Wednesday, December 26, 2018

How the Study of Fine Art is Improving Observational Skills of Medical Students

In 1998, Dr. Irwin Braverman, Yale School of Medicine professor of dermatology,  started the "Observation Skills Workshop" --a joint program between the Yale British Art Gallery and the medical school.

Dr.Jacqueline Dolov and Dr. Irwin Braverman host "The Art of Noticing"
the first discussion in a new series of Yale netcasts. (photo by John Curtis/Yale University)

The program came about because Dr. Braverman was finding that students were not describing patients as well as he thought should have been.

He brainstormed the idea of exposing students to unfamiliar objects --in this case 19th-century victorian paintings from the gallery. Then he had students itemize as many details as they could from a painting, followed by the students meeting in a conference room where relate their art observations to photos of actual patients.

In a study, he found that "first year medical students detected important details nearly 10 percent better than peers who had not." ( a later study performed by one of his students put the figure at 20%)

This procedure spurs the students to become better doctors because the careful observation skills can actually help them in making better diagnoses and otherwise prevent them from 'jumping to conclusions' which often prove wrong.

The workshop  is now a required course at Yale for all first year students. At least 24 other institutions have adopted the course into their curricula.

Kudos to Dr. Braverman and his students for bringing the liberal arts into medical education.

For more details on the mechanics of the program, click here.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Dr. Saul A. Schwartz, Remembering My Dad 20 years after his passing

In an earlier article, I recounted my dad's passion for playing different sports in college: baseball, basketball and field and track.

Today,  I remember his passion for caring for his patients (which led, incidentally,  to his building one of the largest practices in the Bronx.)

His dedication to the sick was reflected in several ways. First he made house calls, going up and down flights of stairs. I should know as I would often accompany him-- carrying his doctor's bag. (at the time, he would charge $5 per house visit.) And he spent time getting to know each of his patients--patiently listening to all their complaints.

Well the word go around very quickly along the Grand Concourse and the East Tremont section of the Bronx about the doctor who makes house visits. Naturally, when the patients recovered, they flocked to his office at the Flat Iron Building located at 1882 Grand Concourse.

Here it was not unusual  for up to 40 patients to be waiting for a consult. I would ask dad why they didn't make appointments. His answer was: I would urge them to schedule appointments, but they simply come and who can stop them? Half would find seats in the waiting room and others would stand.

They did not mind waiting, sometimes up to two hours. Why?

For starters, he would emerge frequently from his private consultations and pop-in to the waiting room and hallway and greet each patient personally while they waited.

Dad had  a special caring, empathetic, bedside manner that was infectious. He took time to hear their complaints, speak to them in Yiddish, German, or English. He did much to alleviate their worries and anxieties that often led to ulcerative colitis, his specialty.

Dad, I am so grateful to have experienced the importance of taking the time to listen to each patient's story before making a diagnosis- a luxury rarely heard of in the practice of today's medicine.

You have inspired me to write a series of articles to examine the current crisis.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Medical Students turn to poetry discussions to share experiences and to develop empathy

In an earlier article I discussed the enlightened lead of the St. Andrews Medical School in giving every graduate a small portable book of poems, Tools of the Trade to accompany them on their rounds.

 Then in my most recent posting, I explained how reading and reciting poetry helps the reader-including the medical student/professional-- to deal with the complex of emotions that are not easily resolved by simple reading of prose.

The next obvious question is: how can medical educators work with their students to get them to express-- in a group setting--what it is they are experiencing when reading poems dealing with their daily contacts with their ailing patients?

St. Andrews has added a new direction: using the Tools of the Trade: Poems for new doctors  book of poems as a base, it has instituted a program called Poems for Doctors. First there is a blog which publishes these short poems. Then "video readings are made by medical professionals or  trainees who have chosen one poem for particular reasons or associations that they explain. Each reading provides a seed for informal discussion in a Facebook group managed by a group of highly experienced medics." (bold italics mine)

Contrast the St. Andrews informal discussion in a Facebook group with the following poetry centered program at Hadassah- Hebrew University Medical Center to "increase student's capacity for empathy and awareness of patients' narratives." Five 1-hour meetings were "held immediately following a teaching round, of seven to nine students with a facilitator doctor. At each meeting a poem reflecting the patient-caregiver relationship is discussed in order to encourage students to share their experiences." The results favored the students' empathetic identification with the patient (what it is like to be a patient). Read evaluation here.

