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April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘reaction’

Mrs. Brown’s Journey

Friday, September 7th, 2012

I must admit to being a little shocked. After reading the Forward article by Judy Brown about her journey away from traditional belief – I really was taken aback.

Judy Brown is the award winning author of the book, Hush – a fictionalized story about the sex abuse of a childhood friend. A friend that experienced it in the Chasidic community in which she was raised. I heard Mrs. Brown speak passionately on this issue last winter here in Chicago. She was dressed quite Tzanua (modestly) according to Orthodox Jewish standards -and she wore a Shaitel. That is a wig. Which is how most married Orthodox women in the western world cover their hair.

I had assumed from this that although she was upset by the way her community treated sex abuse, that she was still very much a believer in the theology of Judaism. A recent article – where she described herself as still wanting to dress modestly even according to Chasidic standards despite the “pull” away from that by society – just corroborated my perception.

As it turns out, she apparently is not a believer. It is not that she abandoned her belief in God. But she seems to have abandoned her belief in the theology she was taught about the Torah… and perhaps has even crossed the path into the world of skeptics and Orthopraxy. As she admits:

“I discovered the agony of praying to God when I knew I was talking to myself.”

She now sees herself as an outsider among the people she grew up with.

I am not here to judge her. I am instead looking at the world in which she was raised. It seems obvious from her account that it is because of what she was taught – and the way she was taught it – that upon discovering the scientific way of looking at the world she appears to have lost her faith.

Interestingly, it was not the internet that lead her astray. It was the book Cosmos by famed astronomer Carl Sagan. I did not read the book. But I’m pretty sure it is based on the wonderfulPBS series of the same name hosted by Professor Sagan. I absolutely gobbled that series up. I actually recorded every episode and have watched some of them many times. I still have the entire collection in VHS.

It was an eye opener for me as well. One of the most educational and entertaining series I have ever seen to date, even though it was produced in the 1980s. Especially the episode on Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity. And yet I did not become a skeptic. Except for one brief remark by Professor Sagan where he argued against the existence of God in one of those episodes, what I saw was entirely compatible with Judaism.

But apparently Mrs. Brown had a different reaction. She had the same kind of reaction as people who are taught that every word in the first chapter in Genesis must be taken literally. That the world was created in 6 days and is less than 6000 years old. Even the most basic knowledge about the sun being a star – and stars being suns was a shock to her.

No matter how much she resisted believing what she read in that book, she eventually succumbed to the fact that there are billions and billions of stars (suns) in the universe and that many of them are millions of light years away, thus crashing her belief system. And now, prayer has become nothing more that talking to herself!

What a sad thing to read just before Rosh Hashanah.

In this era of instant information that can be had any time and any place and read in the palm of your hand, it is beyond foolish to try and ban it… or to even use filters so as to avoid reading the science upon which things like the age of the universe is based.

But it is even more foolish in my view to not teach the science in the first place. Ignorance is our worst enemy. Because the minute one finds a contradiction to the insistence that only the most literal interpretation of the Torah is acceptable, believers can and often will sadly go the way or Mrs. Brown.

Instead of hiding the facts of nature by ignoring the study of science, it ought to be fully taught in every school. There are Shivim Panim LaTorah. The idea of an ancient universe is not Kefira. Had Mrs. Brown been armed with that knowledge she may not have had her ‘epiphany’ about Judaism.

Had she been taught the theory of evolution properly, she would have realized that indeed it is quite compatible with the idea of God’s creation of the world. That He used the method of evolution as the mechanism for his creation. While there are elements of the theory of evolution that seem to contradict some of our beliefs, the overall outline of it is compatible with them.

But for Mrs. Brown (and probably for the vast majority of those whose secular education is so strongly limited) learning about evolution caused her to stop believing in some of the fundamentals of Judaism.

It seems however that instead of increasing the knowledge base of our people, religious leaders are going in the opposite direction. Virtually all Charedim in Israel have no education in science at all. Even in elementary school only basic math is taught. Beyond elementary school it’s Gemarah 24/7.

In the US that was not the case in the not too distant past. Virtually all Charedi high schools taught basic science. But it has increasingly become popular in these schools to either minimize or completely eliminate secular studies. The problem that this causes for Parnassa purposes is obvious and has been discussed here many times.

