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Hundreds Attend Toronto Film Screening

Pre-screening of The Fighter attracts many of Toronto's residents.
By: Elad Benari
Published: November 25th, 2010 in Culture » Film » News
Roman Abramovich, then Tom Wright , Rachelle Bronfman, Elan Divon (Senior Consultant UJA Campaign) and Erez Cohen of PowerclubPic: Rachelle Bronfman
Barry Meyerowitz, President of the UJA media and entertainment divisionPic: Rachelle Bronfman

A pre-screening of a new film in Toronto last Wednesday evening attracted hundreds of Toronto’s residents.

Approximately 500 people came out to see The Fighter, an incredible true story following a young fighter. The program by the UJA’s media and entertainment division was sponsored by Rachelle Bronfman along with Alliance Films and the Sheppard Grande.

“I decided to sponsor the event and help the UJA media and entertainment division expand their reach into the Jewish community,” Bronfman told Shalom Life. “There are many people who are connected in some way to the entertainment and media field and are Jewish but don't know that UJA has a media and entertainment division.”

Bronfman, who is a well-known philanthropist in the community and owner of the Powerclub personal training club, decided to sponsor this particular program due to her belief that UJA’s media and entertainment division has a lot to offer for those connected to the industry. Several months ago she helped sponsor a UJA evening featuring Dan Aykroyd, another media and entertainment division event.

In addition to the movie screening, the evening also featured an address by UFC of Canada President Tom Wright, who works out at the Powerclub with his entire staff.

“Not only has the UFC staff been training at my club but we are teaching them about the Jewish people and they have come to love and support us Jews,” Bronfman said. “During Tom's speech he was so supportive of the Jewish community and showed enormous respect and understanding of what UJA does for our people. He commended the Jewish community for continuing to push forward even with great obstacles and challenges that continue to face them. He said it was much like a fighter whose opponent wants to beat him down but he has to rise up and keep pushing forward in order to reach his goal. One thing that he loves about the Jewish community is that we never give up.”

Also attending the event was Toronto journalist Michael Coren, whose father was Jewish and a boxer. Bronfman said that Coren, who also works out daily at Powerclub, was “thrilled to come and support UJA at my request.”

Finally, the evening featured 22-year-old Jewish fighter Roman Abramovich who was introduced to the crowd. Abramovich is originally from Israel but now lives in Toronto and is a Judo champion who won the Quebec Open just over a month ago. Abramovich, who has his goals set on the Olympics and the UFC eventually, is also the World champion in Sambo (a Russian form of martial arts). “Roman shyly stood up and waved for the first time to his fellow Jews here in Toronto--it was very heartwarming for all there,” described Bronfman. “Roman's skills and athletic abilities in the Martial arts are at the highest level and he was thrilled to be at the event supporting the community.”

Bronfman said that she was “shocked” at the success of the program and the large numbers it attracted. She encourages the community to give back by donating to UJA.

“What people can do in return is to help UJA through their donations,” she said. “These donations are a way to help UJA help the wider community in Toronto on so many levels and for so many different needs.”

Related articles: The Fighter, movie screening, Rachelle Bronfman, UJA
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Take Responsibility for Your Own

