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Today is my seventieth birthday. I’m very grateful that I’m in very good health with no sign of cancer nearly sixteen years after my diagnosis. I’m grateful also for my family – Ken, my beloved husband, and my wonderful daughters, Margie and Sarah Klein, and soon-to-be son-in-law, Jeremy Ronkin – and for family and friends.

I’m also very grateful for my joyous volunteer work as president of Kulanu, Inc., which supports isolated and emerging Jewish communities around the world. Kulanu is creating an online tribute journal in honor of my seventieth birthday. I would love it if you’d help with this either by donating yourself, by inviting others to join you in a journal ad, or by sharing this link with with your networks: kulanu.org/tribute

Because of my work with Kulanu, I have friends all over the world, especially in Jewish communities in Africa. Here’s a photo of me dancing in Uganda in the Abayudaya village, Namutumba, to celebrate their new grain mill that Kulanu funded.

Image

In addition to my work with Kulanu, my life is enriched by my synagogue, West End Synagogue in New York, and by my dancing (which you can read about here).

A special thanks to those of you who supported me through the challenging time when I was in cancer treatment, back in 1997 and 1998. And I hope it gives hope to others to know that some of us with a scary prognosis can survive cancer for many years in good health!

Love,

Harriet

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My mother, Pauline Bograd, died at 5:15 a.m. yesterday.  She was 91 years
old.  She died peacefully after having been in the hospital since
Thanksgiving weekend for congestive heart failure and kidney failure.  The
time in the hospital was a very special time, even though she was struggling
for food and air – she was alert and communicative nearly all of the time,
and the whole family were able to let her how much we love her. Many of the
staff who worked with her became very attached to her.

She kept herself alive for the wedding of my cousin Maxine’s daughter, the
millenium (we had a New Year’s eve party at the hospital), my nephew Louis’s
engagement, and the birth of my brother’s new grandchild, Benjamin (son of
Mark and Jean).  She saw videos of the new baby the night before she died.

My mother was everyone’s role model.  We learned from her about taking
leadership in the community, being a good friend, treating every person she
meets as special, staying cheerful and keeping high spirits through all of life’s
challenges, and giving and receiving love.

The funeral will be at 10 a.m. this Sunday at Robert Schoem’s Menorah Chapel,
150 Route 4E in Paramus, New Jersey (201-843-9090).  From the George
Washington bridge, you take Route 4 about 5 miles.  Stay on Route 4 West as
you pass Route 17 overpass, go to second overpass after Route 17 (Paramus
Road).  Make a U-turn at Paramus Road and get back onto Route 4 East.  The
Funeral Chapel is approximately 1000 feet on your right (it is near
Loehman’s).

For those of you not familiar with Jewish mourning practices:  It is not
customary to send flowers to a Jewish funeral.  A contribution to charity
or a note (or email) are always welcome.  The family welcomes visitors
at the funeral or at the “shiva” home for the week following the funeral.

We will then be receiving visitors (“sitting shiva”) at the home of
my brother and sister-in-law in Pompton Lakes, New Jersey until Thursday (if
you want to come, send an email asking for details).  On Saturday night, Feb.
12 we will have a memorial gathering from 6 to 10 p.m. at our home in New
York, at 165 West End Ave., Apt. 3R (near 67th Street).

My mother was a passionate crusader for Planned Parenthood for more
than 50 years.  Donations in her memory may be made to Planned
Parenthood of Metropolitan NJ, 151 Washington St., Newark, NJ 07102.

Harriet Bograd

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GIVING THANKS

Happy Thanksgiving!  I’m writing this with mixed emotions – joy for our
immediate family’s good health and happiness, and sadness that our cousin,
Phyllis (Hensche) Katz, is gravely ill and in intensive care because of an
infection secondary to leukemia.  Please join us in praying for her.

