Flunking out of blood school

by Brian on July 21, 2019

in Cancer

I flunked out of blood school last week. I wasn’t expelled exactly, but my scores dropped significantly enough that I was put on probation and sent for an emergency remedial course.

Blood school is not the kind of place you go on a whim. You first have to receive several “letters of recommendation.” Once you’re in, attendance is mandatory and, like a certain hotel in California, you can never really leave. Even if you go on vacation for a while, you’re required to show up for annual reunions, where the staff checks how well you’re doing and decides if re-enrollment is necessary. 

Back when I was in regular school, I was the kid who always got straight A’s. I was several teachers’ pet. I brought that same sensibility with me to blood school. I peppered the instructors (who for some reason insist we call them “doctors” and “nurses”) with questions showing how much I had prepared and how well I was going to do at my new school.

So, when I received the equivalent of a “D” from blood school, it was a blow to my ego as much as to my body. I had expected to sail through blood school with nary a hiccup.

It’s not like you can cheat in blood school. We all follow the teachers’ assignments assiduously. If you get a poor score, it’s entirely a matter of inner constitution, something you’re born with.

Blood school, of course, is what I like to call the time I’ve been spending at the hematology daycare ward since I was diagnosed with follicular lymphoma last year. The occasion of my recent failure was a sudden drop in my white blood cell count – in particular, a type of cell known as a neutrophil – 10 days after my fifth session of immunotherapy maintenance treatment. 

Nothing like that had happened over the previous four treatments nor during the months of chemotherapy that preceded this phase. That’s why it came as such a shock. 

I was a star pupil, I told anyone who asked. Instead, it turns out, I’m quite ordinary. 

If your blood test scores drop too low, it means your immune system can’t fight off the bacteria all around us, putting you at a higher risk of infection and hospitalization, two situations I desperately want to avoid. There is also the risk that your immune system could remain permanently depressed. 

The protocol in cases like mine is to get a shot of a medication called Neupogen, which prompts your bone marrow to rapidly produce extra white blood cells that can mature into more neutrophils. 

The shot itself didn’t hurt but, afterward, every single bone in my body seemed to ache while the marrow inside was working overtime. It felt like I’d come down with an especially nasty flu. 

Susan, my favorite nurse, cautioned me to avoid crowds for the next few days. That knocked out a dinner we had planned with some friends who were in town, but at that point, I wasn’t in a social mood anyway.

A follow-up blood test showed that the shot worked: my initial scores were out of the danger zone, although it’s too soon to celebrate – it will take another month or two to see if they stay up. 

The whole experience dispelled my illogical belief that my time in blood school would, unlike my peers, somehow be limited in duration.

It’s not all bad. Blood school can even be fun. Only a few courses are compulsory. 

Everyone has to take basic math (“if you need 12 treatments over two years and you’ve done five already, how many more do you have to go?”) and sport (regular exercise can keep you from calling in sick too often). I particularly like the literature class – we read lots of cancer memoirs and books on managing chronic pain. I chose to do my science elective on medical cannabis. 

The social scene at blood school is a lot like any other school. You’re thrown into a room with a group of strangers. At first, you stay quiet and avoid eye contact. When you do connect with someone, the bond forged in blood school is like no other. But there’s competition, too, where you wind up comparing yourself to others and determining who’s the more promising student. Sometimes you get to take an experimental advanced placement class. 

There are blood schools in every major city these days and demand is steadily increasing. My school is a bit run down. Some of the equipment hasn’t been updated since the 1950s and there are never enough pillows. But the staff is uniformly great; they really care about their students, which is what’s most important, after all.

I’m not due for my first furlough from blood school for another year, after which I can look forward to the annual homecoming dance, although it’s not with the other students or even my favorite teachers but with the maintenance team that manages the PET CT machine that looks for tumors. If you’re clear, you’re free to go about your business normally until the next reunion. 

Every so often, you hear about a student who defied the odds and graduated, no longer needing to come back, not even for continuing education courses. 

That’s my hope and the hope of every student in blood school: to receive an actual diploma from a school that’s steadfastly stingy about granting them.

I first wrote about blood school in The Jerusalem Post.

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A new English-language podcast that aims to demystify the racy yet often unspoken topic of “intimacy and healthy sexuality in the context of Jewish family life” – hosted by an Orthodox rabbi and a sex therapist no less – is attracting a growing number of listeners online.

