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April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘DNA’

French Police Kill Jihadist Who Attacked Kosher Supermarket Last Month

Saturday, October 6th, 2012

French Police were on the move all day Saturday, in chase of a jihadist cell made up of French youths who have recently taken on the Muslim religion.

Police traced a key member of the cell from the DNA found on a grenade that exploded in a kosher supermarket just outside Paris.

The suspect whose DNA was identified, a 33-year-old French citizen named Jeremy Sydney, opened fire on police Saturday in the city of Strasbourg with a .357 Magnum, wounding three officers, and was shot dead when they returned fire.

Later police said Sydney had been under surveillance since the attack on a Jewish school in Toulouse last March.

Police picked up ten suspects altogether, ages 19 to 25, all of them recent converts to Islam. One of the suspects was armed with a loaded gun and had on his person a list of Israeli targets in the Paris area as well as Al Qaeda literature and 27,000 Euros.

Sydney’s DNA was on file after he served two years in prison staring in 2008, for drug trafficking.

President Francois Hollande praised police for their swift action and said France would continue to “protect the French against all terrorist threats.”

 

Related story: 4 Injured in Kosher Market Explosion at Paris Suburb

9-11: A Note with Five Words & Two Numbers

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

H/T Shai

Among the nearly 3000 people who were murdered by al-Qaeda terrorists on September 11, 2001, was Stamford, CT resident Randolph (Randy) Scott, a husband and father of three.  Scott was killed when United Airlines Flight 175 flew into the World Trade Center at 9:03 a.m., near the floors of the offices where he worked.

Scott’s family believed he had died instantly.

However, ten years after the attack, a note thrown out the window of the South Tower shortly after impact – discovered by a guard near another building and eventually placed on display at a 9/11 museum – was identified, using DNA tests on blood found on the paper, as having been written by Scott minutes before he perished.

The following was reported by the Stamford Advocate today:

“I spent 10 years hoping that Randy wasn’t trapped in that building,” Randy’s widow Denise, 57, said recently during an interview in her Stamford home with two of her three daughters, Rebecca, 29, and Alexandra, 22.

“I thought he was killed instantly,” Rebecca interjected.

Randy Scott’s daughters fought tears as his message again triggered new mental images.

In a steady tone, their mother explained the power of the note. “You don’t want them to suffer. They’re trapped in a burning building. It’s just an unspeakable horror.”

“It tells people the story of the day,” Denise said.

In just five words and two numbers.

Visit CifWatch.com.

Learning From ‘Mother’ Rachel

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

Throughout the centuries, following the Jewish people’s exile from the land of our forefathers, when the name Rachel was evoked, the word “Imeinu”- our mother -was attached to it.

Traditionally, Jews cry out to “Mother Rachel,” one of the nation’s four matriarchs, asking for her help in alleviating whatever woes we are enduring; beseeching her to petition Hashem on our behalf for relief and succor. Many have risked their lives to visit her burial place, known as Kever Rachel, in Bethlehem.

We are like distressed children who run to their mother for comfort and soothing, knowing that she loves us and that our well being is her all consuming priority.

Mama Rachel, we call her.

Yet ironically, she actually isn’t.

Rachel technically is our step-mother. And aunt.

The Jewish people, as we have been called for thousands of years, are the descendants of Leah, Rachel’s sister. The name “Jew” – Yehudi – in Hebrew is derived from the name Leah gave her son, Yehuda. Those of us who are Leviyim or Kohanim are the offspring of another of Leah’s sons, Levi. There were 10 others tribes, two of which were of Rachel’s seed (Ephraim and Menashe) but they disappeared. These tribes broke away from the kingdom that was headed by the House of David (who was from the tribe of Yehuda) and created their own. The Kingdom of Israel as it was called, was eventually invaded and many of its residents were exiled. With the passing of time, the inhabitants of that break-away kingdom disappeared and are known as “The Ten Lost Tribes.” There are many theories about what happened to them – but the fact is the only recognized descendants of Avraham, Itzchak and Yaacov are Leah’s progeny. (Another tribe that came from Rachel, Benyamin, was almost decimated and its remnants blended into Yehuda.)

