Volume 41 Number 11
                 Produced: Fri Nov  7  5:25:46 US/Eastern 2003

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Alzheimer's Disease
Children at risk
         [Eugene Bazarov]
Children in Shul
         [Rhonda Stein]


From: Anonymous
Date: Mon, 3 Nov 2003 06:39:49 
Subject: RE: Alzheimer's Disease

First of all, my heart goes out to the poster whose wife was recently
diagnosed.  I join those who've already sent their wishes for strength
and courage to that gentleman, and for a refu'ah shelemah to his wife.

Ms. Rothschild wrote:  

> Lastly, don't go down this road alone.  If you have family that lives
> close by, take advantage of them (and I say that in the best way
> possible).  That is what family is for.  It might be difficult at
> first, but they will come around.  {...snip...}

Dr. Hendel, in a "concurring opinion," also wrote:  

> So a simple solution to disability is to have children and neighbors
> help. It doesnt have to be great help. But if everyone does one little
> thing the overall effect can be great. {...snip...}

NOTE: in writing this post I make no assumptions about the family
situations of either the anonymous poster or those who have responded to
him with suggestions of seeking family support.

However, I respectfully suggest that the solution *isn't* always so
simple, and that this may *not* always be what family is for.  Much
depends on the nature of the intrafamilial relationships before the
"crisis point"; there may be other factors to consider as well.  IMHO my
own situation may be illustrative of the danger of making assumptions
about these things, as I have been acrimoniously estranged from my
parents, at their instigation, for over 16 years.

The antecedents to the estrangement were a lifetime up to that point of
severe emotional and physical abuse as well as, secondarily, their
regular, repeated, deliberate use of their prodigious Jewish learning to
try to steer me "off the derech," e.g., by misquoting halachah and
quoting it out of context.  The years of estrangement overlapped first
with my grandmother's 12-year decline from Alzheimer's disease, and,
over the past year and several months, with my father's decline from a
series of strokes.

During the years (well before my parents instigated their final break
from me) when my grandmother lived with my parents, I fielded several
requests from them to provide respite care.  In the end, I never
actually had to step up to the plate, because someone else who lived
closer to my parents than I did was available to handle things.
However, I reacted to each request with dread, since grandmother had
also been emotionally very abusive of me many years before there was
*any* possibility she might have Alzheimer's disease.

In the case of my father, I was never notified "officially," i.e., at my
parents' behest, of his strokes, but only "back channel" by relatives
who have re-established contact with me and by a friend who decided on
their own responsibilities that I should know.  Upon hearing the first
round of news, and in a panic lest I be forced to "take my parents back
with open arms" and participate in my father's care, I asked "my" LOR,
who knows of the history and "gets it" about abuse issues a whole lot
better than too many rabbanim of my acquaintance, what to do.

After telling me in very forceful terms that I was not to do any such
thing, he then decided I needed to speak with one of the most eminent
poseqim in my current city of residence about the situation.  I dreaded
going to see this poseq, precisely because so few rabbanim I have met
have done other than trivialize abuse issues, especially when their
preexisting acquaintance with me has been limited or nonexistent.
However, "my" LOR was so determined that I should go, that he *took* me
there and sat with me while the poseq and I discussed the situation.

To make a long story short, the poseq reinforced what "my" LOR had said,
telling me that I certainly wasn't obligated, and might not even be
allowed, to have anything further to do with my parents, including under
the circumstances of my father's illness.  Interestingly, he based this
overwhelmingly on my parents' repeated and consistent use of their own
Jewish learning to try to steer me away from the "derech," and only to
the most minor degree on my still-extant fears for my physical and
emotional safety if I am forced to be in my parents', and/or sibling's,
presence, but the end result for me was the same.

On the one hand, hearing this pesaq was a huge relief, but on the other,
it was hard to hear, and it's been hard to follow, for more reasons than
one.  I feel no joy at my parents' situation, but at the same time I am
extremely grateful, given the history, that their problems are not mine.
I have had to deal with more than a bit of opprobrium from certain of my
relatives because of this pesaq, but other relatives have been more
supportive.  The bottom line, for all the bandwidth I've now taken up,
is that, in any given case, there may be ample reason *not* to push
certain family members, or for that matter *any* family members, up to
the plate to deal with the care of an old, sick parent.