The 19 year old sophomore sat on the exam table looking at the floor. A college student with obvious charm and kindness, she appeared withdrawn and shy. Covering her face were pustules , redness, and several cysts. Her mother was in tears fearing her child could not continue college because of depression concerning her appearance. They had been to a “doctor”, at a dermatologist’s office for the past 6 weeks and after taking several ineffective oral antibiotics and 6 different topical medications; having spent hundreds of dollars this family could ill afford to lose; after having hopes for a resolution dashed by failure to respond; her “doctor” recommended Acutane – a drug known to cause depression in students. This is to ignore also the potential for injury to eyes, liver, and cholesterol. A drug that causes depression is being recommended for a depressed college student. I looked at the different medicines and out of curiosity, if nothing else, gazed at the prescribing doctor’s name on the bottle. The doctor was a name unfamiliar to me with the suffix “PA” after her name. “PA: Physician Assistant”. The child was not being treated by a doctor but by a “doctor” i.e. “PA”. The doctor was a dermatologist who saw the patient once and referred her to his employee “doctor” with a diploma as a “PA” and this “doctor” with 2 years of education diagnosing everything from brain tumors to acne was going to give a depressed student a drug that might induce depression!A 65 year old female patient had progressive shortness of breath and acute anxiety. She and her husband went to a University affiliated hospital emergency room where the doctor noted no evidence of heart disease and omitted a chest Xray or scan. He sent her home for a cardiac stress test. Her primary care physician, noting the absence of cardiac symptoms ordered a chest scan and found a pulmonary embolism. The patient survived and will never trust an emergency room doctor again.A patient saw an advertisement for a new form of ultrasound to reduce fat in her abdomen. She called our office and told the receptionist, “Don’t give me smartlipo or slim lipo, or cool lipo. I don’t want Velashape or Zeltique or Zerona. I just want the new ultrasound so if you don’t have it I will go somewhere else.” The patient never considered the value of examination or diagnosis.Noted physician experts in plastic surgery and dermatology have published their opinion that the often promoted “stem cell face lift” is at this time hyperbole and does not exist as a separate procedure. Nevertheless, judging from its popularity in the lay and medical press, many patients seek this “new break-through”.From seeking help for disease to addressing cosmetic concerns, many patients fail to follow minimal procedures for assuring responsible care for themselves and their loved ones. As examples:• Interview physicians when there is time.• Look at before and after results• Check physician credentials at least using Google and hospital references• Seek second opinions when care does not appear effective or when an elective medical/surgical path is recommended• Use resources like Mayo Clinic and John’s Hopkins websites• Maintain objectivity It is nice to remember 50 years ago when a physician sat at your side and held your hand. Today we have much better diagnostic and therapeutic aides with which to intervene; but… they will only be available for those who take responsibility for their own care.

The Stanford Prison Experiment at

In 1971, researchers set up a prison in the basement of Stanford University's Psychology Department. The idea was to observe how 24 undergraduate students would behave when divided into two groups – "prisoners" and "guards" – and allowed to play out their roles over two weeks. But within 6 days, the simulation had to be stopped. Students playing "guards" became sadistic, while "prisoners" evinced severe anxiety and distress.Scientific criticisms of the Stanford experiment notwithstanding, the elemental message lingers: It is human nature to abuse authority; and the fewer checks on that authority, the more obscene the abuse becomes.With that in mind, let's have a gander at America's airports and see how the TSA's new virtual strip-search, busy-fingered pat-down policy is going. To re-cap, government agents have been empowered to subject airline travelers to nude, full-body scans and/or highly invasive hand searches. TSA officers may choose anyone for such scrutiny, without explanation, and if the selected person attempts to avoid whatever search methods the officer decrees – even by opting not to fly – he or she will be detained, prosecuted, and subject to massive fines.Even without the empirical evidence of eggheads from Stanford, most folks instinctively understand you cannot give people, no matter how well-adjusted, this level of unaccountable authority over others.Take the example of former Baywatch star Donna D’Errico, who claims a male TSA officer grabbed her out of line at Los Angeles International Airport and forced her to undergo a naked scan. When the fetching Ms. D’Errico asked the officer why she was the only person chosen, he replied, “You caught my eye.” For good measure – and plausibly, to obscure his true motives – the officer also scanned Ms. D’Errico’s young son, and subjected him to an extensive pat-down. Afterward, Ms. D’Errico reports seeing the officer and a male colleague – possibly the one who was privileged to see her naked image on the scanner – smirking and watching her walk on.Much has been made of the fact that Ms. D’Errico has appeared in Playboy, suggesting nudity ought not to trouble her. That is relevant only insofar as it seems the same assets that got her into the magazine also got her into the scanner. The point is that she was violated with no recourse, escape, or appeal.Reached for comment, a TSA spokeswoman called the incident “funny.” Really, now? Ms. D’Errico does not find it “funny,” nor does her son, nor do millions of women and families who face the prospect of government-sanctioned sexual violation as the price of travel. Indeed, the word I have read and heard most from females anticipating a flight is, “Dread.”Consider the case of Stacey Armato, the young mother who was shoved into a glass cage by TSA officers at Phoenix Airport for refusing to allow her breast milk to go through an x-ray machine. She was held for an hour in full view of other passengers, subjected to a thorough hand-search, and told to, “Be quiet if you know what’s good for you.”No one thought for a second that the breast milk was a matter of national security. I admit I wasn’t there, but I’ll say it again: The breast milk was never a threat. You know it, I know it, and the TSA thugs who abused this woman knew it. But the “guards” were in control.As the system now stands, stories like these will multiply. Unfortunately, TSA Chief John Pistole and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano show little interest in making changes.Some have suggested the TSA’s methods are part and parcel with the war on terror, and these are small sacrifices for civilians to make while our troops are overseas, fighting for freedom. That’s half-right – our troops are fighting to preserve a free country, not one where husbands and fathers stand helplessly aside while the government takes naked pictures of their wives and children.Indeed, how might a soldier hunkered down in Iraq or Afghanistan feel, being told that at that very moment back home, a TSA officer was ogling his wife’s naked image, or thrusting his hands into his child’s crotch, ostensibly in the name of the freedom he signed up to defend?Stop it. Just stop now. Call it whatever you like – a re-evaluation period, a budget cutback, a legal opinion. But turn off your naked scanners, wheel them out, and tell your officers to keep their hands in the sunlight. Learn the lesson from Stanford some 40 years ago and wrap this one up early.Pistole and Napolitano do not appear to be listening. They imagine we will become inured to scans and gropes, and some day look back, in Virgil’s supposition, to laugh at how prudish we once were. That, I believe, is a miscalculation.America eventually does the right thing. The scanners will disappear from our airports and the blue gloves will retreat from our inseams. I believe that because I believe in the people of this country. Stick with it, keep at it, and let’s end this together.theo@theocaldwell.comTheo Caldwell is the author of Finn the half-Great.