On December 1, it will be the second anniversary of my admission to the
hospital for the stem cell transplant, and more than 2 1/2 years since my
diagnosis of breast cancer.  I’m feeling fine and have no sign of cancer.
As you may recall, I needed frequent blood transfusions for the year after
the stem cell transplant, but I haven’t needed any since December 17, 1998.
Since my last journal update (3/99), my blood counts have continued to hold
steady, or there may have been a modest improvement.  I now give myself an
injection of Procrit (20 units) once a week to improve the red blood counts.
The platelets are still low, but not dangerously so.  Here are the last
few counts:

Date White blood count Hematocrit Hemoglobin Platelets
8/6/99 2.8 36.1 12.7 67
9/13/99 2.4 34.4 11.6 39
10/11/99 2.9 34.5 11.7 47
11/19/99 3.0 34.3 11.6 49

I’ve also had an annual mammogram (in July), an annual bone scan (in August),
and blood tests every quarter, and none of these show any sign of cancer.

I continue to have a home care nurse come to the house once a month to care
for the portacath and take blood samples.  The portacath made it much
easier when I had blood tests, transfusions, or chemotherapy.  I could
have the portacath removed by now, but I think I’m superstitious – it’s like
carrying an umbrella to be sure it won’t rain.  The nurse drew blood last
week, but her office neglected to let me know the results of the blood tests,
and I’m so relaxed about this that I forgot to call them to find out the
results.

I’ve been quite healthy all year, except for some digestive problems in the
spring and an uneventful case of shingles in the summer. In the spring
my digestive system was very uncomfortable.  My internist concluded that
there was yeast in my system, and put me on anti-yeast drugs and herbs, and
an anti-yeast diet for a month or two.  I hated the diet (I was much crankier
about that than about chemotherapy), but after a while the symptoms went
away, and I went back to eating my favorite foods.  In June I discovered an
unfamiliar rash, and (fortunately) went right to my doctor’s office to ask
if I should be concerned.  He knew immediately that it was shingles, and put
me on an anti-viral drug (acyclovir????).  It all cleared up in a week or
two, and never was very painful.  Other than that, I’ve hardly had a cold all
year, and when I did get one, it cleared up in a few days.  [Lesson for other
cancer patients: I’ve heard that it is not unusual to get shingles after
chemotherapy.  Early diagnosis and treatment seems to make a difference – so
if you see an unfamiliar rash, get to the doctor right away].

This fall has been a wonderful period in all our lives.  Sarah has entered a
public school, the Crossroads School on 109th Street near Broadway.  It’s an
alternative public middle school, connected with the Coalition of Essential
Schools and the Center for Collaborative Education.  Ken, Sarah, and I all
fell in love with the place when we visited at the end of August, and we’ve
continued to love it all semester.  Sarah is thriving there, making good
friends, loving her teachers, doing well in her classes, and complaining on
vacations that she can’t go to school!  Sarah is also loving her after-school
acting class, and did a great job preparing for her audition at Laguardia
High School (the performing arts high school featured in the movie “Fame.”)

Ken and I have gotten involved in the Crossroads Parents Association Steering
Committee.  I’ve started a computer committee, have gotten the steering
committee and the principal onto an egroups e-mail discussion list, and have
started a recycling program to get computers for all the families in the
school who can’t afford to buy new ones.  We’ve already given out eleven
computers, and I am looking for computers for others right now.  (Please ask
at your office whether they have older Windows 95 or 98 computers, or recent
Macs, that they’d like to donate to the school).  The school community has
responded with enormous warmth and enthusiasm to my efforts – the principal
calls me “amazing” when I arrive with mail-merged thank you letters for her
to sign.  I find the parent group delightful.  It is a very mixed group, both
ethnically and economically, and yet there is a high level of mutual warmth,
respect, and trust among parents and faculty.

I also continue to be very involved in the West End Synagogue, as membership
chair and computer coordinator.

Margie continues to take our breath away as she juggles many balls in the
air.  This semester she has been co-chair of BOTH the Yale Hunger and
Homelessness Action Project (YHHAP) AND the Yale Student Environmental
Coalition – and she has managed to take a full academic load at the same
time.  Both groups have done wonderful work under her leadership.  We’re
relieved, though, that she will finish her one-year term with YHHAP next
week.  Margie explained to me that she stays sane in spite of all the
stresses thanks to her wonderful group of friends.  Next semester she
plans to take up Capoeira, the Afro-Brazilian dance/martial art form and to
continue studying yoga, which she has taken much more seriously since her
summer in India.

