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January 23, 2017 / 25 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘pioneer’

Battling The Scourge Of Cancer, One Drug Cocktail At A Time: The Work Of Medical Pioneer Dr. Howard Bruckner

Thursday, November 17th, 2016

On a balmy evening in a neighborhood restaurant on New York City’s Upper East Side, I sit across the table from renowned oncologist Dr. Howard Bruckner. “Today,” he tells me, “I gave the news to a longtime patient that the cancer was in remission, baruch Hashem.”

A small black yarmulke perched on his head of graying hair, Dr. Bruckner acknowledges the words of the rebbes who call on his help: “Everything but everything in life is orchestrated by Hashem; the doctor is a shaliach.”

He has earned a reputation of being the doctor of last resort for those battling complex gastrointestinal and gynecological cancers with high mortality rates. He notes that Jewish philosophy categorically rejects hopelessness. “A sensible scientific plan and a ‘can do and must try’ attitude benefit everyone and are absolutely necessary.”

Dr. Bruckner explains that he has identified special criteria for integrating lessons learned from testing tumors in leading laboratories. He has further refined these findings in his laboratory in order to integrate them with the most promising clinical treatments from the leading cancer centers. This approach has made formidable inroads in enhancing their application to integrative and personalized medicine, thereby already extending many (and potentially countless) lives.

His earliest discoveries for exceptionally ill patients have now become fundamental parts of standard treatments used both before and after surgery. They substantially improve long-term survival. He hopes that because his current innovations are more potent they will have a greater impact on both heavily treated and new patients than his earlier successes that are now used worldwide.

He explains that from the onset of a patient’s diagnosis tumors are too often already recognizably resistant to standard treatment, and he expresses the hope that the new technology, which can identify resistance, will allow his safer treatments to provide earlier help for many previously resistant patients.

“We’ve discovered,” he says, “that as a result of these treatments, patients with our most challenging cancers often survive two to three times longer and more often. ”

A pioneer in the field of designing new moderate low-dose chemotherapy regimens to treat a variety of tumors that are often resistant to standard treatments, Dr. Bruckner has been a member of more than 20 national professional societies and committees, a consultant and reviewer for numerous professional journals and pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, and has authored and co-authored more than 150 peer-reviewed reports and articles.

In his 40 years as an academic and full professor, he was a frequently invited speaker for various symposia and lectures. In addition to training at both Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Yale University School of Medicine, Dr. Bruckner has held appointments at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and State University of New York (SUNY) Downstate Medical Center.

He began his own practice in the Bronx in his sixties, when many doctors start thinking of retirement, Under his leadership, the staff of physicians and nurses work as partners with their patients to find the best treatment plan for each.

* * * * *

“My approach,” he says, “is to substantially add to the options offered at major cancer centers; to work toward complementing and refining existing treatment programs. In essence, we are not here to compete with the standard oncology practices but rather to build on them by providing complementary interactive treatments in time to help patients.”

It was while Dr. Bruckner was immersed in immunological research at Albert Einstein Medical College that he was offered a coveted position at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) where he would work with a Nobel prize-winning physician. He did not take that position or an already offered postdoctoral infectious disease position at Harvard. He recalls that during an interview for the NIH position, the associate director of the NIH’s National Cancer Institute (NIC) “told me of a number of best research projects they had started and offered me my choice to join any one of them. I explained to him why each one would not succeed because the technology was not up to par in order to measure the critical pathological factors under study. After giving what I had said some thought, he said I was ‘a very good critic.’ ”

Asked whether he could propose practical research objectives, Dr. Bruckner suggested investigating why therapy causes infections and offered testable stratagems to make cancer therapy safe, which became his key career-long priority.

Startling revelations quickly emerged from Dr. Bruckner’s first experiments as a special assistant to the NCI associate director. Offering an explanation in layman’s terms, Dr, Bruckner said he used a very important but dangerous leukemia drug and injected it into laboratory mice. He then gave the mice antibiotics to protect them from infection, as this mimicked everyday clinical practice. The wholly unexpected finding was that the antibiotic was not helping. The opposite, in fact, was true.

Dr. Bruckner came to understand that the action of antibiotics also improved the use of cancer drugs against the tumors. Most important, recognition of the problem led to solutions, still applied, that make many cancer drugs safe and increase their therapeutic benefit.

He then began to create “models” that mimicked critical problematic strategies in cancer therapy in a lab setting in order to test drugs in depths impossible to achieve in the clinical research. This remains his preferred research method.

“In six months, I showed how the normal human bacteria would affect radiation and drugs, making them safe and unsafe. Bacteria determined the metabolism of the oral and intestine mucosa and bone marrow, and the metabolic rate determined safety.”

