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September 25, 2016 / 22 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘test’

On The Interface Of Science And Torah Ethics Human Genomics: Scientific Achievement and Ethical Dilemmas

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

“G-d formed man from the earth and breathed into him a living soul.”

The greatest achievement of the biological sciences since that moment in creation has been the Human Genome Project, a massive effort by thousand of biologists, chemists and physicists who isolated and identified the 24,000 genes that Hashem placed in Adam and Eve, and through them in each of their descendents. These genes direct the formation of all our physical and mental attributes. Despite having the same genes, however, we are not all identical. When compared to the genetic make-up of the “reference human,” whose gene sequences were published at the completion of the Human Genome Project, every individual’s genome has about four million variations, some of which predispose to disease or determine response to a specific treatment. “Personal Genomics” is the goal that medical geneticists hope to achieve under which specific treatment for a disease would be determined by studying the whole genome sequence [WGS] of a patient.

The WGS is a non-invasive test requiring only some blood or saliva. Such testing now exists for analyzing fetal DNA from pregnant women. Unlike amniocentesis, which needs fluid removed from the sack (amnion) that surrounds and protects the developing fetus and may cause a spontaneous abortion, these new tests need only a few drops of blood from the mother to isolate fetal DNA, and a swab of the father’s saliva. Three commercial labs launched versions of this test in the past twelve months and last June, researchers at the University of Washington used this non-invasive test to “read” the entire genome of an 18 week fetus.

This magnificent advance in the study of the human genome poses an ethical challenge to all who are guided by Torah law. Even our current primitive ability to study the genetics of a fetus, to determine if it carries the genetic Down’s Syndrome, has resulted in the abortion of 90% of those so identified. Testing 24,000 genes for “normalcy” will surely result in a massive increase in abortions. Current obstetrical practice routinely includes an ultrasound scan of the developing fetus. Under instruction from their liability insurance company to avoid suits for “unlawful birth” doctors must report to parents’ every minor deviation from the idealized norm. If such deviations are reported, worry and fear supplants the joy of pregnancy until, as almost always, a normal, healthy child is born.

What will be the decision of young parents who planned on a family of three children- two of whom are home in bed and one in utero? Why risk the tragedy of a genetically defective child being born? Cancel this one and try again in a few months!

Torah Law is unambiguous! Aborting even the earliest pregnancy violates biblical law. Some who follow the dictates of halacha are misled by the reference in the Talmud to an embryo before 40 days of gestation as “maya b’alma,” which they translate incorrectly as “merely water.” The reference is to the unformed stage of development (like water without form) and is not intended to impugn the embryo’s claim to life. When the health of the mother is endangered, the halacha differentiates between a pre- or post-40 day gestation. The halacha, however, defends the implanted embryo’s claim to life even if it requires transgressing Torah Law, come the Sabbath, to obtain medical care that would prevent the termination of the early pregnancy.

There is another ethical dilemma to evaluate. Is knowledge an absolute good? Must everyone be aware of every potential mishap that may occur because of some genetic flaw harbored in his genome?

Indeed, most would agree that it is better not to know of the presence of a catastrophic gene such as the gene for Huntington’s Disease which destroys the brain by age 50 and for which there is no cure. But there are many who prefer to have a life of simple faith in Hashem knowing that His kindness will protect from all evil. They do not want to know—hence the dilemma. When one member of a family undertakes a WGS study, it reveals information about every other close relative. To tell them the test results imposes the burden of knowledge that they prefer not to bear. To withhold genetic information such as the presence of cancer genes which predispose to the disease prevents them from taking necessary precautions such as frequent medical examination or early pharmacological or radiological intervention that be life saving.

Rabbi Moshe Tendler

Earthquake? No, This is Just a Drill (and an Earthquake)

Friday, October 19th, 2012

On Sunday, Israel will be running a countrywide drill to test its preparation in case of a massive earthquake and tsunami. Thousands of emergency personnel, citizens, and even schools will be participating. Announcements will be made on TV and radio as part of the simulation.

Some local towns will be continuing with the drill throughout the week on a smaller scale to test specific preparations.

On Friday morning, tremors were felt in Israel from a 5.0 earthquake that originated north of Alexandria, Egypt. Nothing like a little realism to set the tone for the simulation.

Jewish Press News Briefs

IDF Holds Surprise Exercise Testing Preparedness

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

On Wednesday morning, following an order of Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, the IDF conducted a surprise exercise to test the preparedness and capabilities of a number of units, with a special focus on the artillery and air force. Forces from all regional commands participated in the exercise, alongside soldiers from the IAF.

The exercise began with the mobilization of various units, several of which drilled their mobilization protocols. The exercise will continue with forces massing from the center of Israel and moving north to the Golan Heights, and will conclude with a live fire exercise in the afternoon. The exercise will examine a number of issues in the areas of preparedness and competence.