Margie has moved into a three-family house with nine friends, and the
housemates (some Jewish and some not) have 40 people for Shabbat dinner every
Friday.  Her apartment is delightful and welcoming, and the students love to
come there for meals or meetings or to relax.  She and her roommates did a
great job fixing it up (with help from Ken, Sarah, and me, – we painted
walls, sewed couch cushion covers, solicited donations of household supplies,
etc.).  I love to visit there, because her friends love having a “mommy”
around – one friend told me she thought that mommies were the true
Superheroes.  What a contrast to high school!

This has been a good time for Ken, too.  His employer, Bankers Trust Company,
was acquired by Deutsche Bank, and he was sad to see many long-time
colleagues and friends move on to other jobs.  But the new setup has its
advantages.  They’ve set a permanent “dress-down” policy.  He has been
traveling more – he’s been to Hong Kong, Singapore, London, and Frankfurt in
the past month, and he has been enjoying getting to know Deutsche Bank
colleagues from other parts of the world.  His assignment, related to global
tax planning, is a challenging one.

One of Ken’s favorite activities is playing with young children.  As our
children have gotten older, he has missed having young children in his
life.  Though we are old enough to be grandparents, our kids are not old
enough to be parents.  But now Ken has found “surrogate grandchildren” to
play with. Every Saturday morning we go to the West End Synagogue, and he
has a wonderful time playing with the toddlers there.  They call him “Uncle
Ken.”  He also has a very special relationship with our grandnephews.

My mother, at age 91, continues to live independently and to think clearly
and provide emotional support to us and to many other people (and to serve on
the Planned Parenthood board).  However, she has been in pain from arthritis
and she walks with great difficulty.  We’re hoping she can arrange for
help with preparing meals, etc.  She tried one new medication for
arthritis, Celebrex, but it hasn’t helped much.  She tried Vioxx (??) this
week, and for a couple of days she was free of pain, but then she had a bad
night again.  We’re hoping that the new medication will continue to help, and
that we can continue to enjoy her love and guidance for many more years.

We hope you and your loved ones have had a delicious and joyous Thanksgiving
and that you enjoy a happy holiday season.

Love,

Harriet

 

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I’m doing fine

You haven’t heard from me for quite a while because my story (in relation to
cancer) is blissfully “boring.”  I haven’t needed a transfusion since
mid-December, and my blood counts have been gradually increasing.  My
platelets have ranged between 17 and 38 (two weeks ago they were 27, and I’m
due for another blood test this week) – and I won’t have another transfusion
unless they go below 10.  I’m getting more exercise (jumping on my trampoline
while playing jazz on WBGO-FM), and feeling quite healthy.  There is no sign
of cancer.  I’m still giving myself injections of Procrit three times a week
– but with this, my hematocrit has been above 35 (it often hit the low 20’s a
year ago).

We had a brief time of anxiety about a month ago when my internist,
Maurice Beer and I noticed a slight “thickening” on my right breast on one
Monday.  Dr. Beer thought it was normal tissue, but agreed to give me a
referral to have my surgeon double-check it.  I made an appointment with Dr.
Peter Geller, my surgeon, for the following Tuesday (this time I didn’t make
a fuss to get an appointment sooner, since we didn’t think it was anything
serious).  I stayed fairly calm until the night before the appointment.  Dr.
Geller assured us that this WAS normal tissue, and said I should see him
again in a year.  (He knew I would be seeing a variety of other doctors –
my oncologist, oncological gynecologist, and radiologist – in the interim).

I’d like to share two requests for help from other stem cell transplant
patients:

1) As you may recall, I modeled my Web site on the one about Peg Taylor’s
stem cell transplant, created by Don Stahl, her brother.  Recently someone
wrote that the links from my Web site to Peg’s no longer were working.  I
wrote to Don Stahl and found out that by mistake their Internet Service
Provider deleted their account and wiped out their Web site.

