Jewish community organizations have been posting up-to-the-minute information about the swine flu epidemic this week, and as of Monday there were no known cases of the virus reported by any Jewish school or institution.
As word of the outbreak spread last week the Secure Community Network sent out a memo and materials Monday provided by the Centers for Disease Control to hundreds of Jewish institutions, including federations and Jewish community centers. SCN has an existing partnership with the CDC and the Department of Homeland Security.
For more than 30 years, Michael Harris has dealt with death every day. As chief of pediatric oncology at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey, he treats countless children who have cancer and blood disorders.
But now Harris, 61, who lives in Englewood, has to save his own life. In 1986, he accidentally pricked himself with a needle he had just used to draw blood from a patient -- he became infected with hepatitis C, a virus that attacks the liver.
Following word that a case of St. Louis encephalitis had hit Borough Park last week, top city officials flocked to the Vizhnitzer yeshiva there, where they briefed community leaders on efforts to contain the deadly mosquito-borne virus.
The officials included the commissioner of the Department of Health, Neil Cohen; the director of the mayor's Office of Emergency Management, Jerome Hauer; the mayor's chief of staff, Tony Carbonetti; and the police commissioner's chief of staff, Richard Sherer, as well as high-ranking officials from the 66th Precinct.
When Asher Peskowitz heard an appeal for registration in the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Registry at his synagogue in Kew Gardens, Queens, he made a quick addition to his to-do list.
Problem was, with days to go until his wedding, the list was too long to find time for the registry, which matches potential donors with those in need of a marrow transplant.
His solution: "Since I couldn't come to them, I decided to bring them to me."
Within minutes after he was born in August 1989, Steven Wexler was rushed to the intensive care unit after his doctor became concerned about his rapid breathing. For the next two weeks, doctors at Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola, L.I., were puzzled by his condition.
“He had low muscle tone,” recalled his mother, Karen, of Melville.
“And because he couldn’t suck or swallow, he had to be fed through a tube,” said his father, Paul.
Some novel methods will soon be used by UJA-Federation in the fight against breast cancer. Realizing that Orthodox women with large families will not hang breast self-examination cards in their showers, it will ask mikvehs to hang the cards in their showers.
And to entice immigrants from the former Soviet Union to get mammograms, UJA-Federation will offer them free cosmetics.
After being told in a phone call from her surgeon that she again had breast cancer and that it had spread to her lymph nodes, Judy Lazar of Manhasset became hysterical. “I was angry and petrified. And I was scared,” she recalls. “I kept saying, ‘I’m not having chemotherapy.’ My husband, Joel, who is terrific, didn’t know what to do with me.”
So he called the home of the family’s rabbi, Abner Bergman of Temple Judea of Manhasset. The rabbi’s wife tracked him down at a meeting.
Should a tube that provides food and water to a person unable to swallow be considered medicine that may be withdrawn at any time, or is it a basic necessity of life whose withdrawal would be tantamount to murder? Must a feeding tube be inserted if the surgery would be so dangerous it might kill the patient?
Those are some of the questions experts in Jewish law and ethics pondered this week as the case of Terri Schiavo moved from Florida’s state courts to the federal courts following the intervention of Congress and President George W. Bush.
In death, 14-year-old Jacob Greenberg of Merrick, L.I., may save lives.
The ninth-grader at the Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns and Rockaway and some friends were tossing around a football last week on the school’s front lawn when he collapsed. The school nurse administered CPR, and a nearby Hatzalah ambulance crew arrived within minutes and tried to revive him using a defibrillator.
The Rabbinical Council of America, the nation’s largest Orthodox group, has unanimously ruled that Jewish law bans smoking.
“We should have done it years ago,” acknowledged Rabbi Basil Herring, RCA’s executive vice president. “But it is never too late to say it is important to put an end to certain things that should be formally recognized for the evil they are.”