From: Eugene Bazarov <evbazarov@...>
Date: Sun, 2 Nov 2003 18:11:16 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Children at risk

There has been much talk of "children at risk" lately.  I am wondering
if it is a real phenomenon or is it something that is perceived more
often then before. Are there any numbers available? My father (in his
early 60s) tells me that one-third of his Brooklyn "black hat"
elementary school class ended up not religious. I do not know if that
was a statistical fluke or endemic of his time. There is no doubt that
as the frum population grows, the number of "children at risk"
grows. And it does seem like "no family is left untouched". However is
it a larger percentage of the frum Youth? Or is it simply more youths
then before?

I am led to believe that the "children at risk" problem in Israel
("Shababnikim" etc) is a totally different problem then the problem in
USA since there are many different circumstances (e.g. army...no work
etc). I am only asking about the postwar USA.

E.V. Bazarov


From: Rhonda Stein <rhondastein@...>
Date: Mon, 3 Nov 2003 18:42:21 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Children in Shul

As someone who stayed home from shul with my children for many years -
including Yomim Noraim - until the older ones were ready to take turns
babysitting. I have followed the discussions about children in shul with
great interest.

I have a lot to say myself, but instead I took the time to type (flatbed
scanner not being operational) the following story (with the permission
of the author) from "Rav Pam - the Life and Ideals of Rabbi Avrohom
Yaakov HaKohen Pam" by Rabbi Shimon Finkelman, published by Artscroll.

The first year of Nota Shlomo Rabinowitz life was one of great physical
and emotional stress for his father and mother.  Nota Shlomo was born
with Down Syndrome.  After he had already had his bris, it was
discovered that he had been born with a heart condition that required
surgery.  However, this had to be postponed until he gained weight so
that the chances of his pulling through the surgery would be
significantly increased.

Nota Shlomo did not sleep well at night, and his state of health
required constant vigilance.  Additionally, recalls Rabbi Rabinowitz,
"We had a rough time accepting the fact that this was a Down Syndrome
child with all of its limitations.  We did not yet, at that time,
realize all of its ma'alos (qualities), that there was so much that such
a child can contribute to us and to society as well."  It was over a
period of months that the parents, with the guidance and encouragement
of Rabbi Moshe Shapiro (of Jerusalem), went from despondency to genuine

The fact that the heart surgery was a must before the baby had reached
six months put additional strain on them.  The surgery was finally
performed after a month's delay due to Nota Shlomo's exposure to chicken
pox.  He remained in the hospital for two weeks after the surgery, and
six weeks later, he developed streptococcal pneumonia.  Nota Shlomo was
hospitalized and doctors held out little hope that he would survive;
they prepared the Rabinowitzes for the worst.

 Miraculously, Nota Shlomo recovered.  This occurred after Tisha B'Av.
In the fall, he contracted a different strain of pneumonia; thankfully,
he recovered once again.

Shortly thereafter, Rosh Hashanah and then Yom Kippur arrived.  On Yom
Kippur afternoon, during the short break at Mesivta Torah Vodaath
between Mussaf and Minchah, Rabbi Rabinowitz rushed home to check on his
wife, who had endured incredible pressures over the past eight months
and had three young children at home in addition to Nota Shlomo.  he
found his wife very upset; it was 4:00 in the afternoon on Yom Kippur
and she had managed to recite only the morning blessing which precede
Shacharis.  She had not prayed a single prayer.

Rabbi Rabinowitz told his wife to go into the study for privacy and
recite Minchah Shemoneh Esrei along with the chazzan's repetition.

Mrs. Rabinowitz emerged from the study calm and energized.  The
opportunity to daven was a balm for her soul.  Husband and wife talked
for a few minutes, after which Rabbi Rabinowitz returned to Torah

Rav Pam always addressed the assemblage in the minutes between Minchah
and Ne'ilah.  Before he made his way to the podium, Rabbi Rabinowitz
hurried over to ask him something.  Rav Pam was intimately acquainted
with all that had transpired since Nota Shlomo's birth.  He had waited
anxiously to hear that the heart surgery had been successful and when
Rabbi Rabinowitz had called from the hospital with the good news, Rav
Pam had thanked him profusely.