Peg’s site was a valuable one.  I’m writing just in case any of you
downloaded any of it and can retrieve it from your archives.  Don wrote that

>Yes, it would be a great help if I could get a copy of Peg’s original
>website from someone! I have all the images but lack the last (critical)
>week of daily updates and blood count information.
>
>Thank you for your concern for Peg. Her mental state is good, and for the
>shape she’s in she’s in great shape–that is, the pain medication is
>working, she’s got enough energy to get around (she is in Disneyland with
>some of our family as I write this), and she has plans for the summer.

Peg has had a relapse of cancer, and I believe she is now having chemotherapy
again.  Please join me in praying for her.

If you do have any of her Web site, let me know, and I’ll give you Don
Stahl’s e-mail address.  I believe that Peg has chosen to be more private
about this stage of her illness, so I’m not publicizing her e-mail address or
Don’s.

2) I’ve gotten to know Cathy on the Compuserve Cancer Forum. She’s about to
have a stem cell transplant, and would like to find others who have been
through this treatment with whom she can exchange e-mail.  If you
have been through a stem cell transplant yourself, and you are willing to
write to Cathy, please contact her directly at:

Cathy:  75542.3026@Compuserve.com  [Of course I have her permission to share this
with you.]

Thanks.

Love,

Harriet

 

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No news is good news (no sign of cancer, blood counts still improving)

In the last few days I’ve had conversations with several old friends who have
been worrying because they hadn’t heard from me lately.  I hadn’t written
because nothing much had changed – but they were very relieved to hear that,
and they urged me to share this with the rest of you.

So, here is my non-news.  The short version is that there is still no sign of
cancer, and my blood counts are continuing to improve, and I’m feeling fine.

There continues to be no sign of cancer.  I had some blood tests on Dec. 17
for “tumor markers,” and the results were all normal (i.e. they didn’t
indicate that cancer was present).  These tumor marker tests are unreliable –
they can have both false positives and false negatives, but it still is nice
that the results seem favorable.

My blood counts are continuing to improve, slowly.  The interval between
platelet transfusions keeps getting longer (I’ve had transfusions on 7/31,
8/21, 9/17, 10/2, 10/29, and 12/17 – the earlier ones were 2-4 weeks apart,
and the last two were seven weeks apart).  These transfusions were given
when my platelet counts were at somewhere between 11 and 22.  Dr. Hesdorffer,
my stem cell transplant doctor, recommended that we put off further
transfusions until the platelet count goes below 10, in hopes that the counts
will stabilize in the teens and then start going up.  However, we still
decided that I should have a transfusion on 12/17, when my count was at 17,
because I didn’t want to worry about blood tests and transfusions while on
vacation.

After vacation, I had another blood test on 1/5/99, and my white blood count
was 3.0, hematocrit 34.6, hemoglobin 11.9, and platelets 40.  The red and
white counts have been very steadily improving and holding their own (I
continue to give myself injections of Procrit three times a week to stimulate
the red counts).  I was thrilled that the platelets were at 40 nearly three
weeks after the last platelet transfusion.

Psychologically, I somehow manage to continue to believe that I am healthy
and to feel as though we have conquered this dragon.  That confidence was
shaken for a couple of days last week when I learned that a friend on the
Compuserve cancer forum who was diagnosed at the same time as I was, reported
that she is suffering from bone metastasis that seems to be spreading
aggressively.  Though I reminded her that many people live many good years
after having bone metastasis, that still scared me.  But my defense
mechanisms have bounced back into place, and I’m feeling calm about my health
again.

