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A few weeks ago people started dumping ice on their heads to spread awareness for ALS and to encourage people to donate to fund research to combat this terrible disease. As you know from your newsfeed, it went super viral.

This video explains really well why the challenge matters. In sum, ALS is rare and terrifying. People don’t know about it and they don’t want to know about it. Because most people donate to causes personal to them, and pharmaceutical companies don’t have a big consumer base for it, it’s not a popular recipient of time or money.

The ice bucket challenge isn’t about people having fun and pouring water over their heads, it’s about letting people know ALS exists and needs funding. The campaign worked and raised millions and millions and millions of dollars. While it has nothing to do with ice water, it was a fun and gimmicky way to get people’s attention. It worked. People gave attention and money. Now more people know about ALS and there is more money for research. Success!

Then I saw a friend post this article from Time.com entitled “I Figured Out Why I Hate the Ice Bucket Challenge” and it made me just so sad. In it, Sarah Miller explained that although she enjoyed her frivolous weekend (her words) it was marred by irritation at people clogging up her newsfeed with ALS awareness. Sarah has finally figured out why she HATES the ice bucket challenge. She boiled down her upset to this:

At any given time, many people on the planet are enduring war and famine and violence. I don’t think I’m going out on a limb when I say that in the last few weeks the news been especially awful. Around 2,000 Palestinians and 66 Israelis have died in Gaza since that conflict flared up. In our very own country, a police officer shot an unarmed 18-year-old boy, six times. This morning, Sudanese rebels shot down a U.N. helicopter.

And here we are in America dumping ice water on our heads, which, I insist, is more than just harmless fun for a good cause. It is disrespectful to the literally millions of people in the world who are, as I type and you read, in actual physical pain.

To me, this is the utmost of ignorance and disrespect. On so many levels. She used the tragedies occurring in Israel as an example of why nobody should care about ALS. I live in Israel so many of the ice bucket challenges I’m seeing on my newsfeed take place in Israel. Something we pride ourselves on is our empathy. We cry for the Israelis murdered by Hamas. We cry for the Palestinian people oppressed by Hamas. And we cry for people suffering from ALS, even as we run to our bomb shelters. Who is Sarah Miller to tell anybody else for whom they may cry? What level of suffering must someone be in before they earn her sympathies? How should we decide who is worthy of awareness and charity? It is saddening and sickening to me that is it possible for someone to be so selfish and hateful and at the same time so self-righteous.

And then there is this:

Do I think that there’s another way that ALS could have raised all that money so fast? Unlikely. It’s certainly better for the ALS Association and the approximately 30,000 Americans who have ALS that this happened. That said, I shudder to think about what we look like dumping freezing cold water over our heads while so much of the world at this time is plunged into acute suffering over which they have no control.

Sarah Miller’s ignorance is most highlighted in the line “literally millions of people in the world who are, as I type and you read, in actual physical pain.” You know who suffers actual physical pain, Sarah Miller? Do you know who else is in “acute suffering over which they have no control”? People with ALS. Yet for some inexplicable reason you do not want people to raise awareness or raise money for this disease and your complaint is “what we look like”. (For the record you can be dignified and participate in the Ice Bucket Challenge without even wasting water.)

You hate the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge so much and would rather it never existed, that money and awareness had not been raised, because you don’t like how it looks and you don’t like that it clogs up your newsfeed? I live under the threat of rocket fire from people who have sworn to kill me and my family and wipe out my country just for being Jewish and I am nevertheless surprised by your capability of senseless hatred.

So while you go swimming and fly on airplanes and enjoy yourself while people around the world suffer actual physical pain over which they have no control, you can perhaps include in your thoughts and sympathies not just people suffering due to human evil, but also those suffering due to medical conditions that lack funding for proper research. The reason to hate ALS isn’t because it’s clogging up your newsfeed, but rather because it’s a terrible horrible disease. Perhaps if you donated to the cause it would be cured sooner and you won’t have to hear about it anymore.

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A story has been going around lately about a nurse who decided to resign from her position in the maternity ward of an Israeli hospital because they would not allow her to store her pumped breast milk in the staff refrigerator. The irony of the staff of a maternity ward which claims to be pro-breastfeeding being made squeamish by breast milk is lost on exactly nobody. The hospital management was wrong, and the nurse should have been allowed to store her milk in the fridge.

I am very fortunate to work in an office where I have a space to pump for my 5-month-old, and bosses who are fully supportive. The other day, my boss came into my office and asked if I’d heard about this story, which launched a discussion about something that has been on my mind for a few years now.

In my amazing work environment my supervisors and co-workers are all supportive and understanding of my responsibilities and needs as a mother. Throughout my pregnancy and since my return to work, they were all so kind, thoughtful, and respectful of my needs and sensitivities. But I can’t help thinking: what if they weren’t? What can a worker do to protect themselves from an unpleasant work environment?

