The Shuka Team in Times Square, from left: Solomon Taraboulsi, Gabriel Israel and Josh Sharon.
Profiles

3 Israeli dudes and their Shuka truck

The Shuka Team in Times Square, from left: Solomon Taraboulsi, Gabriel Israel and Josh Sharon.

The Shuka Team in Times Square, from left: Solomon Taraboulsi, Gabriel Israel and Josh Sharon.

Three Israeli friends fresh out of the army go to New York to build a nest egg. Then they sink their hard-earned cash into actual eggs, outfitting a 2003 Ford food truck to purvey four varieties of shakshuka (also spelled “shakshouka”), the tomatoey poached-egg dish that Israelis love for breakfast and all day long.

They rolled out the Shuka Truck during one of the coldest-ever New York winters.

Are they cracked?

Not at all, explains Solomon Taraboulsi, the trio’s business strategist. He and his partners, Josh Sharon and Gabriel Israel, figure that starting with a trickle of customers during the frigid winter months will prepare them to handle hordes when the weather warms up.

“It’s our first business and we need to be ready for the spring and summer, so this is our learning period,” saysTaraboulsi, 24.

Food trucks are nothing new in the Big Apple, but shakshuka-on-the-go is a novel concept and therefore risky.

Customers can watch their meal being prepared inside the truck.

Customers can watch their meal being prepared inside the truck.

“Everybody knows the food industry is one of the toughest, and as a new business it would have been easier to come with a food truck that sells familiar food because Americans like to get what they know,” Taraboulsi tells ISRAEL21c. “We came with something entirely new; most people don’t know what it is.”

Well, they do now. Since December 1, the bright yellow Shuka Truck has been parking in six different locations announced daily via social media, tempting lunchtime diners with upbeat music and exotic cuisine. The Shuka Team, as the childhood friends are dubbed, has gotten a lot of play in the press.

Love at first bite

Prices range from $9 (for a shakshuka sandwich) to $12 (for a platter with Israeli-style homemade chips and salad). Chef Gabriel Israel insists on using organic eggs, cheeses and vegetables whenever possible. The olive oil, herbs and spices are imported from Israel, and the tahini from Lebanon.

“Many people fall in love when they taste it for the first time,” Sharon tells ISRAEL21c. “And people who do know shakshuka just get crazy! They can’t believe they’re seeing this in New York.”

How do they get passersby to taste it in the first place?

Eschewing the usual free tastings, the buddies instead offer a sensory experience, says Taraboulsi, starting with the attractively designed truck, upbeat American music and wafting odors of bubbling tomato sauce. Customers can watch the entire three- or four-minute prep process.

Chef Gabriel Israel developed four varieties of shakshuka.

Chef Gabriel Israel developed four varieties of shakshuka.

“We checked, and no other food truck in the city makes and serves food the way we do. Our customers see the whole system, and they love it.”

Having learned that “Americans love to join lines,” the guys asked friends to come and queue up each time the truck appeared in a new location. “Then more people started to come and suddenly we’d have 45 people on line, smiling and dancing to the music,” says Taraboulsi.

Most importantly, he adds, many customers return next time the Shuka Truck is in their area.

Four varieties

Sharon explains that the three buddies grew up in Ra’anana, a central Israeli suburb that he calls “a great place to raise children,” and completed their military service in 2013. Then they sought their fortune in New York, along with Israel’s longtime girlfriend.

Since the age of 14, Israel had worked in his father’s Herzliya chef restaurant, Vino Socca, and Tel Aviv banquet hall. After taking a fewclasses at the Culinary Institute of America, he went to work at Boulud Sud, a midtown Mediterranean restaurant.

“I was making shakshuka for brunch there, and they were selling it for 20 bucks a dish,” he relates. The other employees started calling him “Shuka.”

The other two friends were working for a real-estate company, but all three dreamed of starting their own business. Israel’s parents urged them to think outside the box of a traditional restaurant.