The exercise was planned in advance and is not connected to nor the result of any change in the alert level. The exercise is in fact part of a routine set of reviews and surprise exercises conducted throughout the year by the IDF Comptroller.

The exercise is under the command of Chief Artillery Officer Brg. Gen. Roy Riftin, and is expected to conclude later this evening.

IDF Spokesperson's Office

Western Wall is Just Fine, Test of its Stability Shows

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

The Western Wall checked out fine in a test of its stability by engineers.

The office of the rabbi of the Western Wall, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, said there were no abnormal findings in Tuesday’s test. The check was made less than two weeks before the start of the High Holidays, when hundreds of thousands of people visit the Western Wall Plaza.

Previous tests have found stones that broke during bad weather.

Malkah Fleisher

The Impact of Anxiety On Children In The Classroom

Friday, August 31st, 2012

Tuesday afternoon, 1:30 p.m.

Pinny is a fourth grader in Mrs. Spitzer’s classroom. The class is doing a math lesson – its long division. Pinny loves math, so he’s giving Mrs. Spitzer his full attention.

“Now class,” Mrs. Spitzer intones, “what do we do after we subtract 7 from 9?” “Bring down the 4,” answers the entire class in unison.

O.K. I know subtract and bring down, but haw does it start again? Oy, I’m never gonna be able to do this. We have a social studies test on Thursday on 40 pages in the book. 40 pages!!! How am I gonna study 4O pages?

“On to more examples. 653 divided by 9.”

Pinny glances down at his math workbook, and is surprised to discover that he has written nothing in the spaces for the answers to numbers 1,2,3, and 4. As he glances around the classroom, he sees that everyone’s workbook is filled except his. As he quickly glances at Chaim’s workbook, which is on the desk next to his and fills in the answers, he feels so frustrated.

“What s wrong with me,” he wonders.

Test Taking Anxiety

Thursday Afternoon, 2:30 p.m.

Pinny feels nervous. He studied the material a few times with his mother the night before, but he is not sure he knows it well. He couldn’t eat breakfast or lunch properly so his stomach is rumbling and his mouth feels dry.

“Keep your eyes on your own paper” says Mrs. Spitzer firmly. “Turn your papers over and you may begin.”

Pinny turns his paper over and looks at it again and again. None of it, nothing seems familiar. “Maybe I got the wrong test, “Pinny thinks to himself. “Let me take a look at Chaim’s paper. I hope Mrs. Spitzer doesn’t notice. Nope. It’s the exact same test. I don’t get it I studied hard last night? What happened?”

And as he watches everybody else busily filling in answers on their test paper, he frantically tries to recall something, ANYTHING, from last night’s study session. Pinny sits there feeling truly helpless and wondering “what’s wrong with me?”

Following Instructions/Comprehension

Friday Morning, 11:45 a.m.

Pinny is exhausted. He barely slept the night before worrying about taking the bus to go to his grandmother’s house for Shabbos. This would be the first time he would be going there straight from school.

The Rebbe is speaking to the boys, something about bus changes.

“O.K. boys, listen up. We have new drivers on the buses, and the routes have changed slightly. I’m going to read your name and bus number. After that, I want you to pack up, and wait on line until I dismiss you.

“Berkowitz, Benoliel, Cahan, and Davis, bus number 41. Ettinger, Friedman, Ganzweig, and Gewirtz, bus number 42.”

I hope Bobby prepared my favorite chocolate cake. I hope she remembered that the cover that she usually keeps on the bed is very scratchy and itchy. I hope she changed it to the green and blue one.

Mommy thinks I’m big enough to take the bus all by myself. I hope she’s right and I don’t get…

“Pinny,” a deep voice interrupts “Everyone else is packed up, on line, and ready to go.”

“Right Rebbe, I’ll be really quick .Which bus am I going on again?” Pinny hears the rebbe audibly sigh, as he repeats the instructions for the bus.

Memory

Friday afternoon 12:10 p.m.

Pinny gets on the bus headed to Flatbush. He feels a bit queasy, but he has reviewed the route so many times with his mother that he’s pretty sure he’ll know where to go. After frantically searching through his knapsack, he realizes that he has misplaced the address.

O.K., so I’ve been to Bobby’s house before, I’ll just wing the address from memory. Is it 1427 East 37th street, or 1437 East 27th street. Which one is it? I can’t remember. Which one is it? Let me think…Let me think…. O.K. I know my friend Simcha lives around the corner from Bobby, and he lives on East 28th street, so its gotta be…Whewl Here’s the paper with the address stuck in the pocket of my folder. East 27th street here we come!

Chaya Sara Stark

Are You Really a Jew?

