Moral Myopia and Journalistic Integrity

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15 Responses

  1. Big Maybe says:

    I don’t have hard numbers, but it seems to me that anti-semitic articles on the Internet and elsewhere are on the rise. A steep rise. Has anyone else noticed this, or is it my overactive imagination?

    Take a look at the front page of Reddit or Digg, for example. It’s very discouraging. I feel as though Jews are sinking fast (again) in world opinion, especially among “enlightened” and educated people and this has me very concerned.

  2. Charlie Hall says:

    Dr. Burk is a world-renowned genetics researcher. He is also an Orthodox Jew and the gabbai for the 2pm minchah minyan at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine that meets for prayer Monday through Thursday. (Please join us if you are ever in the vicinity!) He is also a total mentch.

  3. Robert Lebovits says:

    When a news outlet chooses to address a subject primarily for the sake of sensationalism or ax-grinding, it is incumbent upon us all to spotlight the biases & inaccuracies. Jewish Week regularly slants their presentation of “facts” to disparage the Ortho/Chareidi community. Clearly no reasonable reporting was done regarding Dor Yeshorim, which is unfortunate on multiple levels.

    However, has there been – and might there still be – some measure of discomfort about the mission & current standing of Dor Yeshorim? I believe the answer is yes. At its inception there were Gedolai Yisroel who were not in favor of universal genetic testing, even for the lofty purposes of Dor Yeshorim. And in its current status it is absolutely correct to state that NO shidduch in the frum world would be pursued if an individual refused to submit to a Dor Yeshorim blood test. What started out as a voluntary practice is now mandatory. This alone should give some pause as to the direction we are going.

    Yakov Menken writes “They need very limited counseling even in that case,because Dor Yeshorim’s silence as to why they are incompatible is all the evidence they need that their own health is not at risk”. Do you have data to support this assertion? Firstly, it is common practice to request a match assessment from Dor Yeshorim only after a relationship has already begun to develop between the young man & the young woman. If the results are positive & they are told that it would be inadvisable to pursue the shidduch, some significant psychological distress will ensue, especially if their hopes were raised and/or their past shidduch prospects were poor. Secondly, while they are not given to worry about being the carrier of a specific genetic disease they DO know that they are carriers of something. For your average yeshiva bochur or seminary girl lacking in scientific understanding of genetics & statistics, some stigma may very well be felt whether or not their own health is at risk. They are now burdened with information that isn’t easily dismissed when moving on to other shidduchim. Since Dor Yeshorim is not a genetic counseling service, do they know what happens in the cases where a positive match result is reported? To my knowledge they do not become involved beyond the reporting step.

    The goal of eradicating the manifestation of Jewish genetic diseases such as Tay-Sachs is enormously compelling – so much so that we can fool ourselves into thinking that we can gain control over our lives in ways which we truly cannot. No course of action is without unforseen consequences. In working pointedly to alter the gentic landscape for the betterment of the community what have we lossed in the process? Are we as compassionate as we ought to be to individuals with birth defects or do we look at those people as “mistakes”? Dor Yeshorim, intentionally or not, has changed the course of Jewish continuity. Is that of concern to anyone else?

    Robert Lebovits

  4. Yossie Abramson says:

    People have the right to know their carrier status. If you are adult enough to get married, you are adult enough to know your status.
    Furthermore, getting tested through your own private doctor is much cheaper, most insurances cover it. In addition, while you claim this is an attack on Torah Judaism, IIRC, R’ Tendler is against DY and he advocates mass testing at a younger age and let everyone know their status. Everyone is a carrier of something. But something smells fishy with DY and you don’t need to be an anti-Semite to wonder if something is wrong with the way it is set up.

