Monday, November 28, 2016

Where in the World is Yehuda?

Yehuda went through a period when he was about 6 or 7 when he kept on getting lost.

One of the more notable occasions was at a Mordechai ben David concert in Nof Ayalon. At the time, Nof Ayalon was a community on paper only. The concert was in the middle of a huge field, where a large white plastic circular structure had been erected to enclose the performance area. There were a few doors in the structure labeled either "Men" or "Women," but no one paid any attention to the signage, entering and seating themselves with no separation between the sexes.

The concert began in the early evening. The warmup entertainment continued beyond the listed time for the MBD performance and the audience started getting rowdy, throwing food and even chairs onto the stage.

Then, MBD came on stage and announced that he wouldn't begin his performance until the men and women in the audience sat separately. Well, that really heated things up. Some of the children in our group were frightened by the increasingly chaotic atmosphere and started crying, so we decided to leave.

By then, night had fallen. There was adequate lighting within the enclosure, but outside in the parking lot, it was quite dark. We exited towards the minibus that we had rented for the day, and before we alighted the bus, we took a head count and found that Yehuda was missing.

Several of the adults tried looking for him in the semi-dark and Aryeh aka Lennie was the one who found him. When we asked Aryeh how he found Yehuda, he said that he closed his eyes and said a prayer invoking Rabbi Meir Baal Haness, the Jewish equivalent of the patron saint of lost things, and when he opened his eyes, Yehuda was standing there.

Another notable disappearance occurred at the Klezmer Festival in Tzfat. During that festival, from 6:00 to 10:00 pm, there are numerous performances at various venues throughout Tzfat, every hour on the hour, with a few hundred people in attendance at each performance. At 10:00, all attendees convene in one large venue for the final concert of the night, so that the final concert includes an audience of thousands of people.

The night that we were there, we went from venue to venue enjoying the music and the lovely atmosphere. When we arrived at the venue of the final concert, we discovered that once again, Yehuda was missing. We searched the area that contained thousands of seats unsuccessfully. I then decided to return to the venue of the previous concert that we had attended.

When I got there, I saw 2 paths. The one on the right was full of throngs of people proceeding towards the mass concert, and the one on the left was mostly empty. I followed the path on the left and soon encountered a phalanx of police officers advancing towards me along with little Yehuda.

It turned out that when he realized that he had gotten separated from us, he sat down on a doorstep of a house and started crying and someone saw him and called the police.

I was so flustered and so relieved to find him, that I think I scooped him up and took him back to our group without even thinking of thanking the police.

More than the Jews have kept the Sabbath, the Sabbath has kept the Jews

Uncle Joe and Grandpa Ralph co-owned a hardware business for 60 years. Over the years, they participated in many trade shows. A popular venue was Cologne, Germany, home of the fourth largest exhibition center in the world.

During one of the shows in Cologne, Grandpa closed his booth on Friday afternoon, posting a sign saying that the booth would re-open on Sunday morning. When he returned on Sunday, he found this card at his booth.

When I asked Karen to photograph the card for me yesterday, I was able to tell her exactly where to find it, as Grandpa treasured it and had shown it to me a number of times.

The significance of the story occurring in Germany was lost to no one.

Cologne Exhibiton Center

By © Raimond Spekking / CC BY-SA 4.0 (via Wikimedia Commons), CC BY-SA 4.0,

Sunday, November 27, 2016

The case of the falling tombstone

Ten years ago, shortly before Rosh Hashana, when my father was 86 years old, he went to visit his parents' graves. Dad's parents are buried in the Yekke section of a very large cemetery in Clifton, NJ. He went on a drizzly, cold Friday morning and didn't tell anyone that he was going. He was still quite independent at that point and was still driving. Probably due to the inclement weather, dad was the only one in that area of the cemetery.

Somehow or another, dad's father's tombstone tipped over and fell on his leg. Fortunately, dad had a cell phone in his pocket and was able to call 911. Once emergency services arrived at the cemetery, it took them quite a while to locate dad, and once they did, they needed 4 men to lift the 500 lb tombstone off his leg.

Dad's injuries included multiple bone fractures, muscle damage and skin damage. Over the next seven months, he had seven surgeries, including a skin transplant. Eventually he recovered fairly well, despite his age.

