Lighting the way
It is the festival of lights – the holiday known for eight nights of family,
food and festivities. Yet the meaning of Hanukkah for Jews is the
story of miracles. The first one is the Maccabees’ defeat of the Greek-
Syrian army (that invaded Israel) and the second one is that a flask of
oil, that was supposed to last for one day, lasted eight days.
There are miracles in our lives quite often. Some of us see them,
others do not. Popular psychology (and Oprah Winfrey) tells us that
we need to focus on the miracles in our lives, not on the harsher side
of our existence.
And I agree.
That is why it is appropriate to highlight someone who truly cares
– someone dedicated to making a difference. His name is Steven
Charlap MD. This highly trained physician and Harvard MBA retired a
few years ago but wasn’t happy simply going to the movies or resting
on his laurels (he sold a healthcare business to a large company five
What Dr. Charlap did was create a company called MDPrevent. This
state-of-the-art medical clinic focuses on wellness not on disease.
He doesn’t run into patient rooms for five minutes with a prescription
pad in hand. Instead he and his team access a person’s health and
prescribe a lifestyle change as part of treatment.
“Rather than simply focus on treating medical problems as they
present themselves, MDPrevent’s goals are to identify health risk
factors and address them before they become problems. By doing
so, we give people freedom from the costs, suffering and limitations
imposed by chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and
And he ought to know. Dr. Charlap’s company HealthDrive treated
more than five million patients at extended care facilities and nursing
homes and found that many of them had preventable chronic
diseases. To make matters worse, government regulations often
require providers to react to problems rather than support treatments
that prevent them.
That’s why he created MDPrevent. He realized that prevention is
the best medicine and he wants to free people from the shackles of
unhealthy weight, high cholesterol and blood sugar and dangerous
elevated blood pressure.
“Hanukkah represents one of many events in Jewish history where
Jews faced imminent destruction and survived. For many Jews
as well as all other Americans, there can be no greater threat to
our health and our lives than the challenges we face today due to
increasing obesity, heart disease, and diabetes,” said Dr. Charlap,
whose father was a rabbi and whose mother was a Hebrew school
So like the brave Maccabees, who rose up against their Greek
oppressors, each of us should find the strength and motivation
to defend our bodies against disease-promoting influences and
embrace a life full of joy with the freedom to have a healthy mind and
body, said Dr. Charlap. “If we do so, we too can enjoy the miracle of a
happy, healthy, and long life.”
So we light a candle each night for eight nights and remember the
miracles in our lives. It is our light that we embrace on this holiday
and the light of others around us that gives meaning to our lives and
significance to Hanukkah.