In his keynote address at the Orthodox Union West Coast Torah Convention last weekend, Judge Daniel Butler told the crowd of 300 the harrowing tale of the difficult but celebrated life of his son, Mikey.
"Mikey's sign-off line was 'Day by glorious day,' said Butler, describing how Mikey spent his truncated life in and out of the hospital, coughing up phlegm in his lungs from cystic fibrosis.
Before he died earlier this year, at age 24, from lung transplant complications, Mikey graduated from Yeshiva University, where he was vice president of the student body. He was also a counselor at Camp HASC (a New York camp for children with special needs), a drummer in a band -- and his story inspired hundreds of Orthodox communities across the United States to pray and do good deeds in his merit.
As if we don't have enough problems, it seems there's an unlimited supply of horrific hereditary diseases just waiting to ensnare Jews and their children. Tay-Sachs cripples infants before their first birthday and eventually kills them, Gaucher disease erodes healthy bones and organs, Niemann-Pick, cystic fibrosis, Crohn's, Canavan and dozens of others. And that's just among Eastern-European Ashkenazi Jews. A host of other hereditary diseases affect Sephardic, Iraqi and Persian Jews. Does somebody up there hate us?