Yeshiva University News » 2004 » January

Chancellor Norman Lamm, Edward Cardinal Egan and President Richard M. Joel

Jan 20, 2004 — At the initiative of the World Jewish Congress, an international group of Catholic cardinals and monsignors met with leaders and educators from Yeshiva University on Monday, Jan. 19 at YU’s Wilf Campus in Washington Heights.

The distinguished Catholic leaders from Angola, Austria, France, Germany, India, Italy, the US and Canada, included Cardinal Christoph Schonborn from Vienna, Cardinal Jean Marie Lustiger from Paris, and Cardinal Edward Egan from New York. They met with Rabbi Norman Lamm, Chancellor of Yeshiva University and Rosh HaYeshiva (dean) of its affiliated seminary Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS), with Yeshiva University President Richard M. Joel, and Max and Marion Grill Dean of RIETS, Rabbi Zevulun Charlop.

The high level delegation discussed with YU leadership matters of mutual concern, such as the serious situations facing both faith communities in the tumultuous conditions that now prevail worldwide, and how belief and the practice of faith can best thrive in a scientific, secular “technopolis.” Rather than dealing with technology, the meeting focused on broader universal problems of special interest to both world religions in an effort to elicit the insights each can bring to the issues.

This was perhaps the first and largest ever delegation of Catholic cardinals to discuss such matters with American Jewish religious leadership. One of the topics presented by Rabbi Lamm and President Joel is how YU and the Modern Orthodox world have been successful in their approach to living a life of faith in step with the modern world, known as Torah Umadda (the synthesis of Western culture and study of Torah).

President Joel noted that, “Yeshiva University is committed to the values and ideals of Judaism. Our undergraduate schools, medical, law and professional schools are imbued with the values, ethics, and principles of the Torah, values which inform much of Western civilization. People of all faiths are intrigued by how YU transmits its values, beliefs, and ethics in a manner that enables its students and alumni to thrive as both religiously engaged and fully involved in contemporary life at its best.”

Rabbi Lamm, who has written several books on the subject, elaborated: “For us, the study of Torah, not theology per se, is the key to Judaism’s dynamism. Delving intellectually in Torah text leads to faith and is in itself an act of communion with the Divine. The advancement of science and humanistic culture is part of the mission of the Torah Umadda Jew.”

Following the meeting at Yeshiva University, the delegation of cardinals and monsignors met with Jewish leaders at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in lower Manhattan for two days of dialogue designed to foster greater mutual understanding and respect.

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Jan 17, 2004 — A mission of nine students from the Marsha Stern Talmudical Academy/Yeshiva University High Schools (MSTA) traveled to the Republic of Palau on Jan. 9 as an expression of gratitude for that nation’s steadfast support of Israel in the United Nations. Other than the United States, the three nations of Micronesia — the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), the Marshall Islands and Palau — are the only nations who consistently vote in favor of Israel when resolutions condemning that country come before the UN General Assembly.

At a reception held prior to their departure, Avram Sand, an MSTA Senior, thanked Stuart Beck, permanent representative of Palau to the UN, for his assistance and encouragement in arranging the trip for MSTA’s Israel Club. “We hope to impart an understanding of the Jewish people and Israel and lay the foundations for friendship between our peoples,” Mr. Sand said.

“The purpose of this mission was to demonstrate ‘hakarat ha’tov,’ appreciation and recognition of Palau’s support of Israel,” said Daniel Schuval, director of student life at MSTA who escorted the group. “We also endeavored to learn more about the history and culture of our friends halfway around the world and to develop stronger ties with them.”

The interest in Palau by the Israel Club was the result of research done by Mr. Sand, who interned at the Micronesian Mission to the UN during the summer of 2004. Mr. Schuval proposed the trip to the ambassador, who welcomed the idea and helped with planning.

“This trip was a mitzvah,” said Ambassador Beck. “We are thrilled that you undertook this mission and had the opportunity to express your gratitude and that of the Jewish community. We are proud to vote on Israel’s behalf and to demonstrate that Israel is not alone.”

