrop to explore time- less Jewish questions about morality, community and belonging. It also deals with many of the most pressing issues facing Israeli society in the 21st century, from rising wealth and inequal- ity to the ethical dilemmas of war. Immensely popular in Israel, the show deserves to be seen by anyone who wants to understand how contemporary Israelis see themselves and the world around them. If you speak Hebrew, go to the website of Israel's HOT cable network and watch it now. If you need English subtitles, wait until your next E1 AI flight to Israel and watch the show on in-flight entertainment. In the meantime, here's what you're missing: The show follows the family of Baruch Asulin, an ag- ing mafia boss known as "Ha-Borer" for his role as a mediator of underworld disputes. The Borer is a ruthless killer, but he is also a traditionally obser- vant Sephardic Jew. He frequents the neighbor- hood synagogue and often is shown settling mobsters' disputes by referring to Torah law, which he quotes extensively, always from memory. In the first season, the Borer is contacted by a long-lost illegitimate son who was given up for adoption at birth. The son, Nadav. was raised by the middle-class Feldman family and .is studying to become a social worker. As the two men bond. Nadav finds himself drawn 'un- willingly into the Borer's criminal milieu. Revealing a surprising acumen for ruthless strat- egizing, Nadav becomes the Borer's trusted confidant in a war against hated rival Yigal Mizrahi. a mobster so cruel that he is nicknamed "Yigal the Nazi." Together. the aging Sep- hardic gangster and the young Ashkenazi social worker dodge bullets and plot their next moves. Along the way they debate philo~ sophical questions of right and wrong, the meaning of family and the significance of traditional Jewish values for contemporary life. Re- ligious pragmatism meets secular idealism head-on again and again. In one scene, Nadav ap- peals to conscience, only to have the Borer cut him off in mid-sentence. "In Judaism, there is no conscience," the Borer says. "There are only mitzvot." In another episode, the Borer turns down a busi- ness proposal from his old friend Faruki, who plans to make it big smuggling drugs into Israel from Lebanon. In an Israeli twist on a classic scene from "The Godfather." the Borer expresses his objection to the drug trade in terms of Jewish solidarity. "I love you very much, just as I love every Jew," he tells his would-be partner in crime. "But you are going down the wrong path." Using a crime-show script to explore questions of philosophy and religion is a dangerous move. Done wrong, such a combination could seem forced, even absurd. But "Ha-Borer" pulls it off smoothly, with believable dialogue and top-notch acting. What makes the show work? Director Shay Kanot, who created the series with screenwriter Reshef Levy, points out that the action in "Ha-Borer" un- folds at a rather relaxed pace: Because of budgetary constraints, each episode has fewer scenes than is customary in American television. This allows for each scene to be richer and more fully developed, he told me. "We try to make every scene include some kind of action, some kind of witty line or joke. and something for viewers to think over in their heads." he said. Kanot and Levy created "Ha-Borer" by building on years of experience in prior collaborations, including a short-lived police show called "Tik Sagur" ("Case Closed") and the comedy film "Ahava Colombianit" ("Colombian Love"). The show's minor characters. like the Borer's hyper- "religious daughter, reflect familiar Israeli social types. Even the choice to portray a mafia boss from an Or- thodox background, which may seem incongruous to American JewS, makes sense in the Israeli context. "Israel's most famous criminals generally come from Mizrahi families, which uphold religious traditions," Kanot said. "It's not unusual to see a family of six children, where one brother is a rabbi and another is a gangster." "Ha-Borer" captures the zeitgeist of the past decade in Israel, a country that has experienced amazing eco- nomic growth and shown surprising resilience in the face of war and terror- ism but is terrified by the prospect of losing its soul, either through the greed of capitalism or the savagery of war. The show examines the State of Israel's-soul without providing a definite diagnosis. The sadistic cruelty of the gangsters is on full display. So is the callous indifference of citizens and government officials. At the same time, "Ha-Borer" shows how certain national values endure, even among criminals. One memorable scene opens with a pair of the Borer's henchmen chok- ing a man who is trying to back out of a deal with their boss. When they discover that the victim's son was a paratrooper who died in Lebanon, they stop imm ediately. The family of 'Ha-Borer,' HOT Israeli TV show that takes an Orthodox mobster's view of the Jewish state's moral landscape. . "Iwas aparatrooper, too," t~ distinguish between the a~tors and the characters they play. The show allegedly is t~ooPUlar with real mobsters, , and several of Israel's re colorful mafia leaders reportedly believe that the scripts are inspired by their own life stories. "Ha-Borer" is finally neither a celebration nor a condemnation of the gritty Israel it portrays. As a story one of the toughs says, "and I also fought in Lebanon." Out of respect for the family's sacrifice, the gang- sters leave empty handed.- Three seasons of "Ha-Bor- er" have aired on Israel's HOT cable network, and a fourth season is in the works, with filming set to begin in May. The show's stars report being stopped on the street by fans, some of whom seem unable of Jews making tough deci- sions in a dangerous world, the show reflects Israel's determination to keep struggling both with its enemies and with its own internal demons. Nathaniel Rabkin is a graduate student in the University of Haifa's De- partment of Middle Eastern History. This article origi- nally appeared on Tablet Magazine, FIRST WE LISTEN... THEN WE DELIVER! LET MY 41 YEARS OF INSURANCE EXPERIENCE REVIEW YOUR COVERAGES AND DESIGN A PACKAGE THAT PROTECTS YOUR BUSINESS BY MEETING YOUR SPECIAL NEEDS! All Forms of Insurance Products for Business Retailers, Manufacturers, Contractors, Service Industries, Restaurants, Child Care, Physicians, Attorneys Call Today To Schedule An Appointment At Your Convenience Marshall L. Helbraun Representing The Sihle Insurance Group, Inc. An Independant Insurance Agency Phone: 1-800-432-6652 (407) 761-3521 (cell phone) !