 St. Andrews and Hadassah present differing models of how to  bring students together to share reactions to poetry. First they are alike in that each has an experienced faculty member who facilitates discussion. The former uses an informal discussion in a Facebook group  while the latter brings the students together in a face-to-face meeting held immediately following a teaching round.

Both schools are to be commended for their encouraging students to share their reactions to

The Hadassah method of having round table discussions, where students face each other --eye to eye --  is, perhaps, preferable because it done immediately after coming off the wards  when the emotions are still so fresh.

   Yet, on the other hand, the St. Andrews method of informal Facebook discussions may be more preferable mode for shy students who may be more reluctant to share their emotions in a 'live' setting.
They may be inhibited to share reactions in a setting where they have to view their peer's reactions such as facial expressions.

Besides St. Andrews and the Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center other medical schools such as Yale and Harvard are also taking the lead in including poetry as a means of fostering empathy.

In my next article, I will explore how medical schools are requiring art classes as well. So stay tuned in.


Wednesday, October 31, 2018

On the road to Relief from stress: How Poetry Works to make known the unknown, to make the impalpable palpable

In a recent article, I pledged to explore how the composition, recitation and listening to verse can alleviate the inevitable stress associated with the study and practice of medicine. In this context, I discussed Psalm 23.

So why, one might ask, is poetry more effective than prose in this regard?

 I was enlightened by comments spoken by Rabbi Gidon Shoshan who declares in G-d's Poem that the text of the Torah (arguably the most read book in  both the original and in translation) "is not prose, but poetry. While prosaic writing is deliberate, detailed and thorough, poetry is concise, choice and laden with allusion. A poet does not write all that he wishes to communicate but, rather, uses the power of language and brevity to encapsulate, in limited words, all virtually unlimited ideas." (italics mine)

What he is saying is so profound. The poet, in my opinion, is a master of words. He chooses words that resonate with meaning, many meanings which allude to many ideas and so what he writes can be interpreted in many different ways.

King David praising the Lord with his Harp
Illustrator: Richard Andre, London, 1884

He is in tune with inner rhythms, that akin to music, can not be expressed in one note, but many notes. Recall that the psalms of David were composed to be sung to the accompaniment of the harp. The classic epics, such as the Iliad and the Odyssey were also written to be sung.

 And since we each have individual sensibilities,  each one of us as reader/listener can and will have our own unique response(s).

The poet, in my opinion, makes the unknowable knowable, the impalpable  palpable. He takes abstruse, complex ideas and feelings and chooses words and rhythms to share conflicts, paradoxes, ironies and emotional states--that are hard to articulate in simple prose.

To write in simple prose is limiting, dull and boring while poetry opens the mind and soul to multiple unlimited feelings and thoughts that need to be communicated.

This is why, reciting, understanding and discussing poetry lends itself to unraveling, the confusing-- often tormenting-- complex of emotions experienced by student medical professionals as they come in contact for the first time with real life threatening diseases afflicting their patients.

Indeed, before one can be an empathetic care-giver to those experiencing pain and suffering, one must first deal with one's own emotions.

In forthcoming article(s), I will explore how poetry discussions are helping to germinate the seeds of empathetic, humanistic medicine. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Is Tuition Free Medical Education a true game changer?

(This discussion is a continuation of my earlier article, Tuition Free Medical Education: a potential game changer)

It is great news to learn that two Medical Schools are in the forefront of alleviating the financial burden that graduating doctors face.

 There will be much relief  from the stress-- psychological,  emotional and physical--  that nearly all medical school graduates now face to repay their massive student loans.

Yet much criticism has been leveled at the NYU Medical School plan to offer free tuition to all students regardless of need.

No doubt, this will alleviate the burden placed upon those students who have decided to enter the field of family medicine, a low- paying specialty in which the shortage of doctors will escalate into the tens of thousand in the next decade. These newly minted doctors will be able to focus more easily on their patients from the get go as they are free from debt.

But how about motivating other undecided students to enter these fields that will experience shortages?

Would it not be better to condition the awarding of  full scholarships to those students who commit to become primary care specialists (long live the 'GP')  and let the rest pay according to need?

On the other hand, the Columbia Physicians and Surgeons plan is more equitable in that it levels the field for all students. Given the fact, that there is plenty of assistance to cover all its medical students, those truly in great need receive a full scholarship and the rest get tuition grants according to family income.

After all, the latter group's families are in a position to contribute to their children's education.  So why shouldn't they pay their fair share?

Doesn't this sound fair and equitable?