  5. Yitz Turner says:

    There are 2 issues here. The reporting done by Rosenblatt and the best way to prevent medical horrors. I would like to comment on the 2nd Issue. When I was in 2nd year med school the genetics professor offered for free the Ashkenazi screening and the results where given to us with no counseling. I was given the test results and used it with out DY. (don’t forget it was FREE)

    Not everyone has the sophistication to deal with basic genetics, not everyone is as smart or educated as R. Tendler and we need a program that does the most good for the most amount of people. The argument if you’re old enough to get married your old enough to know if your carrier does not work because you do not need to know genetics to be a good spouse and parent. If my children do not go to med school or become proficient in genetics I would not let them do what I did.

    My only problem with the system is calling in the Numbers the night before engagement. But that is not a problem with DY, this is a social problem that should be dealt with by Rabonim.

  6. Yehoshua Friedman says:

    Yitz Turner wrote:

    My only problem with the system is calling in the Numbers the night before engagement. But that is not a problem with DY, this is a social problem that should be dealt with by Rabonim.

    DY in Israel (I can’t tell you about America) has recently made inroads into the yeshivish end of the national religious population. At the Hesder Yeshiva where I serve in the kollel we have previously received information and a speaker from the Israeli branch of DY. Also my two most recent daughters to get married (and their husbands) have been tested by DY. It is not necessary to get tested immediately before making a decision on an engagement. It is preferable to get tested before starting to go out on shidduchim. Then much of the hassle of developing a relationship and then calling it off is avoided. Don’t anybody freak, but in my youngest daughters’ ulpana (girls’ parallel to DL yeshiva HS) where some girls including some of mine get married before the end of school, they came around to encourage testing of HS girls. I imagine that the “modern” public will continue to keep DY optional rather than mandatory for shidduchim, but it should also be noted that the cost of DY testing in Israel is partially offset by rebates by the Kupot Holim.
    There is still the alternative of individual testing plus counseling which is cheaper. People have a choice, but so far I vote for DY.

  7. Yehoshua Friedman says:

    My wife just told me that the son of a cousin of hers was at Yeshiva University when a representative of DY presented their program and offered the possibility of testing. He opted not to do their testing, which was very costly, because he could get standard testing and counseling from March of Dimes for FREE. If you are educated and not part of a public which is liable to play the “let’s be machmir” game in terms of shidduchim with a person carrying all sorts of genes, then do it. This is a social question.

    The first commenter, I believe, unjustly lumps Gary Rosenblatt’s article together with anti-semitic articles. I think the problem is that Rosenblatt is coming from a MO perspective. I remember his father a”h, who was was the orthodox rabbi in Annapolis when I was a student at St. Johns in the late ’60s. I remember Gary as having been the baal shachris on Rosh Hashana when I was there. Let’s hope the reply from Dr. Burk will help to straighten this out. It is possible that the DY approach is not the solution for everybody even in the frum world.

  8. Dr. E. Rubin says:

    Robert states “while they are not given to worry about being the carrier of a specific genetic disease they DO know that they are carriers of something. For your average yeshiva bochur or seminary girl lacking in scientific understanding of genetics & statistics, some stigma may very well be felt whether or not their own health is at risk.” People, particularly our generation living in the post-genomic era, should get used to the idea that EVERYONE is a carrier of something. This article attributes the assertion of the preponderance of a whopping 7 recessive lethals to an unnamed geneticist, but this scientist will tell you now: all humans are carriers for something, be it by mutations, or the vagaries of polymorphisms and SNPs, but many with the ability to affect health, welfare and longevity. Knowing you are a carrier for something should be as much a stigma as having freckles or red hair, it is just part of the characteristics of your very unique DNA and all the influences it has picked up along the way. This is an interesting and timely topic as the popularity of Dr. David Goldstein’s new book (Jacob’s Legacy) attests- I just got my copy from Amazon delivered today after 2 months of trying. We are only scratching the surface thanks to the new multiplex, high throughput technologies put to use in genetic, genomic and proteomic studies. So get used to the idea that you are most likely a carrier for something just like everyone else around you.

  9. tzippi says:

    Re Robert Lebovits: If a prospective shidduch did not go through Dor Yesharim, I would want to be sure that s/he did have some testing, the same Dor Yesharim does. If the prospect sounded really, really suitable for my child I might consider doing independent testing, especially since apparantly it would be cheaper through insurance than what we’ve laid out for Dor Yesharim, so wouldn’t break the bank.

