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December 16, 1988 - Image 14

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-12-16

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Tay-Sachs Information
Talk Draws Small Audience


News Editor



n an effort to alert Or-
thodox young adults - of
marriageable age about
the importance of being
screened for Tay-Sachs, a
Jewish genetic disease, a
public lecture was offered
Monday evening at the Jim-
my Prentis Morris Building of
the Jewish Community
But except for a handful of
interested women, the lecture
was given to a nearly empty
house. Rabbi Shaiall Zacha-
riash of Congregation Shom-
rey Emunah, who is helping
to promote the screening, said
he was disappointed by the
turnout, but urged those in
attendance to publicize the
proposed testing date, Jan.
15. A follow-up letter will be
sent to juniors and seniors in
the religious schools to en-
courage them to come on the
day of testing, Rabbi
Zachariash said.
The Jewish News will co-
sponsor the screening for the
Orthodox community. A com-
munity-wide screening con-
ducted by Sinai Hospital is
planned for the same day.
Both screenings will be free of
Specialists say that anyone
of child-bearing age, men and
women, who was tested more
than five years ago for Tay-
Sachs should be tested again.
They question the reliability
of older tests.
Tay-Sachs is "the most
virulent, the worst" of the
known Jewish genetic di-
seases, according pediatrician
Dr. Ralph Cash, guest speak-
er at the meeting. Dr. Cash,
who is on staff at Sinai and
Children's hospitals, said per-
sons with Tay-Sachs are lack-
ing a specific enzyme which
affects nerve cells. When the
enzyme is lacking, fatty
deposits coat the nerve cells
and ultimately the nervous
system is "short circuited."
Dr. Cash said a child with
Tay-Sachs dies three times: at
conception, because there is
no treatment for the disease,
when the parents find out
their child is stricken, when
the child actually dies.
At birth and for the first
four-five months of its life a
Thy-Sachs baby is normal. By
by six months, the baby can-
not eat by itself, becomes
blind and subject to seizures..
Death occurs by age 4 or 5.
The chances of having a
- Tay-Sachs baby are greater


when both parents are car-
riers of the disease. If two car-
riers have four children, one
child will be free of the
disease, two will be carriers
and one will have Tay-Sachs.
Dr. Cash explained that car-
riers of the disease are "ab-
solutely well. It doesn't affect
your health in any way."
A pregnant woman can
have a blood test to be
screened for Tay-Sachs,
without her baby being in-
volved. The husband can also
be tested, and if both are
found to be carriers, an am-
niocentesis test can be per-
formed. It is then up to the
parents whether they want to
carry the baby to term or
For the Orthodox communi-
ty, abortion is not an option,
Rabbi Zachariash said. An
Orthodox woman must carry
to the baby to term, and then
she and her husband must
face the terrible deterioration
caused by the disease.
In order to prevent such a
tragedy, especially among the
Orthodox, who Rabbi
Zachariash said are -unaware
of Tay-Sachs, the proposed
screening is being scheduled.
"A large majority of people in
the religious community are
not aware,that the test exists,
" he said.
Rabbi Zachariash added


that only persons who are
planning to be married will
learn the results of the test,
which will be kept in a cen-
tral respository in New York
under the auspices of Chevra
Dor Yeshorim, an organiza-
tion founded by lay persons
who lost children to Tay-
Sachs. Rabbis advise the
organization on halachic
questions and physicians are
available to handle the
medical technicalities.
It is unnecessary for single
individuals not planning
marriage to learn of the
results of their blood tests,
Rabbi Zachariash said. By
giving the information to a
carrier, it would give the in-
dividual an unnecessary
psychological burden to carry
around, the rabbi said. The
Jan. 15 screening won't be
available to married couples.
"There's no excuse today for
a Tay-Sachs baby to be born,
" Dr. Cash said. "It's not
much trouble at all to find out
you're not at risk."
Although there is no treat-
ment for Tay-Sachs, Dr. Cash
said, "we can keep such a
child from being born." He
recommended detecting
parents at risk as well as
babies with the disease as
early as possible. "We cannot
treat the disease, but we can
make sure it never happens."

IDF To Investigate Raid
On Terrorist Base

Tel Aviv — (JTA) — The
Israel Defense Force has
begun an investigation into
last week's commando raid on
a Palestinian terrorist base
near Beirut, in which one
IDF officer was killed and
three soldiers wounded.
The target was the subter-
ranean headquarters of the
Popular Front for the Libera-
tion of Palestine-General
Command near Naameh. The
raid was the deepest Israeli
penetration into Lebanon
since the IDF invaded the
country in June 1982.
It was promptly condemned
by U.S. Secretary of State
George Shultz, who remarked
that Israel should have
learned from its earlier ex-
perience that such actions do
not work.
In Israel, the results were
hailed as highly successful,
with upwards of 20 terrorists
reportedly killed and dozens
wounded. Billets and under-
ground munitions stores were

Yet in certain aspects the
operation went sour. Israel
Radio reported this week that
far more aircraft and
helicopters than planned had
to be used in the operation,
with a subsequent rescue re-
quiring more improvisation
that is normally considered
Shultz was attending a
NATO meeting in Brussels
when news of the Israeli raid
reached him. He said it "sur-
prised" him.
The White House also
criticized the raid. "We
deplore violence," spokesman
Marlin Fitzwater said. "We
encourage countries not to
engage in these types of ac-
The special investigatory
committee named by the IDF
high command will look into
why four soldiers were left
behind when the main body
of the commando force was ex-
tricated by helicopter.
Although a second helicop-
ter rescue operation was suc-

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