Yet despite the fact that Rachel is not the biological ancestress of the Jewish people, the Torah says Rachel weeps for her children and advocates for them in Shomayim. Why does it not say that she petitions Hashem on behalf of her nieces or nephews, or stepchildren?

From their end, Jews worldwide embrace her as a mother, calling her Rachel Imeinu, instead of Tante Rachel. Why have generations of Jews poured their hearts out to a woman we call mother, rather than qualifying that she is in fact a maternal aunt – and/or a stepmother.

Perhaps it’s to remind us that DNA isn’t the be all and end all; that blood isn’t the only pertinent criteria in defining someone as a mother or father – or a son or daughter. You don’t have to be biologically connected to be someone’s parent – or someone’s child.

In today’s world, death and divorce and second or even third marriages have created what is known as blended families.

In these atypical families, husbands and wives raise their own children, their spouse’s, as well as the offspring they have together. This means that not everyone in the family is actually gene “related.” There are step-siblings whose DNA is completely different; half-siblings with a common parent and full siblings.

In addition to blended families whose members have various degrees of kinship, there are infertile couples unable to conceive or carry a pregnancy who create their family through adoption. In these situations, the parents and children (unless siblings are adopted together) are not “flesh and blood” at all.

Unfortunately, while the various members of these non-traditional families consider each other as one family, some of their relatives do not share these same sentiments.

Over the years I have heard of situations where grandparents favored their “real” grandchildren over those they viewed as being “collateral damage” of a remarriage or adoption. At family gatherings, the “real” grandchildren were showered with expensive gifts while the “not real” ones received a small token gift at best – or nothing at all, at worst.

And it hurts. The children, who no doubt experienced so much pain, turmoil and trauma due to a death or a divorce, must endure even more when they are treated as outsiders by their step-parent’s or adopted parents’ relatives. They feel like outsiders and their inevitable resentment and bitterness can undermine the shalom bayis of the whole family, which already is tentative as each member struggles to adjust to a new reality.

It may be hard for a grandmother to hug her daughter’s adopted son with the same enthusiasm as she hugs her biological grandson. After all, she may see her own face or that of her beloved husband or parents reflected in the features of the tiny face smiling up at her. It is only human to be attracted to or reach out to the familiar (root word is family).

But the Torah teaches us that we are in fact one big family and should treat each other as such. Rachel Imeinu cries for who she views as her children. She doesn’t say, “Hey Jews, children of Judah and Levi, you are Leah’s offspring. Go to Hevron, go to Ma’aras Hamachpeila where your “ema” is buried and cry to her. I’m not interested in your problems.”

A woman I know frequently criss-crosses the United States, often flying off to Israel for a grandchild’s bar or bat-mitzvah celebration, a vort or a wedding. A divorcee with kids, she married a man with several children of his own.

Between the two, there are many simchas to celebrate and she told me that she goes to every one, and will continue to do so if her health allows it. When I commented that it must be difficult to wait in airports, eat airplane food, and endure all the hassles that traveling entails, she told me “They are all my grandchildren, how can I not go?”

Rachel Imeinu couldn’t agree more.

The Shidduch Parshah May Be Fattening And Bad For Your Health

Wednesday, August 6th, 2008



       I’m not a doctor, nor a biological scientist, but I do know that people under stress produce a hormone called cortisol, which helps the body deal with a stressful event by increasing energy and immunity and even lowering sensitivity to pain. That might explain, for example, how someone with a broken leg can still walk to get help for those more seriously injured.


        However, a long-term presence of cortisol in the body can be detrimental, possibly decreasing bone density, hampering thyroid functioning, raising blood pressure and – the one upsetting to most people – increasing abdominal fat and causing a big belly. Fat deposited in that area, as opposed to others (like your hips), has been linked with serious health problems, such as stroke and heart attacks. (I am giving a simplified view of cortisol; for in-depth information, speak to a medical professional.)


 

Unfortunately our lives tend to be stressful on a daily basis, especially for heimishe women who may have to juggle jobs and raise a household full of kids – with every “free” minute utilized for some errand or activity. Thus chances are they may be chronically stressed, with a possible increase of cortisol floating around inside them, and the potential for the aforementioned side affects – and others as well, such as a reduction in muscle mass and a less efficient immune system.