The trip out west had its good times and difficult times.  Ken, Margie, and I
all had bad colds, congested chests, and I had a sinus infection.  With all
that, the altitude and very cold weather in Santa Fe was difficult, and we
were pretty tired.  We still enjoyed a lot about Santa Fe, and we loved the
overnight train trip – the highlight of this was Sandy, our sleeping car
attendant, an extraordinary woman who has been working on overnight trains
for twenty years.  She was warm and funny and outspoken and earthy and she
paid loads of attention to the kids in her car.  It was a joy to watch her
operate.  She said she worked on these trains for five years before she ever
saw another woman working with her – in the old days she slept in a staff
sleeping car, with triple-decker bunks, where she was the only woman employee
in the car.

We had lovely visits with several friends in and around Los Angeles, but
didn’t get much sense of the city.  The drive up the California coast was
breathtaking but exhausting (we went by car, not by train, and stayed
overnight in a lovely bed and breakfast place in St. Luis Obispo).  We
enjoyed San Francisco – we were staying at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel right
near Union Square, which was a terrific location.  Both in Los Angeles and in
San Francisco I met wonderful friends whom I had gotten to know on the
Compuserve Cancer Forum – and we met the family of one of Margie’s friends
from Yale.

The highlight of the San Francisco visit was our walk across the Golden Gate
Bridge.  Ken keeps track of the time when the moon is going to rise, and he
had a vivid memory of having driven over the Golden Gate Bridge 30 years ago
when a full moon was rising to the east over San Francisco Bay while the sun
was setting to the west over the Pacific.  We also had a full moon while we
were in San Francisco, and Ken, Margie, and I got to the bridge just 10
minutes after the moon started rising.  The sunset and moonrise were both
magnificent.  We walked across the bridge and back – it seemed to be about 4
miles.  We were feeling well and the weather was lovely.  The only problem
was that Sarah had gone back to our hotel because she was tired, and we were
distracted by worry about how Sarah was doing and when and how we’d get back
to her.  When we finally got back (by bus and then taxi), Sarah was fine.

We’ve settled back into the routines of school, work, and synagogue
activities.

Margie has been elected co-chair of Yale’s Hunger and Homelessness Action
Project; Sarah is practicing for her middle school play; I’m continuing to
recruit members and develop the computer systems for our synagogue; and Ken
is planning program on stories and storytelling for our synagogue retreat.
Margie is also industriously trying to find funding and to make arrangements
to do some kind of community service work in India this summer.

Love,

Harriet

 

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Today is the first anniversary of the day I entered the hospital for the stem cell transplant.  There is still no sign of any recurrence of cancer, my blood counts are very encouraging, and I’m feeling fine.  Today’s blood  counts: white blood counts, 3.2, hematocrit, 33.2, hemoglobin, 11.1, platelets, 33 (33 days after my last platelet transfusion!).  It is likely that I won’t need any more transfusions.  I’m feeling very grateful about  this, and grateful to all of you for your support.  (For those who want a more verbose version of the health report, I’ve included one below).

The rest of the family is fine:  Sarah has a part in the middle school play.  Margie just became co-chair of Yale’s Hunger and Homelessness Action Project, and she continues to love Yale.  Ken is trying to discover what it will mean when Deutsche Bank acquires Bankers Trust Company (but he isn’t feeling very threatened by the takeover).  And I’m continuing to be involved in efforts to promote nonprofit accountability, and to be very active as membership chair and computer chair at West End Synagogue.

We just celebrated my mother’s 90th birthday, with a party on 10/25 for friends and family, and on 10/26 (her actual birthday) for the neighbors in her building.  Although she often has difficulty walking and she needs to sleep a lot, my mother is still living independently, and still making new friends and keeping the old (the birthday party included at least 4 friends from her Girl Scout days).  The greetings she got on her birthday called her “Madame Indominable” – and she continues to inspire many others with her optimism and spirit.

Since I’ve had cancer, we’ve been splurging on family travel. During Christmas vacation, we’re going to New Mexico and California.  Sarah has been dreaming for years of going on an overnight train.  We’re flying to Santa Fe on 12/20, taking an overnight train with sleeping accommodations, the “Southwest Chief,” to Los Angeles on Christmas eve, staying in LA from 12/25-12/29, then taking the “Coast Starlight” train up the California coast to San Francisco, and flying home on 1/3.  It’s been a big challenge making all these plans, but now I’m really looking forward to the trip.