Zina Kalay-Kleitman, minister-counsellor of the Permanent Mission of Israel to the UN, commented on the importance of Israel’s relationship with the Pacific states. “Every friend Israel has in the UN is very valuable and this was a beautiful endeavor that will hopefully create good will,” she said.

The students were hosted at Palau Community College and met with political leaders, visited schools, hospitals, and outer islands. They brought kosher food for their 7-day trip as well as a Torah scroll to be used during daily prayer services. The students plan to produce a documentary to be used as an educational tool highlighting Palau’s history and its relationship with Israel.

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Jan 16, 2004

Taking part in an innovative cancer research study conducted at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and its Cancer Center, six women enter a chapel that has been temporarily transformed into a different type of sanctum. Chairs have been moved to the walls, where the women seat themselves awaiting direction from yoga instructor Ricardo Sisco. He greets each woman with a silent nod and a smile while making sure they each have a rolled mat or folded blanket for doing the yoga exercises.

The women – all breast cancer patients – are among the more than 100 taking part in a study conducted by Dr. Alyson Moadel, director of the Psychosocial – Oncology Program at Einstein, examining the impact of yoga in reducing the physical and emotional stresses associated with breast cancer and its treatment. They follow Ricardo’s instructions – given in both English and Spanish – closing their eyes and breathing in through their noses, and then exhaling. The weekly classes, which include gentle stretches and meditation as part of the exercises, are held at three locations – Weiler Hospital of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Montefiore Medical Center, and the Albert Einstein Cancer Center outpatient clinic.

Today’s group is small; at full capacity, there are as many as a dozen participants. The women, most over 50, are in various stages of treatment for their cancer and come from throughout the Bronx to take part in the study. Most also are either African-American or Hispanic, representing two communities that are often underserved where alternative therapies are concerned.

“It definitely helps me to relax,” says Ruby Williams, a 72-year old African-American woman who is battling cancer for the second time. “You can feel so tired after treatment and I find the yoga helps me to feel better.”

Ms. Williams is not alone in finding benefits from the yoga exercises. In an initial report on the study, presented in June 2003 to the largest oncology conference in the world, Dr. Moadel reported that participants who took part in the yoga classes said they feel better able to cope with their disease, fatigue and physical functioning.

“When compared with the control group, who are not currently involved in yoga classes, the women in the class demonstrated a 12 percent advantage in symptom management, and experienced less social and emotional distress,” says Dr. Moadel. “Our preliminary results, based on 60 participants, suggest that yoga may provide a buffer to the physical, social and emotional symptoms associated with breast cancer and its treatment.”

Because of these initial results, Dr. Moadel, who also is an assistant professor of epidemiology and population health at Einstein, recently received a $230,000 grant from The Jacob & Valeria Langeloth Foundation, through which she will continue her current work with breast cancer patients while also expanding the focus of her study to include patients with lung and colorectal cancers. Initial funding for the project was provided by a $100,000 grant from the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health and by $20,000 in seed money from the Langeloth Foundation for the pilot study begun by Dr. Moadel two years ago. (Additional funds for the project were provided by The Balm Foundation.)

“We have been interested in Dr. Moadel’s work since she began the study, as our foundation seeks to support and promote effective and creative programs related to healing, and to extend the availability of programs that promote healing to underserved populations,” says George Labalme, Jr., president of the Langeloth Foundation.

“A majority of patients we surveyed at our oncology clinics indicated an interest in complementary medicine, and previous studies had shown that yoga offered benefits to patients with cardiovascular problems, asthma, and anxiety,” Dr. Moadel says. “Examining the benefits of yoga among cancer patients seemed a natural progression. As a result, the Einstein study is, we believe, the first in the U.S. to examine the benefits that yoga might offer patients with cancer.”

She credits two influential collaborators, without whose efforts the study wouldn’t be possible, noting, “Dr. Chirag Shah, an oncologist and certified yoga instructor from India, suggested its original concept and developed the yoga protocol, and Dr. Joseph Sparano, director of the Breast Medical Oncology Program at the Albert Einstein Cancer Center, has assisted with design and referral throughout. Collectively, we’ve been able to develop a gentle and appropriate yoga intervention that has attracted more than 100 women, to date.”