But what has not been discussed that much is the vulnerability this creates in these students. The slightest exposure to some basic scientific thinking can easily cause them to go completely OTD or become Orthopraxic closet skeptics!

The solution to preventing them from succumbing to this knowledge on the part of Charedi leaders is to completely ban all possible access to the “Kefira” of science. They condemn and want to ban the internet as that is the most readily available source of knowledge available. They even ban books that try and reconcile that science with the Torah – like those written by Rabbi Slifkin – in the strongest possible terms… fearing it will all lead people astray. But banning it all is about as possible as banning air.

Mrs. Brown decided to read a book on the subject after having some spirited discussions with a friend. The book she chose was Cosmos by Carl Sagan. Had she been fully prepared for it by a proper science education, she may have had the same reaction to Cosmos that I did. But instead it led her to reject her religious teachings.

Even without the kind of basic science education that I had – had she read Rabbi Slifkin’s books, she might still be a believer today. But his books were banned. In her mind therefore, what difference was it which ‘forbidden fruit’ she partook of?

Back to School With Food Allergies

Friday, August 31st, 2012

School is in the air. The leaves haven’t changed yet but they have lost their vivid green hue. New shoes, backpacks, fresh notebooks await that first day of school. For over 5 million US food-allergic students, preparing for school also means dealing with a host of challenging situations: recess; lunch time; birthday parties; cooking projects; special treats; school outings. How will these be dealt with safely?

I recently had a discussion with another food allergic parent about school allergy management issues. How much should schools be doing? What is the parents’ responsibility? Are there any laws (such as ADA) or federal guidelines that might apply to food allergic children?

Sadly, most schools aren’t sufficiently prepared to meet the needs of food-allergic children. A joint study between the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Nextwork (FAAN) and The Jaffe Food Allergy Institute revealed the nature and frequency of food allergen ingestion during school. Offending allergens were most often ingested at birthday parties, holiday celebrations, craft and science projects, field trips and bus rides. Alarmingly, only 1 in every 3 food-allergic students had a treatment plan in place. The study found that treatment delays were due to: delayed recognition of a reaction; calling parents first; not following emergency protocols and not being able to administer Epinephrine properly. Bottom line, most schools are simply not managing the needs of their food-allergic students effectively.

The study is sobering but needn’t be depressing. There is much that can be done proactively and reactively to help food-allergic children. Thanks to the passage of FAAMA (The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Management Act) there are now national food allergy guidelines for schools. In addition to these comprehensive guidelines, schools can consult their local and state food allergy management guidelines.

While proactive strategies are essential in minimizing allergic reactions, accidents happen. Let’s focus on reactive plans, how to respond to allergic emergencies. Swift assessment of the situation and prompt treatment are key. Signs and symptoms vary from person to person and even within the same person. Some reactions progress slowly while others can strike with lightning speed. Be on the lookout for signs like hives, abdominal discomfort, vomiting, runny nose, itchiness, funny taste in the mouth, tongue tingling, throat closing up, and lethargy. The first responder will have to make a quick judgement call and determine treatment. When in doubt, never hesitate to administer epinephrine.

Delays in administering epinephrine can be fatal. While auto-injectors can seem intimidating, they are very easy to use and save lives. All school personnel should be familiar with epinephrine administration. A reaction can occur on school trip or even in the Art Room. Everyone should be prepared to respond if necessary. Once epinephrine is administered, the child should be brought to the closest Emergency Room for monitoring. Rebound reactions, a recurrence of life-threatening symptoms after initial treatment, can occur.

Another point that must be addressed in school food allergy management is bullying. According to a study published in Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, more that 30% of food allergic children reported being harassed because of their food allergies. Schools must have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to bullying to protect all of their students, especially medically vulnerable ones.

Schools have an enormous responsibility in the management of food allergies and they can only live up to this task if they partner with students and their parents. For the parent of a food-allergic child, there is no such thing as “outsourcing” their child’s allergy care to the school. They must understand that having their child in the school is harder for faculty. Approaching the faculty with honey rather than vinegar goes along way. Parents must remain vigilant and actively communicate with school’s administration and faculty to keep their child safe.

Parental responsibilities include:

1. Preparing and updating their child’s food allergy emergency action plan that includes: a student’s allergies and medications; signs and symptoms of child’s reaction; contact numbers (parents, healthcare providers) and informed consent (as well as insurance info).

