Thursday, March 25, 2010

Pesach Part 1

I'm busier than ever these days, especially with the inevitable Pesach cleaning. I'm also insanely jealous. Why?

Well, I'm making Pesach- the seders, the cooking, the cleaning- you name it, I'm doing it. And throughout the last couple of weeks, the common refrain from the young couples in the neighborhood has been something like this.

Me: How are you doing?
Neighbor: I'm busy packing. Gosh, it takes a long time.
Me: Really? Going to the US for Yom Tov?
Neighbor: Yes, and you wouldn't believe how much work it is. Packing, then taking a __ hour flight- it's just too much. You're so lucky you get to stay here.

Me: _______

If they think a 15 hour flight is hard, even with several children, try making Pesach anytime.
But anyway, enough with the griping. (Sorry! It's practically Erev Pesach! Hard to remain cheerful.)
Good news is that I get the amazing experience of being here in Israel for Pesach. Last year I got the pleasure of hosting a 2nd Seder, even though we had already moved here permenantly, and so I got to take pictures, relax, and enjoy the Seder in an entirely different way than I normally do. This year I plan to do the same, with even more guests.

It's a totally different feeling to know that you aren't obligated to start measuring your matzah out- and instead, you can just focus on the meaning of the Seder, the Divrei Torah, the essence of real freedom. I think it would be fun to continue hosting a second Seder, for fun, even when I don't have guests from America.

And now, for your viewing enjoyment, a short clip from the Robotics team in Rishon L'Tzion.

More on Pesach will be coming later. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Doctors and Research

Two articles caught my eye this week- neither really has to do with Israel- which is what this blog was originally about- but they are fairly interesting, and have a lot to do with science and medicine.

So, if you are interested- here they are from Is Stem Cell Research Ethical? and Doctors: A Second Opinion.

The first article is on research, something I'm involved in right now, and I thought it was quite thorough, albeit from more of a lay perspective.

The second article is something that's been quoted to me many times, and is why I originally wanted to go into medicine. Doctors take a hard rap for people who don't have enough compassion in them, who get too haughty and ignore the true feelings of their patients, who see them as just statistics. I wanted to change all that- to become a doctor who cared for their patients' needs, and yet was still able to help them.

This is a hard path to follow. Med school teaches a person to be objective, to not have other factors clouding their judgement. This in turn becomes a lack of compassion, of basic kindness. Some of the best diagnosticians have the worst bedside manner. Sometimes a doctor has both, but it is rare. Does that make them a bad doctor? No. But it does make for bad doctor/patient relationships.

I have found that those doctors that are religious in any way, are more likely to have a sense of kindness and compassion- but that is not always true as well. For some doctors, simply having a sense of ethics and morals allows them to be excellent doctors and kind people as well.

I was once treated by a doctor, a head of a department with students crowded around him, who made me feel like a piece of meat, rather than a human being. I felt trapped, unable to protest, and when I did- the response from one of the 'groupies' was, "But he's the head of ______!"

Good doctor- possibly. Bad patient connection- most definitely. I still have nightmares about dealing with him.

Yet, some of the kindest people I know are doctors. They have compassion, care, concern, and all other things. They influenced me to go into research (albeit not medicine, but something akin) and taught me how a person could act. After all, a doctor has power in his hands (invested by G-d, but still in a human's hands). How he uses it is an expression of his character traits.

As the prayer of the Rambam- Maimonides, states:

"Do not allow thirst for profit, ambition for renown and admiration, to interfere with my profession, for these are the enemies of truth and of love for mankind and they can lead astray in the great task of attending to the welfare of Thy creatures. Preserve the strength of my body and of my soul that they ever be ready to cheerfully help and support rich and poor, good and bad, enemy as well as friend. In the sufferer let me see only the human being. "

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Reevaluating My Own Viewpoint

A couple days ago, I headed to a mothers' meeting in another neighborhood. It was wonderful, very nice to meet new people and have NBD play with new kids, but it also caused me to think quite a bit.

After all, as the authors of 'How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk' state, they read all the parenting books out there and were the best advice givers to those who didn't have children, until they had them. Then things change- your parenting 'style' evolves with time, with your children's ages, with basically just about everything.

Choices that you thought were set in stone, no longer are even carved into soap. Never say never, they say- and they don't know how right they are. Mr. NMF remarked that a family he knew were dead set on never giving their children candy. They tried fruit as the 'candy' instead. Result? Not surprisingly, it didn't work. They knew what a cookie was nonetheless.

I thought one thing before I had my daughter, now I think another. And it gets better and better with time. Books like 'Chinuch in Turbulent Times' or 'With Hearts full of Love' are my standbys, along with other Jewish parenting books like 'A Delicate Balance'. And of course I read so many other books as well. But books can only do so much, and then your parenting is tested by the children who you love so much.

But back to the original idea of my post. I met mothers who had the same viewpoints I did before I had children, but amazingly, they still stick with them. Things I thought would have been impossible, are right there in broad daylight for me to reach out and touch to see if they really are real. Like the woman who feeds her children only organic food, no sweets ever, and their favorite snack is chestnuts and whole wheat pretzels. Me? NBD can say bamba. (Really, I try to be good. Bamba is usually as bad as it gets around here.) After that, I took NBD to the park with only avocados and crackers with chummus, to assuage my guilty feelings.

So, should I have stuck with what I believed earlier? Should I ignore the fact that my perception of these things have changed?

Now, I don't know what to believe anymore.