“We’re grateful to the Langeloth Foundation for its ongoing support, “ she adds. “Our initial results certainly indicate that the women see gains to their overall quality of life.”

Ada Richards couldn’t agree more. A 77-year-old who not only had a double mastectomy, but also suffers from glaucoma and asthma, Ms. Richards offers compelling testament to the benefits of yoga.

“It has made a tremendous difference for me. The eye exercises help me to see better. The breathing helps with my asthma and with reducing stress. And the exercises get me moving and keep me moving,” she says. “Two years ago, when I first started the yoga, I couldn’t lift my arms above my head.” Then, with a smile, she raises both arms skyward.

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Jan 16, 2004 — Compulsive hoarding, a psychological disorder that most frequently affects the elderly and is characterized by an accumulation of useless possessions that clutter the person’s living space posing safety and health risks, will be discussed at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law on Wednesday, January 21 from 9am-1pm. The Law School is at 55 Fifth Avenue at 12th Street. A recent incident made headlines when a man suffering from this disorder, otherwise known as Collyer Brothers Syndrome, was imprisoned in his own apartment for two days when piles of accumulated magazines and newspapers tumbled on him, pinning him down, and nearly killing him.

A diverse group of professionals from the fields of health, law, housing, animal control, psychology, and social work are convening to share experiences and recommendations for dealing with people afflicted with compulsive hoarding. All speakers and panelists are members of the New York City Task Force on Hoarding which was founded a year ago to examine the issue, develop practical resources, and make creative suggestions for change.

The conference, “When Hoarding Causes Suffering: Working Together to Address a Multi-faceted Problem,” Cardozo’s second conference on the disorder, will address the following topics: the challenges of assessing risk, the referral process, eviction proceedings, therapeutic protocols, and practical decluttering guidelines. Speakers will examine case studies illustrating the importance of diverse professional groups working together to achieve optimum results. Internationally recognized expert on hoarding, Randy Frost, Ph.D. of Smith College and consultant to the Task Force, will be the featured guest speaker. Among the conference organizers are: Rosemary Bakker, research associate in gerontological design in medicine and director of the Task Force on Hoarding, Weill Medical College of Cornell University; Janet Lessum, C.S.W., associate clinical professor and social work supervisor, Cardozo Bet Tzedek Legal Services Clinic; and Toby Golick, clinical professor of law and director, Cardozo Bet Tzedek Legal Services Clinic.
The conference is cosponsored by Cardozo Bet Tzedek Legal Services Clinic, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, and the New York City Task Force on Hoarding and Older Adults.

Bet Tzedek Legal Services Clinic, a pro bono clinic at the Law School, represents dozens of elderly and disabled people seeking important health, disability, and housing benefits. The clinic operates with 25 students, 3 graduate social work interns, and 4 full time faculty with a caseload of more than 200 clients. The clinic also has represented people in several successful class action lawsuits. Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law is well known for its prolific and high profile faculty as well as top-ranked programs in intellectual property, corporate and criminal law, entertainment and communications law, legal theory, and Jewish law. The Law School’s clinical program has been cited as one of the best in the country. Cardozo has graduated more than 7,500 students since its founding in 1976.

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Jan 14, 2004 — Yeshiva University President Richard M. Joel traveled to Israel in January to meet with American students studying abroad, dignitaries, and other officials. His trip is part of a broader effort outlined in several speeches to build upon the strong ties between Israel and YU.

President Joel was accompanied by Dr. Karen Bacon, the Monique C. Katz Dean of Stern College for Women; Dr. Norman Adler, dean of Yeshiva College; and Dr. Charles Snow, dean of Sy Syms School of Business.

In Israel, President Joel visited Bar-Ilan University and was hosted by its President Moshe Kaveh. Later, President Joel dined with US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer, a 1971 graduate of YC, and his wife, Sheila.