Rabbi Scott Kahn and Talli Rosenbaum in the studio (courtesy)

Intimate Judaism” began as a one-off episode of Rabbi Scott Kahn’s “Orthodox Conundrum” podcast, which examines issues affecting the Orthodox world “without exaggeration, whitewashing or pretending they don’t exist.” Orthodox Conundrum is the flagship show on a network of podcasts run by Kahn called the Jewish Coffee House

Kahn had invited Beit Shemesh-based sex therapist Talli Rosenbaum to come on his show to discuss male masturbation. The idea was to talk about the subject from the perspective of both halacha (Jewish Law) and psychology.

“It was probably one of Scott’s most popular podcast episodes ever,” Rosenbaum tells The Jerusalem Post. 

It was so popular, in fact, that it spawned a 13-episode spin-off – Intimate Judaism – that has tackled such sensitive subjects as infidelity and monogamy, how to raise sexually healthy children and what does halacha really require on the wedding night?

Intimate Judaism’s most listened to episode, Rosenbaum says, was about “What you are and aren’t allowed to do in bed. It points to how desperate people are for information.”

Rosenbaum says that the podcast attracts “a demographic of people that respect and adhere to Jewish law but also want to experience optimum sexuality.” Listeners includes Modern Orthodox Jews (with which both Rosenbaum and Kahn identify) as well as “people to the right of Modern Orthodoxy and those who don’t identify as Orthodox at all.”

Rosenbaum admits “We’re not going to be able to please everyone. Some people will think we’re too modern. Others that we’re not liberal enough.”

It can be particularly challenging, Rosenbaum points out, when it comes to providing balanced advice for adolescents. “We want to raise our children to experience themselves as sexual human beings without guilt and shame, while at the same time taking into account Jewish values and self-regulation,” she says.

Another recurring topic is the conflict between obligation and personal agency. Many couples look at sex from a halachic headset “as something where they have no individual control,” Rosenbaum explains. “It’s very important that we bring a voice that says a Jewish marriage absolutely appreciates – and to some extent demands – that each partner have sexual autonomy.” 

The program is not afraid to wade into the touchiest of topics. One episode was titled “Jewish #MeToo: Does adherence to Jewish Law provide safety from sexual assault?” (The answer is no, the program’s hosts say. “Objectification and victimization exist across cultures, and Orthodox Judaism is no exception.”)

Each episode of Intimate Judaism opens with Kahn presenting the halachic framework and biblical and Talmudic texts underling the theme to be discussed. Rosenbaum then tries to probe “what might be going on here that’s deeper” than the law. The two hosts will sometimes disagree, but always respectively. 

Rosenbaum and Kahn both insist that the podcast “adheres to the cultural norms of modest speech.” That’s because, in addition to individual listeners, “we hope we can enable rabbis and other clergy to understand that there is more to intimacy than just what you are and aren’t allowed to do,” Rosenbaum says.

Have Rosenbaum and Kahn received flack or pushback from listeners? Rosenbaum says no, “but I’m a fairly public personality about these topics. I’ve written articles, I have a blog, so my family and friends are used to it. When the podcast first came out, maybe I got some looks and giggles at Kiddush in shul.”

Kahn tells The Jerusalem Post that “talking about sex and intimacy is part of the job” when he counsels young men on the laws of family purity before marriage. Kahn was the director of Yeshivat Yesodei HaTorah in Beit Shemesh for 11 years prior to starting his podcast network.

“I can only be effective if I’m frank and honest,” he stresses, although he doesn’t “necessarily anticipate evolving into a Dr. Ruth Westheimer. While I’m comfortable discussing these topics, I admit that it’s easier doing so in the comfort of a recording studio than in front of a visibly large audience.”

Kahn did check with his own rabbis before launching the podcast. “They were very supportive,” he says. “One wanted to make sure that my wife was on board. She was, in fact, particularly encouraging. She believes Intimate Judaism is providing an important service.”

Indeed, rather than hate mail, Kahn and Rosenbaum have received messages of appreciation from listeners “who have found the podcast to be a breath of fresh air,” Kahn says. “There is so much misinformation about sexuality resulting from both incorrect teaching and wrong assumptions by religious people who were never taught at all. I will admit, however, that I don’t share the podcast with my mother or mother-in-law.”

“These are not watercooler conversations,” Rosenbaum quips.