U.S. vs. Europe: Health Care

As I have tried to make abundantly clear the United States is the only country in the industrialized world that does not provide universal health care for its citizens. We have preferred crisis management to preventive medicine and we use emergency rooms of hospitals as triage units and primary care offices for the poor. In my judgment the reason for the lack of consensus on the need for universal coverage is the self centered attitude of patients. They want what they want and they want it now! Anecdotally this is nowhere more evident than the selfish and immature attitude of senior citizens. Two vignettes, please.I asked 10 female senior citizens a hypothetical question. Your husband needs a liver or he will die. A 4 year old child needs a liver or he will die. Only one liver is available. To whom will you reward the liver? In all cases the women chose to give the liver to a husband in his waning years rather than a child with the potential for a full life ahead of him.A male senior citizen came to my office complaining of a benign growth on his face which he requested be removed. I told him I would comply but that since removal was not medically necessary the procedure would be considered cosmetic and he would have to pay for his care out of his own pocket. He responded with some anger saying that several years ago he had a similar growth and the dermatologist down the block charged Medicare. I explained that the doctor probably falsified the diagnosis to justify the procedure and questioned if his physician would lie to the government was he comfortable that the physician would not lie to him. He was not assuaged.So we are in a deadlock where voters want everything for themselves and do not want to pay for it. At least they do not want to pay so that someone else can get care.Another problem: State after state has voted down itemizing basic health care; that is, listing diagnoses that would be covered for all Americans. The presumed worry is what if my diagnosis is not on the list? This is the same sentiment that prevents tort reform in medicine. What if I have a medical injury? I want to collect the big bonanza too!The conundrum: Technologically health care in the U.S. is superior to any in the world.The last vignette: My wife’s was back in Sweden a few years ago and had a physical check-up. I advised her to request a routine colonoscopy. The doctor denied the request advising that the Swedish health care system only provides colonoscopy for patients who are bleeding. My wife had her colonoscopy paid for by our health insurance in the United States. Three years ago my wife’s best friend moved from Sweden to France. This year her French physician insisted she receive a routine colonoscopy. Her friend was found to have colon cancer! We believe successful surgery followed.Conclusion: The health care system in the United States is technologically superior for those who can afford the system and know how to access care. The health care system in the United States in inequitable and even if you can afford it most patients have no idea how to evaluate care. The social care system in Europe is often inferior and inadequate given the knowledge we possess today. One would think it would be possible to merge the advantages of each. Health care in the United States is schizophrenic; we have the best quality and poor distribution. Those of us on Medicare don’t have to worry. The politicians are too scared of us to change the system.