“A food truck is really mobile and can show your product to everyone,” says Israel.“Opening another taco or pizza truck wouldn’t be original — New York is all about trends– so I thought to try shakshuka, something different but easy and fast to make so it meets all the criteria for a food truck.”

 A Times Square police officer shows a little love to the Shuka Team.

A Times Square police officer shows a little love to the Shuka Team.

While the dish is normally served in a bowl, the friends recreated their childhood habit of stuffing it in a baguette to make a portable sandwich.

“It’s a little messy, but not more than a burrito or a burger,” says Israel.

Using their own earnings, they bought a used food truck and refitted it with new kitchen equipment to Israel’s liking. Six months later, they opened for lunchtime business from Sunday to Friday; under private kosher supervision, the truck doesn’t operate on the Jewish Sabbath.

Israel concocted the menu with care. “Everything is fresh; we cut our salads every morning and bring as much organic stuff as we can. Our food is very soulful; you can feel the love from the food.”

In addition to traditional red shakshuka, the Shuka Truck offers green shakshuka (made with spinach, asparagus, pickled onion, zucchini and goat cheese with honey); white shakshuka (charred eggplant, mushrooms, onion, blue cheese, cumin and za’atar); and humshuka (hummus, garlic, paprika, roasted pepper and chopped cilantro).

If the Shuka Truck is successful, the buddies may expand to other American cities and maybe even to Israel.

“There’s a saying in the army that if you survive the winter you’ll be successful in the summer,” says Israel. “It’s only the beginning, and where it goes from here only the future will tell.”

For more information, click here.

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Profiles

19 under 19: outstanding Israelis to watch

Plenty of Israeli kids have reached the heights of success while still in their teens.

We’ve had young standouts like Mapped in Israel creator Ben Lang, serial entrepreneur Mickey Haslavsky, mobile marketing guru Tomer Hen and cyber-security wunderkind Nir Gaist.

We’ve got high-achieving teens like Shaked Reich, 16, and Eden Rozen, 17, studying physics at Tel Aviv University through a national academic accelerator program for future scientists. We have high-tech entrepreneurs like Iddo Gino, 17, and Reuven Karasik, 16. We have recording artists like Hatrempistim (The Hitchhikers) – Haifa high school seniors Idan Kogan, Tom Bunzel, Tom Goldstein and Tomer Borenstein.

The Hitchhikers released their second album, "I Like Where This is Going," in February.

The Hitchhikers released their second album, “I Like Where This is Going,” in February.

Listed below alphabetically are 19 of the most accomplished Israelis under the age of 19, excelling in music, sports, academia and business.If you know of others, we’d love to hear about them in the comments section below.

1Linoy Ashram, 15, started competing in rhythmic gymnastics internationally in 2011 and won the all-around gold at the 2014 Junior Grand Prix Final in Innsbruck, Austria. She is a two-time Israeli Junior National Champion and earned bronze medals in clubs and ribbon at the 2014 European Junior Championships, qualifying her for the Israeli delegation to the Youth Olympics Games.

 

2. Or Assulin, 17, is one of 14 outstanding Israelis chosen to light an Independence Day torch at the annual ceremony on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem on April 22. The teen from Acre (Akko) heads an enterprise to develop young entrepreneurs, and studies brain science at ORT Braude College of Engineering once a week through Atidim, an advanced science program for the top 10 to 30 percent of high school students from Israeli periphery towns.

Or Asulin

Or Assulin

3. Motti Fang Bentov, 17, son of a Chinese mother and Israeli father, began playing piano at five. At age 10, he appeared as a soloist with Symphony RG in Rishon LeZion and won first prize in the Chopin Competition in Tel Aviv. He has since won several national prizes and scholarships, and performed twice in New York. He now studies with Prof. Tomer Lev at the Israel Conservatory of Music, Tel Aviv.

4. Avital Boruchovsky, 17, became the 2014 European Youth U18 Chess Champion after winning a four-hour game against a Spanish opponent last October. The 12th-grader from Rehovot won both the 2012 European Individual Chess Championship and the 2013 European Club Cup, and was crowned the youngest Israeli Grand Master in January 2014. He plays four hours a day at the Kfar Saba Chess Club.

