Thursday, November 20, 2008

Record Number of Jews slated for next U.S. Congress

Last update - 20:52 20/11/2008
Record Number of Jews slated for next U.S. Congress
By Brett Lieberman and Rebecca Spence, The Forward
Tags: jewish world, u.s. congress

When the new Congress debuts in January 2009, a record 45 Jews will take the oath of office: 32 in the House of Representatives and - regardless of the outcome in the still-contested Minnesota election - 13 Jews in the Senate.

Among the three newcomers to the House are a young, gay, multimillionaire entrepreneur; a seasoned veteran of New Jersey's rough-and-tumble politics, and a wealthy attorney who poured $2 million of his own money into a raucous campaign that now gives him the right to say he represents Mickey Mouse.

And even with all that, the record is bittersweet for those who work to elect Jews to public office. Some high-profile races fell short: Losers included Ethan Berkowitz at the hands of longtime Rep. Don Young in Alaska, blind rabbi Dennis Shulman in New Jersey and Josh Segall in Alabama.
But those who won bring along their own share of news. Jared Polis, 33, a multimillionaire Internet entrepreneur who will represent Colorado's 2nd District, is the first openly gay non-incumbent male to be elected to the House of Representatives. (Barney Frank - who, notably, is also Jewish - came out after serving several terms.)

Polis made his fortune, estimated between $150 million and $200 million, while still in his 20s. The Boulder native, who served on the Colorado State Board of Education, founded, an online greeting card company that spun off from his parents' business, and sold it in 1999 for a reported $780 million. Polis also founded and sold the florist Web site

In recent years, Polis has devoted the bulk of his time to his philanthropic endeavors, with a focus on education. In 2004, he founded the New America School, an English-language school for new immigrants. There he took an unusually hands-on approach, serving as New America?s superintendent until last year.

Polis won a tough primary battle in a largely Democratic district that includes Denver suburbs with a growing Jewish population. According to David Shneer, director of the Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder, the Jewish population of the Denver metro area grew by roughly 40% over the past 10 years. Polis' district includes the liberal enclave of Boulder as well as other Denver suburbs, though not the capital city itself.

Polis, who handily won the general election with more than 60% of the vote, said that neither his religion nor his sexual orientation cropped up much during the campaign. "I think they were both non-issues," he said. "The issues of most concern to voters in our district were the war in Iraq, affordable health care, improving our schools."

Still, both of those factors did come into play in recent weeks, when Polis received a "frantic" e-mail from a Barney Frank biographer who wanted to know whether he was left-handed. Why? As Polis explained, the biographer was working on a book titled "Barney Frank: The Story of America's Only Left-Handed Gay Jewish Congressman." If Polis were left-handed - which, he reassured the biographer, he is not - his election would have discounted the book's title.

Polis is a member of Congregation Har HaShem, Boulder's only Reform synagogue. The congregation?s senior rabbi, Deborah Bronstein, said that Polis embodies Jewish values. "He takes a lot of personal concern in nonprofits that have to do with helping people get ahead who might not otherwise," she said.

Where Polis brings a youthful and entrepreneurial zeal to office, John Adler, 49, brings 20 years of elective experience to the job of representing New Jersey's 3rd District, a seat that no Democrat had won since 1882. Adler, who spent the past 16 years in the New Jersey State Senate, where he was assistant minority leader from 1994 to 2001, won the seat of retiring Rep. Jim Saxton.

Residents of the South Jersey district, which includes Cherry Hill - where Adler lives and was a former councilman - and Ocean and Burlington counties, will have a stalwart supporter of Israel in their new congressman. Adler, who says he has been Jewish "virtually my entire adult life," converted from his Episcopalian faith in 1985 after meeting his wife in law school. He has served on the New Jersey-Israel Commission, which helps foster cultural and business relations between the Garden State and Israel.

In the State Senate, Adler cultivated a reputation as a well-respected legislator and chaired the Judiciary Committee. According to Rutgers University political scientist Ross Baker, he played a central role in helping Governor Jon Corzine push state Attorney General Zulima Farber out of office after it was revealed that the latter had outstanding speeding tickets and a bench warrant against her. "He brings legislative skills that are applicable to the House, and I predict that he will quickly move to make himself unassailable in that seat," Baker said.

At least for now, Adler, a member of Temple Emanuel in Cherry Hill, says that his focus is on helping struggling middle-class families, a core theme of his campaign. "This is the first decade since the Great Depression that the middle class stepped backwards," Adler said. "I am [eager] to address problems that have been plaguing America the last few years or my entire life."

In Florida's 8th District, Alan Grayson found success in his second run for Congress, winning a seat that includes part of Orlando, including Walt Disney World. Grayson, the surprise victor of the Democratic primary, defeated incumbent Republican Ric Keller in what the Orlando Sentinel called the ugliest fight in Central Florida House races.