Consider, that under the Columbia plan there are also no incentives to get student commitments for the primary care fields.

Looking to the future, there are several factors to keep in mind: first, these two medical schools have only just last year instituted these changes and it will perhaps take a decade or longer to evaluate results.

Secondly, Columbia and NYU represent just two of over 140 accredited Medical Schools across the country. (Perhaps the success of the these two programs will inspire other philanthropists and the
US government to fund scholarships to other medical schools)

And, finally, what influence and catalyst, if any, will these innovative programs provide in developing and training students to be patient-centered empathetic health care givers?

To follow and join this conversation, please tune in to my next series of articles.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Tuition Free Medical Education: A potential game changer

In an earlier article, I focused on the many years of study-often over 18 years after High School-it takes for a pre-medical student to actually practice his specialty.

On Becoming a Physician: Pre-medical students 'shadowing'
a doctor as he makes his rounds

 At nearly age 40, he/she is now burdened with hundreds of thousands of dollars of crippling educational debt.

 This situation is the catalyst for several avenues of stress. First, the pressure to repay the loans forces many doctors to choose high-paying specialties-- when they would otherwise choose less lucrative ones such as practicing family medicine(primary care) in under-served communities.  This is a specialty whose shortages could total an alarming  35,000 by 2025 and even much more by 2030.

The financial stress has further ramifications once our doctor begins to see patients.

Unwittingly or wittingly, our caregiver is, in many specialties, forced to sacrifice a leisurely in- depth doctor/ patient relationship (refer to The Model of Empathetic Medicine : The Way it Was) in favor of short cursory visits in order to see as many patients as possible per hour.

Now comes an eye-opening series of events, perhaps a game changer.

Recently, both NYU Medical School and Columbia Physicians and Surgeons have announced programs to offer (a) free tuition to all students regardless of need (in the case of NYU) and (b) full tuition scholarships  to those in greatest financial need, while others would get only grants, not loans, to make up their need (in the case of Columbia).

Tune in to my next article which will answer the question whether offering 'free' tuition is really a boon to ameliorating the crises facing traditional medicine today.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Thomas Edison Rest Stop is Closed: Finding Comfort in New Jersey Two Years after my Sister's Passing

The Thomas Edison Rest Stop along the 
New Jersey Turnpike is closed for Renovations

Just a short two years ago, I was on my way driving down the New Jersey Turnpike to Southern New Jersey for the funeral of my sister Marilyn. 

Then, I passed many Rest Stops along the way including the Thomas Edison pictured above.

This year I was doubly sadly in shock on my way down the NJ Turnpike-- to spend Shabbat in a warm caring community to gain comfort and healing for sister Marilyn...

She was so abruptly taken from our family by a metastatic lung cancer. 

I  was preparing to exit the ramp to heed the call of nature and  quaff some Starbucks at the service area named for our  famous luminary (aka the 'Wizard of Menlo Park', NJ ) and, lo and behold, there appeared a sign declaring that this area had closed. 

It seemed so final to me, as if a light had been extinguished, sudden, unanticipated--reminiscent of the final days of Marilyn's precious life.  

Thomas Edison Library courtesy of Wikimedia  Commons  

(I had visited The Thomas Edison National Historic Park in West Orange, NJ many times and found Glenmont,- the family estate home-, his laboratories and his library fully intact as they were when he was still alive.)

This story, however, does have a happy ending.....

 It does lighten up. 

My weekend near Philadelphia was replete with much healing and uplifting of my spirit and that of my departed sister.

 My hosts made me feel at home for the second year in a row and the Synagogue provided me the opportunity to recite many kaddishes (memorial prayers) for her.

I even read a Mishna in her honor. 

When I returned home,  I googled the area and much to my de-light learned that the stop is temporarily closed for renovations and will reopen soon.



Friday, August 31, 2018

Stressed out medical professional trainees/students? There's a quiet poetic (R)evolution in the air

For five  earlier articles depicting how the medical arts have devolved, scroll through my blogs beginning with the seminal one entitled Crises in the Medical Arts: Returning Medicine to Patient Centered Care Giving.

The links between the healing arts and poetry are well known.

The Statute of Apollo Outside the National Academy of Athens
Apollo was recognized as the god of healing, poetry, music, truth,
the sun and light and much more  

 For instance,  poets including  John Keats, William Carlos Williams and Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.  all received medical education.

