Ari Gould, 6, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia three years ago. In addition to the physical pain he has endured, the disease and the stressful medical procedures that followed have also left him socially isolated.
Gilad Shalit has recovered from the physical ordeal of his Gaza captivity, his grandfather said.
" . . . If we left it to the 'will of the people,' would we ever have ended segregation in this country? . . "
Parshat Vayera (Genesis 18:1-22:24) May we, like Abraham the Patriarch, be comforted by the appearance of what Abraham Lincoln called, "the better angels of our nature" as they come to transform our country into the caring community for which we pray every day.
Now that the election is over and campaign exaggerations can give way to reality, in schools, and everywhere else, people are making efforts to put things back into perspective. While a lot of healing may still be needed before that sort of unity can move beyond a Saturday night at the beach, one uniting factor all agree on is that this election brought a new level of political awareness and passion across party lines and across ages.
So here we are seven years later, about to enter the Jewish year 5769. The deaths of Sept. 11 have been compounded by more deaths in Iraq and throughout the Middle East. In many ways our world is more violent and certainly more fearful than it had been. Evidence of evil abounds.
For almost 12 years, Lucy traveled each day to University Synagogue in Brentwood with her owner, Rabbi Allen I. Freehling, then the synagogue's senior rabbi. The golden retriever mix soon became one of the most popular members of the Reform congregation.
He wasn't the only one who helped Eva fight through the pain. For years, Eva has had an extended family down the street at Maimonides Academy. The head of the school, Rabbi Boruch Kupfer, often came to visit. One day, knowing what Eva was going through, he asked her what they could bring. Eva wasn't shy: Food, she said, and lots of soup.
Mia Goldman says it took her six years to work through her depression and to heal, which she did with the help of her psychoanalyst, her family and her growing spiritual connection to Judaism. She drew on her experience to write and direct her debut feature, "Open Window," which premieres on Showtime July 16 at 8 p.m.
In shuls across the world this Shabbat we will hear five short, simple Hebrew words: El na, refah na lah (Please God, heal her now).
And yet despite these avocations, the 40-something Kenneth Klee said he felt there was something missing in his life. He's now studying for his smicha, or ordination, as a rabbi, which he intends to compliment his sideline as a spiritual counselor.
Holidays bring up feelings and memories about people who have died. They also offer opportunities to address unresolved issues. The four Yizkor services and the themes of their days correspond to different tasks of mourning.
One out of eight women develop the disease over a lifetime, and the older a woman is, the higher her risk.To make matters worse, Jewish women have a slightly higher incidence of the disease.But no matter how low a risk factor you may have -- no family members with breast cancer, you had your children before the age of 35 and eat healthily -- the disease will strike some of the best of us.
Depression is a word that has been cheapened. We forget that it is a diagnosis for a bona fide disease. It becomes a catch phrase for the weighty feelings we experience as we come to terms with life's challenges and honor the process of change.
The wisdom to help others is not privileged information. It is taught to all of us through our life experiences.
Who will provide spiritual care for the needy?
"Evil" -- which won the nonfiction prize at the 2006 Los Angeles Film Festival in July -- presents for perhaps the first time a convicted pedophile speaking graphically about his actions on camera. O'Grady's words provide "the backbone of a deeply disturbing documentary about the Roman Catholic clergy abuse crisis," the Associated Press said.
The Power Plate features a vibrating platform that oscillates 30 to 50 times per second. Each time, it stimulates the nervous system and creates a reflex in the body that causes the muscles to contract. The Power Plate Web site lists dozens of college and professional sports teams as using vibration training in their regimens.
"I wanted the movie to be a catharsis," says Andrea Berloff, the screenwriter of "World Trade Center," the Oliver Stone-directed docudrama that opens Aug. 9. "I've felt that way from the beginning." The film is a surprising coup for the young writer, a soft-spoken graduate of Cornell's Drama School, who has never before had a script produced.
If having her script produced is a coup for Berloff, the completed film is likely to be greeted with hailstorms of discourse, not least because it seems the current spate of 9/11 movies is a reminder that films have become a primary way for Americans to digest difficult and painful events.