2. Creating a 504 plan if appropriate (only certain food-allergic conditions are considered disabling and qualify for American’s with Disabilities Act Protection).

3. Providing school with medications and auto-injectors (must be easily accessible).

Video of Jewish Gymnast’s Parents’ Anxiety Goes Viral

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

A clip from NBC showing Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman’s parents’ reaction to her uneven bar routine has garnered close to 100,000 hits on You Tube, combining all the various copies available online.

The clip shows Raisman’s mother and father commenting on their daughter’s routine from the stands. Her mother, Lynn, says, “Let’s go, let’s go,” and “Come on, come on,” while shifting in her seat, and her father, Rick, remains silent until yelling “Stick it, please, stick it!” at the end of Raisman’s routine.

Facebook user Randi Notestine wrote on Aly Raisman’s wall:

“Does anyone else feel sorry for Aly Raisman after seeing that video of her parents? It’s nice that they want her to do well, but the girl has ALREADY accomplished SO MUCH! Seeing them openly stress that much over her performance makes me wonder how they reacted when she didn’t stick it in past competitions. Parents that are that worried over their child’s performance add even MORE stress, and take away the fun of competing. Granted, she’s not a little girl any more, she’s a grown Olympian representing her country now, and she’s WAY past the point where everyone is a winner and everyone should get a participation trophy. I just feel bad that her parents don’t give her that set of eyes that would be proud of her for getting that far even if she fell on her face. Everyone deserves that…even Olympians.”

Maureen Mulvihill Mitchell wrote:

“You are exactly where you are supposed to be ;) You have been consistently patient and dedicated. Shine bright tomorrow, both for the team and for yourself! You have shown such grace and dignity in the face of all the controversy surrounding the finals. Continue to hold your head high and make yourself, your coaches, your parents, and your country proud. YOU are what every Olympic athlete should strive to be!!”

Well, that wasn’t much pressure at all…

Finally, here’s Aly Raisman’s uneven bars performance at the U.S. Olympic Trials. We weren’t able to get the clip of the performance that actually sent her parents reeling, but we think it probably looked something like this:

And here’s a floor performance by Aly Raisman. Note the distinctly Jewish music she picked for her routine:

Raisman, 18, is Jewish and has been honored by the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. Her performance in the qualifying round in the London Games earned her a spot in the all-around finals on Tuesday.

JTA content was used in this article.

Circling Jerusalem’s Wall

Sunday, July 29th, 2012

On Saturday night, a large group of Jews participated in a walk around the walls of the old city of Jerusalem, as they have done on the night of the 9th of Av for the past 18 years.

Israeli police were on hand in case of violence when the marchers said Lamentations near the Damascus Gate.

Back in May, the Police sought to change the route of the 9th of Av walk to avoid going near the Muslim Quarter, citing the fact that this year Ramadan falls on the month of Av and the walk would therefore provoke an Arab hostile reaction.

Women in Green appealed the police decision and won.

 

 

Sitting on the Kotel floor during Tisha B’Av

Photo by the Tazpit News Agency

Eytan Kobre’s Anti-Religious Rant

Monday, July 16th, 2012

Once again I am disappointed at the Charedi reaction to a possible draft in Israel. This time it is attorney Eytan Kobre, who reacted in his weekly Mishpacha Magazine column Text Messages. And that’s all it is. A reflexive knee-jerk reaction. It is not any kind of rational argument to make his case that Charedim in Israel should not be drafted.

Unless you consider “Because the Gedolim say so” to be a rational argument. This of course assumes that there is universal opposition by rabbinic leaders to a draft. That would be false – since Religious Zionist leaders are in favor of it. Nonetheless his rabbinic leadership assumes that a universal draft will change the Charedi paradigm of learning full time. Which they consider a Yehoreg V’Al Yaavor.

First, I do not concede that this is a foregone conclusion.  Secondly, I don’t think that is a bad thing if it is done the right way – a position I’ve explained many times in the past but beyond the scope of this post.

My problem with Mr. Kobre is his assumption that anyone who is in favor of a universal draft is out to ‘get him.’  By ‘him’, I mean Charedim.  What motivates those of us who favor equalizing the draft, he says, is our distinct mission to destroy Torah Judaism. That is how he frames the issue.