In episode 13, the final one of the first season, Rosenbaum and Kahn explore what happens when couples disagree over religious observance – for example, whether to refrain from sexual relations until the wife has immersed in a mikve (ritual bath). The discussion quickly expanded to encompass more than just sex.

“No couple sees eye-to-eye on every aspect of marriage,” Rosenbaum says. “That’s true whether it’s sex, religion, money, kids, education or in-laws. The idea is about being able to navigate power struggles and the dynamic between the couple. As a couple’s therapist, I’m very attuned to the idea of differentiation.”

The Intimate Judaism podcast has been downloaded over 20,000 times since it launched in July 2018, with most of those from North America and Israel. That’s not an insignificant audience, but it’s not generating revenue on its own just yet. 

That’s OK for Rosenbaum; making money on the podcast per se was never her goal. “I look at this as an area where I can contribute,” she explains. 

That fits with her other work: Rosenbaum is the co-author of the forthcoming book “Ani L’Dodi: I am for My Beloved – A Married Couple’s Guide to Enhanced Intimacy.” She is certified as a sex therapist by the American Association for Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists, as well as by the Israeli Society for Sex Therapy and spends most of her day with couples in her office. She is also the academic advisor to Yahel: The Center for Jewish Intimacy, which provides personal counseling to couples and courses for professionals. 

If there’s any financial silver lining from her podcast, it’s been an uptick in clients, Rosenbaum says.

For Kahn, Intimate Judaism is part of an overall increase in listenership for his Jewish Coffee House network, which has now been operating for two and a half years. 

“Almost every podcast on the network is more popular now that it was even six months ago,” Kahn says. The downside: the site is getting unwieldly, with “everything from baseball to a podcast geared toward Christians who support Israel.” Former MK Dov Lipman hosts “Knesset Corner” while Molly Livingstone jokes around in the “Jewish Coffee House Comedy Podcast.” 

Expect more spin-offs – in this case for some of the non-Judaism specific programs to shift to their own independent websites, Kahn says.

Intimate Judaism is on summer break but will be back in the fall with more provocative questions about sex, religion and relationships. You can catch up with past episodes at https://www.intimatejudaism.com/and https://jewishcoffeehouse.com/.

I first wrote about Intimate Judaism in The Jerusalem Post.

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“Why do you Israelis want to wipe us off the map?” asked Zahra.

Tehran, Iran (credit: Behrooz Rezvani)

The question wasn’t meant to be provocative; Zahra was merely curious. I was, after all, the first Israeli she’d ever met. And she was the first Iranian – at least someone who currently lives in the country rather than, say, an expat in Los Angeles or the child of Iranian Jews now residing in Israel – I’d had a conversation with, as well.

I met Zahra on a recent trip to Barcelona where I was covering a conference for a client. Zahra runs a tech company in Tehran and had given a presentation, earlier in the day, where she described the difficulties of doing business in the midst of Iran’s current economic crisis. 

Runaway inflation (nearly 40 percent at the end of 2018) means that the price of a supermarket item in the morning may not be the same as the price at the end of the day, Zahra explained on stage.

Zahra’s story gave me an opening to make “first contact.” I approached the businesswoman during a coffee break.

“I really related to your story about inflation,” I said, “The annual inflation rate where I live was over 400 percent in 1985. We used to joke that you’re better off prepaying your taxi fare than using the meter in order to lock in a lower price.”

Zahra looked at me quizzically. What country did this guy, speaking perfect English, come from that had inflation like that? Certainly not the United States.

“I live in Israel,” I said, sensing her confusion

Zahra’s eyes widened ever so slightly though her demeanor remained steady. A consummate CEO with a winning, unwavering smile, dressed in pants, a long tunic and a red and cream-colored hijab covering all but a wisp of hair, she brushed past the elephant that had suddenly set up camp in the conference hall and asked if inflation is still high in Israel.

I launched into a simplified explanation of the 1985 economic reforms that would eventually transform Israel into the Startup Nation.

But the next session was starting and it was my job to report on it, so I had to run back to my laptop.

I caught up with Zahra again the next day. Apparently, our brief chat had made an impression. She had already told her family in Tehran that she’d met an Israeli. What she said I wasn’t privy to, but now, at least, she wanted to know about more than shekels and startups. 

“What do Israelis think about Iranians?” she asked, her smile as unreadable as before.