In his investiture speech President Joel imagined an invigorated relationship between YU and Israel, saying, “Let’s review our curricular offerings dealing with Israel and enrich them. Let’s work to offer more internships in Israel, more extracurricular support for Israeli programming, and appropriate relationships with Israeli universities and educational institutions.”

President Joel visited and spoke at both men’s and women’s yeshivas, including Midreshet HaRova, Yeshivat Shaalvim, Michlelet Mevaseret Yerushalayim, Shaarei Mevaseret Zion, Reishit Yerushalayim, and Yeshivat Har Etzion. On Jan. 13, President Joel visited Tel HaShomer Hospital with students and later davened (prayed) at the Kotel (Western Wall) with students.

The YU contingent also visited a laboratory near the Dead Sea where tachelet (Biblical blue dye) is manufactured for coloring tzitzit ( fringes on a four-cornered garment worn by men as a Biblical commandment to recall the exodus from Egypt).

President Joel and Deans Bacon, Adler, and Snow returned from Israel on Jan. 15.

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Jan 13, 2004 — About 130 graduates of the most recent class of New York’s Police Academy attended a police department orientation session at Yeshiva University’s Wilf Campus January 12.

The all-day session took place in Furst Hall, providing an opportunity for cadets to meet local police officials, including Commanding Officer for Manhattan North, Assistant Chief Raymond Diaz.

The new police officers will be assigned to one of 12 precincts that make up the city’s Manhattan North Division, which includes Precincts 33 and 34 in Washington Heights. Precinct 34′s commanding officer is Captain James Kehoe, and Precinct 33′s is Captain Jason Wilcox.

YU has hosted orientation ceremonies for police cadets twice a year for several years, according to Donald Sommers, head of security at YU.

In related news, Jeffrey Socol, associate director of facilities management, and Ernest McNamee, security supervisor and former NYPD detective, completed a Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) training program for volunteer emergency personnel. The training qualifies Mr. Socol and Mr. McNamee as members of CERT, or Community Emergency Response Team. The training was conducted in conjunction with Community Board 12, which represents Washington Heights and Inwood.

Mr. Socol and Mr. McNamee will now train staff in their respective departments in emergency response techniques.

“The training prepared us as first responders to emergency situations in the community we serve, which includes Yeshiva University,” Mr. McNamee said. “We learned first aid, how to set up a triage, how to help people trapped in fires, how to respond to a terrorist act, everything.”

Presently, each borough of New York City is home to one CERT unit of about 30 men and women. More teams will be formed in coming months and will work in tandem with local police, fire, and professional emergency personnel.

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Jan 13, 2004 — New York, NY, January 13, 2004—Daniel Kahneman, Eugene Higgins Professor of Psychology and professor of public affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs of Princeton University, will discuss “Intuition and Bounded Rationality” at the Alexander Brody Distinguished Service Lecture in Economics, Tuesday, February 3, at Yeshiva University.

The public lecture will take place at 7:30 pm in Weissberg Commons, Belfer Hall, 2495 Amsterdam Avenue at 184th Street on the university’s Wilf Campus in Manhattan.

Dr. Kahneman received the 2002 Nobel Prize in economic sciences for his groundbreaking work in integrating psychological research into economics. He developed an approach to the study of judgment and decision-making, which explores how human judgment may take shortcuts that separate from the basic principles of probability.

Dr. Kahneman has taught at Princeton since 1993. Born in Tel Aviv, Israel, he received his bachelor’s degree from Jerusalem’s Hebrew University and his PhD from the University of California-Berkeley. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences. He is a fellow of the American Psychological Association, the American Psychological Society, the Society of Experimental Psychologists, and the Econometric Society. Dr. Kahneman has won the Hilgard Award for Lifetime Contribution to General Psychology and the Warren Medal of the Society of Experimental Psychologists. The American Psychological Association recognized him with its Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award in 1982.

The lecture, chaired by Dr. Aaron Levine, Samson and Halina Bitensky Professor of Economics, is named for Alexander Brody, a professor of economics and history who died in 1988 after a 34-year tenure at Yeshiva University.