One of the members of the medical staff later told my sister Karen that when Dad first arrived at the hospital after the accident and his wounds were assessed, she was sure that Dad would lose his leg.

More than one person has asked me what I thought of the mystical implications of a father's tombstone falling on his son's legs, but I prefer not to speculate about that. I certainly never brought it up with my father.

Later on, I did internet searches for "falling tombstones" and "cemetery accidents." I had never heard of such a thing before, but apparently it happens more often than you might expect, and in cases where children are involved, they are often killed. It's not common enough to induce anyone to start a cemetery safety campaign, but cemeteries are dangerous places, especially with the vertical tombstones used in many places, and more so when the stones are old enough for the materials used to have deteriorated. It makes me appreciate the flat ones that are common here in Israel.

Now we can go off the road, now we can't...

Whenever we traveled from Efrat to the airport, we would take a rather serpentine road down to Emeq Ha'Ela.

One time, as we drove along, alternating between an inside curve followed by an outside curve and then again, I heard Yehuda, then about five years old, muttering to himself, "Now we can go off the road, now we can't, now we can go off the road, now we can't..."

Bed Jumpers

Betthupferl {n} [regional]
bedtime candy [Am.]gastr.
bedtime sweet [Br.]gastr.

When we were very young, our parents followed the old German tradition of giving the children betthupferl, or bed jumpers, before we went to sleep. These were sweet treats meant to ensure sweet dreams. In our home, it was usually cookies with milk.

Eventually, our parents became more nutritionally and dental hygeinically savvy and abandoned the tradition, but it was fun while it lasted.

Hoppe Hoppe Reiter

This popular German children's song is sung with a child on your lap, bouncing them up and down until the child slides down your legs at the end of the song.

We loved it, our kids loved it, and now the grandchildren are being introduced to it, one by one.

Like many nursery rhymes, it has some pretty sinister lyrics:

Hoppe, hoppe, Reiter
Hop, Hop, Rider
Lap Rhyme

(Many people only sing the 3rd verse)

Hoppe, hoppe, Reiter,
Wenn er fällt, dann schreit er.
Fällt er in die Hecken,
Tut er sich erschrecken.
Fällt er in den Sumpf
Macht der Reiter plumps!

Hoppe, hoppe, Reiter,
Wenn er fällt, dann schreit er.
Fällt er auf die Steine,
Tun ihm weh die Beine.
Fällt er in den Sumpf
Macht der Reiter plumps!

Hoppe, hoppe, Reiter
Wenn er fällt, dann schreit er
Fällt er in den Graben
Fressen ihn die Raben
Fällt er in den Sumpf
Macht der Reiter plumps!

English Translation

Hop, hop, rider,
If he falls, he will cry.
If he falls into the hedges,
He will get frightened.
If he falls into the mud,
The rider falls with a splash!

Hop, hop, rider,
If he falls, he will cry.
If he falls on the stone,
His leg will get hurt.
If he falls into the mud,
The rider falls with a splash!

Hop, hop, rider
If he falls he will cry.
If he falls into the ditch,
He will be eaten by the ravens.
If he falls into the mud,
The rider falls with a splash!

And now for an interesting version by two Israeli Yekkes, Dani and Uri Dothan and their mother, Trude Dothan.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

A Home Birth

During the first three years of marriage, I had three pregnancies that did not result in live children. You might call them acts of God.

When I finally gave birth to a full term, healthy baby, a hospital policy of feeding the newborn babies dextrose water led my baby to turn blue, which in turn led to testing to figure out what was wrong with the baby, which in turn led to a doctor suggesting that what was wrong was what one of my preemies had died of, which led to me saying to myself, "Here we go again, I guess Hashem doesn't want me to have live children."

In the end, there was absolutely nothing wrong with the baby and I was caused a lot of needless anguish.

So, the next time I found myself pregnant, I started toying with the idea of giving birth at home. Before I had a chance to look into it, I came across an article in Good Housekeeping magazine that profiled a family physician who specialized in home births who just happened to live not too far from where we were living at the time, Margate, NJ. Dr.Mary Slifer was considered a legend in the world of home births and had a booming practice. What a coincidence, I thought, an article in a national magazine about a doctor who lives 45 minutes away from me!

