Barry Levin, one of the city's best-known criminal lawyers, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound earlier this month, apparently because he could no longer bear the pain and overwhelming fatigue caused by Gaucher's disease. Not mentioned in the extensive news coverage of his suicide was the link between Gaucher's and Ashkenazic Jews.
According to Dr. Barry Rosenbloom, director of the Comprehensive Gaucher's Treatment Center, adjoining the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, 70 percent of all Gaucher's sufferers worldwide are Ashkenazim.
Gaucher's disease is an inherited metabolic disorder involving a mutation in the gene responsible for the production of an enzyme that breaks down fatty substances.
About 1 in 12 Ashkenazim are carriers of the defective gene, and 1 in 450 develop the disease. This figure compares to 1 in 100,000 among the general population.
For a child to become a "carrier," both parents must have the defective gene.
Symptoms are extreme fatigue, painful joints, and a tendency to bruise, bleed and fracture easily. The good news is that Gaucher's can be detected through a simple blood test and in many cases can be successfully treated through an enzyme replacement technique.
General information about the disease is available on Rosenbloom's Web site: www.gaucherwest.com. For additional information about the center, or to make an appointment, call Stephanie Krasovec at (310) 289-2840. - Tom Tugend
Local Athletes Take Maccabiah
The first day of Israel's Maccabiah Games competition on July 15, Los Angeles' Lenny Krayzelburg led the way in the 100-meter backstroke, and Ralph Finerman of Pacific Palisades finished second for that day in the over-65 singles tennis competition.
Other Southern California competitors included Lindy First of San Diego, who finished second in women's tennis, and Harold Krasner of La Jolla, who finished second in the over-50 men's tennis competition. Among other U.S. competitors, Michael Halperin of Florida and Jeremy Loomis of Maryland tied for first place in the men's singles tennis competition, and Bryan Goldberg of Florida led the pack in both the 200-meter backstroke and the 100-meter freestyle; so did his female counterpart, Rebecca Schwartz of Wisconsin. - Ari Morguelan
Tisha B'Av Video
The Orthodox Union (OU) is commemorating the fast day of Tisha B'Av (July 29) with a new video that draws connections between the present situation in Israel and crises throughout Jewish history. The video, distributed by OU to all member synagogues, features Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb discussing "Tisha B'Av Today: A Torah response to the crisis in Israel," and Rabbi Benjamin Yudin on "Tisha B'Av 5761: Still Limping." The video and fast-day program are part of OU's ongoing efforts to encourage solidarity with, and travel to, Israel. For more information call (212) 613-8226 or visit www.ou.org.- Mike Levy