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Jan 11, 2004 — Like many Jews, I was very reluctant to visit Germany and hesitated when asked by Rabbi Ari Rockoff to participate in a visit by a group of YU students. Yet despite the conflicted emotions, there was an element that added a special dimension to this journey.

Unlike most Jews who fled Germany as quickly as they could after the Shoah, my grandparents, Yitzhak (Armin) and Magda Rosenthal, resettled in Munich for a brief period. What they faced in addition to the loss of loved ones, was the total destruction of Jewish life.

My grandparents were among the founders of the rebuilding of the Munich Jewish community. Immediately upon his return, my grandfather established a Jewish day school and he and my grandmother became active in restoring institutions necessary to serve the Jewish community, particularly the synagogue.

This past Shabbat we had the privilege of attending services at the Jewish community center led by YU alumnus, Rabbi Steven Langnas, ’78Y,B, R. It was a zechut (honor) to read maftir in the same spot where my grandfather served as gabai (sexton) for many years. Before and after the services I had discussion with congregants who knew my grandparents. I also had the opportunity to speak with Frau Charlotte Knobloch, head of the Munich Jewish community, who knew my grandparents well. She told me, “We miss the commitment of individuals like Yitzhak Amin Rosenthal.”

What was most meaningful for me, was the knowledge that with great courage and integrity, my grandparents dedicated their lives to the enhancement of the Jewish community. It made me feel very proud to be a part of this legacy and made me realize the responsibility each one of us has to klal Yisrael (the Jewish nation).

Today, we face the challenge of sustaining Jewish communities around the world, particularly in Germany, which has the fastest growing Jewish community in Europe. Rabbi Langnas faces many of the same challenges my grandfather faced nearly six decades ago. He confronts the difficulties of internal pressures while he strives to establish the infrastructure needed to build a day school system, synagogue, and program for youth, families and the elderly.

The dedication and skills required of Rabbi Langnas, as well as of us as future leaders, are the same tools used by my grandfather to help restore a lost Jewish world. This unselfish devotion to advance Jewish life and learning is the key to our survival today and for the future.

Avi Fried YC ’04

Jan 13, 2004 — I was amazed at the beauty of the restored city of Munich as we began our walking tour upon arrival in Germany. It was freezing cold and I hadn’t slept in days but there was so much to see. Everyone in our group had different reactions to modern day Germany. Should we admire the glamorous shops, boutiques, and historic Gothic architecture? Or should we take a more cynical approach to the culture that was typical of pre-war Germany?

For many of us, one of the highlights, was the visit to the home of Rabbi Steven Langnas, chief rabbi of Munich. When I entered, I immediately felt as if I were in a home in the Breuer community in Washington Heights. Finally I was in the Germany I wanted to see! Rabbi Langnas’ apartment is a living example of what Jewish life was once like in Germany. The chandeliers were typical of lamps used in German Jewish homes; there was a large collection of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch’s books and numerous books on German Jewish customs.

Rabbi Langnas graciously served an elegant dinner for our group of 15 and was genuinely delighted by our company. He was very open and candid in answering our questions about what motivates him to live in Munich with his family so far from home and his vision for the future of Jewish life in Munich. He felt strongly that it is critical to provide Jewish education and services to the Jews who chose to live in Germany whether or not we agree with their choice.

Friday morning we were invited to the meet with representatives of the Ministry of Education. Frau Berggreen, head of international affairs for the Ministry, amazed us when, in a broken voice and with tears in her eyes, told us that she was ashamed of Germany’s history in the last century. She passionately explained to us the mentality of people of her generation and of the heavy burden that their history has placed on their shoulders.

When asked about the possibility of a negative backlash against such a large emphasis being placed on the Holocaust, the Ministry told us that the generation after World War II, whether they like it or not, carries the burden of its past and does not have the luxury of ignoring that responsibility.

Another eye-opener was that there isn’t any separation of church and state in Germany. Every student is required to receive instruction in religion or ethics for the nonbelievers. Students must register for a specific religious track. For a Jewish child in Bavaria, this entails afternoon classes in Judaism. This applies to those students attending state schools as opposed to those studying in yeshivot.
My experiences on this trip have made me realize how much I take for granted as a Jew living in North America. The dedication of Rabbi Langnas and his community provided us with an inspiring model for a young rabbinical student.