The composition, recitation and listening to verse is known to release pent up feelings of angst, sadness, sorrow and depression--making it much easier to deal with these stressful feelings. (this subject to be explored in a forthcoming article)

Perhaps one  of the most calming and stress- relieving poems  is Psalm 23 which begins with:
"The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want."

The verse soothes all those who are  stressed through life's  travails  with its lovely images such as  being lead beside still waters and being guided on the right paths,  though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death. 

So it comes as no surprise that poetry would be a tonic for the  proverbially overworked medical trainee.

Kudos to the pioneering steps of St. Andrews Medical School (founded in 1413) that acknowledges the healing benefits of poetry and the practice of humanistic medicine.

Tools of the Trade is a pocket size 
book of collected poems for doctors, It is
small enough to pull out and read when needed
photo from the Scottish Poetry Library.

Each year, each of the circa 900 Scottish medical school graduates receives "Tools of the Trade: Poems for new Doctors."  It's a small volume, less than 100 pages--thus easily potable.

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, "the poems are grouped into five themes designed to help young physicians: looking after yourself, looking after others, beginnings,  being with illness and endings."

May this project, though in its infancy, continue to blossom and spread the seeds of empathetic humanistic medicine.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

204 year-old New Hampshire Country Store is Rescued

Francestown, New Hampshire Village Store
photo courtesy of the Monadnock Ledger Transcript 

Francestown, New Hampshire (pop. 1600) has a new hero.

He is Nevada resident William "Bill" Smith (along with his three daughters). 

After Bill read an article in the Wall Street Journal that the 204 year-old building was going to be sold at auction, he called the Town Administrator  and arranged a deal to pay off the mortgage and back taxes.

The store will be renamed the The Three Sisters Building in honor of his three daughters who attended the welcoming event in Bill's honor at the recently refurbished Francestown Town Hall. 

Image courtesy of The Francestown News

Kudos to the FIHS (Francestown Improvement and Historical Society) which has been organizing a series of events to raise funds for the interior renovation: BBQ's, potluck dinners and 5K races.
I wish to thank Rose and John Perry owners of the Inn at Crotched Mountain. They have been running ads in the Francestown News and I happened to pick up a copy at their inn.

The May, 2018 issue caught my attention with the front page bi-line Mr. Smith Comes to Francestown. (It was an obvious reference to the 1939 movie starring James Stewart as an idealistic freshman US senator.)

Hallelujah Mr. Smith.

Monday, August 20, 2018

What ever Happened to the Bedside Manner: New Directions to Empathetic Medicine

Just the other day, I chatted with an executive here in Connecticut about the near lack of patient centered medicine.

She couldn't have agreed any more with my sentiments.

Immediately, she alluded to a physician friend who teaches resident physicians at Yale New Haven Hospital.

What is novel in the latter's approach is this:  she accurately diagnosed a crying need.

She discovered what was lacking in her students as they interviewed patients on their diurnal rounds.

She found that students were solely focused on the specific ailment/condition confronting them, be it cardiac, neurological or pulmonary related.

All the while, they perfunctorily observed and tested only the malfunctioning system with little or no curiosity about the state of mind of their subjects. 

There was little or no attempt to make conversation. 

(What ever happened to the traditional bedside manner when the physician prided himself in connecting with his patient? Asking questions and listening carefully to responses)

And so she told them they were only getting a limited picture of their patient--kind -of- like taking a close-up facial selfie while ignoring the rest of the whole picture: chest, hands, arms legs,etc. 

So, she is now training her students to smile, look the patient in the  eyes and take time to establish a relationship  with the suffering patient through empathy to set the patient at ease. 

 She is thus  training her charges to to observe, to test and to diagnose the entire patient.

My next articles in this series will further explore what medical schools are doing to address this very important issue of bringing back patient centered medicine.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Remembering Gerry Rhine 1938-2018

Yesterday, my friend Jerry Rhine was laid to rest.

Jerry was no ordinary friend. He was a special friend, who I got to know very well over the last 10 years.

As he spent the last two decades of his life battling numerous diseases, he turned to his creator to gain spiritual strength to fight back. And that he did nobly, with persistence, to the best of his ability.

He rarely spoke to me about his personal agonies , but he was a vocal advocate of the healing powers of visualization and positive thinking.

In 2014, Jerry published his book, Healing, about his personal experience.

Jerry, may your memory and your good deeds be a source of inspiration to all.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Recreating the empathetic medical professional: The traditional long path to a medical career

For earlier articles in this series click here.

Setting empathy aside for a moment, let's peruse the journey and  the length of time it traditionally has taken for a physician to hang out his shingle.  