Suddenly thrust into the role of unofficial Israeli ambassador-without-portfolio, I paused for a moment to choose my words carefully. 

“I think most Israelis are able to separate the people of Iran from what its government says,” I responded, as diplomatically as I could. “People are basically the same everywhere, don’t you think?” 

Zahra nodded.

“We all just want to make a living,” I continued, gaining confidence. “To raise our children to thrive, to be happy.” 

“So then why do you want to kill us all?” Zahra abruptly asked.

I was momentarily stunned.

“Is…that what you h-hear about Israel in Iran?” I stammered.

“Yes, of course,” she said. 

I felt myself resisting her words – they didn’t fit my expectations of how a worldly Iranian entrepreneur at an international tech conference would think. That was supposed to be rhetoric from the ayatollahs, not the general population. 

“Well, I have never heard anyone in power in Israel ever say they wanted to obliterate the entire Iranian people,” I replied. “It’s not true, not in the least.”

Zahra kept smiling as she took in what I imagined was new information. I shifted uncomfortably in my dress shoes and fidgeted with my name tag.

“Then why do you shoot Palestinians?” she continued.

I tried to add some context this time.

“If someone is running at a soldier with a knife, the solider has to defend himself,” I said. “If a terrorist is planting a bomb, he’s going to be stopped. But the name of our army is the Israel Defense Forces. Its mission is to defend, not to initiate action.”

Was I getting through? I couldn’t tell. 

“Don’t you think, if the Palestinian conflict was solved, all the other issues in the Middle East would go away?” Zahra asked.

“It’s a little more complicated than that,” I started to say, but we were cut off for a second time as the networking break came to an end. 

Zahra and I exchanged business cards.

“Perhaps someday it will be possible to visit you in peace,” I said. “I hear Tehran looks a lot like Tel Aviv.”

Zahra didn’t reciprocate with a wish of her own to sip tea in Jaffa, nor did we shake hands as we parted. (I didn’t try, not knowing if her hijab meant no contact with the opposite sex.) 

Afterward, I sent Zahra an email with a copy of the article I’d written about her presentation and a pledge to continue the conversation virtually. 

I never heard back from her. Perhaps the email never got through the Iranian censors.

I hope that Zahra’s business trip to the West, in the midst of increasing sanctions on Tehran, wasn’t entirely in vain. If nothing else, she met her first Israeli and he turned out to be not quite the monster she’d always expected. 

I first wrote about meeting the enemy in The Jerusalem Post.

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Is it all in my head?

by Brian on June 23, 2019

in Cancer,Health,Mindfulness

If you were to have told me a year and a half ago that my chronic stomach pain was all in my head, I would have picked up the nearest stick and shown you what “all in your head” really feels like.

OK, so not exactly. But I have long resisted entertaining the thought that in some way I helped cause my own pain. It’s a message I internalized when I first got sick with Crohn’s disease as a teenager – you’re not responsible for bringing on what ails you.

That’s why I nearly fell off my chair when my gastro doctor suggested I try medical hypnotherapy.

I’d been through every possible test to locate the source of the pain that had led to the discovery of my cancer but that ultimately doesn’t seem connected to it. I’d had tubes stuck down my throat, I’d pooped on a stick and swallowed a video capsule. Everything came back normal.

“I don’t think we’re going to find an organic reason for your pain,” my doctor said. “It’s not the Crohn’s. I think you could really benefit from hypnosis. I know just the guy. He did his internship here in the gastro department.”

I had nothing to lose, except maybe my obstinacy. So I made an appointment.

Udi started by addressing the elephant in the room. “You didn’t cause your pain,” he reassured me. The interaction between brain and body is complex. “Think of it as the 3 Ps.”

Usually there’s some “predisposition” – in my case a long-standing relationship to pain as a result of the Crohn’s disease.

Then there’s a “precipitating” factor. It could be a physical accident, a viral infection or psychological stress from a life event.

“What were you doing when the pain started?” Udi asked.

“Well, I was just about to start an extensive publicity tour for my book. I was pretty overwhelmed. Wait…do you think there’s a connection?”

Udi smiled as the message sank in.

This combination of predisposition and precipitation generates real pain, not imaginary I-want-to-stay-home-from-school complaining. But it’s the third P – “perpetuation” – that causes the real damage.

As anxiety about the pain kicks in, the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for activating the “fight or flight” response, is aroused.