Yitzhak Szyf SSSB ’04

Jan 15, 2004 — Following davening and a German-style breakfast of salami and eggs, we headed to the Frankfurt cemetery early Monday morning. We went to the section of the Austritts Gemeinde, Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch´s community. We visited the graves of both Rav Hirsch and Rav Breuer, the grandfather and father of Rav Joseph Breuer, the founder of the German community in Washington Heights. It was very meaningful to say a chapter of Tehillim near the tombs of men who were so pivotal in building Modern Orthodox Judaism. There was an additional measure of meaningfulness for me, since I pray regularly at the Breuer´s shul in Washington Heights, and many of the family names were familiar to me. When I return to Breuer´s, I look forward to telling members that I said Tehillim at their ancestors´ tombs.

We then set off for Worms, a major center of Jewish life in medieval times. We toured Judengaße and the local shul, constructed in 1034, reputed to be one of the oldest remaining synagogues in Europe. Despite repeated destruction, it has been restored to its original form. I was disappointed to learn that in later centuries, it was converted to a liberal shul with an organ added and the mechitza removed.

After a short visit to the Rashi Haus, named after the revered medieval scholar, Rashi, despite his never having lived there or learned there, we went to the Worms cemetery containing Jewish graves dating back as far as 1174. I was very moved to see the tombs of the Maharam Me’Rotenburg, the Maharil, the Havot Yair and several other important commentators on the gemara. The Maharil was particularly important to me as he discusses the basis for many Ashkenazic minhagim which is of great interest to me. After a long day in the rain, we flew to Berlin and had dinner at the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation.

Tuesday morning was very intriguing. As the awkward feeling of being in the land where my grandparents lost all their relatives was dissipating, we visited the Bundestag, Germany´s Parliament. The main goal of Bridge of Understanding, the organization that brought us to Germany, was to show us how modern Germany has changed, and their democratic system was supposed to demonstrate this.
We met with four politicians from the spectrum of German political parties, who primarily discussed issues concerning foreign policy related to Israel, domestic policy regarding the Jewish community, and anti-Semitism. Politicians from the Liberal party and the Social Democrats presented views that led me to believe that I could never have faith in German policy, while the Christian Democrat and Green party representatives gave me a bit more hope.

After touring the Reichstag building, we ended the day with a wonderful dinner with Karsten D. Voigt, the German coordinator of trans-Atlantic foreign policy. Contrary to the politicians we had met earlier, he answered questions fully, raised controversial points and analysed American foreign policy. His presence was the highlight of the day for many. His friendly, knowledgeable, controversial attitude is exactly what I, and many of my fellow students, feel a politician should be.

On Wednesay morning we had a bus tour of Berlin. We saw the grave of Moses Mendelsohn, founder of Reform Judaism, the Brandenburg Gate, location of the Berlin wall and Checkpoint Charlie.

At dinner we met Rabbi Ehrenberg, chief rabbi of Berlin and Germany. The rabbi’s appearance seemed typical of rabbis of his age and stature, but he was very different from the stereotype. He was among the warmest men I ever met, reminding me of one of the rabbis from my yeshiva in Israel. He spoke gently in Hebrew and commended us on our endeavors in becoming rabbis. He spoke of the current Jewish situation in Berlin and his efforts to improve it. He regularly conducts Carlebach minyanim at his shul to attract a younger crowd, speaks on television twice a week, and hopes to teach Torah on the Internet. He is currently trying to learn Russian as he views Russian Jews as the future of the German Jewish community. Rabbi Ehrenberg is truly a wonderful person, a wonderful rabbi and someone that we, as semicha students, should strive to emulate.

Elie Farkas

Jan 20, 2004 — “I saw that show in America, but they could never air it here in Germany because of our history with the Jews and the Holocaust. Its anti-Semitic references are reprehensible”. This comment by a random young German riding the Berlin subway reflects the tension in modern day Germany of a nation struggling to bear the burden of the Holocaust while not being consumed by it.