I decided to use her as my doctor and deliver at home. Many family members thought I was crazy. After all, I had already had so many problems with pregnancies. But Dr. Slifer only accepted low risk pregnancies, and my history did not put me in a high risk category. Plus, we lived a 10 minute drive from Atlantic City Hospital, where I could give birth in the Frank Sinatra Wing if need be (I just had to get that detail in), and our pediatrician was a good friend of ours and agreed to come over as soon as possible after the birth.

I went into labor at about 4 am and called the doctor according to the protocol she had given me. She told me to try to go back to sleep and call her when I couldn't sleep any more. By the time I woke up, I was well into labor and in the end, Dr. Slifer arrived about 10 minutes after I was ready to push. I did have two close friends in attendance, one of whom was attending nursing school, and one of the doctor's conditions of taking anyone on as a patient was that you read up on doing the delivery yourself, but I decided to hold on until the doctor's arrival.

Other than that glitch, which resulted in a very sore bottom from holding in the baby until the doctor arrived, everything went just swimmingly. Both Tamar and I came out of it perfectly healthy and it was a pleasure to give birth in my own bed and not to have to deal with all the annoyances of a hospital. Our friend the pediatrician arrived within an hour of the birth and declared Tamar good to go.

One amusing result of the home birth occurred when I called city hall to request a birth certificate in preparation for our aliyah. I was told that no one had given birth in Margate in about 50 years, as there was no hospital in town, and there had been no home births during that time. The only person who might know where the birth certificate forms were located, they told me, was on vacation and I would have to wait until she returned. Thankfully, I was able to obtain the certificate in time for our aliyah.

Here's an account of another one of Dr. Slifer's home births and it is right on the mark in its description of Dr. Slifer's quirks

Double exposure

This photo is the only double exposure that I ever produced. It was purely accidental.

It superimposes the door of our house in Margate, NJ, where we lived prior to our aliyah (on the left), with the inside of our home in the absorption center in Mevaseret Tzion (on the right).

Surreal, no?

Lou Bravmann's Memories of Kristallnacht and an interview with his daughter, Judy Kaufthal, on the Celebrate Israel Parade

Lou Bravmann, known to us as Uncle Lou, is not really our uncle. His sister, Ilse, was married to Uncle Joe z"l, Grandpa Ralph's brother. But the families were always quite close, so we called each other's parents aunt and uncle. Lou served as "Best Man" at Grandpa Ralph and Grandma Anita's wedding.

Lou and Lotte have two daughters, Judy Kaufthal and Carol Berlin. Carol and I are very close in age and were good friends growing up, but unfortunately, we've lost touch over the years.

Judy's claim to fame is her service on the Celebrate Israel Parade Committee. You can always see her in photos and videos of the parade, marching with the grand marshal and other dignitaries.

Mr. Koren and the Warburgs

Eli Koren was the leader of a Zionist youth group that Uncle Joe (Grandpa Ralph's brother) belonged to in Nuremberg. The Korens and Warburgs kept in touch over the years, and whenever cousin Ronnie (Joe's oldest child) was in Israel, he spent time with them.

Ronnie once told me that Mrs. Koren was the first one in Israel to own an oven, I suppose in the late 50s or early 60s. Up until then, people used wonder pots instead of ovens.*(see below for some interesting information on wonderpots)

From Wikipedia:

Eliyahu Koren (July 23, 1907 — February 17, 2001) was a master typographer and graphic artist. After studying in Nuremberg, he immigrated to Palestine in 1933. He served as head of the graphics department of Keren Kayemet, the Jewish National Fund, from 1936 to 1957. He founded Koren Publishers Jerusalem in 1961, with the aim of publishing the first Hebrew Bible designed, edited, printed, and bound by Jews in nearly 500 years. It produced The Koren Bible in 1962, The Koren Siddur in 1981, and the Koren Sacks Siddur in 2009, in addition to numerous editions of these books and other religious texts in Hebrew, English, and other languages.

Koren Type refers to two Hebrew fonts, Koren Bible Type and Hebrew Book Type created by Israeli typographer and graphic designer Elyahu Koren. Koren created Koren Bible Type for the specific purpose of printing The Koren Bible, published by Koren Publishers Jerusalem in 1962. He created Koren Book Type for The Koren Siddur (Prayerbook), which the publishing house produced in 1981.