Avital Boruchovsky (Photo: Przemysław Jahr/Wikimedia Commons)

Avital Boruchovsky (Photo: Przemysław Jahr/Wikimedia Commons)

5. Linoy Dalmidi, 13½, recently lectured before 1,000 people at a Bar-Ilan University Night of Scientists event about her experience as a science reporter for Young Galileo, Israel’s popular science magazine for kids. She writes a monthly column, “Diary of a Young Researcher.” Linoy is also an accomplished opera singer whose soprano voice recently earned her first place In a singing competition.

6. Tzuf Feldon, 16, is considered Israel’s leading junior gymnast. Last summer she placed first in uneven bars, beam and floor events in the national junior championships (which were interrupted briefly by an incoming rocket from Gaza). She’s competed in Hungary and Czechoslovakia and is a likely future Olympian.

 

7. Maya Fishman, 16, is a first-year medical student in Tsameret, the Elite Military Medicine Track at the Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Medicine in Jerusalem. She is set to become Israel’s youngest doctor when she graduates at 22 and enters active service. Maya aced her college-entrance exams at 14 and won a competition for exceptional Bible students at Bar-Ilan University.

8. Yulia Gordichuk, 16, is a Paralympic swimmer with a prosthetic leg. A panel at the Wingate Institute for Physical Education and Sports chose her “Most Promising Young Athlete” for 2014, calling her an outstanding example of an accomplished athlete with a disability. Yulia placed fourth in the 400-meter freestyle in this year’s European Championships in the Netherlands, assuring her a spot on Israel’s Paralympic squad.

Yulia Gordichuk.

Yulia Gordichuk.

9. Nadav Guedj, 16, will represent Israel in the 2015 Eurovision Song Contest in Vienna this May following his victory in the TV singing competition Kochav Haba (Rising Star) on February 17. Nadav, the youngest contestant, wowed the judges and voting viewers with his renditions of John Legend’s “All of Me” and Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love.”

10. Marc Hinnawi, 17, set a new record for his age group when he won a gold medal in swimming at the 2013 Youth Olympic Games in Holland. He finished the 400-meter freestyle heat in 3:57.73. Marc, an Arab-Israeli from Jaffa, is expected to compete at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

11.  Ariel Lanyi, 17, began playing piano at age two and has performed across Israel and in London, Paris, Rome, Prague and Belfast. In 2012, Ariel released “Romantic Profiles,” a recital album featuring works by Schumann, Liszt, Brahms and Janacek. He studies piano, violin, chamber music and composition at the High School and Conservatory of the Jerusalem Academy of Music, and is concertmaster of the High School and Conservatory Orchestra.

Concertmaster Ariel Lanyi.

Concertmaster Ariel Lanyi.

12. Neta Mark, 18, is making her mark in international modeling circles and is represented in Tel Aviv and Paris. She has said that kids in school used to make fun of her disproportionate body and thick lips, but agencies love her unusual look. Watch for more of it in print ads and runways.

Neta Mark in an ad for Hairgonomics.

Neta Mark in an ad for Hairgonomics

13. Tal Mordoch, 16, became Israel’s first national yo-yo champion in 2014, and captured second place in the 2015 European Yo-Yo Championship held in Poland on March 5-7.  Tal, who lives in Ramat Hasharon, is now training for the world championships in Tokyo to be held in August.

14. Yshai Oliel, 14, captured two Junior Orange Bowl tennis titles in two years. He bested Taiwan’s Chen-jui Ho in the finals of the international tournament in Florida on December 23 last year, becoming only the ninth male in the tourney’s 53-year history to win both the Boys 12 and Boys 14 title. He’s likely to be Israel’s next Dudi Sela or Andy Ram.

Yshai Oliel on the tennis court.

Yshai Oliel on the tennis court.

