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April 08, 1966 - Image 32

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1966-04-08

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Mysterious Malady Claims
the Lives of Jewish Children


(Copyright, 1966, JTA, Inc.)

"I have a cousin," the letter
from New York reads, "whose
first-born. child was mysteriously
stricken with a rare and dread
disease of the central nervous
"After rushing frantically to the
best doctors available, the parents,
finally discovered that the disease
is called Dysautonomia . . . an
hereditary disorder that afflicts
only Jewish children. Not only
Jewish, but Ashkenazic as well !"
The letter is one of many that
have gone out on behalf of, or
from, the Dysautonomia Associa-
tion, a group formed by parents
of children with the mysterious
ailment. President is George Crohn
Jr., a nephew of Detroiter Law-
rence Crohn.
They are frantic letters and ad-
mittedly reflect the confusion that
surrounds this "autonomic dys-
function," as the medical books
refer to it. It is not true, for ex-
ample, that dysautonomia afflicts
only Jewish children. Caucasians,
apparently yes; but cases of non-
Jews have been chronicled, and
one local physician says that of
four he has treated, two have been
. Nevertheless, the evidence is
stacked: Of 124 cases reported
up to February 1964, three-
fourths were Jewish.
Not that all dysautonomia cases
have been reported. Detroit pedia-
trician Samuel Bernstein thinks
:there are six or seven such young-
sters in Detroit, but he's not sure.
Experts still aren't 100 per cent
agreed on how to diagnose it, and
many doctors wouldn't recognize
dysautonomia if it were sitting in
the anteroom.
The rare physician who is famil-
iar with the symptoms might spot it
by looking at the child's tongue
(such youngsters lack taste buds,
one doctor found) or administering
certain injections to which the
response is abnormal (they do not
feel the expected pain) or study-
ing his eyes (they cry but without
Dysautonoinia children die a
relatively early death—not neces-
sarily because of the disease it-
self, but because . of the accom-
panying "side effects:" severe
vomiting followed by pneumonia;
convulsions and accomp a n y i n g
coma; or—less usual—cardiac ar-
rest (heart failure).
They must be constantly
watched. They might touch a
hot stove without feeling any
pain; or break a leg and walk
around on it, unaware of the
break. They are subject to
many illnesses—respiratory -in-
fections, high fevers—and have
poor muscle coordination. Be-
cause of the latter, and accom-
panying speech difficulties,
they may appear to be mentally
retarded even if their intel-
lectual capacity is normal. They
must avoid air travel—one child
lost consciousness on a plane
—and underwater swimming.
Drugs can alleviate some symp-
toms, and psychiatric work helps,
but because they cannot keep
pace with normal activities, clysau 7
tonomic children are subjected to
emotional tension that no amount
of guidance can cure.
The oldest known case was a
woman who lived to the age of 31.
She adjusted to home and family,
tried to participate in social func-
tions and even held a part-time
factory job. But she admitted, not
long before her death, "I have
been nervous all my life."
The first case of dysautonomia
was described by Dr. R. L. Day
in 1939, but his puzzlement over
the strange case yielded no con-
clusions, until another physician,
Dr. Conrad Riley, recognized the
combination of symptoms with
five patients a decade later.
All seemed to have blotchy skin,
excessive sweating, drooling, in-
ability to cry tears. All five were
Dr. Riley deduced from his
findings that the disease was
most likely inherited as a reces-

sive trait from the child's
parents, both of whom were
There is no proven way to deter-
mine in advance who is a carrier,
and a couple may have several
normal children in addition to the
one ailing child. On the other hand,
there may be two or more such
youngsters in a family. It may
skip several generations without
Dysautonomia isn't the first in-
herited disease to prey on Jewish
children. Tay-Sachs, more widely
known, is equally mysterious and
even more imminently fatal: chil-
dren with Tay-Sachs are doomed
by their third year.
One in 333 non-Jews is said to
be a carrier of Tay-Sachs, one
in 44 Jews.
In fact, a dramatic study of
218 cases not long ago showed
that descendants of persons
from the provinces of Grodno
and Kovno—an area less than
100 miles wide in northern
Poland—accounted for all but
8 per cent of the 218.
Why? No one knows. Some say
inbreeding, yet the disease is un-
common among Yemenites, who
are believed to have a greater
rate of inbreeding that the Ash-
kenazim from Central Europe.
(Some 35 cases of dysautonomia
discovered in Israel are concen-
trated among Ashkenazim).
No such similarity in geographi-
cal background has been found in
dysautonomia cases. Physicians in
Scotland described two dysau-
tonomia sisters, whose parents
were non-Jewish natives of Scot-
land. They were not related before
So the questions go on. One
day, researchers may find the
cause in an enzyme deiciency.
Such a "simple" solution, a doc-
tor admitted, was wishful thinking.
But the parents continue to
fight. Much of the research done
so far has been with funds from
the Dysautonomia Association.
What is hampering research,
however, is the lack of known
cases that can be studied. The
association is embarking on an
education campaign among doc-
tors as well as parents, so they
may recognize the s e v ere
And the strange prayers go on-
p.arents praying that their afflicted
children may one day shed tears.

