Cheshbon, please!

I'm sorry we had to read another Forward article with the headline "Venerable Journal In Language We Don't Read Closes Its Gaping Mouth" - and I do agree with some of the basic facts: less readers of Yiddish, less writers of Yiddish, blah blah blah zzzzz. (Fewer Yiddish letters, even. Now there are only 16: we had to lay off everything after samech. Sad.) But pleeze, if you do have a Yiddish journal, or care about Yiddish writing (yours or anyone else's), don't expect my pity until you do your utmost to share the wealth of the words you care for. Make sure your journal gets to those who want to read it (I didn't even know the journal still existed - too late now, I guess)! Make sure, for goodness' sake, that your journal has a Web page! As Miriam Koral points out: make sure that you are training your successors! Don't blame the younger generation (thanks for the sneering assessment of your juniors in the last sentence of the article, Mr. Departing Redaktor!) until you get to know them.



What is the effectiveness of pediatric CPR?
What is the effectiveness of laypersons' pediatric CPR?
What is the effectiveness of classes for laypeople about pediatric CPR?
What is the effectiveness of e-mails advertising classes for laypeople about pediatric CPR?

A bris!

Details on request.


Pesach cleaning: universal and particular

I love driving out the leaven. But when I talk to the third or fourth Spanish-speaking immigrant patient who couldn't visit her doctor (me) for weeks before Pesach -- she works for a Jewish family, who "can't give her much time off"-- then the phrase fiestas judias begins to sound a little funny.

* *

I wanted to go memorialize the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, but it's too close to Pesach. I suppose this should make the historical memory even sharper: in varshever geto iz itst khoydesh nisn ("in the Warsaw Ghetto it's Nisan now" -- Binem Heller).


Too bad!

I'm sorry Abbott Katz (great name! - is it for real?) has a problem with "ultra-Orthodox". (I prefer "benighted Yiddish-speakers," myself. Or "Cholentists.")

I have a problem with "Orthodox." Not with the term itself but its use. Whenever someone is observant, or considers themselves bound by halachah, the term "Orthodox" is always put into play in the article describing them. This seems to happen most often in the Times.

I do accept the term when my work friends or colleagues use it to describe me, because they're not looking for a lecture on twentieth-century Jewish religious or intellectual history. But I'd rather be called Conservative, or frum-egal, or sho(y)mer mitsvo(s/t), or (halachically) observant/pious/devout/hyper-religious, or (failing all else) "that guy with the yarmulke/kippah/lid/skullcap/hat."


Bits of work, or: Passover primary-care cleaning

Yesterday I taught a class to (better: had a discussion with) my colleagues in the Primary Care program about risk perception.

Today I gave a presentation about some ongoing research: (to what extent) do patients and the medical chart differently report the doctors' reason for their hospital admission?

You can attend the talk too!


The dove wobbles slowly on

Ode to the Dove - a puttering translation continues.


I'm over-ideological, I know, but I wonder what language Rina Sutzkever and her father speak to each other. Hebrew, I would guess?

So many notes!

Feast your ears on this collection of Pesach tunes.


Gee, thanks, I guess

Patrick Radden Keefe in Slate on Fujianese immigration:
With their scattered diaspora and entrepreneurial traditions, the Chinese have sometimes been called the Jews of Asia. The Fujianese, who are famous for their adventurism and business savvy, are occasionally described as the Jews of China. The people of Changle, Lin Li tells me, are the Jews of Fujian Province.
"Entrepreneurial traditions"! "Business savvy"! How polite of you, Patrick.



The first word my blonde daughter sought out
was Disgusting.

We slop around the pure dough with washed hands
pebbled with healed scars.
Mushing it around. It slops
over the edges,
this loving mix
shaping prevarications.

Touching the new loaf
brings my head into alignment at last
all the more so with butter ready
and a clean knife.


From permanent hesitation to mature skepticism: growing doctors

During today's lecture on decision analysis:
Most of our interventions don't help patients. And isn't that a bitch.


The Thirty-six Million Dollar Rectal Exam

In 2004, while working at a construction site, Brian Persaud was hit in the head by a large wooden plank, lost consciousness, and was taken to the emergency room at New York Presbyterian Hospital. There he received what he says was an unjustified digital rectal exam. Persaud brought suit against the hospital, and soon, four years later, the case will come to trial in the New York State Supreme Court. The arguments in the case are legal, but the underlying issues are also medical and ethical.

More at Clinical Correlations, the NYU Internal Medicine blog. (Thanks to D.M. Esq. for a quick legal education.)



Katle Kanye brings shalekh-mones (Purim gifts) to a neighborhood English teacher (a titsher is an instructor for secular subjects among Yiddish-speaking Chasidim). Translation mine.
We rang the doorbell and the door was opened by a Jew of about sixty, short, with a pointy beard, in a white shirt without a tallit katan, and with a black yarmulke - but made of cloth. In other words a yekke-ish Jew. I mean, we're talking about titshers and except for a convert or a newly religious person it's really rare to see a Chasidic titsher. My nephew, as a matter of fact, has a Chasidic titsher, born and bred into holiness, who teaches the kids English - in Yiddish. If they can teach Hebrew in Yiddish, why not English? As to what they call him: Titsher Felberblum. Since he's a rebbe in the mornings what to call him is a momentous question. If they called him Rebbe Felberblum that would mean that a rebbe is teaching English to the children, something which shouldn't be seen or found. If they call him Mister Felberblum that would mean they're calling a melamed Mister - but then the people would cry out at this dishonor they stabbed our Rabbi, they knocked down our Rabbi! So then what did they do? Just calling him titsher would be fine for goyim or goyish Jews. But you can't refer to as titsher a Chasid with a gartel and shoes and long socks, someone who calls his fellow an evil name has no part in the World to Come. A compromise was hit upon: Titsher Felberblum. This incorporates both his Jewish name and his profession of secular studies. Thus the Torah doesn't God forbid come to be shamed, and the morning melamed's glory remains in its place.