Koren Bible Type

Judah L. Magnes, President of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem asked Eliyahu Koren, then Korngold, to create a new font for an entirely new edition of the Hebrew Bible that he sought to publish under the University's auspices during World War II. The Bible was to be the first Bible designed, edited, printed, and bound by Jews in nearly 500 years. A design competition was held, and Korngold's font won.

The preliminary version of the font that grew out of the competition was used in an edition of the Book of Jonah issued in 1946 by the publishing house of The Hebrew University (later Magnes Press). The font was not cast for this modest publication, but rather drawn by Korngold and reproduced photographically. The font was based on the Moshe Ben-Asher Codex of the Prophets manuscript, belonging to the Karaite community in Cairo, the earliest Medieval manuscript with a colophon, written in 895 CE in Tiberias.

Following the Hebrew University's decision to publish a different edition of the Bible in 1953, Korngold resigned from the University Bible Committee and took over the initiative of producing a new, fully Jewish Bible with a new font.

Korngold set out to design the most readable Hebrew font possible. He consulted Dr. Arie Feigenbaum, an ophthalmologist, who shared with him research conducted on the legibility of Latin book types. Korngold made clear distinctions between similar letters such as bet and kaf, gimel and nun, dalet and resh. He believed that each letter should be recognizable even if only its top 1/3 were visible. He also believed that designers should learn from the earliest printers and typographers, who based their fonts on fine handwriting.

The final design was the result of Korngold's study and re-study of Hebrew manuscripts and early printing types, and a sensitive approach to modernization that maintained serifs and shading (the contrast of thick and thin elements of the letter).

The Koren Bible Type was cast in 36-point by Deberny & Peignot, the largest typefounding firm in France, over the course of two years. The type arrived in Israel in 1957, and a proof page was printed at Ahva Press. Korngold (now Koren), disappointed by the result, insisted that the foundry redo the type due to a loss of character in the letters' corners. The foundry agreed, after their microscopic examination proved that the Koren type was off by .03 millimeters.

Koren Book Type
Eliyahu Koren created Koren Book Type for use in the Koren Siddur, published in 1981.

Koren Type has been used in publications of Koren Publishers Jerusalem ever since, as well as in other important texts. The Jewish Braille Institute of America has used Koren Type for books published for the partially sighted.


When we made aliyah in 1983, I made an appointment with Mr. Koren and showed him my calligraphy portfolio. I didn't really know if I would be able to find a job using my calligraphy skills and I hoped that he might point me in the right direction if it was possible.

He told me that he had been dreaming of a project for 40 years and he wanted me to do it for him. Gulp...

The project was a series of small books containing selections from Tehilim, Mishlei and, I think, Pirkei Avot. The books were to be done in Hebrew calligraphy with translations into 3 languages that would be typeset.

In my usual, semi-functional way, I only managed to complete about half of the assigned psukim in Mishlei, and the rest was done by an in-house graphic artist, Tamar Halevi.

I am honored to have known and worked with Eli Koren and am very grateful for the opportunity that he gave me.

I came across a video on youtube a few years ago that shows some of the book:

* Here's wikipedia's take on wonder pots. I used to use one when we first made aliyah.

By Yoninah - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

By Yoninah - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Wonder Pot
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Wonder Pot (Hebrew: סיר פלא‎‎, sír péle, Hebrew pronunciation: [/siʁ ˈpe̞le̞/]) is an Israeli invention for baking on top of a gas stove rather than in an oven. It consists of three parts: an aluminium pot shaped like a Bundt pan except smooth-sided rather than fluted, a hooded cover perforated with venting holes, and a thick, round, slightly domed metal disc with a center hole that is placed between the pot and the flame.

A Wonder Pot can be used to bake cakes, casseroles, rice, potatoes, apples, and even meat and chicken.

The Wonder Pot gained popularity during Israel's era of national austerity in the 1950s, when most citizens did not own an oven. The concept was based on models from Germany and Eastern Europe, and was first manufactured by the Palalum company (the company name was a contraction of the words pele (wonder) and aluminium). Later the Wonder Pot was manufactured by other companies in the Haredi sector, including the Matlum company, which continues to produce the item today.