15. Ido Shkuri, 17, is an MVP guard on Israel’s national basketball wheelchair team for athletes under 22. Ido was an avid soccer and tennis player until four years ago, when surgery to remove a tumor in his pelvis left him unable to walk without crutches. His talent for wheelchair basketball was discovered at the ILAN Foundation for Handicapped Children’s Ramat Gan sports facility. In September 2014, he was part of Israel’s first delegation to the European Championship team of young disabled athletes, held in Spain.

16. Avraham Terifa, 16, made history in 2013 when he became the first Ethiopian Israeli to be accepted to the Young Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. Since then, the young violinist from Jerusalem has performed solos with the Symphony Orchestra Rishon LeZion and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. He began his training at age eight at the Jerusalem Conservatory’s Hassadna program.

Ido Shkuri (photo: Nimrod Glickman).

Ido Shkuri (photo: Nimrod Glickman).

17. Nicole Trosman, 18, is considered a table-tennis prodigy, winning the European Youth Championships in 2011. She played for Israel at the Youth Olympics in Nanjing last August and is expected to represent Israel at the Rio Olympic Games in 2016. Her father, a table-tennis coach, started her on the sport when she was six and a half.

18. Eyal Walach, 12, is studying for a BA in mathematics and physics at Bar-Ilan University. In fourth grade, the Hod Hasharon youth took an exam normally administered to seventh-graders by Bar-Ilan’s Center for the Advancement of Mathematical Sciences. His results were so outstanding that he was offered an opportunity to take the high-school matriculation exam, which he aced. Eyal is expected to earn his bachelor’s degree before he turns 15.

19. Raz Zuaretz, 17, was last year’s youth recipient of the Presidential Medal for Volunteerism. He began volunteering at age 12 in the Netanya chapter of Krembo Wings, a national voluntary organization for children with special needs. Later he was elected coordinator of all Krembo Wings mentors,giving him responsibility for managing 80 volunteers aged 14-18. Raz also volunteers with Latet, collecting holiday essentials for needy families, and with Psagot, which mentors high-potential children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

ISRAEL21c President Amy Friedkin with Eli Beer, founder of United Hatzalah, at the AIPAC conference in Washington.
Behind the scenes at ISRAEL21c

ISRAEL21c, AIPAC applaud Israeli innovation

ISRAEL21c President Amy Friedkin with Eli Beer, founder of United Hatzalah, at the AIPAC conference in Washington.

ISRAEL21c President Amy Friedkin with Eli Beer, founder of United Hatzalah, at the AIPAC conference in Washington.

The first three days of March brought 16,000 people to Washington, DC, for the AIPAC Policy Conference, the largest gathering of America’s pro-Israel community.

Participants in this annual event always say that one of the highlights is the showcase of groundbreaking Israeli innovations – the kinds of innovations ISRAEL21c brings to readers every day.

One of the most emotional moments was when past Innovation Showcase presenter Elie Isaacson, co-founder of Agilite portable rescue equipment used across the world, shared a touching story at the 2015 conference.

The former paratrooper explained how Agilite’s Injured Personnel Carrier (IPC), initially developed for soldiers to carry injured comrades on their backs while leaving their hands free, is used by the Jennings family of New York for their son Kieran, who has cerebral palsy.

The audience saw how the lightweight IPC enables them to indulge Kieran’s passion for hiking. The 12-year-old was even able to participate with his family in his hometown’s annual adventure race, carried on his dad’s back in an IPC.

The people behind the innovations

The 2015 Innovation Showcase focused on the people behind the chosen five innovations. These remarkable individuals were pleased to be reacquainted with ISRAEL21c, as President Amy Friedkin and Social Media Director Nathan Miller were on the scene to congratulate them.

First up was Ami Daniel of Windward, whose story ISRAEL21c featured on December 3, 2014. Daniel established a Jewish-Arab community center when he was only 16, and later became an Israeli naval officer.

Daniel and his navy buddy and cofounder, Matan Peled, decided to “do something transformational connecting technology and the high seas.” Windward is a unique business that gathers and analyzes intelligence from ocean vessels to counter widespread transmission of false data.