We and nine other rabbinical students from the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, an affiliate of Yeshiva University, set out on a ten-day mission to Germany, with some apprehension. The purpose of our trip was to visit several German Jewish communities, and to evaluate the relationship between American Jewry and contemporary Germany, home to the fastest growing Jewish community in the Europe.

The study and commemoration of the Shoah is at the core of contemporary Germany’s consciousness. Germany faces the daunting task of carrying the shame of its past, while at the same time progressing toward the future. Holocaust education is a required component of the education curriculum of all schools. By learning the lessons of their ancestors’ mistakes, Germans hope to foster a generation sensitive to the horrors that can arise from intolerance and fanaticism.

Not only does the memory of the Holocaust affect how Germans educate their youth, it also shapes how Germans view their relationship with, and responsibility toward, the Jewish people and the State of Israel. German immigration policy grants special favor to Jewish people in the form of economic incentives and relaxation of absorption laws. In the last ten years, over 100,000 Jews from the former Soviet Union have immigrated to Germany. In addition, the amount of money given to the Jewish communities far exceeds their numbers. This commitment to rebuilding Jewish communal life is a reflection of deeper feelings toward the Jewish people.

During meetings with representatives of four major parties at the Bundestag (German parliament), our group heard repeated affirmations of Germany’s unwavering dedication to the State of Israel. Even those who expressed disagreement with certain policies of the Sharon government, emphasized that these differences in no way bias Germany’s broader relationship with Israel, who, second to the United States, is Germany’s largest trade partner. Israel, in turn, considers Germany to be its closest friend in a hostile European environment.

As Germany grapples with its past, and tries to lay the foundation for a viable, healthy relationship with the Jewish people, we as Jews should reassess how we will interact with Germany. The new reality of a repentant Germany which serves as a vital partner of Israel, and where a sizable Jewish population has chosen to live, demands that we at least consider engaging it, even if only for pragmatic reasons.

Explaining the Holocaust is impossible. So too is an attempt to offer a definitive answer to how far Germany must go before we allow them to fully turn the page. Favors and reparations alone will never remove the pain, nor right the wrong of the Holocaust. Additionally, while there may be valid and compelling arguments that American Jewry acknowledge the new reality of postwar Germany, the ever present deep wounds of the Holocaust that continue to haunt the Jewish people is not quantifiable, and cannot be ignored.

After having met select representatives of German society, we returned to YU questioning many of our preconceived assumptions and stereotypes. However, reconciliation with Germany’s infamous past will always be tinged with the specter of haunting memories and unanswered questions.

Phil Moskowitz, YC ’04, RIETS ‘07 and Yoni Chambre, YC, 04, RIETS ‘07

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Jan 10, 2004 — Researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine have identified a cellular protein that promotes atherosclerosis, the process that causes heart disease by narrowing coronary arteries. Therapies that inactivate this protein could offer an entirely new approach for combating heart disease, the leading cause of death among Americans.

The study was led by Drs. Philippe G. Frank and Michael P. Lisanti in the Department of Molecular Pharmacology at Einstein and appears in the January 2004 issue of Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, a publication of the American Heart Association. In an accompanying editorial, Dr. William Sessa of the Yale University School of Medicine called the study’s findings “remarkable” and “provocative.”

The research involved caveolae (Latin for “small caves”), tiny infoldings that pock the surface of cells. Caveolae are especially plentiful in endothelial cells–the cells that line blood vessels–which each contain between 5,000 and 10,000 of them. The caveolae play important roles in several biological processes including endocytosis (bringing external molecules into the cell), sending signals from the cell surface to the nucleus, and regulating cholesterol levels within cells. The Einstein researchers focused on caveolin-1, the protein that is the main building block of caveolae.

Mice that spontaneously develop atherosclerosis were bred with mice in which the gene that codes for caveolin-1 had been “knocked out.” This interbreeding yielded two types of atherosclerosis-susceptible mice: some that could still produce the caveolin-1 protein within their cells and some that could not.

