Jersey Doctor and Nurse Spend Vacation on the Beach-less Arava


(L-R) Central Arava Resource Development Associate and mom of two, Samatha Levy, along with Atlantic City Nurse Annette Vaccaro, Dr. Dana Sless, and JNF Central Arava Liaison Noa Zer, following an informative lecture on early childhood development.


Deep in the heart of the sandy Central Arava, in a region that sits between the Dead Sea and Eilat along the Jordanian border and is home to some 8,700 people, the warm and close-knit community recently welcomed Dr. Dana Sless and Nurse Annette Vaccaro, from Atlantic County, NJ. The duo spent a week giving lectures and seminars at Jewish National Fund’s Danielle A. and Irving J. Grossman Arava Medical Center. 


While some would choose to use their vacation time to go to a beach or spend time in Europe, Sless and Vaccaro decided to use this time and give back.


Dr. Sless, who specializes in pediatric and adolescent health care, came across an article in JNF’s B’Yachad magazine last year, featuring Dr. Rivki Ofir, one of the principal researchers at JNF’s Central Arava Research and Development Center, and felt immediately drawn to the magic of this tranquil community.  At the center, biologists are focused on finding cures for cancer, Alzheimer’s, and ALS.


“I’ve always wanted to take periods of time in my life to give back to my community,” said Dr. Sless following a powerful and emotional week in the Arava. “I’ve always felt a sense of connection to my Jewish heritage, and a particularly close connection to Israel. This is the type of giving back I had wanted to do my entire life; and if I don’t do it now, then when?” 


Dr. Sless, whose practice in Atlantic County is committed to helping with all stages of parenthood, child development, and adolescent wellness, brought her unique and personal expertise to the medical professionals and community members of the Arava, where the new medical center has been a source of renewed sprit for the growing community. 


In 2017 the medical center recorded over 10,800 general and 4,410 specialist visits or medical attention. Alongside the medical center, the Nancy Simches Emergency Response Center is in final stages of construction and will serve as a headquarters to respond to major events, like the seasonal flooding that claimed 10 young lives last spring.


“The nurses here are phenomenal and the residents are some of the kindest, most amazing people I’ve met in my life,” said Sless, but she admitted that pediatric care is still being developed within the region. Sless and Vaccaro spent their vacation giving back, providing courses on nutrition, vaccination safety, childhood development, and sharing tips on adolescent mental and emotional health. 


“They really created a buzz around health, and helped stimulate more questions about health care among our people here,” remarked Noa Zer, JNF’s Central Arava liaison. “This stems from the connection of the Jewish people and the people in Israel. Everyone instantly felt this link. It’s the people-to-people interaction and aspect of understanding that somebody is giving their personal time and experience to help our mishpacha (family). She was so passionate and immediately connected with the community.”




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