He told Miller that he was inspired to be among so many Americans “looking for the points of light in Israel’s story.” ISRAEL21c’s coverage of Windward, he added, can help get the message about Israeli innovation even to those who may not consider themselves traditional supporters of Israel.

The second presenter was Rami Parham of MUV Interactive, the subject of an upcoming ISRAEL21c feature. MUV is soon releasing its impressive Bird Bluetooth-connected device packed with sensors to enable interaction with your digital environment through hand motions. Following the Showcase, many AIPAC delegates inquired about buying the system, distributing it and/or investing in the company.

MUV Interactive’s Rami Parham, right, onstage with AIPAC Innovation Showcase host Brian Abraham.

MUV Interactive’s Rami Parham, right, onstage with AIPAC Innovation Showcase host Brian Abraham.

Parham explained that he and his brother came up with the idea while watching a TED Talk presenter use a conventional clicker to advance his slide show. They wanted to devise a more cutting-edge way to interact with content. A month later, he quit his job and founded MUV.

In a world where Israeli companies and Israelis in general do not get supportive media coverage, bodies like ISRAEL21c are helping to rebalance the system and give Israeli companies the coverage that they deserve,” he told Miller.

Eli Beer of United Hatzalah, a voluntary neighborhood-based first-responder network in Israel, rolled onto stage driving an Ambucycle.

ISRAEL21c has written about Beer and the work of his organization, which trains Jews, Muslims, Christians and Bedouins to provide emergency medical assistance within three minutes after notification via a proprietary smartphone app. The volunteer medics respond to some 700 calls daily.

Beer revealed at the conference that United Hatzalah is now training groups in the United States, starting in Jersey City, New Jersey.

When he was six years old, he saw a Jerusalem bus blow up in front of his eyes and heard a man yelling for help. “I was so scared I ran away, but it affected my life. When I was a teenager, I decided I wanted to become a volunteer on an ambulance and save lives,” he related.

However, his work with Israel’s national emergency response organization, Magen David Adom, showed him that ambulances cannot always get to the scene quickly. When he was only 16, he realized the importance of neighborhood-based medics when he saved the life of a man injured in a car crash around the corner – by using his own skullcap as a tourniquet until the ambulance arrived.

Beer reminisced with Miller about the October 2013 visit to United Hatzalah’s Jerusalem headquarters from ISRAEL21c’s Journey to Israel participants. “You reach a lot of amazing people involved in exposing the goodness of Israel,” he said. “We in Israel have so many innovations in lifesaving that people need to know about.”

Another presenter was Dror Sharon of Consumer Physics, whose unique new SCiO pocket molecular scanner was featured by ISRAEL21c earlier this week.

While the technology at our fingertips is extremely powerful, when it comes to the actual physical stuff around us, you’re totally on your own, and we wanted to solve that problem,” he said.

Onstage at the Innovation Showcase, Sharon used SCiO to analyze two apples, showing one had a higher sugar content. Then he analyzed the composition of two pills containing the same active analgesic ingredient.

We’re on a mission to build the world’s largest database of fingerprints of our physical world,” said the Technion and MIT graduate. “Israel is uniquely suited to solve these types of multidisciplinary problems because we’re a very small country.”

Yael Vizel of Zeekit talked about amazing advances in fashion technology. Her company — among those featured in ISRAEL21c’s article on this topic on February 9, 2014 – reengineers the online shopping experience with a deep-image processing platform that allows the shopper to “try on” clothing before buying.

Zeekit’s technology, which maps the topography of the human body from a single 2D picture, is based on Vizel’s experience as an electrical engineer at Elbit Systems and as a telecommunications officer in the Israel Air Force. She was the first woman to command the IAF Telecommunication Officers course and its field and aerial telecommunication crews, and is the first female captain in the IAF reserves to have earned commander honors. Recently VIzel was named one of the top three entrepreneurs in Israel.

I feel that when you know what you do may have a huge impact on your country and the people you love, you’re 100 percent motivated to do big things and take large risks,” she said.