After NCI, while at Yale Medical College, Dr. Bruckner found that most international cancer research and treatment had not been applied to ovarian cancer. The ovarian cancer survival rate was a dismal 5 percent. This became a pivotal factor in his decision to move on to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City where he found a strong working interest in gynecologic cancers. It was also an ideal setting in which to explore the numerous science-based treatment opportunities.

“In essence, we knew about a promising platinum drug that was too toxic to use. I figured out how to use it safely and that led us to discover step-wise how the drugs could work even more effectively without killing people. We made it usable. We have made and can make many drugs safer and more effective.”

* * * * *

It was working on patient safety and ovarian cancer that led to Dr. Bruckner’s novel laboratory and clinical methods designed to optimize drug matching: finding a better and safer dosage and comprehensive team comprised of a cocktail of partners for drugs. This even led to successes with patients suffering from pancreatic cancer, which he describes as perhaps the “worst and most dangerous form of cancer.”

“You can’t just pair any two drugs,” he says. “Drugs that barely work individually will work with the right drug partner, especially multiple partners.” Through his lab work he found multiple simultaneous moderate and low-dose safe partners for combination drug therapy that has since had unprecedented success against resistant cancers.

Recently, leaders in cancer drug development have afforded multi-drug methodology new praise. They recognize a possible HIV analogy, where multi-drug methodology provided both critical safety and efficacy breakthroughs. Dr. Bruckner says that when this approach is applied to cancer it results in not only safer additional drug treatments but also safer drug interactions. It also empowers anti-vascular tumor starving drugs and promotes immune stimulation.

Fern Sidman

Vichna Kaplan: America’s Bais Yaakov Pioneer: An Interview with Rebbetzin Danielle Leibowitz

Thursday, October 13th, 2016

Although Sarah Schenirer – the founder of the Bais Yaakov movement – is a legend in Orthodox Jewish circles, the woman responsible for bringing her vision to the United States, Rebbetzin Vichna Kaplan (1913-1986), is relatively unknown.

A book recently published by Feldheim aims to correct this state of affairs. “Rebbetzin Kaplan: The Founder of the Bais Yaakov Movement in America by Rebbetzin Danielle Leibowitz (with Devora Glickman) runs close to 600 pages in recounting the life of this pioneer in Jewish education for girls in America.

Rebbetzin Leibowitz was an early student of Rebbetzin Kaplan and the wife of Rabbi Yehuda Cohen, z”l (principal of Yeshiva of Eastern Parkway for many years), and, after Rabbi Cohen’s passing, of Rabbi Henoch Leibowitz, z”l (rosh yeshiva of the Chofetz Chaim Yeshiva).

The Jewish Press: Where did Rebbetzin Kaplan grow up?

Rebbetzin Leibowitz: She was born in Slonim in Poland in 1913 and was orphaned as a little girl. She was brought up in Baranowitz by her uncle, Rabbi Yisrael Yaakov Lubchansky – who was the mashgiach of Rav Elchonon Wasserman’s yeshiva – and his wife, Rebbetzin Faiga Malka Lubchansky, who was the daughter of Rav Yossel Horowitz, the Alter of Novardok.

How did Rebbetzin Kaplan wind up at Sarah Schenirer’s Bais Yaakov teachers seminary in Krakow?

Well, the story goes like this. In her small town of Baranowitz, Vichna saw an ad for the Bais Yaakov seminary and wanted very much to become a teacher of Yiddishkeit because many girls were going off the derech at the time. She approached her uncle, but he said, “You can’t go to a big city like Krakow. ‘Kol kevudah bas melech penima – The glory of a woman is within’ [Psalms 45:14]. A girl has to be in the house.”

She was very disappointed but she was determined, so she went to Rav Elchonon Wasserman. He approved of her plans, so Rabbi Lubchansky let her go.

What happened next?

She went to Krakow and became the star pupil of Sarah Schenirer. Later she moved to Brisk. The Brisker Rav – Rav Velvel Soloveitchik – had written to Sarah Schenirer asking for a teacher for his daughters and Sarah Schenirer sent Vichna. Vichna taught in Brisk for five years, and became very close to the Brisker Rav’s family. When she was there she would give public lectures and the whole town – both men and women – would come to listen to her because she was such a powerful speaker.

How did she wind up in America?

A shidduch with an American boy, Boruch Kaplan, was suggested to her. Rav Yaakov Yosef Herman, the hero of the book All For the Boss, had a great influence on Boruch and sent him to study in Rav Yehudah Heschel Levenberg’s yeshiva in New Haven and then later in the Chevron Yeshiva. He was there during the Chevron Massacre in 1929, and was saved by an Arab who hid him.

