April 16, 2024
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April 16, 2024
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Aliyah. Has the call ever been so clear in our lifetime? Sure, we Zionist-leaning Jews are always in the contemplative phase of moving to Israel, yet all still a bit stuck out here in the land of $3.99 super glue. We indeed pray, three times a day, that Hashem should gather us up and return us to Israel, yet the rut of a local habit takes its toll, as does the GW Bridge. Sure, by Shabbat Musaf, we are inspired by the line, “and bring us up to our land with joy … so that we can get close to you by sacrifice with love…” but on Monday, the tuition bill arrives. Love of the land, love of Hashem, and love of mitzvot exclusive to Israel may push us to pine over aliyah in our hearts, but cold logic takes over and we are back to square one. Alas, perhaps dry statistics indeed are what we need these days to boost our faith that aliyah is indeed imminent.

Surely, there are many compelling reasons to move to Israel now, putting aside the final redemption for now, but I will focus on medical considerations for now. It just makes health sense.

First, let’s start with life expectancy. Israel’s life expectancy is 80 for men and 84 for women, compared to the U.S., which is 76 and 81 respectively. Of course, the plan is to age 120, b”H.

Second, while there are many factors going into the greater longevity in Israel, including genetics, nutrition plays a large role as well. The Mediterranean diet has been hands-down proven to be the healthiest diet on the planet in multiple reproducible studies. In fact, Israel has the least diet-related morbidity in the entire world! Falafel, schzug and baba ganoush may indeed be the secret medicine that propels Jews in Israel to the top of the longevity chart, close to Japan and Hong Kong.

Third, and perhaps surprisingly, the probability of dying, chas v’shalom, in the U.S. between the ages of 15-60 is 14.2% for males and 8.6% for females. In Israel, it is nearly half that, even in our current precarious situation.

And if better survival rates aren’t enough to convince one to make aliyah, it is important to look at what Israel spends on its citizens in terms of health and her results. Israel spends approximately $2,600/per capita on health-related expenses, which is 7.8% of its GDP. The U.S. spends $9,400/per capita or 17.1% of GDP, yet the Israeli health results are astoundingly better. Despite the greater spending on health, the U.S. longevity and health statistics lag, and on top of that governmental spending, private individuals and companies are also flipping a big portion of inflated health bills.

Perhaps these stats should not be a surprise, given that, in 2019, Israel rounded off the top 10 in Bloomberg Global Health Index. Additionally, according to the 2021 Global Health Security Index, Israel is also in the top 10 healthiest countries in the world, based on factors like prevention, an efficient and robust health system, and compliance with international norms. The U.S. didn’t come close to Israel on either of these international measures.

And while many of us like to think that “socialized medicine” is inferior in terms of wait times, testing and other parameters, Israel’s health stats speak for themselves. Participation in the national health system is mandatory, and one can choose one of four kupot cholim (health plans), all of which compete with each other under government subsidies. And the price is right. If someone is unemployed, monthly health insurance is a whopping $50 per month. Someone who works pays 3.1% of one’s monthly salary and 5% of anything earned above a salary of $1,700/month. Of note, the average salary in Israel is $3,240/month, so average health insurance payment is $129/month for a working Israeli. And, lest we forget, in most cases, one who makes aliyah and is not yet working is entitled to a free year of health insurance.

Hospitals, in general, are a place one should avoid when possible, yet if one needs to use such facilities in Israel, one should know that Tel Hashomer in Tel Aviv is among the top 10 hospitals in the world, sharing the list with Johns Hopkins University Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital and the Mayo Clinic. Overall, in Israel, there are 85 hospitals—44 general medical, 12 dedicated to mental health and 29 specialized hospitals (geriatric and rehabilitation centers)—in addition to 278 residential long-term facilities. The average stay in a hospital is approximately 4.3 days compared with a world average of 6.5 days. Additionally, one should know that, oftentimes, if one is in need of an ambulance in Israel, given it follows the Franco-German model of EMS care, the presence of a physician in the ambulance is often routine. But let’s not focus on illness and hospitals. These are all just hypotheticals.

Aliya 120 is a novel concierge medical practice based in New Jersey, but with an eye on Israel. Focusing on the client’s current health milieu will remove any health-related roadblocks that hold one back from making aliyah. We work with clients from ages 20-120 and are licensed in New Jersey, New York and Israel, making any medical pressures a drop in the bucket. We can help you or your elderly parents navigate the health system in both the U.S. and Israel. We provide complete geriatric consultative services and case management with a special focus on holistic nutrition, healthy weight and the herbal traditions of ancient Israel. Let’s make it happen in an organic way, with a focus on Israeli diet and herbs in an evidence-based fashion, AD 120.


Rabbi Dr. Yosef Glassman, MD, former instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and IDF Lieutenant, is CEO of Glassman Medical, PC and Hadarta.org, which helps to facilitate aliyah over the age of 60.

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