"I realized that if you have the ability to help other people, you're in a pretty good place," says Debbie Tenzer. "It's not always easy, because basically, we're selfish creatures, many of us struggling every day. We have to make a choice, and it starts by doing just one nice thing."
One day last year Rabbi Levi Meier, the Jewish chaplain at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, was summoned to the room of an elderly Russian man in the ICU who had cancer.
He was in poor spirits, so Meier decided to bring in the Torah from the chaplaincy ark. The patient's eyes lit up at the sight of the Torah that Meier, and volunteer Sandy Gordon, brought into a room.
I expected to be dealing with an empty nest when my daughter started college. I projected my availability to friends who had yielded my attention during my childrearing years. I dragged writing projects onto my computer's desktop to await the plane ride from NYU to the rest of my life. Instead, the levees broke in my hometown. I spent the next three months as a relief worker with the Red Cross and the New Orleans Jewish agencies in service to those displaced and/or traumatized by Katrina.
No one deserves a spa experience more than you do. Just picture it -- warm tubs scented with essential oils, invigorating body scrubs, refreshing botanical blend face masks smoothed on in soothing circular massaging motions and misty showers with luscious gels.
Welcome to The Ten Minute Method, a new form of condensed counseling offered by a Chatsworth therapist that promises to be both fast and affordable at $18 a session.
Saul Kroll is a firm believer in yetzer hatov, and the 87-year-old Westside resident translates it into practice six days a week as an emergency room volunteer at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
That volunteer work is vast. She served as the sisterhood president of Temple Israel of Hollywood and currently co-chairs its AIDS lunch project, which distributes food once a month. Gilman is also social action chair for the Western Federation of Temple Sisterhoods, which presents the women's positions on legislative policy.
The Cohens understand desperation. Eight years ago, Nouriel's beauty supply business went under, and the family had to give up their Beverly Hills home. He hasn't had steady employment since then and has had to rely on his parents and family to get by.
To its detractors, Los Angeles seems very much like a modern-day Sodom or Gomorrah -- besotting civilization with a trash culture of celebrity murder trials, reality TV and movies that trade on violence and superficiality.
In 1994, a year after his brush with mortality, Firestein founded a nonprofit that would eventually become the Kids Cancer Connection. A descendant of cosmetics magnate Max Factor -- whose family has donated millions to local charities -- he invested $10,000 to get the project going.
The pain and anguish of infertility has been passed down from matriarchs Sarah, Rebecca and Rachel to women today. But while our traditions have given us words to say and ways to act during other lifecycle events -- death, birth, marriage -- there is little guidance for how to help a friend or loved one deal with the loss of a pregnancy or the pain and despair of infertility.
There is something raw about the rough brush strokes in the work of native Israeli artist Rhea Carmi, and about her textured materials, such as sand and stone. But then, there also was a rawness to the tragedy that originally informed and inspired her work.
I understand tikkun olam, the repairing and healing of our world, as the central calling of our people. All of the prayer, teaching, outreach, pastoral work and congregational activities that I help facilitate lead me back to the notion that they are somehow helping to add the necessary energy into our global cosmos, which can facilitate the advent of a new and better time for all people. And I know that each of us is working, in our own way, to help better the world.
My only decent pair of glasses broke en route from Los Angeles to Israel, and I took it as a sign -- it was time to for corrective laser surgery, a.k.a. LASIK.
"Make sure on the day of surgery someone comes with you," the Israeli receptionist said to me after I set my appointment.
Great. Who would I call on to come with me? If I lived in Los Angeles, someone in my family would have shepherded me. But I wasn't comfortable asking my family in Israel to escort me.
First, there was the red string kabbalah bracelet popularized by Madonna; then, the yellow "LIVESTRONG" wristband supporting the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Now, there are blessing rings, which may just become the next national craze in message-imbued jewelry. (If they do, you heard it here first, folks.)
When you go to the synagogue, you just might be sitting next to someone who sexually abused his daughter. You might be shaking his hand, admiring his charming demeanor, thinking how lucky his family is to have him.
