About 12 years ago, Joel Chasnoff had a personal crisis. Fresh out of the University of Pennsylvania, he had no idea what he wanted to do with his life. His father’s success as a doctor in Chicago made him insecure, feeling like he had too big a pair of shoes to fill. And his passions — acting, stand-up comedy — hardly promised a stable alternative. But Chasnoff did have a strong Jewish identity, the result of a day school education, and an especially romantic vision of Israelis.
Chasidic residents of Williamsburg and Borough Park are currently battling two dangerous disease outbreaks — a minor spread of the measles and a more serious eruption of the intestinal infection Shigella.
When Marcy Strickler was 10 years old, she suddenly faced frequent bouts of diarrhea and completely lost her appetite and energy — far from the ideal situation for an active fifth grader. For a while, she tried to ignore the symptoms and hid everything from her parents. But as hard as she tried, she couldn’t hide the illness forever.
“I just woke up one morning and I physically couldn’t go to school,” she said.