After that, Boruch learned in Mir and Brisk, and that’s where the shidduch was made. Vichna’s uncle, Rabbi Lubchansky, opposed her moving to America – it was a “treifa medinah” – but the Brisker Rav told her, “For a boy like Boruch Kaplan, you have my permission to go anywhere in the world.” So she left Europe and came to America in 1937 on the same boat as Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky. She married Boruch in Yeshiva Torah Vodaas with a wedding meal consisting of salami sandwiches.

The following year she started the first Bais Yaakov in America with seven girls.

Why was she determined to found a Jewish girls school so soon after her arrival in America?

Because she wanted to continue Sarah Schenirer’s ambition and she knew girls in America didn’t know anything about Yiddishkeit. She wanted to teach what it meant to be a bas melech, what the Torah was all about, what a Jewish girl’s ambitions should be.

Most of the parents she approached about starting a school didn’t want their girls to be “old-fashioned” ladies. They wanted them to be Americanized and make a good living. So the beginning was very, very difficult. Rebbetzin Kaplan had seven girls in her first class. Two of them were the daughters of Rav Shraga Mendlowitz [the founder of Torah Vodaas].

The first class met around Rebbetzin Kaplan’s table. They were a bunch of American girls who weren’t initially interested in being there. They went to public high school, and after high school they worked to help supplement their family’s incomes. They went to Rebbetzin Kaplan at 7 o’clock, four nights a week. And then on Sunday and Shabbos Rebbetzin Kaplan had a bnos group.

What was the state of Jewish education for girls in America at this time?

Negligible. Girls had very little knowledge. There were Talmud Torahs and girls learned a bit from their parents. There were also Shulamith and Ramaz, but these were elementary schools. Bais Yaakov was the first full-day Jewish high school for girls in America. It started off as an after-school program, but it became a full high school in 1944.

You note in the book that in the early years of Bais Yaakov, students came from a diverse range of backgrounds.

Yes, there were all kinds – litvish, chassidish, the daughters of roshei yeshiva and girls who weren’t even shomer Shabbos. Rebbetzin Kaplan took them all in. If they wanted to learn Yiddishkeit, she welcomed them. Her whole mission in life was to teach these girls. And she succeeded. When I entered Bais Yaakov in 1947, many of us wore very short sleeves. She said we should wear longer sleeves, so we did. Many also started wearing sheitels after they got married. Rebbetzin Kaplan was a very charismatic person and when she spoke we wanted to listen because it came from her heart and we wanted to be good.

She believed in us and only saw the good in us. To me, her aura was one of goodness and kindness, and she gave us a feeling of what we should do with our lives – that we should want to be Jewish and we should want to have a Jewish home and bring up Jewish children. She taught us Yiddishkeit and that we were princesses. And we wanted to do what she wanted because she gave it to us with such sincerity, truthfulness, and goodness. You didn’t want to disappoint her.

Elliot Resnick

American-Born Hebron Pioneer Eddie Dribben Dies at 85

Thursday, September 8th, 2016

Eddie Dribben, one of the first settlers in Kiryat Araba and Hebron, passed away Thursday morning at age 85. Malachi Levinger wrote in his Facebook page that Dribben was a dedicated man who brought to life with his own ten fingers the industrial park of the City of the Patriarchs. Dribben remained dedicated and focused despite the tragedy that struck him and his wife Sara, when their son Dov was murdered by local Arabs in 1998.

Dov Dribben was ambushed by eight Arabs as he was working near the Jewish community of Havat Maon. At the time, then Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking at a news conference in Jerusalem with visiting British Prime Minister Tony Blair, said that “this young man was killed in cold blood,” and declared that “it’s straightforward murder.” But in 2004, a military court acquitted the central suspect in the Dov Dribben murder, Ahmed Dababsa, who was also found not guilty on a second count of attacking and injuring Dribben’s two friends, Yehoshafat Tor and Efraim Perl.

Eddie Dribben, a former Texas Ranger who made aliyah in 1954, reacted with shock to the court’s decision, saying, “I’ve spent all my years in Israel farming and herding sheep right alongside the Arabs. My Arabic is as good as my Hebrew. Only someone who doesn’t have a close familiarity with the inner workings of the Arab clans and doesn’t understand that such a decision to murder a Jew is reached by an entire clan and everyone knows about it, could make such a ruling. It is plain stupid.”

Eddie Dribben’s funeral will leave his home in the industrial park of Kiryat Arba at 3:30 PM Thursday, on its way to the Cave of Machpela plaza, where eulogies will begin at 4 PM. The burial at the old Jewish cemetery of Hebron is scheduled for 5 PM.

David Israel

Outreach Pioneer And Longtime Jewish Press Columnist Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis Passes Away

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

For the statement by the Rebbetzin’s family, please click here.

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis, pioneer in Jewish outreach, founder of the international Hineni organization, and Jewish Press columnist for more than fifty years, passed away Tuesday at the age of 80.

