The Politics of Kashrut: Kosher Food Boycotts then and now

An event at Town and Village Synagogue. No word yet whether the refreshments will be fleischig.
Join JFREJ, the AJWS-AVODAH Partnership, and Uri L'Tzedek for a salon-style, interactive program: learn about the complex intersections of immigrant rights, labor rights, and Jewish law - from the Lower East Side's kosher meat boycott of 1903 to the AgriProcessors boycott of 2008.

Featuring Professor Hasia Diner, NYU, and Organizers from the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Uri L'Tzedek, and Hekhsher Tzedek. Presented through Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ) and American Jewish World Service and AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps.

This event is co-sponsored by Hazon, the Workmen's Circle / Arbeter Ring, and Jewish Labor Committee/United Hebrew Trades. For more information or to RSVP click here or call 212-647-8966 ext 10.

Without any negation

We confirm the amazing achievements of Yiddish without any negation at all of the importance of Modern Hebrew, Ladino, Zionism, secular Judaism, Jewish culture as a whole (yiddishkeit) or any other intimate, creative, and authentic Jewish entity and conviction. In addition, we are not all just Yiddishists, of the sort who are committed to Yiddish and only to Yiddish. Just the opposite. We are of various Jewish ideologies. "Whatever we are, we speak Yiddish" - Yiddish is our common property and an integral part of our anchoredness in a part of our identity, our past, and in a part of our future.
--Joshua Fishman, from אַ באַגריסונג־וואָרט לכּבֿוד דעם 100סטן יובֿל פֿון דער טשערנאָוויצער שפּראַך־קאָנפֿערענץ an article in the Yiddish Forward commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Yiddish Language Conference. Translation mine.


Dance of the Dripping-Hand Fairies

I'm no choreographer, but it is important to be meaningful in the movements you adopt in front of the motion-detector paper-towel dispenser. I do want this paper towel! I do! Look, here I am reaching my arms underneath it!


Studying with Big Pharma

The American Board of Internal Medicine ratifies a core of medical knowledge in which the qualified internist is supposed to demonstrate proficiency. I am using MKSAP to study - it's a series of study guides produced by the American College of Physicians. Before the table of contents, the contributors are listed, together with their disclosed involvement with (meaning: compensation by) pharmaceutical companies.

It'd be asking too much to eliminate pharm-phunded contributors from ostensibly nonpartisan guides which reflect the best available consensus of our profession (that would be...legitimate!). Nor do I think it's likely that their contributions will be vetted by a pharm-free referee (that would be...adequate!). In the absence of these strategies, it would be nice - paradoxically - if those medications mentioned in the text could be listed on first appearance by brand name and manufacturer. Otherwise how are we to know which contributor is putting a golden shine on the clinical evidence?


Day and night

Day and night -
We wait frozen in angry day
for night with its moon,
for moon's tenderness.

We wait terrified in angry night
for day with its sun,
for sun's clemency.

Day and night -
They think we're big,
they make free use of us.

We're small, quite small -
fear pulls us to the ground,
as if we're his, as if he owns us.

So small, what should we
do with ourselves?
Our pain, what should we do
with our pain?

Day and night -
They think we're big,
they make free use of us.

--Leib Kvitko (Oct. 15, 1890-August 12, 1952)
(my translation; original here)


Poets' homework

Write a poem using only these words.

It should be a good poem.


Work-hour anecdotes battle it out head to head!

Sandeep Jauhar, writing in Slate, has an introduction to the controversy around work-hour regulation for medical residents

1. One assumption made by opponents of work-hour regulations is that these regulations are only justified if there is a proven connection between longer work hours and more medical errors. But why is the burden of proof on those who want to change the established order? Why must we assume that the more hours doctors work, the better? Do we know that 120-hour work weeks make better doctors than 80-hour weeks, or do older doctors - who tend to be most vocal in their opposition to work-hour regulations - merely harbor nostalgia for their training days?

Would another helping profession expect its practitioners to work more hours (consecutive or total) as proof of their seriousness? Yes there is overlap between quantity and quality, but anyone who's spent time in a residency knows that an extra hour does not necessarily mean an extra hour of learning or patient care. Sometimes - often - it means an extra hour of drawing blood, doing paperwork, transporting, finding a working EKG machine . . .

2. Jahuar writes:
Work limits have troubling consequences [...] including interruption of
resident learning, fracturing of traditional hospital teams, and the creation of
a kind of shift-work clock-watching mentality among young doctors.
Notice how none of these consequences are referenced to the literature, and in fact each of them could argue, properly understood, for work-hour regulations.

For example, resident learning is "uninterrupted" by fatigue (or lack of concentration) when proper balance between work and other parts of life is ensured.

"Fracturing of traditional hospital teams": I suppose Jahuar is referring here to night-float interns or residents, people who don't work in teams. Or to "orphan" interns, coming in on the weekends when the rest of their team is off, so that someone can be around to admit patients. But how "traditional" is the intern-resident arrangement really? It can't be older (at least in the U.S.) than the teaching hospital, which itself isn't older than a hundred years or so. "Tradition" in medicine changes every few decades anyway - why shouldn't it change now?

"A clock-watching mentality among young doctors" links to a sidebar referencing not a study or review but . . . a conversation the author appears to have had with some young doctors who don't like work-hour regulations. But my colleagues - conscientious, hard-working, caring doctors - like and accept these regulations as a rule. They "watch the clock" only in the sense that every shift worker respects their own commitments whether at work or outside. Martyrdom is not our measure of compassionate, effective care or of professional devotion.