    And yeah, as has also been mentioned by another poster, I have a real problem with delaying doing Dor Yesharim (or sharing genetic testing results) past the second date. I realize that a bond could already have developed by then, but the emotional havoc should be manageable.

    So, RL, are we in agreement that
    – young men and women interested in marriage should have genetic testing done before dating, either through Dor Yesharim or the lab of their choice
    – and that results should be shared, either the DY way, through the shadchan, or between the two parties very early on in the relationship?

  10. tzippi says:

    Re Yehoshua Friedman: I believe the reference to calling Dor Yesharim on the eve of an engagement was referring specifically to parties where the testing was likely done in 12th grade, but the parents don’t bother calling DY to check out compatibility till the engagement. Yes, believe it or not, parents will play with their kids’ hearts that way. I personally know some people who have, and luckily had happy endings.

  11. Steve Brizel says:

    Like it or not, Gary Rosenblatt’s editorial columns and news reportage almost never have amything positive to say about the committed MO and Charedi worlds. Take a look at a recent cover blurb for a book of sermons by R E Rackman. ZL, where Rosenblatt bemoans an Orthodox community that is overly fundamentalist in nature for his taste. The only segments of Orthodoxy that Rosenblatt provides favorable editorial and news coverage for are LW MO and Chabad.

  12. Robert Lebovits says:

    Dr. E. Rubin writes, “EVERYONE is a carrrier of something”. Absolutely true. But how far ought we go to become aware of our personal DNA makeup and what does one do with such information? There are women who have opted for prophylactic bilateral mastectomies upon learning that they carry the marker for increased risk for breast cancer. Insurance companies are eager for the development of a genetic data bank which they could then access to determine who will be insured – and excluded – for what diseases. The possible misuses of genetic identification are staggering. And I’m not even discussing the pitfalls of direct genetic manipulation, such as might be used to alter fetal development, that would be possible with increased data collection.

    I firmly believe in the “slippery slope” arguement when it comes to innovation of practices that effect us all. Do we know where we are going when we incorporate the requirement for genetic testing in one of the most fundamental aspects of Jewish life, marriage? What happens when we can test for DNA markers for intellectual functioning? Shall we decide who should be in learning based on their markers? I’m sure this sounds silly; but in the general culture it’s already being done in regard to athletics in high schools. Are we so confident that we will not be tempted to follow suit in our own ways?

    Tzippi: I am not convinced in the wisdom of universal testing for shidduchim. I don’t accept the premise that potential health concerns – either of the parties themselves or of their future offspring – should play a dominant role in the shidduch process. Let’s not forget that the marriage of two recessive carriers of a specific genetic condition now makes the manifestation of that condition a possibility, not an inevitability. Of course NO couple should ever have to face the devastation of losing a child due to a genetic illness. But should any and all medical means be pursued to reduce that prospect? Perhaps not, if we have no way of anticipating what the trade-off of genetic manipulation will be.

  13. Toby Katz says:

    I know someone who called DY only when already on the verge of getting engaged,and was devastated when she was told that she and the young man were not genetically compatible. Fortunately she subsequently met and married a wonderful young man and they have a few children already — healthy children, Baruch Hashem. But people should be wise and call in the numbers before even meeting a suggested shidduch, and avoid unnecessary heartbreak.

  14. Bob Miller says:

    Regarding the comment by Toby Katz — January 4, 2009 @ 2:15 am;

    Toby is absolutely right. Unfortunately, a foolish custom has evolved, encouraged by some shadchanim, to have one or more dates before calling DY.

  15. Moshe Schorr says:

    I don’t know how it works in USA. There I hear the debate is whether to contact Dor yesharim after date 1 or 2. In Israel, among chreidi, that is not a problem. Before _any_ date there is extensive background checks carried out. If the results of those checks are not positive, there is no date and no possibility of the “heartache” discussed. It is
    easy to add the two DY numbers to the background check.

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