Cocktails, Community & Conversation

In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we invite the community to come together in the Temple Sinai Sukkah for a night of storytelling, sharing and advocating for breast cancer awareness and support. This event is hosted by Elana Rivel, Stephanie Sussan and Sharsheret, an organization supporting young Jewish women facing breast cancer, as well as their families.

RSVPs requested: [email protected]

Donations are welcome.

Co-Authors to Sign Breast Health Book in Philadelphia

In conjunction with National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Joyce Kirschner and Ted Eisenberg will be signing their book The Scoop on Breasts: A Plastic Surgeon Busts the Myths at Barnes & Noble Rittenhouse Square (Wednesday, Oct. 16 from 5 p.m.) and at the Neshaminy Mall store (Wednesday, Oct. 23 from 5 p.m.).

Kirschner lost her mother to breast cancer when she was 8. That was in the early 1960s, well before mammograms, chemotherapy and genetic testing were routine. In 1973, she married Eisenberg, who later became a plastic and reconstructive surgeon, a decision inspired in part by Joyce’s early loss.

Since then, Eisenberg has taken care of more than 5,000 women, and the process always starts with an evaluation of breast health and a mammogram, if indicated. “The importance of breast health is a conversation everyone should be having, and it is an issue that’s long been on my mind,” he said.

Whether women are having breast augmentation, lift, reduction or reconstructive surgery, they want to look feminine, natural and proportional. They want their clothes to fit better. They also want their breasts to be symmetrical, but symmetry is a myth. Breasts are sisters, not twins.

More after the jump.
Joyce chose a career as an author and editor; she worked at the Jewish Exponent, wrote for Fodor’s Travel Guides, and co-authored the Dictionary of Jewish Words (A JPS Guide) with Ellen Scolnic.

The couple, who reside in Merion Station, drew on their experience to co-author the book, in which they answer hundreds of patient questions about breast development, breast health, and breast surgery. The book has won 10 national awards.

Eisenberg donates a portion of the proceeds from his breast surgery cases and book sales to Philadelphia’s Linda Creed Breast Cancer Foundation, which provides free mammograms for women with little or no medical insurance.

Israeli Technology Turns Tumors Into Ice Balls To Cure Cancer

— by Richard Gray

Breast cancer patients could be treated without surgery following the development of a technique that destroys tumors by turning them into a ball of ice. Doctors have begun treating women suffering from breast cancer in trials of the device, which uses a supercooled needle tip to repeatedly freeze then defrost tumors so that the harmful tissue is damaged and ultimately dies.

More after the jump.
The technique, which does not require general anesthetic and can be completed in about 15 minutes, could provide an alternative to surgery, which often requires women to stay in hospital for up to a week and can leave them with scars.

The needle is cooled to –274F (–170C) by pumping liquid nitrogen through a network of tiny tubes, allowing the surgeon to control the size of ice ball produced to ensure it freezes the entire tumor.

Scientists behind the device say it is possible to treat tumors up to the size of a golf ball. It has already been used on benign tumors and doctors have now begun a trial of the procedure in 30 breast cancer patients.

“The cells in the human body are made mainly of water, which means they freeze,” said Hezi Himmelfarb, the chief executive of IceCure Medical, the Israel-based company that has developed the system.

There have been attempts before to use heat to destroy cancer cells like this but that can be extremely painful because our bodies are very sensitive to heat.

Cold has an anesthetizing effect, so the patients feel very little pain during or after the procedure. We have developed the system so it can be carried out in a normal doctors’ surgery as it is minimally invasive and relatively quick.

The procedure, known as cryoablation, controls the size of the ice ball produced to ensure that the tumor can be destroyed without damaging healthy tissue.

“There is very little scarring as it is only the needle that is inserted and the tumor does not need to be removed,” added Mr. Himmelfarb.

The device has already been approved for use in the United States and IceCure is hoping to get European approval in the next year.

Reprinted courtesy of The Telegraph.

Reform Movement to Komen on Defunding of Planned Parenthood


Though the Komen Foundation announced that it would award no new contracts to Planned Parenthood clinics, Brinker denied that Komen was actually “defunding” Planned Parenthood, a technical point based on the fact that a few grants have yet to expire.

This afternoon, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and Rabbi Marla Feldman, Executive Director of the Women of Reform Judaism, sent a letter to Ambassador Nancy Brinker, the founder and CEO of Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

We urge you to use your leadership in Komen for the Cure to reinstate funding to PPFA for breast cancer screening, to reconsider the standard by which the organization makes funding decisions, and to continue to fight for the health and lives of women everywhere.

The full text of the letter follows the jump.

Dear Ambassador Brinker,

On behalf of the Union for Reform Judaism whose 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, with membership of more than 1800 Reform rabbis, and the Women of Reform Judaism, which represents more than 65,000 women in nearly 500 women’s groups in North America and around the world, we write to express our disappointment in Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s decision to halt its longstanding partnership with Planned Parenthood Federation of America, thereby withholding funds to fight breast cancer where they are most needed.