It's Davidson, as in Ronald Davidson, my stepfather. He died yesterday at 62 and that's why I'm at a funeral home out on Charleston Boulevard in Las Vegas. My mom is here, too, and though there are copious boxes of proper tissue in the place, she is clinging to the roll of toilet paper she's had by her side since returning from the hospital with nothing but a bag of Ron's stuff: slippers, a stack of Louis L'Amour paperbacks, his watch.
When Lori Marx-Rubiner underwent a bilateral mastectomy two years ago, she lost the use of her arms for a few weeks. She couldn't brush her teeth, let alone tackle cooking dinner or driving her son to school.
When John Ostlund was 33, a judge offered him a choice: Quit heroin or lose your 3-year-old daughter.
"It was very helpful to have a rabbi help us grieve and to understand what we were going through, because she has that feeling toward pets," said Vicky Goodman, who with her husband Chip raised Maggie with their two daughters.
Robert Sturman said he never felt the need to observe Jewish rituals.
Chayim Frenkel, cantor at Kehillat Israel in Pacific Palisades, conceived "Nishmat Tzedek" ("A Righteous Soul") in 1993 after his brother Tzvi, 39, died suddenly, the victim of an undetected blood disease.
Research examining the attitudes of 3,500 entering medical students from across the nation concluded that most were indeed empathetic and humanistic when they began their studies. Clearly, some time during medical school and the end of the residency experience, many caring young doctors change. Why do some students maintain a humanistic orientation while others lose it?
If you were told that you had only a matter of days to live what would you do? Write out a will? Eat your favorite meal? Try to repair troubled relationships? In our Torah portion this Shabbat, Jacob knows he is dying. Faced with this knowledge, there is only one thing he wants to do: bless those he loves.
This is a book for those who are or who some day may be ill, which is another way of saying for everyone. It contains wisdom culled out of ancient, medieval, modern and contemporary Jewish literature that is intended for the patient, the caregiver and the physician.
In a backlash over synthetic drugs, the therapeutic use of botanical oils is enjoying a renaissance along with public acceptance of alternative medicine.
The ancient rabbis practiced a relatively simple form of medicine: cabbage for sustenance, beets for healing.
I wear a piece of red string around my right wrist, a talisman for healing.
And now comes Yom Kippur. We watch in horror and pain as people search desperately for their loved ones. We mourn as body after body is removed from the rubble. Our hope for recovering survivors diminishes by the hour. Our eyes are full of tears, our hearts are full of pain, and our minds reel in disbelief. Did this really happen? We feel helpless. We can't undo what has been done. We feel rage. We long to wreak vengeance upon this loathsome enemy who has no borders, and no heart.
There's nothing like completing chemotherapy to spice up a birthday party. Last weekend, 40 of my dearest friends performed a commemorative Havdalah ceremony to mark a really great CT scan and year 53. My "re-birthday" celebration was just the ticket, restorative not only for me but also for the extended community that has seen me through my struggle with lung cancer.
Tisha B'Av, the fast day commemorating the destructions of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem 2,500 and 2,000 years ago, respectively, doesn't rank up there with most celebrated Jewish holidays.
My fireplace mantle is stuffed &'9;with get-well cards. They come from people I know and many I've never met. One of them might have come from you. In the two months since I started writing about my lung cancer, the cards have been flowing in, plus an equal number or more of e-mails. They touch me deeply.
When Evan Ross hosted his first Seder five years ago, his headaches had already started. He was growing concerned about other things he couldn't explain: bottles fell out of his hand and sometimes he couldn't hold down the clutch of his car with his foot. "I thought I was just being a klutz," he said.
Debbie Tenzer was having lunch with several girlfriends when the conversation got heated. "We all had such different views on where the country was headed.
I despise 'Schindler's List' because it ends on a redemptive note, and I don't see the slightest bit of redemption in the Shoah...There's all this nonsense out there about healing, but I don't want to heal anything. I want to rip open the stitches. I want readers to bleed."
Don't get author Melvin Jules Bukiet started about the cliché of the sad-eyed Holocaust survivor.