When I was first married,  I spent months trying to get a job dressed like a religious newlywed with my hair covered, and at every job interview was asked about my plans for children. Sometimes in a direct question,  sometimes with questions that skirted the issue. One place told me outright they would not hire me if I had plans to have a child within the year. Nobody even called me back. Within a week of getting a wig I got two job offers. Once I no longer looked like a married religious woman, the threat of leaving to have a baby was diminished and I suddenly became a potential hire. I knew what was happening, but I had no way to protect myself. I couldn’t prove that any of those places didn’t hire me because I am young and religious. But the worst part was, if I had taken legal action against them or made a public fuss, it would hurt me more than it would hurt them.

When my boss asked what I thought about the nurse that resigned, I said that even though she was completely right, she is now unemployable. She has told the public that if she feels scorned, she will not hesitate to take the story public and run her employer’s name through the mud. Who would want such a disloyal employee? I’ve heard of several cases in which disgruntled former employees sued for wrongful termination and then were not hired for future opportunities because it got back to the potential employer.

If your employer doesn’t pay you on time, or fires you because you are pregnant, or doesn’t let you store your milk in the fridge, or any other such infringement, what can you do? If you are asked illegal questions or discriminated against during the hiring process, how can you protect yourself? Has this ever happened to you or someone you know? How was the situation handled? What were the consequences (if any)? I’m very interested and curious to know how many other people have experienced discrimination or unfair treatment in the workplace and if anyone successfully fought back.

Mindy Meyer, a nice Jewish girl, is running for New York State Senate. Upon seeing her picture, I joked that she reminded me of “Legally Blonde“, but it turns out she actually was inspired by that story. Meyer is 22-years-old and has been interested in politics since she was eleven and a half. Her hot-pink website blares LMFAO “Sexy and I know it”, and says in leopard-print letters “Diva of the District”. Her sparkling slogan is “I’m senator and I know it”. Everything about her screams “I’m young and inexperienced!” Meyer wears her inexperience as a badge of pride. “I can tell you one thing,” she said. “I have no experience in corruption.” (I’m not sure if she is trying to imply that experienced senators are all corrupt, or just innocently stating that she is not.) She knows her audience is the youth vote, which is why she doesn’t mind having a website that looks juvenile and unprofessional. Mindy Meyer seems to have clear goals, and a desire to get things done. She wants to “crack down on crime”, specifically domestic violence, create youth employment programs, and ensure the right to choose where to send one’s children to school, but prevent women’s right to choose to birth an unwanted child. (It’s possible that I do not share her views on this last issue, but I’m trying to keep politics out of this…)

While I applaud Meyer’s initiative, creativity, and activism, I do not quite understand why she is running for senate at such a young age. Why does she not finish her law degree first? Why not get some experience in politics before going ahead and running for office? In the several interviews that I watched her give, she was able to clearly express her points, but was not as well spoken as she could be with a bit of experience under her belt. Perhaps running now is a way to get some publicity as well as experience, even in the event of a loss. Once she has more years behind her and has worked towards accomplishing some of her goals outside of the Senate, people will remember her as the spunky kid who tried to run for State Senate and, inspired by her passion to improve her district, will happily vote for her.

What do you think?

Yesterday morning when I woke up, my husband asked that I please not hate him. This begged the question of what he might have possibly done in the hour since I had last been up feeding the baby that might lead me to such harsh feelings against him. “Ichiro was traded to the Yankees. It’s not my fault. Please don’t hate me.” I told him he had nothing to worry about, my commitment to love him forever is stronger than my hate for the Yankees, and Ichiro is entitled to do whatever he wants. I don’t think anyone even remembers the last time the Mariners were good, and it’s his right to look elsewhere, even if he did choose the soul-sucking Yankees who represent everything wrong with Baseball and nothing good about America. Yes, I despise the Yankees, but I’m certainly not alone.

Of course my husband was surprised by my lack of upset regarding one of the Mariners’ greats leaving, and to the Yankees of all teams. After I considered it for a moment, I was also a bit surprised by my reaction. Alex Rodriguez still gets booed when he plays in Seattle, twelve years after he moved. He’s also on the Yankees. Ichiro played at Safeco Field the very day he was traded, and not only was he applauded for his years of service in a city that loves him, he got a standing ovation. Why was everyone so worked up and angry when A-Rod ditched the M’s, but so quickly forgave Ichiro for switching to our nemesis team?

The answer seems pretty simple: it’s how they did it. Ichiro simply walked across the field and donned a new uniform; still a good person, still loves his Seattle home. When A-Rod left, he claimed he still loved Seattle, even if we booed him. But we lost respect for him. Yes, baseball is how these gentlemen make their livings and money is a factor in where they play, but with A-Rod, it was such a fuss and all about the money. Ichiro left for the love of the game. He’s been on a loosing team for too long, and it’s time for a change. He did it tactfully and with grace. Who knows, maybe he’ll bring a bit of integrity to the Yankees.

My husband desperately wants to buy our daughter Yankees paraphernalia, which I adamantly forbid, as I am at least a third generation Yankee-hater and want my grandparents to continue to send presents. Plus something about the Yankees representing everything against the integrity of the sport. But now if I somehow loose that battle (not likely), and somehow a Yankees onesie makes it into our home (hopefully never), at least I know it will have Ichiro’s name on the back.

Ten Years After A-Rod Left Seattle:

November 2017
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