Israeli woman wins Mrs. World; & Israel’s new bobsled team

February 28, 2005

+ How tomatoes prevent cancer

This is part of an occasional series of emails looking at the less political aspects of Israeli life -- Tom Gross



1. "Israeli mother crowned Mrs World" (The Press Trust of India, Feb. 26, 2005)
2. "Mrs Israel - most beautiful married woman" (Deccan Herald, Feb. 26, 2005)
3. "Oscar-nominee Natalie Portman's kiss infuriates religious Jews" (AFP, Feb. 23, 2005)
4. "Israel's bobsled team bombs in Canada" (Media Line, Feb. 10, 2005)
5. Owner of the NFL champion New England Patriots rededicates Jerusalem stadium (Jerusalem Post, Feb. 24, 2005)
6. "'Sound of silence' is new soccer anthem" (Media Line Feb. 10, 2005)
7. "Israeli scientists explain how tomatoes prevent cancer" (Israel 21c, Jan. 30, 2005)


[Note by Tom Gross]

I attach seven items. The first two are news reports on the success of a 28-year-old Israeli mother, Sima Bakhar, who was crowned "Mrs. World" in the contest in India on Friday night. Bakhar defeated 40 other contestants for the diamond-studded tiara valued at $18,000.

Bakhar, an architect by profession, also bagged the "Beautiful Legs" at the Mrs World Contest. Organizers say the contest "showcases the modern married women who has imbibed style, grace, beauty and intelligence." The two runners-up were Mrs. Croatia and Mrs. New Zealand.

You can see photos of the winner and runners-up by visiting the website of the Hindustan Times (URL address below)

In this email I attach the full items, without summaries.



Israeli mother, Sima Bakahr, crowned 'Mrs World'
Press Trust of India
Amby Valley (Lonavala)
February 26, 2005,000900040001.htm,000900040001.htm

The 28-year-old Israeli mother's simple statement that "being away from her daughter" was her biggest challenge, seems to have clinched the diamond and ruby-studded Mrs World crown for Sima Bakahr.

The 27-year-old Croatian contestant, Ivana Boce and 37-year-old Sherin Peace from New Zealand were crowned first and second runner up respectively at the beauty pageant, organised last night exclusively for married women and hosted by the Sahara group in the picturesque hill station of Lonavala in Amby Valley.

It was Bakahr, a mother of young daughter, answer at the final round that her biggest challenge at the contest was "being away from her daughter" that clinched the title and the $18,000 diamond-and-ruby studded crown.

Bakahr, an architect by profession, also bagged the "Beautiful Legs" at the Mrs World Contest, held for the first time in India.

The contest also saw the svelte beauty from New Zealand, Sherin Peace, walking away with the "Dream Body" while the Bulgarian beauty, Yana Marinova romped home with the "Beautiful Smile" title.

The Ukrainian beauty title holder, Svitlana Valova, was conferred the Beautiful Skin award. The Indian beauty Jeevika Shah also featured among the final six contestants vying for the title, but failed to make it to the last three.

Stepping out of the threshold of their homes, 41 married contestants from across the globe sashayed down the ramp, dressed in designer outfits, and amidst some melodious strains of music - all vying for the crown.



Mrs Israel – most beautiful married woman
Deccan Herald
February 26, 2005

As Mrs Israel Sima Bakahr took centre stage to be crowned Mrs World 2005, the cameras could not stop flashing to capture the most beautiful emotion of the evening. Mrs Croatia, Ivana Brnic Boce was named the first runner-up and Mrs New Zealand Sherin Peace was the second runner-up, reports Sumaa Tekur from Amby Valley, Sahara Lake City near Mumbai.

The open air theatre against the backdrop of a 15th century fort along the Sahyadri range in Amby Valley at Sahara Lake City near Mumbai was the venue on Friday.

Chandigarh-born Jeevika Shah, India's entry to the contest made it to the final six. When asked, "What are the most important qualities essential to becoming a successful human being?" she replied, "It is necessary for a successful human being to be calm, composed, peaceful with oneself, focussed and intelligent." But what won Mrs Israel the diamond and ruby studded crown worth $18,000 was simply a mother missing her daughter.

To the question, "What was your biggest challenge in this competition?" this 28-year-old beauty who has been married for the last five years answered, "Staying away from my daughter. I am having a great time here, but my thoughts keep going back to my daughter."

