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December 19, 2003     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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December 19, 2003

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, DECEMBER 19, 2003 PAGE lS learn a By Steve Israel Texas Jewish Post DALLAS, Tx.--One of four Jewish surgeons who helped separate conjoined Egyptian twins says the boys' story might teach the world's warring fac- tions a lesson or two about peace, politics and family squabbles. '~You take care of what's im- portant, and that's these little boys," said Dr. David Genecov, a Dallas cranio-facial surgeon. "Families can have some of the worst arguments and violence. If you look at Muslim and Arab . and Jewish violence as a major family rivalry that goes back thousands of years, then some- i~ thing like this [surgery] hap- ~ ~ns--it'ssometimescaseslike this that let you bury the i hatchet, soto speak." Genecov said he was thrilled last week when the Dallas-Fort Worth Muslim community "threw a nice thank-you party for all the physicians and all the people Chabad involved You have wonderful conversations with people. They thank you, you thank them." A group of American physicians is also actively sup- porting Ahmed and Mohamed Ibrahim and their parents through their ordeal, the sur- geon told the TJP in an inter- view on Sunday. Both boys are "making progress," said Genecov, who participated in last month's 34-hour surgical procedure with cranio-facial team leader Dr. Kenneth Salyer and five neuro-surgeons at Children's Medical Center Dal- las. The boys will remain under Genecov's care the next six to 12 months for reconstructive skull surgery and physical therapy at Medical City Dallas Hospital. "Ifthere'sanyway these little boys can bring communities together and see each other on a different level, it may be the kids are here for other reasons besides getting separated," Genecov said. "I don't think anybody, whether it be in the Muslim community, the Jew- ish community, or the overall Dallas-FortWorth community, tends to look at them and thinks of a religious or political issue. It's just two beautiful boys now have an opportunity to have a great life." But he added, "Ev- erybody is asking, 'Oh, these kids are from Egypt. Is that an issue for you?' No, it's the right thing to do. If somebody asks you for help, you help them. It's notaJewish thing, although there is a large tradition within the Jewish community to help strangers." Notably, the Book of Exodus gives Jews this direc- tion: '"/'ou shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt." One of the "beautiful things about being a physician," Genecov said, is 'Syou go into it knowing that your job is to help people. In helping people and taking that responsibility, there are no political bound- aries, there are no religious boundaries, therearenopreju- the difficult times that exist dices. You see the world from a right now, both here and different point of view. You see abroad." His belief that "chil- it from a point of pain. Pain dren open doors and are a spe- doesn't have any boundary, and cial bridge" was reinforced, he Jews, of course, don't have a said, during a recent conversa- corneronthemarketforpain." tion with a pediatric surgeon In taking care of children who visited China in 1983. "He from all over the world, told me on the heels of his Genecov said, '`we have an op- visit--which he made as the portunity to see that all who first Western physician in sur- come in, they're all thinking gery at the time in China-- the same thing: to be happy, politicians began a dialogue And part of being happy is be- that ended up opening China. ing healthy." "As a Jew, I think He said it's amazing, when you maybe I'm more sensitive to operate on kids for the right that sort of painful struggle of reasons, the doors that they otherpeople, basedonourown open for other people. Chil- history," he said. "We want for dren are a special bridge. It other people the same things might be that these [Egyptian] wewantforourselves.Wewant kids could be that kind of to treat them the same way bridge." Genecov is a board that we would like to be member of Congregation treated."Inconversationswith Shearith Israel, where he be- the boys' parents, "It's always came a bar mitzvah at a time about the kids," Genecov said. when his father was president "It's not about religion, it's not about politics, it's about help- ing two little boys. I think it's important as a microcosm of Continued from page 11 Reform JewstwisttheTorah ism as they understand it-- Chaim Waxman, professor to mean "whatever society that's a good question." ofsocioiogyandJewishstudies countingandthatcomparisons wants to embrace," Shafran Analysts say Agudah's big- at Rutgers University, said a therefore are suspect, said. gest challenge may be reach- turn towardoutreachwould be But that hasn't stoppedYoffie, the Reform leader, ingouttoJewswhosereligious a welcome development for Shafranfrom citing the num- toldJTAthat"thechallengefor practices they have maligned Agudah, but it isn't clear bersasevidenceofOrthodoxy's Judaism in the 21st century is and who have been alienated whether fervently Orthodox success in America. how we reconcile our Jewish by the organization's rhetoric. Jews will be open enough to The dichotomy of Orthodox commitments with the ben- Chabad may extend a other Jews to do it effectively. growth amid general U.S. Jew- efits and temptations of the nonjudgmental hand to non- "I am unaware that it's a ish decline is well evident in outside world." Orthodox Jews, analysts say, reality, that it's anything more the NJPS results, Shafran said. He said of Agudah, "Since but Agudah regularly issues than Avi Shafran's--let's call He noted that while the Re- they have apparently so much public statements on contro- it---dream," Waxman said. formmovementalsohasshown contempt for the practices and versial issues such as gay mar- For a long time, he said, growth, Reform interpretation beliefs"ofnon- Orthodox Jews, riage, abortion bans and the "the haredim have had the for- of Torah "is a mockery of the "how exactly they're going to "Who is a Jew"debate in Israel, tress approach of 'we'll take wordhalachah,'or Jewishlaw. overcome that and teach Juda- raising the ire of many people, care of our own,' " Waxman said. The way the fervently Or- thodox see things, he said, is that"there's a spiritual plague out there. What do you do if there's a plague? You quaran- tine yourself." Recommended by Scott Joseph of the congregation. David and his wife, Dr. Lisa Genecov, a developmental pediatrician, have four children, Michael, Max, Matthew, and Megan. David's father, Dr. Edward Genecov, and brother, Dr. Jeff Genecov, are both orthodon- tists specializing in general and cranio-facial orthodontics. "They take care of a lot of the kids I take care of," David said. (In addition to Dr. Genecov and Dr. Salyer, the twins' sur- gical team included neuro-sur- geons Dr. Bradley Weprin, Dr. David Sacco, Dr. Frederick Sklar, Dr. Dale Swift and Dr. Kenneth Shapiro.) Though hopeful that Ahrned and Mohamed's story might inspire others, Dr. David Genecov said he's satisfied to fulfill his simple interpretation of tikkun olam: "Repairing the world, one kid at a time, one face at a time." 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He was a volunteer for the Memorialcontributions can Clermont. Arnold Palmer Hospital for be made to The Arnold Palmer Mr. Levy is survived by his Women and Children, TheHospital forWomen and Chil- wife Gwen of Clermont; his Central Florida Blood Bank, dren. Mother-in-law Ida Flaxman and the Jewish Community Services were entrusted to Topping of Plantation, Fla.; Center. Mr. Wolff organized Beth Shalom Memorial son, Barry Levy of Jericho, the firstchapterofB'naiB'rith Chapel, Orlando. N.Y.; daughter, Susan Levy inAnkara, Turkey and was in- of New York, N.Y.; sister, Volved in the local chapter. RICHARD LEVY Sandra Moses of Cheshire, He was a retired contract Richard Levy of Clermont, Conn. and two grandchil- administrator and a member Fla. died on Sunday, Decem- dren. of Congregation OhevShalom ber 7. He was 68 years old. Services were entrusted to aswell as its Men's Club. 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