ISRAEL21c's Amy Friedkin, second from right, with Israeli entrepreneurs Nava Swersky Sofer, Yael Vizel and Dr. Son Preminger..

ISRAEL21c’s Amy Friedkin, second from right, with Israeli entrepreneurs Nava Swersky Sofer, Yael Vizel and Dr. Son Preminger..

ISRAEL21c participated in the event in several areas. Nathan Miller was part of a panel discussion entitled “Israel Through the Media’s Lens,” and the organization also hosted a joint reception with the iCenter to inform AIPAC delegates about our organization’s work, especially our Digital Engagement Project.

Iconic Israeli singer-songwriter David Broza performed at the Policy Conference. Read our personal profile of Broza here

 

 

Business,Innovation

NY, Shanghai woo Israeli startups

Promising Israeli late-stage startups will strut their stuff before investors and global thought leaders at the seventh annual Israel Dealmakers Summit in New York, March 24-25, 2015 — an invitation-only conference on technology, trends and innovations shaping key sectors including digital media, mobile and wireless, cyber-security, smart cities, enterprise software, health and wellness, Internet of Things (IoT) and big data.

The summit’s Innovation Showcase “speed networking” platform will set the stage for one-on-one relationship-building meetings with investors.

“We launched this summit in direct response to US and global dealmakers’ desire to tap into Israel’s leadership in innovation,” said Zeev Klein, general partner of Landmark Ventures, which organizes the yearly summit in partnership with the Israel Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Investment Promotion Center.

“Over a two day period, we will facilitate more than 2,500 meetings between entrepreneurs and high-level dealmakers.”

Among the startups already registered to attend are FeeX, ThetaRay, Interlude, Moovit, Flash Networks, Tracx, Bringg, Carambola, Nativeflow, Idomoo, CloudEndure and SPREO.

Last year, the Israeli augmented-reality innovation company Eyeway Systems won a $5 million funding package after presenting at the summit.

Meanwhile, a “Power Breakfast” was held at the newly opened Israeli Business Center in Shanghai on February 12 to showcase Israeli startups specializing in mobile and Internet technology.

The event was held in cooperation with GWC, the umbrella organization of Chinese Internet and mobile companies, which also sponsors the annual Global Mobile Internet Conference (GMIC), this year set to be held in Beijing in April.

Israel broke new ground at the 2012 GMIC when Israeli company Visualead was chosen the most promising startup. The company later opened offices in Shanghai and this January became the first Israeli company to raise funds from Chinese Internet giant Alibaba (http://www.israel21c.org/headlines/over-900-million-in-one-week/).

Representatives of Israeli companies with significant activity in China made presentations at the Power Breakfast — including executives from Supersonic, Visualead and ironSource – before 40 senior Chinese executives.

“This is the first event of its kind at the Israeli Business Center in Shanghai, which was inaugurated last November,” said Elad Gafni, Israeli trade attaché to Shanghai from the Foreign Trade Administration. “Beyond the great potential of this event for Israeli web and mobile companies, it is also an opening shot for similar events in other fields where there is potential for cooperation with China.”

According to the Foreign Trade Administration in the Israeli Ministry of Economy, in 2014, trade between Israel and China reached $11.14 billion.

Jessica Apple and Michael Aviad. Photo by Koby Mercury
Profiles

Living the Sweet Life with diabetes

Jessica Apple and Michael Aviad. Photo by Koby Mercury

Jessica Apple and Michael Aviad. Photo by Koby Mercury

An American girl and an Israeli guy meet in a Jerusalem bar, fall in love, get married and later each develops type 1 diabetes. What are the odds?

Pretty slim, acknowledges Michael Aviad, cofounder of the popular diabetes e-zine ASweetLife with his wife, Jessica Apple.

“It’s statistically impossible that we both have it,” says Aviad, a 44-year-old marathon runner with degrees in law and finance. “No one in Jess’s family has type 1, and in mine I didn’t know anyone did until I met some long lost relatives and found out my aunt had type 1.”

