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July 29, 2016 / 23 Tammuz, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘CHILDREN’

UN Begs Combatants to ‘Spare the Children’ – 20,000 – Trapped in Iraq’s Falluja

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

The United Nations issued a stern warning on Wednesday to both sides in the fierce fight for control of the Iraqi city of Falluja, currently under the thumb of Da’esh (ISIS).

UNICEF expressed deep concern for an estimated 20,000 children who are still trapped in the city, located west of Baghdad.

Very few families managed to flee before Da’esh blocked their escape, holding them hostage as human shields when Iraq launched its offensive to retake the city.

UNICEF also warned the children face possible forced recruitment by Da’esh as well. The UN children’s agency called on both sides to “provide safe passage to those wishing to leave the city” but the plea is likely to be more wishful thinking on the part of the agency.

Da’esh has repeatedly proved its cynical use of children with indoctrination of the young at all ages, and forced recruitment when necessary.

Hana Levi Julian

Haifa U Study: Educators Should Watch for High-Functioning Autistic Children with Handwriting Difficulties

Thursday, May 26th, 2016

The handwriting performance of children with high-functioning autism differs from that of children without autism. Accordingly, the education system should consider the types and formats of tasks given to these children when they are integrated in regular schools. This conclusion emerges from a new study undertaken at the University of Haifa. “The typical process of handwriting performance among children with high-functioning autism is unique, but while the education system addresses reading skills, it pays almost no attention to handwriting skills,” explains Prof. Sara Rosenblum, the author of the study.

Children with high-functioning autism experience difficulties in the social, sensory, and movement fields, but differ from other children on the autism spectrum in terms of their linguistic and cognitive development. Among other differences, these children are usually integrated in regular schools where they are required to perform routine activities such as reading and writing. Writing tasks play an important part in academic progress: writing-related activities account for 30-60 percent of daily activity time in schools. Despite this, the education system places a strong emphasis on reading, whereas skills development, monitoring, and assistance in handwriting performance are much less frequent. There is also a lack of teacher training in this important area.

The present study is unique and the first of its kind in the world. The study was undertaken as part of the thesis prepared by Hemda Amit Ben Simhon of the Neuro-developmental Center at Maccabi HMO, supervised by Prof. Rosenblum, and in consultation with Dr. Eynat Gal, an autism specialist, both from the Department of Occupational Therapy at the University of Haifa. The study included 60 children aged 9-12 from the 3rd through 6th grades at various schools. Half the subjects were children with high-functioning autism spectrum disorder with IQs above 80, while the other half were children with normal development. The children were asked to complete three writing tasks: writing the first name and family name; copying a paragraph; and writing a story describing a picture that was shown to them.

The writing tasks were completed using a special system developed by Prof. Rosenblum that provides objective, computerized data relating not only to the rhythm and speed of handwriting, but also to the degree of pressure applied on the page by the writer, the length of time the pen is in the air, the degree of slant of the pen during handwriting, and so on.

The study findings show that in 91.5 percent of the instances the objective indicators provided by the computerized system enabled the identification of children with high-functioning autism as distinct from children with normal development. In other words, the handwriting performances of the two groups showed statistically significant differences. The children with high-functioning autism produced taller and broader letters; waiting times on paper and in the air were longer; and the degree of slant of the pen was smaller.

It also emerged that the differences between the children with high-functioning autism and those with normal development were particularly prominent in the copying task, and less so in the free writing task. The text copying task required significantly more time. The researchers suggest that the need to invest a long period of time in the handwriting task may exacerbate fatigue, impair concentration, and even hamper the ability to produce handwritten content. This investment in the handwriting task may come at the expense of availability for other academic tasks the children receive, as well as their availability for social challenges in the classroom. “When a child has difficulty writing, they effectively have to cope with this difficulty over many hours a day, making it harder for them to cope with the additional challenges they face (social, cognitive, and functional). For example, if a child has to stay behind in recess to copy text from the board, they will have less time to practice social skills,” the researchers explained.

JNi.Media

Israeli Elementary School Children Take Pictures from Edge of Space

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016

A group of ambitious students and parents from the Yigal Alon elementary school in Hod Hasharon, a bedroom community just east of Tel Aviv, last week shot a meteorological balloon 15 miles up, almost reaching the edge of the earth’s atmosphere, and collected images and complete flight data.

The project, dubbed “Aiming High,” was initiated by Yuval Erez, a parent who works as aeronautic engineer for military manufacturer Elbit. He managed to infect with his enthusiasm the school head, a group of parents, and 33 students, and together they “simply conquered space,” as a local newspaper put it with superlatively unabashed pride.

The students were divided into work groups, each led by a parent, Erez related, “and we started to meet for activities every Friday after school. The aim of the project was to teach the children different things, the kind they don’t learn at school; to show them that if you have a dream and you designate a target, even if it looks unattainable, like flying a documentation device to the edge of space and retrieving it, it is attainable.”