THE LONG-WINDED HEALTH REPORT:

As you may recall, I was needing frequent transfusions of packed red blood cells and platelets in June and July.  My last red blood cell transfusion was July 23, and since then I’ve been giving myself injections of Procrit three times a week.  My red blood counts have been rising steadily – today my hematocrit was 33.2 and my hemoglobin was 11.1.  My white counts have stayed well over 2.5 – today they were 3.2.

The intervals between platelet transfusions have gotten longer and longer,  and in the past five weeks they seem to have stabilized.  The strategies we were working on just a few weeks ago now seem unnecessary.

Up until recently, I would routinely get a platelet transfusion if the counts went below 20,000 – or even if they were around 22,000 and I was about to leave town.  On November 4, Dr. Hesdorffer (the head of the stem cell transplant program) wrote to me:

I would also no longer transfuse platelets unless below 10,000 as you might now stabilize in the teens with a slow gradual increase from there. If there is any question about bleeding I would rather you take a drug called amicar (500 mg tabs) take 2 – 4 times per day. This should prevent or help prevent bleeding at low platelet levels.

I faxed a copy of Dr. Hesdorffer’s message to Dr. Oster, who agreed with this strategy (we agreed that we would talk about starting Amicar if the  platelets went below 15,000).

But since my last platelet transfusion on October 29, my platelets have been holding steady in the 30’s (people say 30 when they mean 30,000).  The transfusion was 10/29.  After that, the platelets were 36 on 11/16, 34 on 11/24, and 33 today (12/1).  Although these platelets are still much lower than normal, and we still don’t know why the recovery has been so slow, this is a dramatic and reassuring turn of events.

(I’m still looking forward to the time when the platelets rise above 60.  I received a gift certificate for a massage and manicure at a beauty spa at Bloomingdale’s, but my stem cell nurse told me to wait to have the massage until the platelets reach 60 – to avoid the risk of bruising).

Love to you all.  If we don’t speak sooner, best wishes for the holiday season and for the New Year.

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L’ Shana Tova (Happy New Year): Feeling Fine and Very Hopeful

Tonight is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.  Best wishes to you and your
loved ones for a healthy, happy, sweet New Year.  It is a joyous holiday for
us.

I just re-read my journal entry from July, and it is striking how much
things have improved since then.  There continues to be no sign of cancer.
My blood counts have improved dramatically. I have not needed another red
blood cell transfusion since the hospital stay on July 23 (that’s more than
eight weeks so far), and my hematocrit is still 28 and hemoglobin 9.3 –
they’ve stayed above 27 and 9 all through these 8 weeks.  My white counts
have always been above 2.5 and usually above 3.0 for these 8 weeks.  All
these numbers are encouraging signs that my bone marrow is recovering.  And I
lasted four weeks before my last platelet transfusion on 9/17, instead of the
1-2 week intervals earlier this summer.

We’ll never know to what extent I’ve been helped by the Procrit injections
(also known as Epogen), the Cortef (taken to counter any possible auto-immune
reaction to my own blood), Dr. Beer’s nutritional and herbal strategies to
nourish my bone marrow and fight a yeast infection (vitamin B12, folic acid,
vitamin C, and remedies for a yeast infection) or the passage of time.  But
in any case, I’m feeling much more energetic, and we are feeling very
grateful that things are getting better.

My digestive system is also just fine – I’m eating everything and enjoying
food with no digestive problems.  I take a heaping tablespoon of Metamusil
every day, which seems to make a difference, along with the herbs and
vitamins.

My platelets are still dropping regularly, but the interval between
transfusions may be getting longer.  I had platelet transfusions on July
23 (when I got out of the hospital), July 31 (to “stock up” for the trip to
Israel), August 9 (10 days later, at Hadassah Hospital in Israel), August 21
(12 days later), and September 17 (27 days later).  It’s not yet clear to me
whether the 27-day interval is evidence that my bone marrow is doing a better
job with platelets, or whether it is a fluke related to the quality of
platelets I received.  But in any case I have had to spend much less time on
medical care – just a weekly blood test and a monthly platelet transfusion.

