July 26: On coming together

A man tried to save a little girl. Period.

letters to the editor (photo credit: )
letters to the editor
(photo credit: )
On coming together Sir, - Deepest prayers to the Sofer family on the tragic death of their three-year-old daughter in Jerusalem ("Little girl dies after falling into Jerusalem manhole filled with toxic gas," July 23). You reported that a "haredi" Jew jumped out of his car and into the four-meter manhole opening to try and rescue the young girl; and that he himself was now in the hospital in critical condition. Why report that he is "haredi"? Did he check out the religious beliefs of the baby sister, or the upbringing of the little girl before he jumped in and risked his own life? A man tried to save a little girl. Period. Some people we call haredi have been violently protesting, not the entire haredi community. The majority of these people are out every day living their lives and trying to help others. I pray this little girl's death can be the tragic lesson we need. Next week we mark the anniversary of the destruction of both the First and Second Temple. This was our punishment mainly because of the terrible way one Jew treated another. Maybe if we can come together as a people, we can bring a tiny bit of comfort to the Sofer family. YECHIEL AARON Hashmonaim Sir, - Re the tragic death of Rachel Sofer: If there was an open manhole cover in my area, I would ask a passerby to help me close it. HELEN SIMPSON Jerusalem They weren't there? So what Sir, - As David Grossman, Amos Oz, Yonatan Gefen and Naomi Chazan represent the Left and Meretz, the headline of your item should have read "Public figures from the Left demand Cast Lead probe" (July 23). It seems to make no difference to them that the soldiers in the Breaking the Silence testimony were quoting hearsay. Anything to undermine the IDF and Israel. EVA POR Haifa Bikinis in Mea She'arim? Sir, - Re "Segregated buses" (July 22): I watched a video recently on your website about a protest against separate seating on haredi bus lines. Yet not one haredi woman was at the protest. Why do these protesters care about how the sexes treat one another in the haredi community? Why do they think they need to protect the haredi women from themselves? I am disgusted by the haredi riots and the haredi refusal to serve in the army, as that affects their fellow Israelis. But how haredim sit among themselves is a private matter, and they don't need outsiders explaining to them how prejudiced and backward they are. According to the logic of the protesters, bikini-clad women should have every right to stroll in Mea She'arim - after all, why should the haredim have the right to decide who is fit to appear in their neighborhood? Reasonableness informs us that every community should have some latitude regarding the conduct in its neighborhood, whether on the street or on a bus. This battle is ridiculous and counterproductive. ARI WEITZNER New York MSP's helpless victims Sir, - I appreciated your article explaining the difficulties with diagnosing, treating and prosecuting episodes of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy ("Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy is almost impossible to diagnose and cannot be treated, says psychiatrist," July 22). The rarity of the disorder and the extreme difficulty of diagnosis and treatment make it a doctor's nightmare and the basis of scripts that might appear on Medical Center, ER, or House. But the overriding issue is that the individual suffering at the hand of the person with MSP is a helpless victim who must be protected at all costs. As an associate professor of clinical dermatology in the State University of New York system, during a hospital consultation I made the diagnosis of MSP in a two-year-old who had been admitted for a skin lesion with no other symptoms. It was evident to me that there was no natural disease process that could present in the manner this skin lesion did: It was likely due to material injected under the skin. Unfortunately, I could not unequivocally tell the pediatricians that the mother was doing this to the child as there was no proof. The surgeons felt obligated to treat for necrotizing fasciitis (better known in the media as "flesh-eating bacteria"). Despite the lack of other symptoms expected in necrotizing fasciitis, they proceeded to perform aggressive surgical intervention. Two weeks later, in the plastic surgeon's office for repair of the mutilating surgical treatment, the two-year-old - a delightful, interactive child - died of the "mysterious disease" she had while in the bathroom, accompanied by her mother. Several years later, the medical examiner told me that all the information about MSP had been in the patient's chart, but the hospital physicians, and then the authorities, were unable to act because of lack of proof acceptable for prosecution. Ultimately, however, when the woman was at term with her second child, she was maneuvered into a local emergency room, where the authorities gave her a choice: Relinquish the child for adoption, or be prosecuted and face prison for murder. The child was relinquished, and I have no information about the woman having any more children. After more than 15 years, a week does not go by without my seeing that two-year-old in my mind's eye. The victims of MSP must be protected. JILL S. CROLLICK, MD Jerusalem Jewish ayatollahs Sir, - The JFS experience is nothing new ("The JFS lesson," Editorial, July 22). My own family encountered such coercive techniques back in the 60s, when my brother applied to Yeshiva University. At the interview, he was told that to be accepted he would have to adopt an Orthodox lifestyle, to which he agreed. But when they said that his family would have to do likewise, he told them that such an absurd demand was unacceptable, and walked out. He got his degree elsewhere, and to this day is a typical secular Jew. So what exactly did YU profit by that? Here is the answer: When my parents (justifiably) bragged about their son's integrity to a friend, they were told: "He could have lied. You don't know how many YU students did." My father replied that we were not prepared to so. And sure enough, riding on the New York subway one Saturday, my mother met the mother of a Yeshiva University student. The woman begged my mom not to tell a soul, and my mother assured her that it was none of her business, and that if the YU authorities wanted to catch her at it, they would have to drive to her house on "Shabbes" and follow her onto the train. This dreadful treatment of so many sincere converts is beyond disgraceful. All these Jewish ayatollahs here and abroad would do better spending time in trying to make Jewish religious life more palatable for the vast majority. For my part, anyone willing to tie his or her life and future to our long-suffering, insanely persecuted, stiff-necked, uncompromising band of loonies should be welcomed with open arms (and get what they deserve). TREVOR DAVIS Asseret Some don't like it hot Sir, - Summertime and the livin' ain't so easy if one doesn't have an airconditioner. On the IBA news, the weather always seems to be 30°C! Other news channels quote temperatures varying between 33° and 35° for this area. However, whatever the figure is, to quote an old musical song, "Its Too Darn Hot!" SALLY SHAW Kfar Saba