Get Hebrew U. Degrees


Samuel Rothberg of Peoria, -Ill.,
and Judge Louis E. Levinthal, of
Philadelphia, were awarded hon-
orary .doctorates at the Hebrew
University of Jerusalem at .a spe-



cial ceremony during the opening
session of the annual meeting of
the international board of gover-
nors of the university. More than
100 members of the board, from
nine countries, met in Jerusalem
from March 29-31.
Rothberg, chairman of the board
of American Friends of the Hebrew
University,. was named an hono-
rary Doctor of Philosophy. Judge
Levinthal, chairman of the interna-
tional board of governors, was
named honorary Doctor of_ Law.
The degrees were voted by the Sen-
ate, the university's supreme aca-
demic body.

Commerce Department Now Charges Israel
Restricts Trade Practice Against Arabs


(Copyright, 1966, JTA, Inc.)

WASHINGTON—Israel has been
charged by the United States De-
partment of Commerce with 64
counts of restrictive trade prac-
tices "against Arab countries" in
a report on the implementation of
anti-boycott regulations covering
the last quarter of 1965:
The regulations, envisaged by
Congress as an answer to Arab boy-
cott tactics affecting American
commerce, were interpreted by the
Commerce Department—which op-
posed the new law—to include "re-
strictive trade practices" by Israel,
India and Pakistan as well as the
Arab states. All the reports of re-
strictions by Israel against the
Arabs, and by India and Pakistan,
dealt with shipping requirements
to avoid detention or confiscation
of cargo in hostile ports.
A total of 828 restrictions
which Arab countries sought to
impose On American trade with
Israel were reported. About 60
per cent involved shipping re-
strictions. Most of the remainder
pertained to certificates regard-
ing the origin of goods.
The Commerce Department said
that "because this regulation has
been in effect for only one quar-
ter, its impact on U.S. trade or on
the attitudes of U.S. exporters can-
not as yet be assessed. The number
of reports .received relating to re-
, strictions other than shipping re-
strictions (which may involve the
security of the shipment) or cer-
tificates of origin (usually a legal
requirement of the inporting coun-
try) has been too small to permit
a clear judgment as to the effect
of the regulations on U.S. export-
ers' actions or on imposition of re-
strictive trade practices or boy-
cotts by particular countries."
The report stressed that "in
keeping with the law, the regula-
tion made clear that exporters
are encouraged and requested to
refuse to comply with such (boy-
cott) requests but are not legally
prohibited from doing so." It was
also noted that reports by export-
ers on action taken in boycott cases
were "not mandatory" under the
The Commerce Department
meanwhile rejected a Congres-
sional suggestion that subsidies
to U.S. shipping companies be
withheld if they violate the lan-
guage and intent of the law by
cooperating with the Arab boy-
cott. This arose from the recent
controversy over the S.S. Presi-
dent Roosevelt which finally was
allowed to transit the Suez Canal
en route to Haifa.
Assistant Secretary of Commerce
A. B. Trowbridge wrote Rep. Sey-
mour Halpern, New York Republi-
can, that withholding of subsidies
from shippers who collaborate with
the boycott "would be tantamount
to penalizing subsidized U.S. ocean
carriers for taking certain actions
which other members of the U.S.
business community are requested
not to take but are legally -not pro-
hibited from taking. Moreover, the
withholding of subsidies . . . would
only result in further loss of cargo
by U.S. flag ships which now carry
only approximately 9 per cent of
our foreign commerce."
Rep. Halpern had also urged that
the reporting requirement he
strengthened and broadened, to
force concerns to state action taken
in boycott- issues. Mr. Trowbridge
said, however, that "we believe that
restricting the reporting require-
ment . . . is not only administra-
tively sound but is also legally con-
sistent with the statute."
Rep. Halpern has now raised a
question of "whether the United
States has formulated realistic pro-
cedures aimed at preventing inter-
ference at the source." He sug-
gested the need for new regula-
tions "to remove any ambiguity
or subservience which may afflict
American policy."
Johnson Gets- Nasser Protest
Against U.S. Arms to Israel
nuclear- weapons potential and
United States arms shipments to
Israel were among topics covered

