ORT and Lutz
have devised a
system to bring
into the age of
"Is AIDS a judgment of
God upon sexuality?"
"Is homosexuality a sin?"
Source: Princeton Religion Research Center, February 1986; Survey of 518 adults.
Dealing With An AIDS Victim
Takes All Of Our Jewishness
DANIEL H. FREELANDER
My brother, David, died of AIDS at age
32. Somehow — even toward the end — I
truly believed that my family would be
spared this tragedy. Our lives had been so
normal, so Jewish, so blessed, I reasoned.
We shared a warm, nurturing environment
and active leadership in our synagogue's
educational, worship, music and youth pro-
grams. We had traveled to Israel many
times as a family. Our family get-togethers
were seders and RoSh HaShana dinners.
Judaism was the magnet that brought our
family together, even two decades after
leaving our parents' home.
After David's death, our Jewish connec-
tions did provide strength and comfort —
but only after those same Jewish connec-
tions had caused us anxiety, pain and fear.
Some of that hurt still remains.
But I've learned some lessons that I
pass along here.
1. Normally intelligent and compas-
sionate friends became virtual strangers,
ceasing to call or visit, as if they thought
that by touching us, David's family, they
might themselves contract the stigma of
AIDS. Others, while rationally understan-
ding that there was no risk involved, still
could not bring themselves to visit David's
They reacted with surprise and concern
when I spoke of the hours my 2- and 4-year-
old sons spent with David while he lay on
his deathbed. Their unspoken message was
heard: "You can't be sure that you or your
Rabbi Freelander is the Union of American
Hebrew Congregations' regional director for
children won't catch it." But how can one
fulfill the obligation of bikur cholim,
visiting the sick? (AIDS is not transmitted
by casual contacts like sickbed visits.) One
must rise above irrational fears.
My plea: Visit the AIDS patient and his
or her family. Hold hands. Be there. Learn
to overcome your discomfort and fears and
ignorance. As during a shiva call, your sim-
ple presence speaks more than any words
can after the fact. This is when the patient
and family need you most.
2. Pray for a miracle, but don't trust in
one. David had first faced death in June
1986, but a seemingly miraculous drug,
AZT, gave him renewed life. He regained
strength, weight, energy and presence of
mind; and he appeared so normal, so cured,
that we convinced ourselves he had in fact
escaped the evil decree.
But his newly found health was il-
lusory. AZT addressed the symptoms, but
not the disease itself. And its side effects
created a whole new battery of life-
threatening situations. Sadly, David's
healthy outer appearance masked the reali-
ty we sought to ignore: that AIDS was and
is as yet incurable, that ultimately David
My plea: Help the families of AIDS pa-
tients make the most of whatever precious
days, weeks or months remain. We may
want to be deluded by miracles, but friends
must help us face the reality that every
possible moment together is too precious to
3. Families of AIDS patients desperate-
ly need to talk about what they are ex-
periencing. Yet they harbor understandable
Continued on Page 22
Re lig ious News Service
LIFE IN ISRAEL
A special farm in the Judean Hills is
using Biblical techniques to get
modern results. Also, what happened
to Menachem Begin?
Undismayed by his lack of converts,
a Jerusalem rabbi continues his
campaign against driving on
Lavi At The Crossroads
Israel will soon decide
if its new jet fighter
Shot In The Park
Seventeen years have developed
Monte Nagler's keen photographic
eye for the great outdoors.
Summer Fun Vs. Jobs
Balancing work and play isn't always
easy for college students at home for
70 For Women
Life In Israel
August 21, 1987
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS ' 7