The Wonder Pot retained its popularity through the 1970s, especially among new immigrants who did not have ovens. During its heyday, the Wonder Pot spawned its own bestselling cookbook. The introduction of the microwave oven and a national desire to dissociate with the austerity mentality put an end to its widespread use. However, the Wonder Pot is still used by Israeli Haredi families for baking kugels, and it is also popular in this sector on the holiday of Passover for those who do not have a kosher-for-Passover oven.

Today the Wonder Pot is considered a nostalgic Israeli kitchen item. It is still sold in traditional housewares stores, via marketing outlets, and in Haredi communities such as Bnei Brak and Jerusalem. In the late 2000s decade, a housewares store calling itself Seer Peh-leh ("Wonder Pot") opened in the Talpiot neighborhood of Jerusalem.

How it works

Metal disc placed between the Wonder Pot and the flame
The Wonder Pot is effective at baking on top of the stove for three reasons: its aluminium material, its hole, and the metal disc separating it from the flame. The aluminium material allows heat to spread uniformly. The center hole of the pot focuses the flame and creates heat dispersion around the inside of the cake. The metal disc lifts the pot off the fire, reducing and focusing the flame. Baking in the Wonder Pot without the metal disc will produce a cake that is dry on the bottom and thick and wobbly in the center. The metal disc is sold in different thicknesses and diameters to accommodate different baking times and larger flames. The lid of the Wonder Pot is perforated with small holes to release steam. Baking time in a Wonder Pot varies from 40 to 50 minutes.

The Wonder Pot produces high and airy cakes. In addition to baking, the Wonder Pot is an effective medium for cooking vegetables, legumes, and rice in layers. It can also be used to cook kugels, casseroles, pasta dishes, meat, and chicken.

The engagement ring

When I was in the fifth grade, a boy in my class proposed to me and gave me an engagement ring with a nice big diamond.

I didn't like him very much and besides, I was upset at him for having made a spectacle of us, doing it on the school bus in front of all our schoolmates.

I assumed that the ring came from a Cracker Jack box, so when I got home, I flushed it down the toilet.

A few days later, the boy's mother, who was also a friend of my mother, called mom and in the course of their conversation, mentioned that her diamond ring had disappeared.

I don't think we ever told her what happened to it.

I just came across this video a few days ago, describing a similar story - I just love the laughing in the background:

Anybody dead here?

On one of our trips to Atlantic City, we ate at Teplitzky's, the only kosher hotel in the area.

Lennie was about 4 or 5 years old at the time.

The dining room was full of senior citizens. I think we were the only young family there.

Suddenly, Lennie stood up on his chair, and yelled at the top of his lungs, "Hey, anybody dead here?"

We were engulfed in laughter, but none of the other diners reacted.

I guess they didn't hear him.

Do you believe in goats?

We went on a tiyul when Rachel, Tamar and Shani were about 7, 4 and 2.

We were driving in the Galil and passed a herd of goats.

Sabby Zeide said, "Look girls, there are goats over there!"

Tamar replied, "But abba, I thought we don't believe in goats!"

Remembering the grandchildren's names can be challenging

It can take me up to a year to be able to fluently retrieve the name of a new grandchild from my memory bank.

Some names are more difficult than others.

When my grandson Kaveh was born, I had to sing The Rabbis' Sons' version of "Kaveh el Hashem..." over and over to myself in order to remember his name.

Once, when baby Kaveh's 4 year old sister was asked by his mother's student what her little brother's name was, she replied "Kaveh el Hashem." The student thought that was rather strange - Kaveh el Hashem Weinstein!

My mother had trouble with the first three names in that family - Hallel, Kaveh, and Yisca (yes, now there are two of them in the family). My sister Karen Reiner suggested that I just tell mom that their names were Hayley, Kevin and Jessica. When I told the mother of the children about this suggestion, she was not thrilled...

Friday, November 25, 2016

Link to Grandma Anita's "Non-Hespedim


An interview with our cousin Peter Greenwald MD PhD

Peter is the director of the Division of Cancer Prevention at the National Cancer Institute (NCI). His father was the brother of Grandma Rose (Greenwald) Buckwald.

My memories of him at family gatherings are of a sweet, caring, humble man, much like another doctor in the family, Murphy Rothman.

