May Letters – 2015

May 9, 2015 by

Clipart_LettersFire Safety First

In light of the recent tragedy in Brooklyn in which seven children were killed: Do this now.

Every bedroom and hallway should have a working smoke detector. Batteries should be changed religiously twice a year when you change the clock. Smoke detectors are effective in waking up sleeping residents in time to escape. If you have an alarm system, get smoke detectors hooked up to your central monitoring station.

Plan an escape route with all home residents, even children. In case of fire, doors should be closed as a barrier to the fire spreading even if one is fleeing.

Install Carbon Monoxide detectors on each floor as well. CO is odorless and is formed from incomplete combustion from any non-electric device such as ovens, ranges, dryers, or water heaters. CO causes people to fall asleep rather than flee, which is why CO detectors save lives.

Use common sense when lighting candles or setting up hot plates. Keep them far away from fire hazards.

The following advice is from a Hatzallah paramedic professional: Blechs are dangerous.

No one should use off-brand hot plates, but rather only UL-listed ones, along with UL-listed heavy-duty timers (the kind approved for air conditioners) which turn them off when not in use.

Ruth Mazurek

Riverdale, NY


Smoke detectors on each level are important (and the law!) but if they are needed, chances are it may be too late. Unfortunately, we cut corners when it comes to fire prevention.

Case in point: Some years back, we bought an Israeli-manufactured Shabbat Warming Plate that possessed all the required rabbinical endorsements for Shabbat use. One Shabbat, my hand brushed against the cord and it seemed much too hot.

After Shabbat, I ran my hand along the cord and the rubber felt soft. I disassembled the device, disconnected the cord, and brought it to Home Depot. When I asked an associate if, given the wattage of the appliance, the cord was acceptable, he laughed and gave me a cord at least two gauges larger (under $10).

I connected it to the appliance and, to no one’s surprise, the cord is now not warm at all. I shudder when I think that I had this potential fire hazard in my house.

Case in point: Anyone using a basement room as a bedroom has to make sure that all emergency egress requirements, as required by law, have been satisfied. Fixed, non-removable grates on the windows may be problematic.

Case in point: Hot water heaters and furnaces are the two most dangerous appliances in your house. The new code for Gas Hot Water Heaters requires an increased exhaust duct size, an expansion tank, and proper shut-off valves. Anyone using an unlicensed plumber to install a hot water heater who will not request a town inspection is jeopardizing his or her family.

Case in point: If you attend regular meetings or gatherings in a venue that has not been approved by the town and, therefore, does not have required push bars, you are at risk.

Fire safety is not the place to save money.

Ed Berliner

West Orange, NJ

Je Suis Hitler?

The American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendants overwhelmingly condemns the Second Holocaust International Cartoon and Caricature Contest, sponsored by the Tehran-based House of Cartoons and the Sarcheshmeh Cultural Complex under the supervision of the Supreme Leader.

This second contest, just as the first one, invites contributors to question the historical truth of the Holocaust and is more than offensive to those who were fortunate enough to survive the inhuman treatment they were forced to endure during World War II.

We survivors, only a small percentage of the Jewish population to withstand the horrors and atrocities of the concentration camps, vehemently resent this offensive, malicious competition questioning the existence of the Holocaust, particularly when it is being organized under the auspices of the Iranian government.

Hillary Kessler-Godin

Director of Communications

Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany

New York, NY


Study to Examine SOCE Therapy

Two years ago when California passed a law to prohibit Sexual Orientation Change Effort (SOCE) therapy for minors, I began talking with several colleagues in our field about a study to examine the outcomes of adolescents who have undergone SOCE therapy.

While gay activists have continued to advance laws to prohibit SOCE therapy for minors in California, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C., a study on the outcomes of adolescents in SOCE therapy has yet to be published in the scientific literature.

After nearly two years, we are now recruiting subjects to participate in a study, which will be the first of its kind, that examines the perceptions, both positive and negative, of adolescents who have undergone SOCE therapy.

The purpose of the research is to discover the perceptions of adolescents undergoing SOCE therapy for same-sex desires and behaviors, as well as to understand some of the possible influences the therapy may or may not have on youth. The study will also seek to determine some possible causes or reasons why youth may experience same-sex attractions.