 

But as I mentioned, the one effect that most people would find disconcerting (especially women) is the depositing of fat around the stomach. Even on a good day, it is easy to find something to worry about. Just listening to news about the economy, bad weather and wars is stress inducing.

 

That being the case, if prolonged stress is potentially fattening, mothers involved in marrying off their children in today’s shidduch climate should be warned that they might not be able to wrap the seatbelt around their middles by the time the last one is married off. Just the stress involved in getting a first date for a child (boy or girl) is off the chart. Unless you are extremely rich, in terms of money or yichus, or are blessed with an incredible mazel and your kids marry the first or second one they go out with, chances are your time in the shidduch parshah will be extremely stress inducing – and possibly fattening.

 

The questions, or rather the interrogations, people and their references are subjected to by the potential date’s parents/shadchan are becoming more ridiculous and over the top, and might induce major exasperation.

 

Recently I tried to calm a friend agitated by her daughter’s latest shidduch experience. The boy’s mother had called one of the references, her daughter’s best friend, who is married. After confirming that, yes, her friend was pretty, she was asked, “How pretty?”

 

“Is there a universal measuring stick for prettiness?” my friend asked. “How do you accurately explain pretty?”

 

The next question almost caused her to tear out her hair. The married friend was asked where the grandparents lived. “What does that have to do with what kind of wife or mother my daughter will be? How does the grandparent’s geographic location affect her middos or the kind of person she is?”

 

I had a hunch that if the grandparents had a condo in Florida, or a villa in Israel, that would improve the girl’s suitability as a wife tremendously – but I didn’t want to upset my already stressed-out friend, as I sensed the crème de la crème question was coming. When the mother was told that the four grandparents were already niftar, she asked the reference why they were no longer living. Since she was a child when her friend’s grandparents passed away, and did not have immediate access to their death certificates, she truthfully said she didn’t know. My guess is that it was old age- but I wasn’t the one being asked.

 

In terms of getting a date, I wonder what is next. DNA samples, in addition to the shidduch resumes that young people must prepare? Detective reports, to be paid for by the other side for the right to go out? Medical histories going back five generations? Or maybe deeds of property and bank statements?

 

In the end, the shadchan said that the boy’s family was looking for someone more “suitable.” My friend barely touched her lunch that day, but as she got up to go, I could swear her skirt looked tighter.

 

 (I am inviting my readers to send me nonsensical shidduch questions that they have been asked, and I will put them in a future column. I can be reached at cherylkupfer@hotmail.com.)

Title: The Biology Of Belief: Unleashing The Power Of Consciousness, Matter, And Miracles

Wednesday, November 14th, 2007

Title: The Biology Of Belief: Unleashing The Power Of Consciousness, Matter, And Miracles


By Bruce Lipton, Ph.D.


Publisher: Mountain Of Love


 


      The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter, and Miracles is a book that can rewire your entire method of thinking. It reveals some of the very dynamics that saves lives.

 

      Bruce Lipton is a cell biologist who questioned basic premises of his scientific discipline. He challenged prevailing opinions that cells are adrift without purpose. Since receiving his first microscope at age seven, then watching a paramecium wend its way across the Petri dish, Lipton has appreciated “biology as a living, breathing, integrated system rather than a collection of individual species sharing a piece of the earth’s turf.”

 

      As an adult, scientist and biology professor, Lipton was puzzled that people diagnosed with the same illnesses and treated with the same medical care did not deteriorate or improve in the same way. Some recovered while others regressed or died.

 

      The author delved into experiments that disproved the life-controlling dogmas of DNA theories, and the central dogma of biological science – that genes control life. Studies of molecular mechanisms, from 1992 onward, supported Lipton’s skepticism about DNA’s primacy. Those studies proved that environment significantly controls gene activity. Mindsets are one of those environments, with thoughts actually affecting outcomes.

 

      Lipton’s folksy prose makes his story both amusing and quite educational. His experience at raising the achievement levels of some college students with absolutely awful self-images and low grades taught him a profound lesson. He had convinced the students that they were intellectually gifted, then set them on a rigorous course of scientific study. The result of the ruse was a lesson for the ages. Lipton learned, as did his now A+ students, that by changing one’s beliefs a person can change their very nature.