There is not a single word addressing the question about the lack of equal sacrifice by all. No explanation about why all Charedim should be exempt. For Mr. Kobre it is all about ‘Good versus evil.’ The good guys being the Charedim - and the bad guys are anyone who would dare to suggest that Charedim should not be given an automatic exemption.

What makes matters worse is he impugns religious Jews as the worst among his detractors. He prefers that the opposition were coming from a secular or even anti-religious sources. That would of course make it easier for him to claim that this is all about anti-religious secular government.

His rhetoric is quite angry. He  accuses his detractors of false piety and lying about their motives. As though the true motive was to destroy the Torah!

What prompted Eytan’s rant was an interview in the previous issue of Mishpacha of Aviad Friedman, a Charedi member of the Plesner committee – charged with coming up with a proposal for a universal draft. Which they did.

Mr. Friedman who seems to have impeccable Charedi credentials supported drafting as many Charedim into the IDF as possible.  For this he was vilified and called a liar – applying to him the tired cliche of ‘showing his true colors.’  As if it is impossible to be Charedi and support the draft.

What was his lie? He said that he didn’t think that there is any real hatred of Charedim in Israel.  Really? That’s a lie? Yes – there may be some hatred by a few on the radical left, but for the most part, there is no mass secular hatred. Only a sense that an element of fairness is missing in the way the secular Jew is treated versus the way the Charedi Jew is treated – especially  when it comes to army service.

I take strong issue with Mr. Kobre’s description of religious Jews as the enemy just because they support a universal draft. That is a canard!

Just to be clear I will restate my own position on this issue. Israel should apply its conscription law equally to all demographic segments. Exemptions and deferrals should be applied equally to everyone.  If a solider needs to be put in harms way – every able-bodied citizen – no matter what segment they belong to should be subject to the that possibility. No entire segment should get and an automatic exemption from danger.

If the draft is going to be equally applied, religious sensitivities must be guaranteed to all. This means that the infrastructure must be created and enforced so that Charedim will be able to practice Judaism as they  best understand it.  The bottom line for me is that no Charedi mother should ever be faced by a Chiloni or Religious Zionist mother asking the question, “Why did my son have to die in battle while your son was safe in a Yeshiva?”

The Risk Of Allergies: Explaining Anaphylactic Shock

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

We hear it all the time: “This is a peanut-free facility, you can’t eat that peanut butter sandwich here!” A person may say, “So what? I am allergic to broccoli, it’s disgusting, keep it far from me.”

We all should realize that food and medication allergies are no laughing matter. Reactions can be so severe that they could lead to death.

Allergic reactions commonly manifest as runny nose, hives, itching, tingling, rashes, vomiting, stomach pain, swollen lips eyes or face, or sneezing and coughing. The most severe reaction is something called anaphylactic shock.

Anaphylaxis is a rapidly progressive allergic reaction that is potentially life threatening. Although there has been an increase in the number of children diagnosed as being at risk of anaphylaxis, deaths are rare. But deaths have occurred, and anaphylaxis is therefore regarded as a medical emergency.

The symptoms of anaphylactic shock could include difficult or noisy breathing, swelling of the tongue, swelling or tightness in the throat, difficulty talking, wheezing, persistent coughing, low blood pressure, loss of consciousness, and collapse. Young children who are going through anaphylactic shock may appear pale and floppy,

Food allergies are the most common triggers to an anaphylactic reaction. Nine foods cause 90 percent of food allergic reactions and can be common causes of anaphylaxis. These are:

peanuts

tree nuts (such as hazelnuts, cashews, almonds)

chicken eggs

cow’s milk

wheat

soybeans

fish

shellfish

sesame

People all over the world live with allergies that trigger anaphylaxis. Some less common food triggers are citrus fruits and vegetables. But any food can cause anaphylaxis. Children frequently outgrow allergies to milk, soy, and eggs, but peanut, tree nut, and fish allergies tend to last a lifetime.

Food allergens account for 30 percent of deaths caused by anaphylaxis. In extreme cases, anaphylaxis can occur from kissing someone who has eaten the offending allergen, or from the food vapor in the case of cooking shellfish.

Medications can also cause anaphylaxis. Penicillins, cephalosporins, aspirin, NSAIDs, antimalarials, anaesthetics, sedatives, antipsychotics, antihypertensives, intravenous contrast dye and the flu vaccine are among the substances that carry risk of severe allergic reaction. Penicillin is the most common medication to cause anaphylaxis. Serious reactions to penicillin occur about twice as frequently following intramuscular or IV administration than taking it by mouth.