Now, Rabbi Rabinowitz posed a question to Rav Pam.  He began by
describing how his wife had appeared before and after she davened
Minchah.  Around the corner from their home was shul where, he knew, she
would find Ne'ilah very inspiring.  It was quite possible that
Mrs. Rabinowitz would experience tremendous uplift from davening Ne'ilah
in shul.  Should Rabbi Rabinowitz return home so that his wife could go
to shul for Ne'ilah?  Of course, this would mean that he would have to
daven Ne'ilah at home, without a minyan.  Rav Pam looked at his
petitioner and save, "Avada (surely)! Avada you should go.  A gevaldig'e
chesed (an opportunity to perform a great act of kindness), to uplift
your wife's spirit, has come to you at the time of Ne'ilah.

Rabbi Rabinowitz then asked: Should he go home immediately or should he
first recite the silent Shemoneh Esrei with the minyan quickly and then
hurry home?  This way, his wife would still be in shul for most of

Rav Pam grabbed the young man's hand and said with a sense of urgency,
"Go now, go now!  If such a chesed comes your way at the time of
Ne'ilah, do not wait!  Go now!" And with a smile, he gently pushed his
petitioner towards the door.

Rabbi Rabinowitz did not need any more prodding.  He did not even bother
to get his coat and hat; wearing his kittel, wrapped in his tallis and
buoyed by what had just transpired, he flew through the streets to send
his wife off to shul.  To this day, he is moved by the way Rav Pam
understood his wife's situation far more deeply than he could ever have
described it.  Later that night, when his wife returned home exhilarated
and she attempted to convey what this tefillah had meant to her, he had
all the proof he needed that Rav Pam's advice had been correct.  "How
did the Rosh Yeshiva know what this would do for me?"  his wife wanted
to know.

In the year that followed, Nota Shlomo was hospitalized four or five
times due to various health issues, all of them serious.  When the next
Yom Kippur arrived, Rabbi Rabinowitz contemplated the tension and
difficulties which he and his wife had endured over the past twelve
months and he recalled Rav Pam's advice to him the previous Yom Kippur.
Arriving at home after Mussaf, he found that his wife had managed to
daven only for a short while and he noted that she seemed a bit
dispirited.  Though he had asked Rav Pam the question the previous year,
he would not stay at home for Ne'ilah without asking again.  He told his
wife that, once again, he would speak to Rav Pam after Minchah and would
return home for Ne'ilah if Rav Pam would instruct him to do so.

After Minchah he posed the question, and to his amazement, Rav Pam
responded emphatically, "Absolutely not.  You have to daven here in
yeshiva b'tzibur (as part of a minyan), b'rov am (amidst a multitude) -
this is something important."

Rabbi Rabinowitz was confused.  As he faced this tzaddik, who at this
most awesome moment, in his white kittel and yarmulka, seemed especially
awe-inspiring, he asked with great trepidation, "But last year, the Rosh
Yeshivah told me to go home so that my wife could go to shul?"

Rav Pam explained that there was a vast difference between the current
situation and that of the previous year.  The previous Yom Kippur was
less than a year since Nota Shomo's birth.  The infant's mother had
endured great emotional distress; on that previous Yom Kippur probably
more than ever before, she felt the day as being a time of heavenly
judgement.  As such, it was a great chesed to allow her to daven Ne'ilah
in shul.  A year later, Rav Pam, correctly perceived, the situation was
altogether different.  While caring for Nota Shlomo was certainly more
difficult than caring for the average infant, the family was dealing
with the situation well and Mrs. Rabinowitz' inability to daven much on
that day was typical of a young mother with a number of little children
in her charge.  "It is more precious in the eyes of the Ribbono shel
Olam that you stay here in Yeshiva, and it is chaviv (dear) in His eyes
that she stay home and take care of her young ones with patience and

Tell her that I said so and that she should be happy with what she is
doing and she should derive sipuk nefesh (spiritual satisfaction) from
it, because that is what is chaviv in Hashem's eyes."

To this day, Mrs. Rabinowitz draws strength from Rav Pam's words to her
husband at that time.

And finally, an anecdote from my son-in-law, whose father is a Maggid
Shiur (teacher) at a large yeshiva in New York.  One Shabbos when he was
a lively youngster (perhaps five or six) he was very excited after
davening, and told his father "the Rosh Yeshiva spoke to me, Tatty!"

"Well, what did he say?" asked his father.

"He said, 'GO HOME!'".


End of Volume 41 Issue 11