Originally published in The Jerusalem Post, In Jerusalem July 8, 2016

IF YOU had to guess how many children out of 100 have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), what would you say?

What about autism? Dyslexia?

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of November 2013, up to 11 percent of children have been diagnosed with ADHD.

Also according to the CDC, about 1.5 out of 100 children have been identified as having autism.

And according to an ongoing Yale University study begun in 1983, which follows kindergarten children in all public schools in Connecticut, one in five children have dyslexia.

Surprised? It turns out that dyslexia is the most common learning disability. However, it is often not diagnosed. This is especially true in Israel, where in some cases the word dyslexia isn’t even on the evaluation sheet as an option for the clinician to choose. The result is that many children who have dyslexia (which is not reading letters backwards, but more on that later) are not diagnosed and do not get the help they need. As a result, they fail in school and all that comes with it.

Dr. Rinat Green, a staunch advocate on behalf of children with dyslexia in Israel, has made it her life’s work to change reality for them. She estimates that a large number of street kids could have been saved had they been properly diagnosed and treated for their dyslexia.

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Originally published in the In Jerusalem section of The Jerusalem Post January 1, 2016

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A 48-year-old woman goes to see a breast surgeon. She has four lumps in her breasts, a large ulcerated mass and cancer that has spread to her lymph nodes. She says she had not come in earlier because it didn’t seem so important.

A 36-year-old woman sees her dermatologist for an irritated nipple. The doctor palpates a tumor the size of a golf ball and immediately sends her to a breast surgeon. The patient returns to the dermatologist a month later for the same condition. The doctor, shocked to see that she has not had surgery, asks if she had seen the surgeon. The woman says she was concerned about the level of kashrut at the hospital to which she was sent and, upon her rabbi’s advice, was waiting to have surgery at another hospital with stricter kashrut. She dies not long after.

A mother of seven is fully aware that she has a gene that makes it very likely she will contract the cancer that killed her mother and sister. She knows that if she has her breasts and reproductive organs removed, it could save her life. But she refuses. Not because she wants more children, not because she is afraid of surgery, but because she is afraid that if the neighbors find out, it will ruin her daughters’ chances for a shidduch. After failing to convince her that she could have the surgery with no one knowing, her doctor puts her in touch with a woman who has had the surgery and reconstruction undetected by her community. She finally agrees.

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It seems that most of what we hear today regarding agunot is what cannot be done. From heads of yeshivot to the regular person on the Internet, organizational announcements, blog posts, and Facebook statuses are full of what is wrong, unacceptable and dangerous about freeing Jewish women chained to their marriages

Doors are closed before they can even be knocked on, and many women have nowhere to turn.
The lack of options has led Jewish women to the national media to plead their cases. The stories of women trapped in marriage have been spread across the pages of American publications such as The New York Post, Newsweek, and other mainstream media. Unequal divorce laws in Judaism have become common knowledge and yet, it still seems that there is no way out in Jewish law when a man refuses to give a “get.”

Martin Friedlander of Martin Friedlander PC is a matrimonial attorney whose office is located in midtown Manhattan. He appears regularly in the US Supreme Court and family courts as well as in batei din (religious courts) for Jewish divorce cases. He is not only an attorney but has smicha from Rabbi Avrohom Yaakov Hakohen Pam. What he has seen in his over 20 years of handling divorces has prompted him into action.
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Since the stabbings and ramming attacks have begun in earnest, the average Israeli has become…more.

More alert, more suspicious, and more fearful. But also, more determined, more proud and more humorous… Let me explain.

We wake up in the morning and check the news. Not in the normal ‘Israeli checking the news’ way. We haven’t even turned off our phones from the night before. We aren’t even out of bed yet. And we’re scrolling the news.

Have the day’s stabbing attacks begun yet? Where was the last one, and what was the MO?  How was the attacker fended off? Are there wounded? Dead? We figure out the odds of another attack in the next few hours with a made up algorithm in our head based on city, attack method, distance and number of casualties.

Out of bed, with a smile on our faces. Breathe and don’t let the kids see you sweat.  Choose not to tell them about the news and hope nobody talks about it at school – a futile wish. Continue reading