Peter Greenwald,MD, PhD

JOP: How can community oncologists get involved in cancer prevention?

There are two broad approaches to prevention. One is a lifestyle approach—live a healthy lifestyle, and you can lower your chances of getting cancer. And the other is a medical approach.

For lifestyle, the best thing oncologists can do is lead by example. Keep trim themselves, get exercise daily, eat primarily a plant-based diet, don't smoke, and advise patients and their family members to do the same thing. Oncologists can also be community leaders, which many are. Obesity is a significant problem now that increases cancer risk as well as the risk of other conditions, and we have to address that as a society. We have to make it easy for people to walk and exercise safely in their communities. Oncologists can work with city planners to create parks and safe places for children to get exercise through outdoor play or riding bicycles, and work with the community to encourage that, instead of sedentary computer games. Oncologists can also work with school systems on diet and exercise.

Medical prevention is an exciting field that is moving fast. The most important thing oncologists can do to keep up is to take part in clinical prevention trials. There's no better continuing education method. NCI sponsors major clinical trial networks such as the Community Clinical Oncology Program [CCOP], which involves more than 400 hospitals and 3,600 physicians working on some 70 active prevention and control trials. Another is the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project [NSABP], one of the NCI-sponsored cooperative groups, which has nearly 100 research sites in its network and was responsible for the recently completed Study of Tamoxifen and Raloxifene [STAR] trial. You can become part of the CCOP network or forge a tie to a cancer center or a university center.

JOP: What medical approaches from completed trials can community oncologists incorporate today?

You can prevent half [the incidence] of breast cancer in women at increased risk right now with the selective estrogen receptor modulators [SERMs] raloxifene and tamoxifen. Oncologists know about and use tamoxifen based on the results of the Breast Cancer Prevention Trial [BCPT], which showed that the drug reduced the risk of breast cancer by about half in those who took it. Some 70% of breast cancer is estrogen-receptor–positive, and in the BCPT, about 70% of those cancers were prevented.

The recently completed STAR trial compared raloxifene head-to-head with tamoxifen in 19,471 postmenopausal women, based on the possibility that raloxifene might give the same benefit as tamoxifen without as many adverse effects. And that's what happened. Raloxifene was just as good as tamoxifen at preventing invasive breast cancer, although it was not as good at preventing noninvasive breast cancer, such as ductal and lobular carcinoma in situ. But the raloxifene patients had only about 60% as much endometrial cancer, fewer pulmonary emboli, fewer cataracts, fewer deep-vein thromboses, and about the same number of strokes and fractures. Women will start asking about these drugs, so oncologists should know about the results of these trials, and they will be able to advise patients about raloxifene as soon as this is reviewed and approved by the FDA [US Food and Drug Administration]. This is also an excellent opportunity for oncologists to collaborate with primary-care physicians in their communities as women initiate discussions about their risk of breast cancer.

Another large trial completed in 2003 hasn't given clear public practice information, but research is in progress to better understand its outcomes. The Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial was also run by a cooperative group, the Southwest Oncology Group. In a double-blind study, a little over 18,000 men (including me) took finasteride or placebo for 7 years. There was a one-quarter reduction in the rate of cancer on biopsy, which was performed if PSA [prostate-specific antigen] rose or a digital rectal exam showed a nodule during the trial and at the end of the intervention, when both those on finasteride and those on placebo had biopsies, regardless of their prostate-specific antigen levels. However, the men who had positive biopsy results tended to have slightly higher-grade or more aggressive-appearing cancer. Now, studies are ongoing to determine whether that is in fact the case or an artifact; so it's still research in progress.

JOP: Although many nutrition and lifestyle trials aren't complete, patients are often anxious to incorporate those types of changes now.

And they should be. There are already some hints. For example, the Women's Intervention Nutrition Study [WINS] completed last year suggested that breast cancer survivors who reduced the amount of fat in their diets were less likely to have a recurrence. Community oncologists should at least know something about nutrition and lifestyle effects and should also find out if there are opportunities in their area to refer to people who can really help their patients accomplish those things.

Even though the Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial [SELECT] isn't complete, previous studies hinted at the potential of selenium and vitamin E to prevent prostate cancer, making the case for testing this idea in a large clinical trial. In this trial, 32,000 men are receiving vitamin E or selenium or both, or placebo. Because the end point is clinical prostate cancer, it will be a few years before we know the results.