Komen for the Cure has helped hundreds of thousands of women in the fight against breast cancer, and has educated millions, bringing the once taboo and closeted subject of breast cancer into the public domain. Indeed, the global impact that you and Komen for the Cure have had was precisely why we were so pleased to bestow upon you the Eisendrath Bearer of Light Award at our recent Biennial convention. And this is why we are so deeply disappointed by Komen’s decision to cease funding mammograms provided by PPFA in the face of a politically-motivated investigation unrelated to PPFA’s breast cancer screenings for vulnerable women.

At the same December Biennial, the Women of Reform Judaism honored PPFA President Cecile Richards and applauded PPFA’s work to advance women’s health. It is painful for us now to see politics and partisanship interfere with and undermine efforts to support women who lack the resources they need for preventive medical services like mammograms. Each year Planned Parenthood’s network of more than 800 clinics nationwide provides nearly 830,000 breast exams. PPFA has stated that, over the past five years, 170,000 of the centers’ 4 million breast exams conducted were a direct result of Komen grants. Halting Komen grant money to PPFA is contrary to your organization’s mission and interests, directly and unfairly threatening the health and safety of women.

Upon accepting the Eisendrath Bearer of Light Award, you told the story of two women, one Palestinian and one Israeli, marching together to combat breast cancer in the first Race for the Cure in Israel. You explained with admiration that, in the course of the walk, they were able to forget the political climate that divided them and they bonded instead over the common cause of women’s health. We now urge Komen to follow their example by rejecting efforts to sow division among women’s health advocates and providers and refusing to sacrifice the lives of women on the altar of political ideology.

We understand that this funding decision comes from a new standard employed by Komen for the Cure that defunds organizations under government investigation. While we understand the desire to have an objective policy in place, this particular standard is misguided, threatening more than just grants to PPFA. We believe there are less partisan ways to accomplish your goals. For example, a standard that is linked to investigations carried out by law enforcement is more likely to be free of partisanship. The standard that Komen has established allows Komen’s funding decisions to be dictated by the political whims, partisanship and pet issues of individual members of Congress, who persuade their committees to launch an investigation.  This new standard may appear to extricate Komen from politicization, yet in reality it leaves the group open to even greater politicization.

We urge you to use your leadership in Komen for the Cure to reinstate funding to PPFA for breast cancer screening, to reconsider the standard by which the organization makes funding decisions, and to continue to fight for the health and lives of women everywhere.

We look forward to your prompt reply.

Sincerely,
s
Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
Rabbi Marla Feldman, Executive Director of the Women of Reform Judaism

A Jewish Action Plan Regarding the Komen Bigotry

Addendum

Rather than post a new story, please note that this morning Komen restored Planned Parenthood for now. Hadassah sent out a press release that they are grateful for this about face. Grateful? How about relieved and vigilant. I’m keeping my money on Planned Parenthood.

I hope the analysis below that I posted yesterday remains in your saved email to use the key points for future such situations.

The Komen situation is a fundamental abrogation of Jewish values and any breakdown along Republican and Democratic lines on this one is a dangerous and false dichotomy. I’ve today been able to speak “off the record” with several Komen employees at a variety of regional levels.

Apparently some of their staff are tendering resignations, many more are wrestling with themselves over whether to do so, given the high national rate of unemployment.

More after the jump.
The coherence of Komen’s large-scale well-orchestrated total follow-through process on breast cancer care is going to fragment, sadly, as agencies and patients debate whether to continue accepting their funding. I’m advised a woman who skips a step to avoid Komen-funded services in a care sequence, who returns later, needing funded care via Komen partnerships, can be disallowed sequence participation and funded services in some states due to existing state policies.

The Judeo-Christian Myth: Jewish Values Are NOT Synonymous with Right Wing Christianity

Let us be clear, Jews can’t have freedom of religion in a country where abortion isn’t allowed and our tradition isn’t respected. As likely you know, Judaism stipulates that the mental and physical health of the mother comes first. In our tradition, abortions are not a category of always refuse or always abort, but rather a situation by situation matter for deep reflection, study and decision by the woman. Orthodox Jews would likely seek the counsel of their rabbi, as well. The majority of Jews are not Orthodox, and so we would counsel a woman with an unwanted pregnancy to seek support and guidance if she wishes — from her rabbi, healthcare professionals, family, and, if known, the man who is source of the sperm that has resulted in the pregnancy.

Most Jews advocate responsible reproductive behavior, including the use of birth control, while at the same time encouraging those who are able and willing to have or adopt and raise children.

A Revolting Revolution

Like most revolutionary (revolting feels to be a better word) acts that attack the fabric of a given society, the Komen decision has more implications than just our pillorying and de-funding them. Emerging breaches in continuity of care must be addressed quickly by agencies like Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood for example, does mammography referrals to private and public service delivery sites, that in some states, Komen has been funding. Women’s health organizations work together, normally, to ensure continuity of coverage. So specifically, please urge Planned Parenthood to add funding or delivery of mammography to their service provision with your new or diverted donations.

Mitzvah-Centered Living is Our Credo

This is a very sad time of fissure in American society. May we all be blessed to lead inclusive mitzvah-centered, rather than self-centered lives.

Addendum

Rather than post a new story, please note that this morning Komen restored Planned Parenthood for now. Hadassah sent out a press release that they are grateful for this about face. Grateful? How about relieved and vigilant. I’m keeping my money on Planned Parenthood. Shabbat Shalom.