Volume 14 Number 91
                       Produced: Mon Aug 22 17:37:50 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Chabad - Lubavitch in Cyberspace
         [YY Kazen]
Ride Shnorrer
         [Joe Abeles]
US News & World Report vs. Reality
         [Yaakov Menken]


From: YY Kazen <yyk@...>
Date: Thu, 18 Aug 1994 14:32:58 -0400
Subject: Chabad - Lubavitch in Cyberspace

B"H Week of Parshas Seitzei, 11 Elul 5754, August 18, '94


With the approach of the Yamim Nora'im - the High Holidays, I'd like
to take the opportunity to extend my best wishes for a K'Siva V'Chasima
Tova to you and your dear ones.

May you and all of Klal Yisrael be inscribed in the Book of Life and may
we all enjoy next year and many more years in good health coupled with 
an abundance of Nachas and utmost success in all endeavors.

I am taking the opportunity to invite you to take a look at our
"electronic site" which has its own "gopher" and WWW/MOSAIC areas on the

I'd also like to bring your attention to our Listserv which has Baruch Hashem
grown extensivly, especially since the "media" (NY Times, TIME Magazine, CNN
and others) have made our site known to the general public.

Our Listserv mails out almost 10,000 packets of e-mail weekly to fellow Jews 
in all corners of the world and helps inspire their Shabbos, Yom Tov and 

We have many different items availble (for all levels of Judaic knowledge and
observance) and will be happy to send you our information upon your request.

Again, my very best wishes for a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year.

     Yosef Yitzchok Kazen             |            E-Mail to:
     Director of Activities           |      <yyk@...>
            Gopher: gopher lubavitch.chabad.org
            Mosaic or WWW:http://kesser.gte.com:7700/chabad/chabad.html


From: Joe Abeles <joe_abeles@...>
Date: Thu, 18 Aug 1994 16:54:24 -0400
Subject: Ride Shnorrer

Sam Gamoran wrote

     "Reuven", is a "professional ride shnorrer"...  Reuven 
     only gets a ride when a seat is available  ... Clearly 
     this works as long as there is only one Reuven.  If many 
     of us adopted his strategy there would be no rides at 
     all! ...  Where do we draw the line?  Most of us have 
     found a need for a occasional "tramp".  Does halacha 
     have a boundary between the "occasional" ride and 
     becoming a regular?  Note that Reuven habitually shnorrs 
     but only occasionally from us.

I find something astonishing here (in the midst of the discussion on
culpability for stealing of services).  In a diverse society, there is quite a
variety of capabilities and interests.  People differ not just in their ability
to contribute but also in their willingness to contribute human and material
resources in directions which benefit others, ranging from the altruistic (on
one hand) to taking advantage of other people (on the other hand).  "Reuven"
takes advantage by receiving benefit towards which he is not even willing to
contribute assuming he were able.

There is also great diversity with respect to assessing what constitutes a
contribution.  In fact, there is only one universally appreciated contribution
-- money.  While most people do agree on many things which serve as
contributions, as I would like to demonstrate below, this is not at all

The one thing which I find to be intellectually astonishing in S. Gamoran's
statement of legitimate concern is the following:

     "If many of us adopted his strategy there would be no rides at all !"

This strikes me as a remarkable criticism to appear in an orthodox forum!  The
same logic could be applied to the following "strategies" which are considered
as contributions by some (but definitely not all) of us -- including in "us"
Jews, yeshivish or not, religious or not, or even non-Jews:

*  The exemption of yeshiva students from the Israeli army.
   --> [ no ] security for Jews in Israel [ at all ! ]
   --> [ no ] State of Israel [ at all ! ]

*  The determination by some that secular education is unimportant
   --> [ no ] technology (lightbulbs, cars, etc.) [ at all ! ]
   --> [ no ] democracy at all [ at all ! ]
   --> [ no ] human rights [ at all ! ]

*  The idea that only a professional or business career is acceptable
   --> [ no ] food or agriculture  [ at all ! ]
   --> [ no ] clothing  [ at all ! ]
   --> [ no ] housing  [ at all ! ]
   --> [ no ] policeman [ at all ! ]
   --> [ no ] cars (or other manufactured goods)  [ at all ! ]

Comments?  Enlargements of this list?

--Joe Abeles


From: Yaakov Menken <ny000548@...>
Date: Sun, 21 Aug 1994 02:05:17 -0400
Subject: US News & World Report vs. Reality

My apologies for bringing such a large item to your attention, but I
believe that this is worthy of note.  The following is a letter that 
I have sent to the US News & World Report, <71154.1006@...> - 
please consider writing to them as well, to reemphasize and lend support 
to my points.


Dear Sirs, the following is not for publication, but is intended to
be read and considered by your editors.

I have sent to you under separate cover a letter responding to the 
article "The narrowing of normality" that appeared in a Box on page 67
of the August 22 USNWR, written by Shannon Brownlee.

The truth is that publishing that letter, or even a small correction, 
would do little to counteract the damage caused by an article founded 
upon falsehood and defaming a prominent Orthodox organization and the 
entire Jewish community.

Let us start at the beginning:

>Rabbi Josef Eckstein transformed sorrow into hope.  He and his wife
>had watched four of their 10 children develop normally for a few
>months, only to gradually lose control of their muscles and finally
>die, blind and paralyzed.  The cause was Tay-Sachs disease, a
>recessive genetic disorder that afflicts a disproportionate number
>of the rabbi's ultraorthodox flock.

So far, the information is accurate, although the term "ultraorthodox"
is widely regarded as offensive.

>At first, the Eksteins accepted their fate.  But then, the rabbi
>reasoned that God gave him four children with Tay-Sachs so that he
>could help others.