JOP: What other avenues look promising for preventing the most common cancers?

In colorectal cancer, screening can be prevention because there's evidence that 70% to 90% of these cancers can be prevented if you find and remove polyps. The problem with the current methods—colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy plus occult blood testing–is that few people want to do it. More than 60% of Americans age 50 and older have not been screened appropriately.

One research approach that is noninvasive and doesn't require the preparation that many people find objectionable is to test DNA in shed cells in the stool for certain mutations that are known to be associated with polyps or colon cancer. The potential tests aren't yet sensitive enough, so research is aimed at improving that.

In prostate cancer, one of the biggest challenges is to differentiate indolent cancers from those that are going to be aggressive and potentially fatal. An important research direction is looking at the molecular signatures and other characteristics of prostate cancer cells that might differentiate them.

We know that most cancer of the cervix is attributable to infection with certain types of human papilloma virus. Vaccines to prevent those infections are being field tested now. [Editor's note: On June 8, 2006, the FDA announced licensing for the sale of a vaccine for the prevention of cervical cancer caused by human papillomavirus.]

In breast cancer, the next study will likely be of an aromatase inhibitor, which, rather than competing with the estrogen receptor like the SERMs, inhibits estrogen production. Studies have shown that women with early breast cancer who took aromatase inhibitors had fewer new cancers in the opposite breast than women treated with tamoxifen. A clinical trial is needed to determine whether we can do even better in preventing hormonally driven breast cancers. But our studies also have to look at the balance of benefits and risks because all of these drugs have some side effects. We have to understand that balance so that women, with their physicians, can make informed decisions. For example, someone with a family history of breast cancer may do one thing, and someone with a family history of heart disease or osteoporosis, something else.

JOP: When these and future studies bear fruit with more effective cancer prevention, will the need for oncologists shrink?

No. Instead, the scope of the field of oncology will change, in much the way cardiology has changed to risk assessment and management (for example, looking for risk markers such as high blood pressure or high LDL [low-density lipoprotein] cholesterol and bringing that risk down). In 5 to 10 years, we think risk assessment and management are going to be a major part of oncology practice. To get there, we have to validate the markers and prove that modifying them changes the risk—a research direction in itself.

With new tests, we may identify people that have a risk without apparent disease, similar to high blood pressure. But we'll also be identifying people who have precancerous lesions, so oncology practice will also need to shift toward treatment of precancer to prevent progression or to cause regression. Those trends may mean that a broader group of physicians will do this, but the oncologists will be looked to as the experts, as cardiologists are today with cardiovascular disease. Today, many oncologists don't yet think of screening or prevention as part of the scope of their field, but they will in the future. And the way to get prepared for that is to take part in the prevention trials and keep up.

Go to:
Peter Greenwald, MD, PhD, is the director of the Division of Cancer Prevention at the National Cancer Institute (NCI). There, he directs basic, clinical, and public health research on cancer prevention, aimed at significantly reducing cancer incidence, morbidity, and mortality. His responsibilities include developing and conducting clinical trials in cancer prevention, focusing on diet and chemoprevention. Greenwald was selected to present the American Cancer Society Lecture and receive the American Cancer Society award at the 2002 ASCO Annual Meeting. Just as one major NCI-sponsored breast cancer prevention trial was completed, the Journal of Oncology Practice spoke with him about how cancer prevention research will change oncology practice.

Grandpa Ralph's Passenger Record on the S.S. Statendam

Grandpa Ralph's Passenger Record on the S.S. Statendam (S.S. = Steamship)

First Name : Rudolf
Last Name : Warburg
Place of Birth : Germany
Date of Arrival : 1938
Age at Arrival : 18
Gender : Male
Ship of Travel : Statendam
Manifest Line Number : 10

Family trips

Grandma and Grandma loved to travel. Sometimes they took us kids and sometimes not.

On Sundays we went to local parks such as Van Saun Park, Sterling Forest Gardens, and Bear Mountain Park.

In the summer we often went to Darlington Park. We would hang out all day with friends and relatives, going swimming or boating.