 

      The book is filled with clearly understandable photos and diagrams that support, on various levels of biological science, Lipton’s case for belief-changed reality. Our minds can literally redirect our genetic material into far more productive activity than could be expected if we resign ourselves to chance/fate/heredity.

 

      The bottom line is that genes are not destiny. Read the book to find out how to empower yourself, how to heal and how to reach a potential you never before knew how to trigger.

Chanukah – Fighting Spiritual Cancer

Wednesday, December 13th, 2006

        This past week I took time out from my daily activities to have a medical checkup – something I highly recommend. I know too many people who only go to a doctor when they don’t feel well, or if something seems out of sorts, but never when they actually feel fine, the excuse being that they don’t have time for a checkup, or can’t fit in a mammogram or a colonoscopy, or a blood test etc. into their busy schedules. They are overwhelmed at work, and their “free” time  is saturated with “must do” activities – their chesed project or babysitting grandchildren or taking elderly parents to their appointments. They just don’t have the time, they claim.

 

         The incredible irony here is that making time for medical tests may actually give them more time.

 

         I have friends whose lives were extended because they did go for their pap-smears, mammograms, blood pressure monitoring, and they did have that “little cough” checked, etc. They are alive and well. Tragically, I know others who ignored the tiny lump or bump or stomach ache – “it’s nothing, it will go away by itself” – and tragically weren’t around to dance at their children’s weddings.

 

         When I saw my doctor I asked him to look at a little bulge near the crease of my left arm. I really didn’t think it was anything serious- but wanted him to confirm that. And B”H he did: Just a fat pad under the surface of the skin – something quite common. I was, of course, relieved by his diagnosis (but also a bit annoyed since I weight lift on a regular basis – but I’m not complaining). At least it wasn’t something truly ominous. Like cancer. Which brings me to Chanukah.

 

         “Cancer and Chanukah,” you ask, “what’s the connection?” In both situations you have normal versus abnormal. When you look at the Chanukah story, it’s about “normal” Jews who, due to their exposure to a toxic spiritual environment became “abnormal Jews” – they assimilated and no longer behaved as Jews. Their spiritual DNA – their souls – became mutated.  And no content to live and let live, they tried to force their views on the still “normal” Torah Jews and have them become like them – abnormal entities no longer recognizable as Yidden.

 

         Such is the case with cancer. Cancer is not something you catch, like the measles or the flu, rather cancer used to be ordinary, regular cells, e.g. lung cells – that are altered due to toxins or pollution or genetics or viruses that attack its core – its DNA – and they no longer act like normal cells. These now-abnormal cells do not stay put but spread and take over the normal ones.

 

         To get rid of them, a surgeon will take a scalpel and cut them out. So too, Mattityahu, and his team of Maccabeen “surgeons” took up their swords and removed from their midst the spiritual tumor that threatened their existence.

 

         But as is the case in many situations where there is cancer, radiation is utilized to finish the job.

 

         So too the threat of the cancerous, assimilated Jews and their Greek supporters was removed by the radiation emanating from the Torah – in the form of the dazzling lights of the menorah that illuminated the Holy Temple for eight days.

 

         Sadly, in the 21st century, Jews of all backgrounds and hashkafas are threatened by both physical and spiritual malignancies brought on by exposure to a noxious cultural environment. It behooves us to do what we can to fortify ourselves from this life-threatening hazard.

 

         On the physical level, we must do what we can to strengthen ourselves. That means not smoking – ever; getting enough exercise and rest – as there are a lot of sleep-deprived children and adults out there who are at risk because of weakened immune systems or because they are not alert and paying attention; eating nutritious food – in normal amounts – not overindulging and definitely not starving oneself; getting timely check-ups and tests; reaching out to others who are professionally able to help you if you need help; in turn, helping others in a capacity you feel comfortable with – if it’s simply packaging food for Tomchei Shabbos or preparing a meal for a woman who has just given birth; and most importantly being vigilant and aware  of your physical and emotional needs and addressing them in a timely and appropriate manner.