The body starts pumping out cortisol and other chemicals, and the unconscious interplay between pain, anxiety, a focus on worrisome symptoms, and chemical overload winds up sensitizing the amygdala to pay extra attention to even the smallest signs of pain. (The amygdala is the part of the brain that plays a key role in processing and responding to emotions.)

All of that eventually triggers a negative feedback loop. “The associations you make in your mind lead to the pain persisting even when the physical reason has passed,” Udi explained. “Medical hypnotherapy tries to break the connections and pause the loop.”

“Stopping the amygdala’s hyper-reactions allows…the body’s own healing mechanisms [to] bring it back to balance and homeostasis,” writes Ashok Gupta, a psychotherapist who developed a methodology called “Amygdala Retraining.” 

First, we had to see if I was hypnotizable.

Udi tried two brief techniques on me. One checked to see if I could paint a picture in my mind based on verbal input from him. (I could.) 

In the other, Udi asked me to clasp my hands together and hold out both my pointer fingers. Udi then guided me through a visualization in which my fingers were getting closer and closer together. And by golly if my fingers didn’t start to move. I tried to stop them but couldn’t.

But when Udi tried a full 30-minute relaxation exercise the following week, I was resistant. Udi urged my hands, but unlike the previous time, they stayed firmly in place.

I left the session discouraged. I had been so excited to think that this could help me.

“Take the week and just try to be mindful whenever the pain arises,” Udi said as I was walking out the door.

Did he say something about mindfulness? Well, I can do that! I’ve been going to meditation retreats for years and, even though I don’t practice daily, I’m very familiar with what it feels like to tamp down, if only temporarily, my ever-animated thoughts.

for years and, even though I don’t practice daily, I’m very familiar with what it feels like to tamp down, if only temporarily, my ever-animated thoughts.

? Well, I can do that! I’ve been going to meditation retreats for years and, even though I don’t practice daily, I’m very familiar with what it feels like to tamp down, if only temporarily, my ever-animated thoughts.

I did what Udi prescribed: when pain began to arise, instead of jumping into crisis mode (which is what my amygdala had been conditioned to do), I let my body relax. I acknowledged the pain and softened into it

“The sensations are unpleasant, but they’re not dangerous,” I repeated, employing a mantra Udi had shared.

And then, for a moment, the pain passed.

And I thought: “What the…?”

I tried it each time the pain arose. The pain didn’t go away, but it couldn’t seem to grab me in the same way. It didn’t take over.

In our next session, Udi shared with me some additional techniques from the field of “mindfulness for pain.” (Yes, that’s a thing – Google it.)

Then my mood darkened.

“Are you telling me that I had the tools to break this cycle of pain a year ago and I just didn’t know I could go there?” I quietly raged.

“Maybe you weren’t ready then,” Udi said gently.

It’s been a few weeks and I’m still able to abate much of my pain. I don’t want to get too excited, though – I’ve seen this pain pass before only to come back full-force.

In the end, was I actually hypnotized? Probably not.

Does it matter? Not at all.

I first wrote about medical hypnotherapy in The Jerusalem Post.

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It’s one of the most common Internet conspiracy theories: Facebook is using my phone’s microphone to listen in on my conversations. How else could Facebook know to serve me such on-the-nose super-targeted advertisements? Like the time I went shopping with my wife, Jody, and I asked her which aisle the peanut butter was in and, suddenly, an ad for Skippy appeared in my Facebook feed. 

Search Google to ask if Facebook is tracking what you say in real life and you’ll get 220 million results. Facebook denies doing anything of the sort, of course. CEO Mark Zuckerberg even said so twice, on the record, in front of the U.S. Congress. 

The real answer to how Facebook seems to know what you want even before you do is more unnerving than the conspiracy theory, not just because of what it says about the creepy state of online advertising, but of what it can teach us about how we relate to the biggest questions in the universe: Who created human beings? What caused the Big Bang? Is there a God?

The topic caught my interest when I was listening to an episode of the tech podcast Reply All. A listener named J.P. called the show to talk about the time his mother, Debbie, came to visit from Oklahoma. On her way through security, the TSA confiscated an oversized bottle of Debbie’s favorite perfume. 

When she arrived in San Francisco, Debbie asked her son if they could stop at an airport perfume store. Within a few minutes, an ad for a women’s perfume retailer had appeared in J.P.’s Facebook app.

