US im­mi­grant doc­tors bring a dose of love and well­ness to Is­rael

The Jerusalem Post - The Jerusalem Post Magazine - - CONTENTS - • TA­MARA ZIEVE This ar­ti­cle was writ­ten in co­op­er­a­tion with Ne­fesh B’Ne­fesh.

Dr. Jim Lando sees his work in the US Pub­lic Health Ser­vice as an ex­ten­sion of his Jewish­ness. “I grew up in a house­hold that was La­bor Zion­ist and so­cial jus­tice ori­ented, formed by our Jewish val­ues,” he told The Jerusalem Post last week. He ar­rived aboard a Ne­fesh B’Ne­fesh char­tered aliya flight to Is­rael fa­cil­i­tated in co­op­er­a­tion with Keren Kayemeth Le’Is­rael, the Aliya and In­te­gra­tion Min­istry, the Jewish Agency for Is­rael, JNF-USA and Tzofim-Garin Tz­abar.

“The idea that we are all tak­ing care of each other, that the con­di­tions we live in and the way we live to­gether af­fect our per­sonal health and the health of oth­ers – that’s where I got the drive to be in pub­lic health.” Lando, 51, is a physi­cian and a re­tired Ad­mi­ral and As­sis­tant Sur­geon Gen­eral. He made aliya from Pitts­burgh, Penn­syl­va­nia, with his wife, Leigh Win­ston, 52, who is also a physi­cian.

In 2013, Ne­fesh B’Ne­fesh launched a pro­gram, to­gether with Keren Kayemeth L’Is­rael and JNF-USA, to draw new im­mi­grants to south­ern Is­rael, where costs of liv­ing and hous­ing are lower. The Go South pro­gram of­fers ad­di­tional in­cen­tives and ben­e­fits in ad­di­tion to those of­fered to all new im­mi­grants by the Is­raeli gov­ern­ment. Rec­og­niz­ing the ad­van­tages found in the South, and through the NBN pro­gram, the Lan­dos have moved to Beer­sheba, where they will spend the first five months learn­ing He­brew at ul­pan and liv­ing in the Nu­rit ab­sorp­tion cen­ter.

The cou­ple raised their chil­dren in a Zion­ist house­hold in At­lanta, send­ing them to Jewish day camps and host­ing Is­raeli emis­saries from the Jewish Agency who par­tic­i­pated in those camps; they were also in­volved in the Amer­i­can Friends of the Is­rael War Dis­abled Foun­da­tion. “We had these in­ter­ac­tions and de­vel­oped ties to Is­rael – even though we have no fam­ily there – and that fac­tored into our de­ci­sion,” Win­ston told the Post. She spent nine months at Kib­butz Tzora when she was 20 and Lando had vis­ited Is­rael as a teen with his fam­ily. They vis­ited the coun­try to­gether for the first time in 2005, af­ter a gap of al­most 20 years. “It was in­ter­est­ing to see how much it had changed in that time,” Win­ston re­flected.

The cou­ple started dis­cussing aliya a decade ago, but de­cided it would be dis­rup­tive to both of their med­i­cal ca­reers, as well as to their chil­dren’s lives. Their chil­dren, now 19 and 22, mov­ing out of the fam­ily home, com­bined with the fact that Lando was el­i­gi­ble to re­tire, drew them to the con­clu­sion that the time was ripe for aliya.


Lando and Win­ston are both ve­gan and are ex­perts in the new field of life­style medicine, which pro­motes healthy habits in­stead of an over-reliance on med­i­ca­tions.

“I hope I can con­trib­ute to the field of pub­lic health in Is­rael, es­pe­cially the field of well­ness – I feel for­tu­nate to be able to come at this stage of life and to bring my ex­pe­ri­ence,” Lando said. “I am a proud Amer­i­can and was priv­i­leged to serve my coun­try for 20 years. Now we are be­com­ing Is­raelis as well and look for­ward to con­tribut­ing our skills here.”

As an as­sis­tant sur­geon gen­eral, Lando was the chief fed­eral pub­lic health of­fi­cial for a six-state re­gion of Illi­nois, In­di­ana, Michigan, Min­nesota, Ohio and Wis­con­sin. One of his main ac­tiv­i­ties was try­ing to in­te­grate men­tal health into pub­lic health. “It has been sep­a­rated, as though heads are sep­a­rated from their bod­ies, but we know they are in­tri­cately in­ter­twined,” he ex­plained, adding that spir­i­tual health is also an im­por­tant com­po­nent.

The cou­ple now as­pire to open a well­ness prac­tice, but they are not sure yet whether it will be sit­u­ated in Is­rael, the US or both – a lot hangs on the progress they make with their cur­rently ba­sic level of He­brew.

“I am tak­ing a leap and trust­ing that once my He­brew is good enough, I will be able to in­te­grate into var­i­ous pub­lic med­i­cal health ser­vices and the aca­demic sys­tem, to help im­prove the health and well­ness of Is­raelis,” Lando said.


It’s not just in the realm of health that Lando seeks to make a dif­fer­ence in Is­rael. As Win­ston wrote in her “Is­rael Ad­ven­ture” blog, her hus­band is on a “quixotic mis­sion to in­sert kind­ness into Is­raeli cul­ture.” On one of his first days in Is­rael, Lando gave his ear­li­est post-of­fice wait­ing line ticket – he had ac­ci­den­tally taken a few – to an el­derly lady who ap­peared to be in a hurry.

“She did not un­der­stand at first, and thought he was com­mis­er­at­ing about the slow ser­vice,” Win­ston wrote, hav­ing ob­served the ex­change. “Then, as she re­al­ized he was of­fer­ing her the ticket, her en­tire body soft­ened and she looked at him with a big smile and thanked him pro­fusely. It was a beau­ti­ful mo­ment to wit­ness.”

“If we re­ally want Is­rael to be a place of refuge, then it’s in­cum­bent upon all of us to be en­gaged in build­ing a coun­try we would want to live in,” Lando had told the Post en route to Is­rael. “We have in­flu­ence as Amer­i­cans via money and the power that the US has, but we were not Is­raeli, and it is not fair to have that de­gree of in­flu­ence on a po­lit­i­cal sys­tem if you’re not a cit­i­zen.

“By en­gag­ing in the di­a­logue of what we want our coun­try to be, we en­sure the fu­ture of Is­rael for our chil­dren,” he con­tin­ued.

“It’s a real priv­i­lege and special mo­ment in time that we have our own state, and to be part of that en­deavor is some­thing that I have dreamed of since I was a child,” Lando said. “It started with a deep un­der­stand­ing of the Holo­caust and what it meant not to have a state.

“Is­rael is our coun­try but the idea of Is­rael as a light unto the na­tions has yet to be re­al­ized. It cer­tainly can be re­al­ized, but it will re­quire a lot of hard work and com­mit­ment.” ■


Re­tired ad­mi­ral Jim Lando poses with his wife, Leigh Win­ston, who is also a physi­cian. The two re­cently made aliya and hope to con­tinue their work in pub­lic health while here.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Israel

© PressReader. All rights reserved.