Weather balloon (illustration)

Weather balloon (illustration)

“The group purchased the technical equipment, with adjustments made by the mechanical team that built the box,” Yuval continued. The Styrofoam box, weighing 42.3 ounces, “was installed with two GoPro type cameras, a black box to record the full flight data, location respondents so we could locate the box after it landed, and a radio transmitter.”

The launch had to be coordinated with the Civil Aviation Authority and Air Force Intelligence, lest the unidentified balloon be treated as an invader and shot down prematurely.

The edge of space (Illustration)

The edge of space (Illustration)

The launch took place at the Megadim beach, north of Atlit, off the main highway to Haifa. The weather balloon, filled with helium (courtesy of the Maxima company which provided the expensive gas free of charge), reached the height of about 15 miles and blew up above Nazareth. The box parachute opened and the tiny spaceship landed in the orchards between the communities of Kinneret and Alumot, on the shore of Lake Kinneret.

“The balloon launch was not problem free,” Erez recalled. “The wind was too strong, and when the balloon was being inflated, the tether was torn and it escaped and flew a few yards off. We figured out the malfunction and the second launch was a success.” The balloon rose at the rate of 18 to 21 ft. per second, he said, and “we received flight data and stunning images from the side camera, showing the blue stripe between the black outer space and the white atmosphere at the edge of space. We even managed to get a selfie of the balloon, and shots of the moment the balloon exploded.”

And just to save our learned readers the trouble of writing a knowing comment regarding the Karman line, which commonly represents the boundary between the Earth’s atmosphere and outer space, at an altitude of 62 miles, and not 15 miles — well, we also knew that one.

JNi.Media

Jewish Billionaire Mikhail Fridman Leaving Nothing to his Children

Monday, May 23rd, 2016

In an appearance at the Russian Frobes Club last week, Jewish Billionaire Mikhail Maratovich Fridman, 52, who is worth $14.2 billion according to Forbes, which ranks him second wealthiest Russian, said he plans to leave almost all his fortune to charity. Nothing to his children.

“I’m not a big fan of this kind of public announcements,” Fridman told the Forbes Club audience, “but I can say that I am going to leave all my money to charity. I don’t plan to leave any money to my children.”

Fridman is a major patron of Jewish initiatives in Russia and elsewhere in Europe. In 1996 he was one of the founders of the Russian Jewish Congress. He makes large contributions to the European Jewish Fund, a non-profit organization promoting tolerance and reconciliation.

Fridman, together with Stan Polovets and fellow Russian Jewish billionaires Alexander Knaster, Pyotr Aven, and German Khan, founded the Genesis Philanthropy Group, to develop and enhance Jewish identity among Jews worldwide. In 2014, at the first annual Genesis Prize event in Jerusalem, Fridman told the audience that the prize is intended to inspire the next generation of Jews with the example of the Laureates’ outstanding professional achievement, contributions to humanity and commitment to Jewish values.

The Ukraine born Fridman shares control of Alfa Group, the biggest financial and industrial investment group in Russia, with two college buddies and now billionaires German Khan and Alexei Kuzmichev. They have been partners since 1989, when they launched Alfa-Eco, then Alfa-Bank—today the biggest private bank in Russia. The three college buddies bought Tyumen Oil from the Russian state in the late 1990s, merged it with BP’s Russian assets to form TNK-BP, then sold their stakes in 2013. Alfa Group has stakes in telecommunication giant Vimpelcom; owns Russia’s second-biggest retailer, X5; bought German oil and gas company DEA for $5.7 billion in 2015; and invested $200 million in Uber in 2016. (Source: Forbes)

Fridman, who has four children, the youngest is 10 and the eldest 22, told his Russian audience he wants his children to follow in his footsteps and create something on their own. He also confessed that he is worried his elder daughter Laura, 22, be targeted by bad people, which is something to be considered when you’re a very wealthy Russian.

Fridman revealed that his two close friends and business partners have made the same decision regarding their own children.

JNi.Media

Teaching Responsibility To Our Children

Thursday, May 19th, 2016

Parshat Toldot narrates the story of the rivalry between Jacob and Esau. The Torah states that Isaac loved Esau and Rebecca, Isaac’s wife, loved Jacob. As the story develops, we are told that when Isaac became old, he wanted to bestow his blessings onto his favorite son, Esau. He instructed Esau to go to the field and prepare venison. When Esau would return with the prepared venison in his hands, Isaac would bless him. Rebecca overheard the directives of Isaac to Esau, and instructed her son Jacob to dress up and pretend to be his brother Esau in order to steal the blessings. In the dramatic encounter between Jacob and Isaac, Isaac bestowed the blessings intended for Esau, on Jacob, ostensibly believing that it was Esau, and not Jacob, who was the recipient of his blessings.

Our sages wrestle with this entire scenario. Did Isaac really know whom he was giving the blessings to? Did his son Jacob deceive him? Was Jacob correct in disguising himself as Esau and stealing the blessings? Did the fact that Rebecca took responsibility for Jacob’s actions, exonerate Jacob of his misdeed?

