Stem cell research to be event topic

What do we know about stem cell research? Nothing, probably, but does that keep us from discussing the subject which, in the United States, is highly controversial? Here is some credible ammunition for you to use against critics of the critically important scientific research useful in the fight against Parkinson’s, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, heart disease and heaven knows what other diseases.

On Sunday, Sept. 7 at 2 p.m. at Central Reform Congregation, 5020 Waterman, St. Louis Chapter Hadassah will present “Let’s Give Them Something to Talk About,” an exploration of stem cell research. Speakers Sen. Claire McCaskill, Dr. Steven Teitelbaum and Donn Rubin will address the latest scientific developments in stem cell research, the legislative landscape on the issue and the overview of emerging medical treatments being developed through stem cell research. The program, which is supported by five congregations of The Holy Ground Collaborative and chaired by Hadassah member Jan Sandweiss, is free and open to the community. However, Hadassah would like you to make reservations for the program by calling 314-991-0434.

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After hearing the panel’s presentation, you might be well enough informed to communicate the world’s needs to President George W. Bush. The panel consists of McCaskill, a co-sponsor of Senate Bill 5, the Stem Cell Research Cell Research Enhancement Act, which was vetoed by the President after being passed in the Senate in the spring of 2007; Teitelbaum, a research scientist and physician at Washington University who is deeply committed to research in the potential of stem cells in curing diseases; and Rubin, chairman of the Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures which supports the same constitutional and approved access to stem cell research in Missouri as is available throughout the rest of the United States.

Hadassah’s medical organization in Israel supports the Hadassah Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research Center which owns the second line of stem cells in the world, the first line being in Korea. Dr. Benjamin Reubinoff, head of that research center, literally carried the line of stem cells in a vial in his pocket on a plane from Korea to Israel. As stem cell research is not a political issue in Israel, the research has progressed unencumbered by the issues we have here in the U.S. Currently, Hadassah’s biotransfer company, Hadasit, has several incubator companies working to bring research in Parkinson’s and other areas to the world health marketplace. Donn Rubin visited with Dr. Reubinoff at Hadassah Hospital at the end of May, so he will bring first hand a report on the status of such research in Israel. “Our goal with this program is to update, educate and empower the participants”, said Chairperson Jan Sandweiss. “There are so many myths surrounding the topic of stem cell research, we want to make sure that people walk away with the facts. We want to give them something to talk about when they leave the program.”

ARE YOU LOOKING FOR GOD IN ALL THE WRONG PLACES? If so it’s possible that Rabbi Mark Shook can set you on the right path as he will be the Scholar-in-Residence at the 56th Fleishman B’nai B’rith Institute of Judaism at Rend Lake Resort the week-end of Oct. 31 to Nov. 2. The resort is in Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park in Southern Illinois about 95 miles from downtown St. Louis. It’s an easy drive east on I-64 and south on I-57 or you may take the bus which leaves at 12:30 p.m. on Friday from Temple Shaare Emeth and returns on Sunday in ample time for you to attend the Jewish Book Festival. For more information and reservations for the 2 1/2 day Institute call one of the three Chairpersons — Lee Brandon, 314-872-7379; Adrienne Jackson, 314-570-4704; or Marcia Tash, 314-920-7785.

For more than a half-century, the B’nai B’rith Institute of Judaism (renamed for Alfred Fleishman after his death) has been an inspirational and interesting weekend of learning, spirituality, camaraderie, good food, entertainment and fun. There is also free time for golf, fishing, boating, bridge, mah jongg, reading, fitness or nature walks. This year’s Scholar-in- Residence, Rabbi Mark Shook of Temple Israel, has selected the theme, “Looking For God in All the Wrong Places.” Provocative? You bet. His subjects include “Our Gods and the Gods of our Ancestors: Understanding the Human Instinct for Religious Faith”; “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition: Peace, War and Religion”; and “God is not Dead. She is living in a condo in Longboat Key, Florida.” Since I own a condo in Longboat Key I was eager to find out if, indeed Rabbi Shook, a long time friend, really thought of me as God. Unlikely, but he was out of the city and I could not interview him on that subject. So all of us must go to the BB Institute to find the answers to some mighty important questions. My e-mail address is [email protected], and when you learn whether or not I am God, living in a condo in Longboat Key, I would appreciate hearing from you.