The two groups of mice were then fed a high-fat, high-cholesterol “Western” diet. (For comparison, some members of both groups also received a control diet.) After five months, blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides (blood fats) were measured in the mice, and their aortic arteries were assessed for plaque deposits indicating atherosclerosis.

Based on blood lipids alone, things didn’t look good for the mice lacking caveolin-1: compared with their brethren with the protein, the caveolin-1-deficient mice had significantly increased levels of cholesterol and triglycerides. But despite their unfavorable lipid status, these caveolin-1-deficient mice had much healthier arteries than their counterparts. In fact, the mice lacking caveolin-1 had a startling 70 to 80 percent reduction in atherosclerotic plaque compared with mice possessing caveolin-1.

How does the absence of caveolin-1 protect vessels from developing atherosclerosis? Probably by preventing endothelial cells from swallowing up the cholesterol from the bloodstream that ultimately clogs arteries.

“Caveolin-1 appears necessary for the normal functioning of CD36, a cell-surface receptor that pulls “bad” LDL cholesterol into endothelial cells,” says Dr. Frank. “With caveolin-1 absent, we found that the presence of CD36 on cell surfaces was reduced by 85 to 90 percent.”

Findings from this study could lead to a new and potent class of drugs for treating or even preventing atherosclerosis. “Such drugs would be targeted to the coronary arteries, where they would prevent plaque buildup by inhibiting the formation of caveolin-1,” says Dr. Lisanti.

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Jan 8, 2004 — Forty years ago this month the Surgeon General issued a report on the serious health risks associated with smoking cigarettes. Soon after, cigarette packaging was required to note these risks to inform smokers at the point of purchase – with hopes the warning would discourage them.

Frank Eisele remembers when the reports first came out. “I was a freshman in college. I had been smoking since I was thirteen and the risks seemed so far removed from us, it had no effect.”

He notes that, for a time, he and his smoking friends switched to cigars – because they were in vogue. “Eventually, we went back to cigarettes,” he says.

A year ago, Eisele made the decision to quit. He began attending a smoking cessation group conducted by the Community Outreach Program at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. At the time, the Surgeon General’s warning had taken on new meaning. The health risks associated with smoking were no longer so far removed.

“I began to lose sensation in my legs. And when I talked to my doctor he basically said, if you keep smoking, pretty soon you won’t be walking.”

At the same time, Eisele learned that one of his sons would soon become a father. “I wanted to be around to see my grandchild grow up and I wanted to be able to walk and play beside him.”

His grandson was born six months ago, a good six months after Eisele had stopped smoking.

“I celebrated my one-year anniversary in November,” he notes proudly, adding “and it feels great. I’ve still got some problems with my legs, but it’s improving. Forty-five years of smoking has taken its toll. At least now I’m not adding to the toll.”

“Our smoking cessation groups offer smokers a warm, supportive atmosphere, where they share their challenges, triumphs and strategies in their journeys to quit smoking,” says Dr. Alyson Moadel, director of Einstein’s Psychosocial Oncology Program. “We recognize that smoking is a very difficult habit to quit and try to provide group members with all the necessary tools for achieving a smoke-free life.”

The six-week, low-cost program is based on relevant research in the field, addressing the cognitive, behavioral and psychological aspects of quitting smoking. Each session features guest speakers, including a physician who discusses drug therapy, a psychologist, a cancer survivor, and an individual who has succeeded in quitting. Group members also learn self-hypnosis, relaxation training, and breathing exercises along with helpful tips for breaking the habit and conquering urges and temptations.

“I found the smoking cessation group to be tremendously helpful and informative,” says Mr. Eisele, who now returns to talk to new group members. “The
nicorette gum is especially helpful, but bottom line, you have to be ready and want to quit.” He removes his wallet from a pocket and opens it to display a photograph of his grandson. “This little guy is my bottom line and already I’m reaping so many benefits.”

For information on upcoming smoking cessation group sessions, or to register, please call the Community Outreach Program at Albert Einstein College of Medicine at 718-430-2200.

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