The project is designed to ask adolescents to complete a comprehensive questionnaire dealing with their sexual desires and behaviors at the beginning of SOCE therapy and afterwards. Additionally, the adolescent minors will answer other questions about their well being and if they felt the counseling or therapy they received was beneficial or harmful.

The criteria for participating in this study is the following:

  1. Subjects must have been under age of 18 when they first began SOCE therapy. If they are currently over 18, but began therapy before they turned 18, they may participate.
  2. Subjects must have worked with a licensed mental health provider in their treatment. Because the laws proposing to prohibit SOCE therapy for minors are targeting licensed mental health providers, the outcomes of clients seeing non-licensed therapists will not provide the evidence we are seeking.
  3. If subjects are currently under the age of 18, a parent/guardian must consent. If they are over 18 but are eligible to participate, their own consent is acceptable.

Please contact us at or 301-805-6111.

Christopher Doyle, LCPC

James E. Phelan, LCSW

Walter Schumm, Ph.D

Bowie, MD

A Small Shul in Paterson

A small shul in the basement of the Federation Apartment building in Paterson allows elderly residents of the building to have meaningful Shabbat and holiday services and helps them maintain their Jewish identity, giving them a spiritual high to look forward to throughout the week.

That this shul functions is due to two factors:

1) A small but dedicated group of Fair Lawn residents, who recruit a bal korei and organize a group of Jews to walk several miles (regardless of the weather) to help complete the minyan.

The other important factor is the presence of two Torahs, donated many years ago by the Yavneh Academy and families who wanted to perpetuate loved ones’ names to be used by a shul

Those Torahs saw heavy use over the years and, unfortunately, like many things in life, are showing signs of their age. They recently literally started falling apart.

The group of Fair Lawn residents embarked on a project to bring those Torahs back to life, and contacted an experienced sofer, who is currently hard at work checking and fixing the text, mending the parchment, and replacing worn-out atzei chaim (wooden rollers) and mantels (covers). Our goal is to complete this ambitious project before Shavuot – very appropriate for celebrating Mattan Torah.

If you might have a connection to Paterson or if you find this interesting enough to help out in any way and want to take part in this mitzvah, you might also want to help the shul replace some very old, worn out siddurim and chumashim and other accessories, please contact me at  or visit:

Jerry Schranz

Fair Lawn, NJ

Disband the Palestinian Murder Incentive Fund

Our family has gone through what no one should ever experience. On November 10, 2014, our daughter, Dalya, was waiting at a bus stop just south of Jerusalem on her way home from work, and never made it home.

An Arab, Maher al-Hashlamon  crashed his car into Dalya, and then jumped out of the vehicle and stabbed her to death.

The killer was caught by the IDF soon after. He confessed to the killing, and was tried and convicted of the cold blooded murder of our daughter.

At the trial, we watched with horror in the court room as the killer smiled with joy and his whole family rejoiced as his sentence was pronounced.

Why the glee? The PLO has used its administrative arm, the Palestinian Authority, to foster a “murder incentive fund,” to provide financial help to those who murder Jews and the murderers’ families.

Some people say this is a Nazi idea. Yet historians of Nazi Germany find no instance in which a Nazi was actually honored for murdering a Jew. The Nazis kept their policy of murder under the radar. The PA, on the other hand, in its official publications, tells the world that it will pay anyone who murders a Jew and also remunerate the killer’s family with generous funds for life.

This abrogation of justice must stop. No nation in the world would allow any entity to award those who murder their citizen.

This month, Israel’s policy-makers are forming new guidelines for the nw government of Israel. This is the time to bring pressure on the new government to adopt a clear guideline for government policy: The PA must disband its murder incentive fund. We demand that the PA cease and desist making payments to anyone convicted of murder or attempted murder of an Israeli citizen.

When a US President, an EU official, or an Israeli peace activist asks that Israel provide humanitarian aid to the PA, the Israeli government can ask: Since when does rewarding someone for an act of murder constitute  “humanitarian assistance?”

Brenca Lemkus

Tekoa, Israel


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