One point however is clear, Jacob, because he beguiled his father, was punished numerous times during his lifetime. He was fooled by his father in law, Lavan, into marrying Leah and not her sister, Rachel, whom he loved. Jacob’s children deceived him by stating that Joseph had been killed. Lavan deceived him by denying and withholding his true wages. It seems that no matter what interpretation we accept, the simple interpretation is that Almighty G-d did not accept the actions of Jacob in stealing the blessings, and repaid him measure for measure.

There is a lesson that can be derived from this. Ultimately each and every one of us is responsible for our own actions. Children who offer excuses such as “my parents gave me permission”, or parents who insist “my child would never do that” do not absolve them from responsibility. We are all answerable for our own actions. Parents must understand that there are times that we defend our kids but there are also times that we punish them and hold them accountable for their actions.

I recall reading an article focusing on this very point. In brief it told a story of two students who committed the “most reprehensible, embarrassing and unconscionable acts”. The students were eventually expelled from the school that they were attending, but the reactions of the parents were quite divergent.

One set of parents accepted the punishment meted out onto their child. They realized that, ultimately, their child did something reprehensible and deserved the punishment that he got. The other set of parents refused to accept the fact that their son did something wrong and began litigation against the school for the action that it took.

When I was growing up, if I would return home one day from school and tell my parents that I got into trouble, they rarely blamed the school, at least not in my presence. I was always held responsible! If we send our kids to a school that we believe looks out for their well-being, then when things get tough and our kids do something wrong it is usually not the school that is at fault, but the child. Parents must accept the fact that if we hope to develop responsible adults, we must first teach responsibility to our children and hold them accountable when they do something wrong. A child who misbehaves deserves to be disciplined!

When we hear horrendous stories of Jewish schools that become the venue of drug busts, or when we read of students, who are studying in a Yeshiva abroad, caught dealing with drugs, or drinking in the local bars, we must stop blaming the schools for our inadequacies! The ones to blame are the children themselves as well as their parents! Excuses and rationalizations are a detriment to developing responsible adults. We must give children the opportunity to learn from their mistakes and accept consequences for their actions.

Rabbi Mordechai Weiss

Education Ministry Summer Enrichment for Gaza Belt Children

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

Most Israeli children find themselves a little bored once school has let out for the summer months. Many summer camp programs last only a couple of weeks at most.

But Education Minister Naftali Bennett says his ministry will extend and expand the summer camps and other activities for children in the Gaza Belt area this year.

Children in Sderot, a city located barely a mile from the Gaza border, will also be included in the program, called the “summer vacation school.”

In addition to the program – for first and second graders – summer camps and enrichment activities will also be held for preschool and other elementary school children as well, Bennett said.

The minister made the announcement to the heads of local authorities and communities in the Gaza Belt region this week.

Hana Levi Julian

75 Children Contract Chickenpox in Williamsburg Outbreak, Failure to Inoculate Cited

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

The New York City health department this week reported an outbreak of chickenpox in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community of the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. According to the report, 75 children have been infected by the virus since March. Also, 72% of the children who were infected had not been vaccinated. The median age of these children is 3, but the report cites victims as old as 10.

Back in 2013, NYC health officials reported 30 cases of Measles — 26 in Borough Park and 4 in Williamsburg. A Health Department spokesperson said that “there have been two hospitalizations, a miscarriage and a case of pneumonia as a result of this outbreak. All cases involved adults or children who were not vaccinated due to refusal or delays in vaccination.”

Normally, Chickenpox is prevented through inoculation with the Varicella vaccine given by injection just under the skin, one dose of which prevents 95% of moderate disease cases and 100% of the severe disease. Two doses of vaccine are considered more effective than one. If given to those who are not immune within five days of exposure to chickenpox, it prevents most cases of the disease.

The problem is that by reducing the number of vaccinated children, the community at large is exposed to a greater risk. Vaccinating a large portion of the population also protects those who are not vaccinated. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends routine vaccination only if a country can keep more than 80% of its people vaccinated.

Jennifer Rosen, director of Epidemiology and Surveillance at the city’s Immunization Bureau, issued a release saying, “Please ensure that your patients and staff are up to date with varicella vaccine. Infants, adolescents, adults, pregnant women, and immunocompromised persons are at risk for more severe disease and complications. Complications include pneumonia, bacterial infection of the skin and soft tissues, meningitis, encephalitis, birth defects and death.”

According to Department of Health press secretary Christopher Miller, the outbreak has been confined to Williamsburg. DOH has reached out to the Williamsburg ultra-Orthodox community with pamphlets in Yiddish it distributed at an Hatzolah health fair last Sunday, and through local Jewish schools.

According to Rabbi David Niederman, head of the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg, there will be a meeting Wednesday of community leaders, healthcare providers and school officials with the Department of Health to discuss bringing an end to the chickenpox crisis.

JNi.Media

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/75-children-contract-chickenpox-in-williamsburg-outbreak-failure-to-inoculate-cited/2016/05/18/

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