 

         On a spiritual level, you can fortify yourself and your family against the cancer of assimilation by being connected to a community via a shul or chesed organizations; ensuring a Jewish education for your children and your neighbors’; filling your household with warmth and an unconditional love in which all family members – wife, husband, children – are included; letting your children see that you practice what you preach; and giving them a love of Yiddishkeit and such a strong sense of their rich culture that they will develop a strong immunity and resistance against an enticing but perilous environment outside your home.

 

         May the glowing lights of Chanukah radiate your lives with good health and good deeds. A freiliche Chanukah!

Pride, Prejudice And Potatoes

Wednesday, November 5th, 2003

There is a wise Yiddish saying that translates into this observation: “Yichus (illustrious ancestors) is like a potato - they are both under the ground.” My understanding of this statement is that while one should be proud of one’s outstanding forefathers - one should not base his/her self-evaluation on ancestral achievements. In other words, don’t walk around like you’re a superior being just because your great-grandparents were special. Their menschlichkeit, their knowledge, their midos are not transferable. You must earn these accolades through your own efforts.

Unfortunately, many people have the mistaken belief that since an individual comes from yichus, that he/she embodies the virtues and capabilities of his/her ancestors. They buy into the premise that the sterling qualities that made the family yichusdik is automatically passed down to the heirs. Hence they are thrilled when a shidduch is rett (suggested) for one of their children to go out with “so-and so” who is “so and so’s” einekel (descendant).

While in many cases, the members of the generations that follow do emulate the achievements and qualities of their memorable alte zaydehs, it is not necessary the case. Sometimes, a member of the clan is nowhere intellectually or morally near the level of his forbearers. Case in point: Esav was the son of Yitzchak Avinu and grandson of Avraham Avinu. He had the best yichus possible – but all he really inherited was their DNA.

The reality that the character of a son or daughter is not on par with their yichus is tragically overlooked by shadchanim. Often the parents on the other side are eager to believe the misrepresentations, even though there are indications to the contrary. The hapless young person ends up fahling ahrein - an expression that in English can be explained as falling into a bad situation, one that is very hard to extradite oneself from - like quicksand, or a deep pit.

Many people have written to The Jewish Press sharing how they were the envy of their friends for getting “such a catch,” and they bitterly realized how deluded they were to think that Mr./Miss Great Family Pedigree made great marriage material. Sadly, marrying a scion of a household with a distinguished family tree does not guarantee “happily ever after.”

The lesson to take to heart is that each potential marital partner should be evaluated on his/her own merit. This holds true whether they come from very respectable families, or if they come from less stellar backgrounds. After all, just as Esav was who he was despite his illustrious background, the virtuous Rifka was the daughter of Bethuel, and the righteous Leah and Rochel were the daughters of Lavan! Ironically, under today’s rules, no self-respecting family would have touched those girls despite their incredible midos.

The jaundiced view regarding young people who are not quite “mainstream” i.e. from a divorced home, baalei teshuva, immigrant family, etc., is often inaccurate and unjustified. So is the misguided perception that kids from “wonderful” homes are themselves wonderful.

People assume that children of divorce are messed up or have emotional problems, and will not let their children date those from broken homes. They don’t realize that any household where there are married parents but no sholom bayit is also a broken home. Children growing in two parent homes where the parents constantly fight and yell in front of their them, where the adults are demeaning, critical and verbally abusive - are at more risk for being dysfunctional than children in single parent homes that are tranquil.

In the same vein, young people who go to yeshivas/girls’ schools that are not considered as being top level schools are often ostracized when in comes to shidduchim. The irony is that many of these students are more sincere and hardworking in their davening and learning, and have more developed midos and ahavas Yisrael than some whose entry into a “good” yeshiva was smoothed by their father’s or grandfather’s hefty annual donations.

To prejudge a person, either favorably or unfavorably because of superficial yardsticks, is unfair and self-defeating. A parent might pass up a wonderful person and end up with a son or daughter-in-law who will bring discord, turmoil and heartache to the family.

The old saying, “don’t judge a book by its cover” has much merit to it.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/pride-prejudice-and-potatoes/2003/11/05/

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