Our trip to Israel was wonderful.  The first week centered around our cousin
Joe Yudin’s wedding at Megiddo, an ancient historic site.  Joe arranged for a
week of touring and activities for his non-Israeli visitors, and we enjoyed
being with the other relatives and friends in Tel Aviv, at a kibbutz near
Megiddo, and in Jerusalem.  We spent ten days at the Mount Zion Hotel in
Jerusalem, which we loved – it was a historic building with terraced
gardens and a swimming pool and fabulous views of the old city.  We
especially enjoyed meeting third cousins in the Bograd family whom my sister
Naomi had recently discovered – we took them to dinner once, and then they
made a Russian feast for us for Shabbat dinner at their home.

Margie and Sarah are back at school.  Margie has chosen a “social activism”
curriculum for this semester, including courses in international human
rights, environmental studies, economics, urban studies (sociology), and
Spanish literature.  She’s also active in a variety of social action
activities, as student chair of the New Haven soup kitchens, a leader in the
Yale environmental group, and in the Hillel social action committee.  She
tells me that last year she tried to get to know as many people as possible,
while this year she is more focussed on getting to know fewer friends more
deeply, especially by having “dinner dates” with one friend at a time.  I
love the way she sets goals for herself and then just goes ahead and carries
them out.  Margie had a great summer at home in New York City working as an
intern at the People for the American Way.

Sarah has just started seventh grade and she has begun weekly meetings with
our new rabbi in preparation for her bat mitzvah on January 23.  She is now
the tallest woman in our family (just under 5’2′), and her shoe size is
bigger than mine. During the summer, Sarah enjoyed acting classes – a one
week musical theater class, a three week acting class at her sleep-away camp,
and a one-week improvisation course.  Both Margie and Sarah are looking
beautiful these days.

Ken continues to enjoy his work helping plan new deals for customers on the
trading floor at Bankers Trust Company.  He also has been helping out with
the kids at the synagogue, telling stories, and playing with new kids
(while I talk to prospective adult members, Ken enchants their kids).

I’ve continued to work intensely on synagogue volunteer work, both as
membership chair and as computer chair.  We’ve gotten three donated
Pentium computers and new software and I’m working furiously on evaluating
the new software, entering data into it, learning how to make best use of it,
and suggesting improvements to the developers.  This involves learning how to
solve problems in Microsoft Access and Seagate Crystal Reports – I’m looking
for someone who can serve as mentor to me in working with these programs.

While I was begging for Pentium computers for our synagogue, I discovered
that many, many people had unused older computers or computer parts
cluttering their closets.  I’ve found a wonderful Web site, “Share the
Technology,” where you can offer used computers to neighboring nonprofits
(and where nonprofits can list requests for donations):

http://www.libertynet.org/share

I’ve gotten a lot of satisfaction from getting to know groups that are able
to make good use of older computers, and arranging for them to receive
computers from my relatives and friends and the synagogue.  I’ve gotten to
know a community center and a school that can still use more.  So far I’ve
helped give away five computers and lots of parts.  If you have computers you
want to donate and need help doing so, feel free to ask me to help.

My work as West End Synagogue membership chair has been thriving – we had 16
new members this month, and our Hebrew School enrollment has increased from
28 to 52 (and may still grow more).

I’ve accepted an invitation to be a speaker at a panel on accountability of religious
organizations at the conference of the National Association of State
Charities Officials in Portland, Oregon on October 6.

In spite of, or perhaps because of the cancer, this has been a rewarding
year for our family.  The love and support of family and old and new friends
has been so important to us.  Thanks to all of you who have been there for us.

Jewish tradition tells us to ask forgiveness of friends and relatives in the
ten days before Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement.  We are expected to settle
outstanding issues with human beings before we approach God for
forgiveness.  (Ken asked to be included in the next sentence): So, if we have
done anything in the past year to offend you, we ask your forgiveness.

Love,

Harriet

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