in a "personal" letter from Egyp-
tian President Nasser to President
Johnson, informed sources report-
ed. The letter was given to the
President by Anwar el-Sadat,
speaker of the Egyptian national
assembly, who came to Washington
as a guest of the government.
The Egyptian Embassy disclosed,
and the White House confirmed,
delivery of the letter but neither
source was willing to give any ad-
ditional information. However both
Egyptian and United States sources
said it could be assumed that the
letter conveyed some of Nasser's
recent publicly-voiced concern over
Israel's alleged proximity to nu-
clear arms capability, Nasser's pro-
test over the supply of Patton tanks
to Israel and the "complications"
these developments created for
Nasser's efforts to "explain" Unit-
ed States policies to North Viet-

After seeing Mr. Johnson, the
Egyptian delegation met with Sec-
retary of State Dean Rusk who
tendered a luncheon for the visitors
at which, State Department sources
said, reassurances were given that
the United States would use all of
its influence to induce Israel to
desist from nuclear weapon de-

A reception for the Egyptians by
the Near Eastern subcommittee of
the House Foreign Affairs Com-
mittee Was assailed by Rep. Leon-
ard Farbstein, New York Demo-
crat and member of the subcom-
mittee. He refused to attend the

Javits Hails Brazil Jews

Jacob K. Javits declared here that
he has been deply impressed with
the leadership of Brazilian Jewry
and their procedures for settling
problems. He noted that the prob-
lems of Brazilian Jews were en-
tirely different from those of Ar-
gentine Jewry. The Republican
Senator from New York toured a
number of South American coun-

32—Friday, April 8, 1966

reception on grounds he did not
feel that "honor should be be-
stowed on the official representa-
tive of a country" whose head, Nas-
ser, "has just denounced the United
States." Rep. Farbstein said that
the reception was being held at
a time "when we hear threats of
a so-called preventive war against
Israel." The reception was report-
edly arranged at State Department.

Hebrew Corner

Ties With
World Countries


12177.1 ? 31 *.v

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Three major factors bring about
close tics between Israel and the
United States.
*The United States had a large share
in getting the Resolution of the United
Nations passed for the establishment
of a Jewish State, and it was the first
to recognize young Israel.
*During the years of its existence,
Israel has enjoyed considerable
economic aid fro.:11 the United States.
The largest Jewish population of
the Diaspora now resides in the United
The State of Asia and Africa face
similar problems to those of Israel
in the economic and social spheres.
Many study missions came to Israel
from African countries. Experts from
Israel are . found today in most Asian
and African countries. In Israel. an
Institute was established for the train-
ing of yt ung people from Asia and
Africa for public and economic serv-
ices. Scientists of world fame met
with statesmen and economists
from Asian and African countries at
the International Conference in Re-
hovot on the function of science in
various countries.
The friendly relations between Israel
and France were strengthened, es-
pecially before the Sinai Campaign,
when the large quantity of arms bought
i:y Israel from France enabled it to
cope with the Soviet weapons in the
hands of the Egyptians. In 1960, the
first cultr ral agreement was signed
with France.
The blecli of Latin American coun-
tries constituted
o n s t it u t e d one of tnhi umajor
,,,a t ifoancs-
resolution for the establishment of a
Jewish t ayt a rasd, op tteedie
arlile ye
were f
relations between them and Israel, and
the Jews of these countries were
"iven full freedom to maintain close
ties with Israel.
The kidnapping of Eichmann frr-nn
Arventina in May, 1960, temnorarily
beclouded the tra'litionally friendly
relations between the two states, but
the crisis quickly passed (was over-
Translation of Hebrew column.
Puhlishhed by the Brit Ivrit Olamit
With the Assistance of the Memorial
Foundation for Jewish Culture

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