In contrast to food anaphylaxis, drug anaphylaxis is characterized by a high frequency of heart failure and rapid onset (within minutes), especially in older people.

Latex products, especially natural latex, commonly found in gloves, balloons, baby bath toys, belts, elastic bands, erasers, gloves, and some shoes can trigger anaphylaxis in those who are sensitive. Synthetic latex appears to be less allergenic than natural latex. Some people with latex allergy will also have an allergy to certain foods such as avocados, bananas, chestnuts, and kiwi because of cross reactivity to latex.

Insect venom from bees, hornets, wasps, and fire ants can also cause anaphylactic shock. Stings are more likely to cause anaphylaxis than bites. Anaphylaxis to insect stings has occurred in three percent of adults and one percent of children who have been stung. These stings can be fatal even on the first reaction.

Exercise is a rare trigger, but is likely to happen in people sensitive to certain foods (e.g. wheat, celery, and cheese) or medications. If the allergen is taken before being physically active, it can cause anaphylaxis. Typical symptoms include extreme fatigue, warmth, red face, rashes or hives, occasionally progressing to swelling of the face, wheezing, upper airway obstruction and collapse.

Extremely uncommon triggers include exposure to airborne allergens (such as animal dander) and cold temperatures. Sometimes a specific cause cannot be identified and this condition is called idiopathic anaphylaxis.

How does Anaphylaxis Happen?

Allergies occur when the immune system (immunoglobulin cell type “E”) produces antibodies against substances in the environment (allergens). These immune system cells set off an inflammatory reaction. The inflammatory response is the cause for most allergic symptoms, especially the closing of the throat, redness and swelling of the skin.

Anaphylaxis can occur within minutes to hours after being exposed to the trigger.

How Anaphylaxis is Treated

Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency and anyone experiencing symptoms should call EMS (Hatzoloh or 911) right away to get medical treatment. Adults may be able to express a feeling of “something not being right.” But children may not be able to communicate that something is wrong. Parents, teachers and caregivers should be accustomed to keeping a wary eye on children who have severe allergies. An “allergy emergency plan” should be made a practiced to benefit a member of the family who might G-d forbid have an anaphylactic episode.

More than 1.5 Million Views for Israel’s Christian You Tube Channel

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

The Ministry of Tourism’s Christian You Tube channel is attracting millions of viewers from around the world. Launched at the end of 2011, the channel crossed the 1.5 million mark this week, averaging 5,500 views per day. And while these numbers are quite tame compared to the truly viral clips on You Tube, the Ministry of Tourism views the channel as an important platform in exposing Israel to the Christian world, promoting tourism to Israel at a time when some large denominations are debating boycotting Israel altogether.

Minister of Tourism, Stas Misezhnikov says that You Tube “has turned into a central tool for the tourism industry. The positive reaction to the channel proves the significant interest among the Christian community regarding Israel.”

The channel  features videos in several languages including English, German, Russian, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Russian, and Polish. Those show community leaders and pilgrims telling about their spiritual experiences in Israel. There are also videos of Christian holy sites and holiday themed events that are unique to Israel.

The channel was created by the Ministry of Tourism’s Religious Desk, which is dedicated to encouraging Christian tourism to Israel. Marketing activities for Christian tourism is one of the Ministry of Tourism’s main programs. In 2011, NIS 60 million was invested in reaching out to Christian communities abroad, with a similar amount being invested again this year.

Crowning Miss Holocaust Survivor

Friday, July 6th, 2012

(((CLICK BELOW TO HEAR AUDIO)))

Yishai is joined by his wife and co-host Malkah to talk about a beauty pageant for survivors of the Holocaust that recently took place in Haifa. They specifically discuss the reaction that the event created throughout the media. At 11:16, they begin to discuss the recently-passed regarding the banning of ritual circumcision in Germany and how it compares to a new Israeli law encouraging new mothers to breast feed. The segment wraps up with Yishai and Malkah talking about their experience with the Israeli post office and amazing gift that the Fleishers received.

Yishai Fleisher on Twitter: @YishaiFleisher
Yishai on Facebook

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/jewish-press-radio-with-yishai-fleisher-crowning-miss-holocaust-survivor/2012/07/06/

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