The cheers and the loud applause from the very impressed audience said it all.

The judges chose Mrs Ukraine Svitlana Valova as the Dettol Beautiful Skin, and Mrs Bulgaria Yana Marinova as Duncans Beautiful Smile, while Mrs Israel was voted Most Beautiful Legs.



Oscar-nominee Portman infuriates religious Jews over kiss scene
Entertainment News
Feb 23, 2005

Hollywood star Natalie Portman, nominated for a best supporting actress award at [yesterday's] Academy Awards, stirred a scandal over a kissing scene by Jerusalem's Wailing Wall -- the most sacred spot in Judaism, the top-selling Israeli daily said.

The Israeli-born 23-year-old, who [was nominated for] a golden statuette [yesterday] for her role in the film "Closer," was on location in Jerusalem for the shooting of "Free Zone", an Israeli-directed film, Yediot Aharonot reported.

But a kissing scene with co-actor Aki Avni in a car park next to the Wailing Wall infuriated religious Jews praying at the site, who slammed the smooch as an act of "lewdness" before chasing the pair and the crew off the set.

The paper said director Amos Gitai had not asked for permission prior to shooting the scene, but reached a compromise after the incident that he and his crew could come back to the site at a later hour.



Israel's Bobsled Team Bombs In Canada
The Media Line
February 20, 2005

If Jamaica can do it, why not Israel? Three American Jews who hold Israeli citizenship have launched a bobsled team for international competition. Midpoint in the 2005 Bobsled World Championships at Calgary, Canada, "Israel One" – as the team is known -- held 35th place out of 39 teams.



Kraft rededicates Jerusalem field
The Jerusalem Post
February 24, 2005

Robert Kraft may have made his most important offseason football move Wednesday night from a lush, green field in Jerusalem. The owner of the NFL champion New England Patriots re-dedicated Kraft Family Stadium in front of several hundred people, and he is hoping that history will repeat itself.

"It wasn't until we dedicated this field in '99 here in Jerusalem that we won three out of the last four Super Bowls," Kraft said in Hebrew to the delight of the assembled crowd. "I don't think it's a mere coincidence."

Kraft, who grew up in a traditional Jewish family, not only provided American Football in Israel, a 900-member flag football league, with new artifical grass, but also with a blessing. "We hope that this creates more interest in American football," he said. "Pru Urvu [Be fruitful and multiply]."

Kraft's wife Myra, who is leading an Israel mission from Boston, wants to see more females taking snaps on Kraft Field. "I hope to see more and more women's teams playing on the field," she said after autographing the backs of several young girls' shirts. "I hope that Israel does what America finally did with giving equal money to women's sports."

Shana Sprung, 19, is one of many girls who has benefited from the Krafts' generosity. "I've been playing football basically for three years already," Sprung said while taking a breather on the sideline of the women's league all-star game. "It started when we were sitting on the sideline watching the guys play, and Steve [Leibowitz] came over to us and asked us if we wanted to play. He said we may even be able to go to the Dominican Republic."

Sprung represented Israel last year in the Dominican Republic, as the national women's team finished fourth at the World Cup of Flag Football. "That was amazing," she said, and then darted back onto the field for the next play.

Leibowitz, the president of AFI, founded the league in 1988 and is looking forward to watching the sixthteenth Holyland Bowl, the league championship game, on Saturday night. "It's not the Super Bowl," Leibowitz told hundreds of fans and players. "But we've got the best Jewish players in the world."

While the Patriots were busy winning Super Bowls, AFI players were gradually improving their football skills. Moshe Shapiro, 23, knows that the league's competitiveness will only increase as a result of the improved Kraft Family Stadium.

"Before [the new turf] there were a couple of sand traps in the middle where we twisted our ankles, there were mud puddles, and general mayhem," said Shapiro, a residnt of Har Nof. "I think [the artifical grass] is unbelievable. I love it."

To begin the dedication ceremony, Kraft walked out onto the field accompanied by Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. While dozens of people encircled Kraft to get a picture of him, Netanyahu took a football in his left hand and threw it to a young boy. The ball fell short of the target.

The crowd was later treated to both the American and Israeli national anthems played by the Israeli Police Marching Band. Although most of those in attendance were from America, the crowd was considerably louder in singing Hatikva.