On longer weekends like Thanksgiving, Columbus Day, President's birthdays, Memorial Day and Labor Day, we went to places like Atlantic City and the Amish country.

Once, when we were in the Amish country on Thanksgiving, we stayed in a motel that had a kitchenette, where Grandma Anita prepared our Thanksgiving dinner. While she cooked, we kids watched the movie "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" on TV. At some point, we looked out the window and saw a row of Amish boys sitting outside on a fence, watching the movie along with us through the window.

On Chol Hamoed Pesach, we often packed up our matza sandwiches and Barton's treats and went to Palisades Amusement Park.

Uncle Anselm and the goat

Grandpa Ralph had an uncle named Anselm who loved playing practical jokes.

The story that we heard many times was of a seder night at the family home in Germany, when they opened the door for Eliyahu Hanavi and a goat came running into the house, sent by gold ol' Uncle Anselm.

I wonder if they at least let the goat stay for Chad Gadya!

I thought I had lost my brother

I was 14 and commuting to my high school in Manhattan when this story happened. Lennie was 10. He had been sick with an upset stomach for a few days and had stayed home from school.

On the day in question, I arrived home from school in the late afternoon only to find the house completely devoid of people. Lennie's bed linens were lying on the floor. Grandma had left a note to call her friend Lucy, who lived a couple of blocks away. When I called Lucy, she told me that something terrible had happened and that she couldn't talk about it on the phone. She instructed me to walk over to her house where she would tell me the terrible news in person.

I cried all the way to Lucy's house. What could possibly have happened to Lennie? I thought that he must be dead, chas v'shalom.

When I arrived at Lucy's house, she came running out of the house, threw her arms around me, sobbing, and told me that Lennie had had emergency surgery for appendicitis and was doing fine.

After that, I knew to take anything Lucy told me with the proverbial "grain of salt."

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Grandpa Max and Grandma Rose Buckwald

Grandpa Max was Grandma Anita's father. He was born in Buczacz in the Ukraine in 1891. It is the same town where S. Y. Agnon was born. Agnon wrote a book about the town.

Panoramic view of Buchach in 2012
By Бучач-Львів - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

From Wikipedia:
Buczacz is a town located on the Strypa River (a tributary of the Dniester) in Ternopil Oblast (province) of Western Ukraine. It rests 135 kilometres (84 miles) south east of Lviv, in the historic region of Halychyna (Galicia). Prior to 1939, the city was located in Poland and Austro-Hungary.

Grandpa Max immigrated to the US in about 1910 in order to escape being drafted into the army. He lived in Newburgh, NY and worked as a baker.

View of central Newburgh, NY, from the Beacon train station across the Hudson River
By Daniel Case - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

After Grandma Rose died in about 1968, he moved in with us in Englewood.

My memories of him are of a very sweet, teddy bearish sort of man. He had beautiful blue eyes, with a light blue towards the center and a deeper blue around the rim of his irises. He was always smiling and was the type of person that everybody loved. He exemplified the idea of הוה מקבל את כל אדם בסבר פנים יפות.

He used to bake challah for the family, as well as yeast hamantaschen for Purim.

I remember visting Grandpa Max and Grandma Rose at their home at 125 Liberty St. in Newburgh. They lived on the second floor of a two family house. A dentist and his wife, the Cutlers, lived downstairs. They were good friends of Grandma Rose and Grandpa Max.

They had an old-fashioned clawfoot bathtub and I remember that you could see the rooftops of the surrounding houses from the bathroom window.

They had an upholstered wooden chair with a lion carved into its back and I was petrified of it. They had to take it out of the room that I slept in when I visited. It looked a little like this:

Grandma Rose used to bake a delicious yeast cake with strawberry jelly, raisins and walnits. I can taste it now as I describe it. Yum!

Grandpa Max used to take me to the main street of Newburgh to a drug store owned by his friend, Mr. Wexler, where he would buy me a bubble gum cigar or a pack of bubble gum cigarettes.

Grandma Rose was born about 1885 in Eastern Europe. She died in 1968, when I was 12 years old and she had had a dementia for about 7 years, so I don't remember her very well and I don't know as much about her origins.

Grandpa Max lived to be 93 and he died in 1984. I loved Grandpa Max very much and I have wonderful childhood memories of him living in our house.