Alex Goldman, one of Reply All’s hosts, was determined to get to the bottom of these online coincidences. He spoke to ProPublica investigative reporter Julia Angwin, who explained to him that Facebook tracks some 52,000 different attributes about its users, getting as granular as “a person who likes to pretend to text in awkward situations.” 

Facebook’s algorithms know what you click on and how much time you spend on a page or post – not only on Facebook but all over the web. Facebook has a technology that helps businesses decipher where their web traffic is coming from. All they need to do is embed a bit of code on their websites. (Full disclosure: I have it on my own sites.) 

The flipside: it gives Facebook that much more information to improve what it offers to advertisers.

Facebook buys data from third-party consumer credit agencies like Equifax that have files on not only your credit score but your income, your marital status, your legal history and the size of your house.

These data brokers also manage loyalty programs in brick and mortar stores. “They know how often you’ve been buying diapers or cold medicine or birth control,” Goldman explained. 

Facebook has even patented a method to use your previous location data in conjunction with the location data of people you know in order to predict where you’ll be in the future.

When Debbie lost her perfume to the TSA, she searched on her phone for a shop where she could buy a new bottle. But it was too expensive, so she didn’t complete the transaction. Facebook logged that. 

Facebook also knew she was at an airport, so she must be traveling somewhere. When she arrived in San Francisco, Facebook guessed that she was visiting her son (since Facebook knows their relationship status) and displayed the perfume ad on J.P.’s phone.

No surreptitious listening involved at all.

When Goldman laid all this out to J.P., though, he didn’t buy it. He still held that the microphone explanation was correct.

Goldman’s Reply All cohost then challenged Goldman to take some calls from other people who believe Facebook is listening to their conversations. “I would be surprised if you could find literally one person in the world who thinks this is happening, who you could tell them what you’ve learned, and they would be like, ‘Yeah, you’re right.’”

Goldman took up the challenge … and failed miserably, one call after another. Goldman’s conclusion: when the truth is so complicated – as it is with how Facebook is really guessing your perfume or peanut butter preferences – people will opt for the simpler answer. 

As I listened to Goldman’s inability to move listeners from their erroneous microphone beliefs, it occurred to me the same principle is at play when it comes to much bigger, even cosmic issues.

I’ve often wondered why some people, when confronted with what seems to me irrefutable evidence about topics such as human evolution or what caused the Big Bang, default to “God did it.” 

Facebook provides a possible reason.

The human body is incredibly complicated. DNA and the myriad of specialized functions that keep us alive are, for most laypeople, incomprehensible. Wouldn’t it be easier to say “a supernatural being created us ready-to-go?”

Same with the universe. Even if one accepts there was a Big Bang billions of years ago, what came before that? The simplest answer for our limited brains: God.

We use similar shortcuts in other areas. Take healthcare: we don’t know what causes certain diseases, so let’s blame it on vaccinations or genetically-modified foods.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the Facebook-is-listening conspiracy theory, it’s that the simplest answers aren’t always the correct ones, but our brains are going to default there anyway, often to our own cognitive detriment.

Something to keep in mind as we ponder the ineffable this Shavuot.

I first made the connection between Facebook and God at The Jerusalem Post.

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Letting go

May 27, 2019

I was the fat kid in elementary school. I worked hard to keep the weight off. Then I got cancer. As my weight ping pongs, can I learn to let go of the “small things?”

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After Pittsburgh and Poway, is it time to make aliyah?

May 11, 2019

Thoughts after the synagogue shootings in Pittsburgh and Poway. In a world where no place is safe, where should you live?

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You want me to swallow … that?

April 28, 2019

“You want me to swallow…that?” I blurted out to Yardena, the nurse.  In Yardena’s hand was an oversized, oval-shaped capsule, the size of a pill bug – that is, if a pill bug got caught under a radioactive beam and grew in power like a high-tech Spider-man. The bug/capsule had flashing eyes and, instead of DNA, its […]

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The scam

April 14, 2019

Why was someone impersonating me on the Internet? And why were complete strangers writing to me on Facebook suggesting I call the FBI?

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Should Israel be more like America?

March 31, 2019

When I first arrived here in 1984, I wanted Israel to be more like America. It was a common aspiration among immigrants: Israel of the mid-1980s was a much rougher place than it is today, with infrastructure resembling that of a developing nation (remember six-month waits for a home phone line?) more than the world-class […]

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