Grayson, a Bronx native who lost a 2006 congressional race, spent more than $2 million of his own money this year to win the seat considered part of a GOP stronghold. As an attorney, he sued government contractors responsible for defrauding taxpayers and for supplying defective equipment to American soldiers. Keller tagged him as an "ultraliberal" who would vote to cut off funding for troops in Iraq, but apparently the voters believed otherwise.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Walk faster - you'll live longer


New research shows that three or four hours of moderate exercise can help maintain a healthy body weight for those who carry the obesity gene.
Walk faster - you'll live longer
The You Docs
November 13, 2008

Gait speed could help predict how long you'll live. It may very well be another important vital sign, like heart rate, blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

The magic number for staying young is 3.6 kilometres an hour. Why? If you can walk that fast, you are better able to bounce back from an illness. That's why zippy over-65 walkers in a recent study enjoyed lower mortality rates.

So, time yourself (or your mom or dad) on a tread- mill or around the track. Get your speed up by intermittently picking up the pace for a short distance on a walk or a treadmill.

One easy way to increase your pace is to do it by the clock: For the first 10 seconds of every other minute, walk faster. Each week, keep up the faster pace longer.

Once you've got your walking mojo going, add some strength training, which will help you get faster as well as stronger. And walk every day.

Anger is a pain in the lungs

That fight you had with your spouse or the feelings you have for that son-of-a-rhymes-with-witch who cut you off on the highway may keep you from breathing easy. And that prevents your body from getting what it needs to operate your other systems.

Yes, you pay twice with anger: It hurts your lungs.

Although lung function naturally declines as you age, it may slip faster in perpetual hotheads. In one study, men who scored highest in hostility performed poorly on lung function tests, both at the beginning of the study and years later. Strong negative emotions seem to provoke inflammation and alter hormone function, which can knock the wind out of your lungs' sails.

Also, the kind of bad feeling that piggybacks on anger often goes hand-in-hand with smoking and inactivity. Each of these – anger, unnatural hormone levels, smoking and inactivity – goads the others to make lung function worse.

Next time you're seething (but not while driving), try this: Close your eyes, relax and imagine yourself far away from what's making you so mad. Breathe deeply with your forefinger on your navel and feel it move in and out.

Then see what kind of results you can get without yelling.


Three things help reduce the average time a cold lasts, from roughly five days to three. Do any of these the minute you start feeling cold symptoms:

1. Chicken soup: Have one cup four times a day. Ingredients in grandma's favourite remedy have anti-inflammatory properties that prevent certain white blood cells (neutrophils) from migrating to your airways and contributing to the inflammation that causes annoying cold symptoms. Chicken soup also contains compounds that help inhibit mucus production, and its heat and steam may help open nasal passages.

2. Vitamin C: Wash down 500 milligrams of the vitamin with plenty of water four times each day. It's not clear why this works, but research has shown that it does.

3. Zinc lozenges: Take one every six hours. Your immune system needs zinc to function. Just don't try taking zinc lozenges every day as a preventive step. Taking more than 100 mg of zinc daily over a long time actually hurts, not helps, your immune system. (Lozenges generally have around 13 to 20 mg of zinc.)


A little less meat (beef, pork, veal, lamb, elk, luncheon meats, sausage, etc.) on your plate could mean much less meat on your bones. People who eat few or no animal products are less likely to be overweight or obese than people who eat meat.

Not enough to scare you out of the steakhouse? Consider this: Dropping meat lowers your risk of diabetes and heart disease – in fact, postmenopausal women who substituted vegetable protein for their usual red meat lowered their coronary heart disease death rates by a whopping 30 per cent.

You don't have to go cold, uh, tofu. Just choose appropriate portion sizes and low-fat cooking methods. A serving of meat is equal to 85 grams (3 ounces), about the size of a deck of playing cards. Limit red meat to one serving per week, and don't overcook it.

When you trim the meat, fill the nutrition hole with enough protein, vitamins B-12 and D, calcium, iron and zinc. Get them with soy products such as tofu or soy burgers; legumes, lentils or garbanzo beans; low-fat dairy; dark green, leafy vegetables; nuts; and whole grains. And add a vitamin supplement twice a day as an insurance policy against an imperfect diet (do that even if you have meat).


These days, yoga gets more love than the current So You Think You Can Dance star. And for good reason: It increases three "relax-it's-okay" compounds in your body. Best of all, you can get its rewards even if you're about as pliable as a two-by-four. Talk about a natural high.

Yoga boosts blood levels of serotonin, dopamine and endorphins – three natural feel-good substances. This ancient practice may boost mood even higher by preventing middle-age weight gain. One study found that it helped adults between the ages of 45 and 55 maintain or lose weight when they practised regularly for four years or more, as opposed to the pound-a-year gain that happens to most people.

And the effect of yoga on overweight people was especially dramatic: They gained 18.5 pounds fewer than those who did not practise.

So downward-dog it: You've got nothing to lose ... except maybe some mental and physical weight.

The You Docs, Mike Roizen and Mehmet Oz, are authors of the best-selling YOU: On a Diet. Send questions to the good doctors on their website,