Each month, about 200,000 unique visitors click on ASweetLife, frequently cited as one of the best online resources for people with diabetes. Many readers, like Michael and Jessica, have type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease affecting the production of insulin, the hormone that guides sugar (glucose) into the cells to produce energy.

When they met, Apple was an 18-year-old Texas girl on the Young Judaea Year Course, and Aviad was a 22-year-old IDF soldier, born in California and raised in Jerusalem. Apple moved to Israel in 1997; the couple married in 1998. He worked as an economist while she built a successful writing career. Apple’s essays and fiction have appeared in such publications as The New York Times Magazine and The Financial Times Magazine.

Diabetes was not on their radar when Aviad was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2002, just 18 months after the birth of their first son.

He learned how to monitor his blood sugar and use insulin, which is necessary for anyone with type 1 to survive. He improved his diabetes management with a low-carb diet and exercise. He started long-distance running to prove to himself and others that diabetes would not keep him down.

During her pregnancy, Apple had been misdiagnosed with gestational diabetes, a transient condition. During her third pregnancy in 2008, she was properly diagnosed with a slow-progressing form of type 1 called LADA (latent autoimmune diabetes in adults).

Creating community

The double diagnoses sent the couple to the Internet searching for resources and peers. They concluded that they could offer something more fun and comprehensive than the medical and personal blogs they found, and more attuned to healthful living and nutrition than diabetes organizations’ websites.

While ASweetLife publishes the latest information about diabetes research and technology, it’s also a place for emotional support. It is a community rather than a forum.

“It was a big deal to us to create something where people could communicate, sharing tips and information,” Aviad tells ISRAEL21c.

“It’s not enough to know about the latest insulin pump or new drug. Having a good emotional support system is key to dealing with any chronic illness, especially for us because of the need to monitor every bite of food you eat. It’s important to understand that a person who restricts their diet doesn’t have a lower quality of life. It’s just a little harder.”

ASweetLife is a nonprofit program of the Diabetes Media Foundation, with a board in New York and a pool of freelance writers including professional journalists such as Katie Bacon, a former editor for The Atlantic whose daughter has type 1; and Catherine Price, whose newest book is Vitamania.

“Our writers don’t necessarily agree with one another, but they’re all in control of their diabetes and they convey the emotional and inspirational aspects of living with diabetes,” Aviad says.

“Readers want inspirational stories about people succeeding with diabetes, whether raising a child or running a marathon,” adds Apple. “Type 1 is a challenge every day, and those who don’t have it can’t understand living from one glucose measurement to the next, and how your mood and how much you get done depend on that. People want to know it’s not always terrible — and when it is terrible, how you get up and go on.”

Readers are also in need of laughs. “For a good percentage of our readers, dark humor is really a way to commiserate,” says Apple. “We have an article up now called ‘I speak diabetes’ about the terminology and acronyms we use that nobody else knows.”

As writer Jacquie Wojcik points out in the piece, the question “Are you high?” has a different meaning to a diabetic than to a recreational drug user.

Inspiration found

ASweetLife appeals mainly to readers who take a proactive approach to their (or their kids’) type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

Says Apple, “You can read the scary stuff elsewhere and think diabetes is just a countdown till bad things happen. But if you take good care of yourself and keep your weight in the normal range and move somewhat, you’ll probably be fine.”

ASweetLife has featured stories on some of the improved medications and monitoring systems coming out of Israeli research labs.

“We are very interested in Beta-O2,” an implantable bio-artificial pancreas now going into clinical trials. “And I interviewed a company that has a noninvasive glucose monitor for the nighttime. We want good products to succeed if we believe in what they’re doing,” Apple says.

Living in Tel Aviv with their sons, now 14, 11 and almost six, Aviad and Apple do not own a car and walk everywhere.

“ASweetLife is our message that life with diabetes can be sweet,” says Apple. “This disease doesn’t mean you’re going to be sick and die early, but that you will have to work harder to be healthy. People say, ‘Thank you for showing me that people with diabetes can live normal, healthy lives.’ They’ve found inspiration, and that is what keeps us going.”

For more information, click here.