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January 24, 2017 / 26 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘syndrome’

Aliyah and Keeping Young with Yisrael

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

As an education writer for the nonprofit organization, Kars4Kids, and as someone who made Aliyah from Pittsburgh 34 years ago, I decided to write about the challenges of Aliyah from western countries with school age children. See the previous piece in this series, Fully Absorbed, Coming Through to the Other Side.

As a teen, Randi Lipkin spent three consecutive summers working at HASC, a camp for Jewish children with special needs. Randi’s husband Michael spent his nineteenth summer as a counselor there, and the couple both worked at HASC one summer after they were married, never knowing that someday, they would have a special needs child of their own.

The Lipkin family made Aliyah in August of 2004, with four children from Edison, New Jersey. After they made Aliyah, Randi discovered she was pregnant with Yisrael, who has Down syndrome.

Michael serves as senior editor of financial articles at a local company, Seeking Alpha. Randi is an occupational therapist who works at a “Gan Safa,” a Beit Shemesh nursery school for children with developmental language delays. The Lipkins live in Beit Shemesh.

Proud father Michael Lipkin holds newborn Yisrael Simcha (photo credit: courtesy Michael Lipkin)

Proud father Michael Lipkin holds newborn Yisrael Simcha (photo credit: courtesy Michael Lipkin)

V: Tell me a bit about your children and their adjustment to your Aliyah.

Michael: We had 4 children when made Aliyah. They were 19, 17, 14, and 3 when we moved. Our oldest, one year post-seminary, was our big Zionist and would have moved here even if we hadn’t. Her adjustment was very smooth. She married a year and half later and is now living in our neighborhood with her husband and 3 children.

Our next oldest was borderline interested in moving. As she was entering her senior year in a Flatbush Beit Yaakov the year we made Aliyah, we decided it was best for her to finish high school there while boarding with Randi’s sister who lived nearby. She subsequently came here for seminary, married soon after, and is living in Bet Shemesh with her husband and 3 children.

Our older son had the toughest adjustment. Even though he wanted to move he had a difficult time adjusting to dorm life at Maarava high school. However, he is now our most integrated child having married an Israeli girl and is currently serving his country.

Our youngest at the time adapted very well because of her young age and smarts.

V: How old were you and Randi when Randi became pregnant with Yisrael?

Michael: I was 47 and Randi was 45. We had just had our first grandson and our second daughter was married during Randi’s pregnancy.

V: How did you and Randi feel about the pregnancy? How was the level of obstetric care here compared to the care Randi received in the States during previous pregnancies?

Michael: I was ecstatic, very excited, but nervous for her. Getting pregnant at that age was nervous-making, and of course, we worried about Down syndrome.

Randi: The overall care here was fine, but I found it very weird that you develop a relationship with a doctor and then he has absolutely nothing to do with your delivery. The experience was totally different than in the states. In certain ways the doctors seemed very laidback and in other ways hyper-nervous.

I had gestational diabetes as I’d had before in my previous pregnancies. The doctor transferred my entire case to an obstetrician that handles gestational diabetes and I at one point said to the doctor, “Can we listen to the heartbeat?”

They were too focused on the diabetes. There was far less connection to me as an expectant mother compared to what I had experienced in the States. Of course, I’d had tremendous relationships with my doctors in the States, because I’d known them for 25 years. It’s just not what you have here.

Since I was having an elective, planned C-section, we paid for a private doctor instead of showing up at the hospital and just getting whoever was on duty that day and we felt very comfortable with that decision.

V: I know you gave Yisrael the middle name “Simcha” because you wanted him to always know he brought simcha, joy, into your lives. Was that immediate? Or did it take some adjusting to the idea?

Varda Meyers Epstein

The Diaspora Syndrome

Wednesday, January 31st, 2007

Over the course of Jewish history, there has likely been no anti-Jewish canard, however absurd and bigoted, that has not won the endorsement of some Jews.

It is, in fact, common within chronically besieged communities that some members will take to heart the indictments of the assailants. They hope that by doing so, and by promoting reform to address the indictments, they can win relief.

The paradigm on the level of individual psychology is the response of children subjected to chronic abuse. Such children almost invariably blame themselves for their suffering. The explanation for this lies in the existential predicament of such children. They can, on the one hand, acknowledge that they are being unfairly victimized and are powerless to change their situation, and reconcile themselves to its hopelessness. Or they can blame themselves, interpret their predicament as a consequence of their being “bad,” and endure the self-criticism that this perspective entails – but thereby sustain a fantasy of control.

In such a fantasy, by becoming “good” they will elicit more benign behavior from their tormentors and win relief. Children almost invariably seek to avoid hopelessness at all costs, and adults do the same.

In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, as the issue of extending citizenship rights to Jews was first being considered in the states of Central Europe, those opposed to granting such rights pointed to characteristics of the Jews that ostensibly rendered them unfit. They claimed, for example, that Yiddish was a crude, unwholesome language that reflected the degenerate nature of the Jews and illustrated their unfitness for citizenship rights, and that Jews were primarily engaged in trade and this was another mark of their degeneracy and inappropriateness for citizenship.

Both indictments, and others like them, were endorsed by important Jewish leaders and members of the Jewish cultural elite.

During the nineteenth century, Jews in substantial numbers abandoned Yiddish as their primary language to speak “good” German. Significant segments of the community also succeeded in leaving behind the commercial occupations of their fathers to become poets, composers, philosophers, and intellectuals of various other stripes.

Many leading voices in the surrounding society argued that Jews were still unable to apply their learning to true aesthetic or intellectual creativity but instead were subverting what they had learned to some lesser, alien end and were coarsening German culture. Even this indictment was embraced by some Jews.

One can argue that attempts by minorities to accommodate the wider society can and do at times succeed in winning them greater acceptance. This is true, and Jewish exertions to give up Yiddish and master normative German could be perceived as having been a pragmatic step. But that is very different from endorsing the derogation of Yiddish as intrinsically primitive, inferior, and corrupting.

Such endorsements were founded on the desire to believe that Jews were regarded with distaste and loathing and treated as inferior because they spoke an inferior language and had been coarsened by it. Becoming linguistically equal to their neighbors, then, would assure their eing treated as equal – a wish-driven delusion.

This example reflects a propensity for “categorical” thinking – that is, choosing to think in absolute, categorical terms about what may be simply pragmatic steps that could or could not have salutary consequences. Such a predilection is driven by the desperate desire for acceptance and a consequent wishful thinking that acceptance could inexorably be won by the right communal policies. The same mindset can be seen in other stances as well.

For example, Central European liberals – some on the basis of principle, others for pragmatic reasons – were generally more receptive to the extension of rights to Jews than were more conservative elements. But many Jews, in aligning themselves with liberal groups, chose to construe this sympathy as intrinsic and not as something at least partly driven by a convergence of political interests that could change in the future.

Kenneth Levin

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/the-diaspora-syndrome/2007/01/31/

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