Although this may be partially accurate, as rendered here - given the
article that follows - it is obviously condescending to the Rabbi's faith.

>                   He founded Dor Yeshorim, a program to screen all
>young members of the New York community for the Tay-Sachs gene.

Not just New York - the program now has spread across the United States,
as well as to Israel and other countries with significant Jewish communities.
But let me not nitpick when there are much larger issues.

>Those who are carriers are encouraged not to marry, so they can avoid the
>tragedy of more ill-fated children.   ^^^ ^^ ^^^^^

This is totally inaccurate, and this one statement leads Shannon Brownlee
to a flight of fancy disguised as news reporting.

The facts are as follows:  Dor Yeshorim offers testing for Tay-Sachs
and cystic fibrosis through well-recognized medical laboratories - most
of which, such as Villardi Laboratories here in Monsey, NY, are not
owned by Jews - at far less cost than individuals would receive on their
own (a table on page 63 states that Tay-Sachs testing is available for
$150, and cystic fibrosis for $125-150.  The total cost for the Dor 
Yeshorim array is $70).  In return, the participants are _not_ told if 
they are carriers.  Rather, they receive only a personal identification 

Later, when two participants are contemplating marriage, one partner
calls Dor Yeshorim and gives both ID codes (along with respective
birthdates to prevent errors).  Only if both partners are carrying
either the Tay-Sachs or cystic fibrosis gene, will they be advised by
Dor Yeshorim that they should not marry _each_ _other_.  In most cases,
a carrier marries without ever knowing his or her own status, much less 
having to reveal this information to a potential partner.  It is indeed 
true that people seek perfection in inappropriate ways, and Dor Yeshorim 
is designed specifically to _assist_ Tay-Sachs carriers to marry and have
healthy children.  If indeed the couple is declared incompatible by
virtue of their test results, Dor Yeshorim will offer them counseling,
and strongly encourage them to seek out other prospective mates.  Couples
are also asked to call Dor Yeshorim before their relationship has 
developed to the stage where an unfavorable result would cause emotional

Is it inappropriate to discourage two Tay-Sachs carriers from marrying
one another, given that statistically one in four of their children will
inevitably die before reaching age 6?  I will assume that the editorial 
staff of USNWR is collectively more intelligent than to claim something 
so rediculous.

>                  The number of children born with Tay-Sachs has dropped
>since Dor Yeshorim began, and the effort has now expanded to screen the
>community for cystic fibrosis and Gaucher's disease, two other recessive
>hereditary illnesses.

>WIDENING NET. To the Orthodox community, Dor Yeshorim is a gift from
>G-d.  To geneticists, it borders on eugenics.

Why does Ms. Brownlee not mention or quote a geneticist by name?  Given 
that she quotes sources extensively once she moves on to other issues, I
am given to suspect that these "geneticists" come entirely from her own 
imagination.  The scientific community has come out strongly in favor of 
this program, which has prevented a great deal of sorrow to young families, 
and expense to our insurers, medical practitioners, and the American 
Medicare system - for few families can bear the expense of caring for 
children afflicted with these disorders.  References to this effect may
be obtained directly from Dor Yeshorim.

At least her description of the word "eugenics" is quite accurate:

>                                                It is a harsh word,
>summoning painful images of past genocidal horrors.

Yes, it is - and it is impossible not to recognize the crass insensitivity
to the Jewish community displayed in this reference.

>                                                     But although Dor
>Yeshorim clearly rose out of the noblest of intentions, many geneticists
>nevertheless condemn it because of the pressure on young adults to
>participate, whether they want to or not.

Again, mythology unworthy of the National Enquirer appears in the pages of
USNWR, courtesy of Ms. Brownlee.  No intelligent and well-informed young
adult would not participate in a program that helps to avoid needless
tragedy.  There are those who bypass the Dor Yeshorim testing, but only
because the organization adamantly refuses to inform individuals of 
their results.  As a member of the Orthodox community, I have yet to meet 
someone who would risk his or her children's future on the failure to 
take a blood test.

>                                           Geneticists are troubled, too,
>by the expansion of Dor Yeshorim.

If my suspicions are correct, this is the third time that Ms. Brownlee 
uses the word "Geneticists" instead of speaking with one.

>                                  Tay-Sachs is invariably fatal in
>childhood; but cystic fibrosis and Gaucher's can often be treated.

And often not - which is why a program that allows carriers to have healthy
children rather than ill deserves nothing but praise.  Yet Ms. Brownlee
goes on to describe this program as not merely reminiscent of the Aryan
Nation, but as a possible precursor to testing "to improve physical
appearance" or "for boosting intelligence."

Interestingly enough, Newsweek [Special Edition, Winter/Spring 1990, pp.
94-95] also discussed Dor Yeshorim as well as the potential for abusive
eugenics programs.  They conclude that although genetic tests have a
potential for abuse, "they promise some control over diseases that have 
caused immense suffering and expense," and that we can easily distinguish
between the two: "society need only remember that there are no perfect 
embryos but many ways to be a successful human being."  Obviously, it is
difficult to be a successful adult if one dies in childhood.

In short, this article does nothing but insult and libel Dor Yeshorim,
as well as the Orthodox and larger Jewish community that has greatly 
benefited from their services.

I would suggest to you that as the entire article was libelous and 
offensive to the Jewish community, your retraction must contain correct
information about Dor Yeshorim, an apology to Rabbi Ekstein and the
institute - and must be at least as large as the original article.

There is no question in my mind that this grievous insult, left 
unrectified, is worthy of note in the Jewish community.  I am therefore
curious as to what corrective actions you plan to take.


Rabbi Yaakov Menken
Director, Project Genesis

End of Volume 14 Issue 91