Rebbetzin Jungreis was born in Szeged, Hungary, in 1936, where her father, HaRav Avraham HaLevi Jungreis, was chief rabbi.

In 1947, after going through the horrors of the concentration camps and the Holocaust, the Jungreis family arrived in Brooklyn, where the Rebbetzin married a distant cousin, HaRav Meshulem HaLevi Jungreis. The couple settled in North Woodmere, New York, where Rabbi Jungreis was the spiritual leader of Ohr HaTorah.

The Rebbetzin and her husband embarked on a lifelong mission devoted to combating the ravages of secularization and assimilation in the United States.

It was in the early 1960s that Jewish Press publisher Rabbi Sholom Klass and his wife, Irene, met the Jungreises at the old Pioneer Country Club in upstate New York. Impressed by the Rebbetzin’s dynamic style and passion for helping others, the Klasses suggested she write a weekly column for the paper.

The column, Rebbetzin’s Viewpoint, soon debuted and became the longest running column in the history of The Jewish Press. Letters come to the Rebbetzin from readers all over the world who hoped to see their questions answered in the paper.

“I wanted the word ‘rebbetzin’ to be part of the column’s title,” Rebbetzin Jungreis said, “because I wanted young women to realize what a noble position it is to be a rabbi’s wife.”

In an interview last year with Naomi Klass Mauer, Rabbi Klass’s daughter and the current publisher of The Jewish Press, the Rebbetzin described her connection to the paper as a deeply personal one:

“Despite many offers from other periodicals,” she said, ‘I have only to picture your holy father and your very special mother, whom I loved, to know why I continue to write for The Jewish Press.”

Rebbetzin Jungreis’s interest in outreach – kiruv – went back to her girlhood years.

“The idea of bringing people back to Yiddishkeit was inside me from my childhood,” she told Mrs. Mauer. “It really started back when my father would encourage me to bring in the neighborhood children. But the older I got the more I realized how great the mission really was. I was asked to speak at a Young Israel collegiate convention. I looked out at the audience and told myself, ‘If I were to have an organization, I would speak to reach people, to wake people up. I would even speak in Madison Square Garden to students and young people. I would call it Rock and Soul, to wake up their souls.’

“From there the idea grew. My father was always encouraging me to reach out and before I officially started Hineni I asked him to take me to all the rabbanim for a berachah. He took me to chassidic rebbes and yeshivish rabbis, to Rav Moshe Feinstein and Rav Yosef Soloveitchik, among others, and all gave me their blessings.”

Shortly after Hineni was launched in 1973, the Rebbetzin’s vision of speaking at Madison Square Garden became a reality, and Hineni became a worldwide movement, leading an uncountable number of Jews to Jewish observance.

Traveling the world to spread the message of Torah, the Rebbetzin somehow found the time to author several best-selling books including The Jewish Soul on Fire, The Committed Life, The Committed Marriage and Life Is a Test.

She was recognized by numerous world leaders for her work. She shared a mutual admiration with President George W. Bush – not only was she asked to deliver a benediction at the 2004 Republican National convention, President Bush also appointed her to serve on the honorary delegation that accompanied him to Jerusalem for the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the state of Israel in May 2008.

The Rebbetzin was not one to let advancing age prevent her from pursuing her outreach work, even a broken hip and a torn meniscus. Through her later years she lived life at a pace that would have exhausted someone half her age.

Asked about her vitality, she credited – what else? – Jewish Scripture.

“I take my inspiration from Tehillim,” she told Naomi Klass Mauer. “The psalm for the Sabbath day – Psalm 92, verses15-16: ‘They are vibrant and fresh even in ripe old age and proclaim how our Lord is right, His word inerrant.’ ”


Rebbetzin Jungreis is survived by her children Chaya Sora Gertzulin, Rabbi Yisroel Jungreis, Slovi Wolff, and Rabbi Osher Jungreis, and by many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. (The Rebbetzin’s husband passed away in 1996.)

The levayah took place Wednesday morning at the Agudath Israel of Long Island in Far Rockaway.

Jason Maoz

Kahneman Awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom

Friday, August 9th, 2013

President Obama awarded Daniel Kahneman, a Princeton psychologist known for his application of psychology to economic analysis, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The White House release Thursday naming Kahneman and other recipients notes that the Princeton University scholar, who shared the Nobel Price for Economics in 2002, escaped Nazi Europe and served in the Israeli army.

Among the 16 people receiving the award this year are Gloria Steinem, the feminist pioneer, and the late Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), who was for decades a pro-Israel leader in Congress.

The awards will be presented later this year.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom, established by President John Kennedy in 1963, is with the Congressional Gold Medal the highest civilian honor in the United States.


Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/kahneman-awarded-presidential-medal-of-freedom/2013/08/09/

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