Consider this journey: 4 years of college, then 4 years of Medical School, followed by a year of internship and then a residency that could take 3 years for internal medicine and up to seven years for neurosurgery.

That's 12-16 years so far and still counting....

But training is not yet complete in many subspecialities. Joining or opening up a practice is further delayed by the need for more clinical experience to keep up with changes brought about by advances in technology.

After residency many newly minted physicians follow up with more training in a one or two year fellowship programs;  here they assimilate  more hands-on experience--in fields where technology is leading and pushing the boundaries of  operational techniques at a rapid pace. (particularly in peripheral vascular medicine)

Medical Path: image courtesy of Kaplan Learning Center 

The total commitment now stands at up to 18 years after High School ... which translates into nearly age 40.

Next take a deep breath.

, contemplate the financial burdens encountered along the way; many young doctors emerge the slog carrying a debt burden that  easily totals  hundred of  thousand  dollars.... 

In my next aritcle, I will focus on techniques that have been introduced in medical training to enhance student empathy.

So tune in!


Friday, July 27, 2018

The model of Empathetic Medicine: The Way it Was

There was a time when physicians got it right.

The GP or general practitioner was a true care giver. He was your family doctor who took time to get to know you, listened to all your complaints  physical, psychological and spiritual--real or imagined.

The session usually began with  stethescope pressed to your heart to monitor your heartbeat for irregularites such as murmers. Then, he brought out the sphygmomanometer or blood pressure kit with its cuff applied to the forearm  to measure your blood pressure.

All the while the patient would be sharing his or her complaints: my stomach hurts me,  I have frequent heartburn, I have constipation for over a week, my 17 year-old daughter still in high school ran off with the postman- no goodbyes nothing.

And the doctor would listen patiently and record mental notes. And oftentimes give simple advice to help alleviate the high blood pressure reading he just noted.

The doctor would often climb apartment building stairs visiting the home-bound.. And the word quickly got around and he built a loyal group, who when recovered, lined up at his office for a private consultations.

Now there is skype.

Image above is courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle article: House calls make comeback, fueled by technology and busy patients....

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Crises in Medical Arts: A Band-Aid Solution on the Horizon?

   A Band-Aid Solution on the Horizon?

To view the first article in this series, click here 

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal may offer a stopgap solution: Entitled  "Columbus Discovers America"  author Andy Kessler surmises that Jeff Bezos founder of Amazon may be exploring the placement of  Alexa, the virtual digital assistant, in every physician office "to listen and correctly fill in medical records automatically from the transcripts freeing doctors to actually care for patients." 
Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon
With a Net Worth of $109.2 Billion: 
Can he save personalized medical care? .
Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia 

Quarae: Though this scenario may or may not happen soon--indeed-- may not come about at all--will it solve the root of the problem?.

If indeed, the  medical professional is freed to render fact-to-face quality time with the patient, has he/she developed the skills--have the emotional intelligence---to relate to those suffering from chronic pain, distress and depression?  

..Namely: what does it take to train young men and women to be sentient understanding, sympathetic and, above all, empathetic,  care givers practicing the MEDICAL ARTS in the traditional old fashioned way.

Tune in to my next article,  on empathetic medicine as it should be practiced. 

Monday, June 25, 2018

Crises in the Medical Arts: Returning Medicine to Patient Centered Care Giving.

A Canary in the Goldmine

If there was ever a time that doctors (including all care-givers) need to have and nurture quality face- to- face time with their patients IT IS NOW!

Under the Electronic Medical Records Mandate of 2014, all public and private healthcare providers and other eligible professionals (EP) were required to adopt and demonstrate "meaningful use" of electronic medical records in order to continue receiving Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements at their current levels.

Since then, doctors' visits have become depersonalized, more robotic and more perfunctory so that the traditional care giver has been transformed into a data entry expert merely listening and simultaneously recording patient responses to routine questions with eyes focused most of the time on the computer. 

Sadly gone is the traditional patient doctor relationship of old when caregiver would give 100% attention to the body language, facial expressions, emotions, vocal intonations, etc. of his patient. 

Gone is empathy.

Say Hello to de-humanized care giving----if you can even call it that. 

It's rush rush rush at the consultation as the health professional is under pressure to 'see' as many patients as possible in an hour to maximize reimbursements from the governmental single payer system....

But, let's pause a moment because there may be a solution on the horizon. 

To learn more stay tuned. 