Hands Off America

Alright, that does it.Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Americans have been willing to do their part for safety in the friendly skies. Indeed, citizens have generally been reasonable, even in the face of monumental unreasonableness, of the type only government can attain.But now, it has gone too far. The Transportation Security Administration has begun offering air travelers an abominable, binary choice between nude, full-body x-ray scans and groin-grabbingly invasive “pat-downs.”It is encouraging to read of danders rising all over the country, as people see this hideous overreach for what it is. It has occurred to me that this policy is in fact an elaborate prank, just to see if the nation still has any nerve at all. If, however, this federal initiative of naked pictures and government gropes is sincere, Americans’ response will determine their success or failure in the worldwide struggle with radical Islam.Preposterous as it seems to suggest the war on terror will be won or lost in the trousers of America, what is at stake is nothing less than the character of the country. Has the Land of the Free reverted to such docility that its citizens will meekly let anyone in a uniform get to third base simply because those are the rules?America has had a lot of rules in its time, some sinister and some asinine; segregation and prohibition come to mind, respectively. In each case, nonsensical or nasty regimes were overthrown when regular people, individually and en masse, said, “enough already.”This is, or should be, such a time. A nation that will not tell airport apparatchiks to keep their claws out of their crotch cannot vanquish al-Qaeda.Resistance to tyranny, petty or grand, is the spirit that created the country. If citizens cannot summon it now, even as twitchy, blue-gloved fingers creep below the equator, then America is simply living off the capital of previous generations as it whittles down to its inevitable demise.One tires of those who shrug and say, “Go ahead and scan me – I have nothing to hide.” To them I’d respond, it isn’t about you and whether you can sell that look. Kids, families, or even just people who don’t share your ease with revealing their nakedness or watching their spouses do the same should not be subject to this insanity. Your comfort with your own body is admirable, whether well-founded or not, but if you suppose that your personal decisions should be good enough for the rest of the country, you are either a White House czar or you’ve simply missed the point.The TSA and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano have tried various tacks in responding to growing public outcry. Napolitano, in a USA Today column that reads like the copy of an automated complaint line, refers to this new system as “the evolution of our national security architecture.” Airport screeners who have received complaints from molested passengers have reportedly been parroting that, “The rules have always been the same.” Nice try, Charlie. I’m fairly certain we would have remembered that move, had you “always” been using it.We are reminded, of course, that these enhanced techniques come in response to would-be underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's attempted Christmas Day attack in 2009. But Napolitano and her minions do not offer any counter to the argument that this new and invasive approach would not have stopped him.And anyway, these are the same geniuses who responded to Abdulmutallab’s attempt by decreeing people couldn’t have books in their laps for the final hour of flights. What crack team gamed that one out? Besides the obvious incongruity – some guy stuffs explosives into his y-fronts so you can’t finish your chapter of Johnny Tremain until safely inside the terminal – what did they think would happen? That terrorists would seize planes using the complete works of Dickens? Perhaps Orwell would be more appropriate. To be sure, nothing cracks a cockpit door like Leon Uris.But this is the way of bureaucrats. In lieu of doing the right thing, they must do something. The opportunity to stop Abdulmutallab came when his own father walked into the US Embassy in Nigeria and warned that the young man was a threat. For whatever reason – political correctness, overwork, under-interest – officials did nothing, so the first photos of your Disney vacation will be of you and your family without clothes.There are, however, reasons for hope. Wednesday, November 24, which portends to be the busiest travel date of the year, has been declared “National Opt-Out Day” by grassroots organizers who are encouraging Americans to refuse to submit to full-body scans, thereby requiring TSA agents to perform pat-downs on all fliers. The prospects for this approach are unclear, but at least it’s something.And that is what we need – people from all parts of the country finding ways to make their displeasure known. Moreover, folks must stick with it and keep up the pressure. Please do not get used to this nonsense. Stay outraged, America, and stay free.theo@theocaldwell.comTheo Caldwell is the author of Finn the half-Great.

Fat Returns After Liposuction ...