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

These days, it’s pretty hard to know who really is Jewish. Let’s take the example of the singles-bar scene in New York. A lot of times a Jewish guy will start talking to girl (call her Debbie) and during the conversation, he’ll ask if she’s Jewish, and she says, “Sure,” when she isn’t Jewish at all. How so?  Let’s say Debbie’s Jewish grandfather married a non-Jew and they had a daughter together. The grandfather told his daughter that she was Jewish, so she grew up thinking she was a Jew. When it came time for her to marry, she married a Jew, to please her father, and so her poor husband married her, innocently thinking she was Jewish because that’s what she believed. When they raised their child, Debbie, they told her she was Jewish, even though she isn’t Jewish at all. Tragically, this scenario has occurred in hundreds of thousands of cases, throughout the Diaspora. It’s another reason why it’s so very dangerous to live there.

So I have devised an almost foolproof test to determine if a person is really a Jew. If you can read Chapter 8 of my novel, “Tevye in the Promised Land,” without getting goose bumps, it may be because you aren’t Jewish. Like I said, the test isn’t 100% foolproof. It could be that you are merely emotionally retarded. Or maybe your concentration span has been so crippled by the Internet that you don’t have the patience to read to the end.

And the opposite is also true. Lots of non-Jews who read the chapter get goose bumps and that doesn’t prove that their Jews. It shows they are lovers of Israel, that’s all. Or that they recognize outstanding literature.

Fortunately for you, this wonderful Jewish novel is currently being serialized in The Jewish Press, www.jewishpress.com/sections/books/tevye-in-the-promised-land-books/tevye-in-the-promised-land-chapter-eight-the-holy-land/2012/08/07/

so you can take the test right now. Get ready to shiver!

Tzvi Fishman

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

A Reader’s Compelling Argument:
Is Dor Yeshorim obligated to release one’s lost ID number?

Dear Rachel,

My name is Sholom and I’d like to share with you my ongoing experience with Dor Yeshorim. I believe strongly in my position but I would appreciate a reasoned response from a dissenting point of view.

I took the Dor Yeshorim test last year together with my friend. I lost my ID number. As you probably know, Dor Yeshorim is a genetic testing program to determine genetic compatibility between potential shidduchim. Test results are not disclosed but rather a unique ID number is attached to the file and given to the tested.

In addition to this number, the file contains some bits of personal information, such as home phone number (from which you must call to check compatibility), date of birth, gender and time and place of testing.

If the ID number is lost, Dor Yeshorim’s policy mandates a new test be taken; there is no way they will disclose any information without the ID number present. If I provide my phone number (and call from that number), as well as my date of birth, gender and date and location the test was administered, and all these pieces of information collectively only match one file, then what doubt could exist that this file is mine?

Certainly no reasonable doubt, and I believe none at all, but still Dor Yeshorim insists this is too risky and they are not comfortable going by this, which brings me to my next point: I have autonomy. If DY is not comfortable skydiving, I may skydive. If DY is not comfortable with this “risk,” which in my opinion is non-existent, why should they be allowed to impose upon me? If all my information matches only one file and I am prepared to shoulder the responsibility from here on in, so why then should DY make such a decision for me? This decision should be mine to make.

Lastly, and I would like to hear a rabbinic response to this, I believe that DY is obligated to return my number which has the status of a lost object after I provide two identifying signs. Any ideas on how I could convince Dor Yeshorim legally or rabbinically to release my ID number would be very appreciated.

Thanks for reading and looking forward to hearing any response.

Fairness in numbers

Dear Fairness,

The way we understand it, Dor Yeshorim runs a tight ship and has upheld its rules since the day of its inception in the 1980s. One rule put in place specifies that a person who loses his or her identification number will need to be retested. The entire system is based on anonymity and DY can therefore not connect one with his or her test result file without that vital ID number.

Even if, as you say, you can provide your phone number, date of birth, etc., technically an individual other than you can be in possession of all of this personal information and pose as you. Remote as this may actually be, it seems that the rules instituted by this organization are ironclad and not meant to be broken.

Still and all, your argument is a most persuasive one. Since this column submits to being neither a speaking head for Dor Yeshorim nor a rabbinical authority in any sense of the term, readers are welcome to contribute their views on this young man’s delicate quandary.

Refraining from Vaccinating our Children against Chickenpox: Prudent or ill advised?

Dear Rachel,

My 10-month old recently came down with a full-blown case of chickenpox, and while I was trying to be vigilant in not having it spread to other children, I was floored by how many moms commented that they wished their children would catch it. This is one of those infectious diseases children receive immunizations for (my older children have been vaccinated), yet these moms do not allow their tots to receive this protection. (The vaccine is not administered to babies in their first year of life.)

I questioned one mother about her attitude and her take was that she felt safer with her children contracting chickenpox rather than being injected with lab-induced chemicals. She argues that we’ve all had the chickenpox as kids and survived it.

Rachel

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/chronicles-of-crises/chronicles-of-crises-in-our-communities-154/2012/07/22/

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