Thursday, May 31, 2018

Are the Liberal Arts dead? The Start of THE Conversation

The news is rife with announcements that well known Ivy League Universities as well as state universities are cutting back on their budgets for the support of the Humanities. 

It is well know that Yale has dramatically curtailed funding of many of its liberal arts departments in recent years.
Wisconsin State University, Stevens Point likewise has recently proposed a plan to shut down majors in more than a dozen (12)areas including history, political science and geography as a cost cutting measure.

Many others are beefing up courses in practical "hot demand" areas such as informational technology artificial intelligence, deep learning and practical medical courses for much needed personnel in the fields such  as Occupational,  Physical and Speech Therapy.

Is the "Rush to Judgment" to condemn the values of courses in Philosophy, English, Art History, Classics in Western Civilization, etc. justified?

Here is a story that offers a most refreshing answer: the start to THE CONVERSATION

Robert E. Rubin. 

A  recent Wall Street Journal op-ed article spotlighted  Robert E. Rubin, Secretary of the Treasury during the Clinton administration.  Prior to the appointment, he  spent 26 years at Goldman Sachs.

 Rubin describes how his philosophy professor at Harvard prepared him for his career in government:

 "His approach to critical thinking planted a seed in me that grew during my years at Harvard and throughout my entire life." Then he goes on: "I'm asked from time to time which undergraduate courses best prepared me for working at Goldman Sachs. People assume I'll list courses in economics or  finance, but I always answer that the key was Professor Demos's philosophy course and the conversations about existentialism in coffee shops around campus."

Read the article for yourself and let the conversation continue. 

By the way, Rubin's net worth is in 9 figures.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Two Feel Good Stories You Might Have Missed: Extending the limits of living through Meditation Music and Poetry

1. 106 year old Eileen Ash, from Norwich England drinks two glasses of wine daily does Yoga daily  and just recently passed her driving test;  she  drives around in her bright yellow Mini.sports car-- yes, at the ripe 'young' age of 105. Click here for a video celebrating her 106th birthday by flying in an open cockpit Tiger Moth.

    Kudos to Eileen....

Eileen Ash drives a yellow Mini Sports Car 
(Courtesy of the Daily Mail)
      2. An announcement during National Poetry Month: With much gratitude to organizer Relly Coleman.  Yael Stolarsky, Shlicha, and I have been invited to inaugurate the First Connecticut Hebrew Book celebration on Sunday, June 10th, 1-6 PM  as part of the second annual  Israeli Food Festival to be held at Temple Israel in Westport. Besides vendor and demonstrations, there will be 2-3 breakout sessions: one about Hebrew short stories with Susan Boyar, a professional book discussion leader and another about Modern Hebrew poetry and music  that Yael and I will lead.

      In prior years, I have led  three  Modern Israeli Poetry and music discussions at the Stamford JCC with Or Berger, Shaliach, and Yael. sponsored by the Jewish Historical Society of Fairfield County.

      Here is a podcast link to our last event held at Curley's diner--an event hosted by Poem Alley  and introduced by its leader Ralph Nazareth and , Eleni. Begetis, the poet/owner of Curleys.

Curley's Diner is alive with Israeli Poetry and Music presented
by R.J. Schwartz and Yael Stolarsky, Shlichah


Sunday, April 15, 2018

Brother Mike Celebrates 30 Years of Cantorial Service

At Sabbath Services,  Saturday March 17, 2018, my brother Michael Schwartz celebrated his completion of 30 years of cantorial service at the Jackson Heights Jewish Center (JHJC).

It was the culmination of a career that began  when Mike led services at Genesis Agudas Achim in Tuckahoe, N.Y  and then became Torah reader at Temple Israel in White Plains.

Mike always had a love of music as we all did. My mom was a passionate lover of opera and we were surrounded by stereo LP renditions of Carmen, Barber of Seville and Pagliacci. Mike could often be heard singing arias in a booming voice as he showered.

The event at JHJC drew a large attendance and the service was followed by a sit down hot luncheon organized by President Steven Knoble.

 Although New York City Councilman Danny Dromm could not attend, former Councilwoman Helen Sears did attend and lavished praises upon the many outreach community events hosted by the JHJC.

Kudos to Michael and all those who attended to honor him. And, Michael, keep taking singing lessons with Cantor Sherwood Goffin of Lincoln Square Synagogue.

Below is a framed letter from New York City Councilman Danny Dromm extolling Michael's service as part of the cantorial tradition that dates back nearly 2500 years.