A study appeared in a journal titled “Obesity” which was reported by a group from the University of Colorado. In a nutshell the study used sophisticated techniques to prove a doubtful if not unsubstantiated conclusion. More than 100 years ago Mark Twain wrote (quotations are used despite my paraphrasing) “There are three kinds of lies in the world. There are lies. There are worse lies. And then there are statistics.” I read the article and noted a number of background and design errors in the study and I would have forgotten about it except that a reporter called me for an interview regarding the study. The reporter told me that the article had been picked up and circulated by the press and was being taken seriously in the lay literature (magazines and newspapers). Now it is one thing for educated investigators to report their findings and argue their conclusions; it is quite another to publish these findings in the lay press where inadequacies and inconsistencies are taken for truths by unsophisticated readers.So... here goes: my analysis of the data. First, the study was done on patients with “small volume liposuction”; a group which has previously been shown to have little metabolic changes after liposuction. Second, studies in which metabolic changes have been demonstrated are numerous in the diabetes literature and demonstrate at the least changes in insulin resistance and blood sugar. Much more important is the authors’ conclusion that there is a homeostasis in the human body which compels the body to hold a fixed amount of fat so if you take some away it naturally comes back. How many of us have lost weight on a diet. How many of us have gained it back? How many of us complained that we went off our diet and the fat came back. Do any of us think this happened by serendipity? How many overweight patients do you know that gained weight after losing it and were not eating more.Lastly, fat is deposited according to hormone receptors that are present on adipocytes (fat cells).. Females in pubertal years deposit fat on hips, thighs, and buttocks; in reproductive years on hips and abdomen; in pre-menopausal years on arms , shoulders, breasts. You don’t have to believe me. Ask anyone who has been there. So when these investigators found increased fat in the abdomen a year after liposuction, I am not sure what they were thinking.Twenty years ago cosmetic surgeons felt that women increased breast size after liposuction and you would not believe how many men came to my office in support of their wives having a liposuction procedure. Five years later we found it was not true and in my practice only 15% of female patients developed larger breasts. Yet the myth goes on. Now women who gain weight after liposuction will blame the liposuction and the self sustaining prophesy will continue.Fat returns after low volume liposuction ? … NOT!

What does Victory Look Like?

Sixty-five years ago today, World War II officially came to an end. On September 2, 1945, Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu boarded the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay and signed the Instrument of Surrender in front of American General Douglas MacArthur.It was a formal and solemn ceremony, coming weeks after atomic bombs had been dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, concluding six years of warfare, with some 70 nations fighting on three continents.Today, we find ourselves in another global conflict, and it is broadly understood that there will be no such official declaration if and when we win.Who would sign the surrender, and where? Would Osama bin Laden apply his imprimatur to some document at Ground Zero, perhaps in the Great Hall of Faisal Abdul Rauf’s planned “community center”?In 1945, Japan’s leaders, like countless signatories to surrenders of centuries past, were agreeing on behalf of an entire population that hostilities would cease. In today’s war, where terrorist cells attack civilian and military targets all over the world, no leader is empowered to make that peace, even if he cared to.Without a surrender, how will we know when we have won? Victory will take years, if we can manage it, but what will it look like and how do we achieve it?Military might alone cannot win this war. And so, the adage goes, we will conquer by the strength of our ideas. Swell – but what’s that mean?Often, the delineation of “our ideas” takes one of two forms. First, there are people like me, banging on about “freedom,” whatever that might be. Or, we are told, standing up for “our ideas” means making some absurd concession to antagonistic forces, in hopes our good intentions and intellectual bio-diversity will green the souls and stay the hands of our enemies (Mayor Bloomberg, call your office).Political correctness is no match for radical Islam. The latter has shown its commitment, time and again in locations around the world, to winning this conflict. The former, meanwhile, is a tiresome modern reflex, whereby poseurs take a quick assessment of common sense, then put all their energy behind the contrary view. This tic can manifest itself in straightforward fashion – as in, when people aver it is offensive to erect a nativity display at Christmastime – or abstractly – such as, you demonstrate how a cut in capital gains tax rates spurs the economy, then someone calls you a racist.In either case, this is no way to win a war.That brings us back to freedom. But the question remains: Just what would the victory of “freedom” mean to us? Would we breathe a little easier? Would the Kabuki dance of airport security be curtailed? Most important, would the brave members of our armed forces be spared from injury and death on foreign soil?Intelligent and experienced people have struggled to define victory in Iraq, where the US combat mission has just ended, and Afghanistan, where human rights abuses abound and military casualties continue – to say nothing of the almost-nuclear, terror-sponsoring Iran. What does “freedom” look like for Afghans, Iraqis, Iranians, and others?There will be no top-hats and ceremonies when this war ends. And so I put the question to you, gentle readers – what does victory in the war on terror look like?theo@halfgreat.comTheo Caldwell is the author of Finn the half-Great.

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