Letters to the editor August 20
Roman, Pavilack don’t represent the Jewish view
How do Israelis and American Jews feel about the Iran accords? The Jewish Chronicle recently provided an excellent article summarizing the results of the many polls designed to determine how American Jews and Americans more generally feel about the Iran nuclear accords (“Parsing the polls to find where Jews stand on Iran nuclear deal,” Aug. 6).
Much less helpful were the comments provided by Gregg Roman, director of the Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, and Stuart Pavilack, executive director of the Pittsburgh office of the Zionist Organization of America. Listening to them last Monday, Aug. 10 on WESA’s “Essential Pittsburgh,” one would conclude that everyone in Israel is solidly against the accords.
Apparently, Roman and Pavilack failed to read The New York Times article on July 23, which quoted former directors of the Israeli Mossad and of the Shin Bet, as well as a former Israeli Air Force general, who are among many Israelis who support the accords. As for American Jews, although Roman implied that the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh wants to give everyone a chance to hear diverse views, when J Street’s support for the accords was mentioned, Pavlack stated, “For the life of anybody, no one can understand why J Street is for this deal.” By suggesting, as they did, that Israeli and American Jews speak with one voice, they do a grave disservice to the discussion.
Michael J. Zigmond
We must do better for aging population
The recent issue of The Jewish Chronicle (Aug. 13) is a cause for both praise and concern. The theme of “The Art of Growing Older” carried through the paper is praiseworthy in that we ignore our aging at our own peril. Yet it is a cause for concern when we concentrate on “turning patients into real consumers” and telling each other that “your health is up to you” without attending to the values and realities that drive the way we carry out our responsibilities. Thankfully, the articles included (although perhaps in a manner easily passed over) that we must “move beyond the individual” assuming responsibility for the needs of others as well as ourselves. The references to “Being Mortal” were most welcome, and anyone who cares about the subject of growing old would do well to have this book on her or his must-read list. I think, however, that Dr. Atul Gawande might be a little perplexed at the juxtaposition of his passionate call to care for each other differently than we presently do alongside urgent pleas for moving further into the medical-industrial-business model for delivery of services.
Many of my peers in their 60s and 70s are in the unprecedented position to have their own parents approaching their 100th year. And yet we seem to be the only “developed” country left on the face of the globe that adopts an industry- based business model to address the manner in which we provide care as we become ill or old. Gawande warns that if we approach these complex problems as business opportunities, although great scientific advancement may continue, we will ultimately fail in our responsibilities to each other as human beings.
The articles on aging in The Chronicle appear to reinforce that our first responsibility is to acquire the resources to buy the very best. If we were talking about machines rather than human persons, this might hold up.
As Jews we are so fortunate to be blessed with traditions to guide us in our human struggles. Our great honor and duty in caring for our older neighbors is articulated well by Deborah Winn-Horvitz, and our national and local Jewish organizations have done much to improve the lives of those who are burdened with disquiet and sustain complicated long life. But there is still much to do. I applaud the Jewish Healthcare Foundation’s long-term agenda and its focus on six very worthy areas of great need. And yet to refer to these as “areas in need of marketing strategies,” even to raise awareness and inform patients is a continuation of the dangerous language that keeps us further from the basic needs underpinning these praiseworthy efforts. Sensible and sensitive use of health care resources is important, but so is the fundamental reform of certain of our systems of care, none more so in need of radical and comprehensive rethinking than our networks of nursing homes.
All of us deserve each other’s kindness, not just those wealthy and smart enough to turn ourselves from being patients into real consumers.
(The writer is a registered nurse and clinical chaplain residing in Pittsburgh.)