"In our lifetime I never thought I'd be able to feel the special ruach [spirit] of hearing the American national anthem," said Kraft. "And then hearing Hatikva game me the chills."

At the end the ceremony, Kraft hoisted the silver Vince Lombardi Super Bowl trophy for all to see. People rushed up to get a closer look, as some began chanting "DY-NA-STY" in reference to the Patriots' repeated succes and in gratitude to the team's owner.



'Sound of silence' is new soccer anthem
The Media Line
February 10

Spare a thought for the soccer players of Croatia. The national squad played a friendly game against Israel in Jerusalem on Wednesday night. While all soccer internationals begin with considerable panache, last night the organizers could not even manage to pump out the Croatian national anthem. Staff at the stadium had burnt the anthem onto a compact disc, but the format chosen would not play on the public-address system. So, at half time, a car was driven into the arena, the disc inserted into its stereo system, while an employee held a microphone up to the car’s speakers. And in case you were wondering, the anthem is entitled Lijepa Nasa Domovino or Our Beautiful Home.



Israeli scientists explain how tomatoes prevent cancer
By Allison Kaplan Sommer
Israel 21c
January 30, 2005

If you are looking for a reason to eat more pizza and pasta topped with lots of tomato sauce, you can thank Israeli researchers for providing great justification.

Scientists at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev have identified why it is good for us to consume large quantities of tomatoes - and say that the best way to eat them is cooked up with some olive oil and cheese.

Scientists have long believed that the carotenoids found in fruits and vegetables have a cancer preventive effect. In particular, studies have found that as the consumption of tomato products increases, risk of certain types of cancer decreases - even more so than when a variety of vegetables are eaten. Over the years, studies have found that the risk of up to ten different types of cancer can be reduced by eating tomatoes. The preventative effect is due to the lycopen, the phytonutrient which gives tomatoes their red color.

What has been a relative mystery until now is precisely why this happens. But the BGU scientists are well on the way to discovering the precise mechanism that would explain this relationship between tomato consumption and cancer prevention.

In a study published in the January 2005 issue of Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, Dr. Yoav Sharoni and Dr. Joseph Levy discuss how carotenoids, well known for their antioxidant activity, also act to prevent cancer by stimulating the body's antioxidant response element. Lycocenes, which comes from lycopen, is a member of the carotenoid family.

"Luckily, we have an established system in our body to fight carcinogens and toxins. This system is the anti-oxidant response elements, Levy said.

"Put simply - when you have toxins or carcinogens attacking the cells, our bodies turn on this system. It produces a lot of enzymes which convert these toxins and carcinogens - that can cause DNA mutations that lead to cancer – to less toxic forms by expelling them from the body through urination."

"What is new is that we have shown that the lycocenes and other family members, are the most active when it comes to turning on this antioxidant response system. Our study is focused on the mechanism of how carotenoids like lycopen successfully activate this known protective system in our body which produces the enzymes - we have found clearly that they activate this system. This is the mechanism which prevents cancer."

The clear message this research points to: Eat lots of vegetables, and particularly tomatoes. Levy says that the research clearly shows that the so-called Mediterranean diet is superior to a meat-and-potatoes regimen when it comes to maintaining health, and recommends that people consider drastically increasing their vegetable consumption.

"If you can, incorporate between five to nine portions of fruits and vegetables in your daily diet," he said.

Surprisingly, that doesn't necessarily mean consuming piles of salad. Many people believe instinctually that vegetables like tomatoes are best eaten raw for maximum benefits. But Levy says the research points otherwise.

"Many of these materials are not soluble in water, so they are badly absorbed in our gut when eaten raw and by themselves. You have to take them with some fat, some cheese or oil in salad and more of that. If you cook them, they are very stable, and if you cook them with some oil and have them as sauce or soup they are better absorbed than raw tomatoes," he said.

Levy holds the Irving Isaac Sklar Chair In Endocrinology and Cancer at BGU. He is a Professor in the university's Clinical Biochemistry Department Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben Gurion University, and acts as the Head of the Endocrine Laboratory at Soroka Medical Center.

His research partner, Sharoni is also a Professor in the Department of Clinical Biochemistry, and is the past chairman of the department. Their work has received grant support from agencies including Chief Scientists of the Israeli Ministry of Health, European Community, Cap Cure, as well as from pharmaceutical and nutraceutical corporations.

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.