Sunday, May 1, 2005

An old joke has Jewish parents telling their son, "You can be anything you want to be -- a dermatologist, a cardiologist, even a psychiatrist."

Nowadays, Jewish youths are making their own career choices, and fewer opt for careers in medicine, according to the spring issue of Reform Judaism magazine. Exact numbers are not available because medical schools no longer keep data on students' religious backgrounds. But anecdotal evidence from Jewish doctors reveals striking differences in medical school enrollment.

A member of the admissions committee at the University of Louisville said that in 1972, he was one of 25 Jewish students in a class of 99; today, five of 155 students are Jewish. A 1967 graduate of New York University medical school said her class was 75 percent Jewish; today, fewer than 25 percent of NYU medical students are Jews.

In an effort to explain this phenomenon, the magazine speculates that "this era of equal opportunity" offers greater career opportunities and that young Jews "are no longer squeezed into medicine by the absence of alternatives."

Falwell's 'Pit Bull'

The new dean of the theological seminary at the Rev. Jerry Falwell's Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., is a former Muslim who has been called the "intellectual pit bull of the evangelical world," according to his Web site. And Falwell's appointment of Ergun Mehmet Caner to take over the 2,000-student seminary in July has Muslim and Arab American groups bristling.

"He's been around a long time and has a very strong conservative view that is more hostile to Islam than understanding of it," Ray Hanania, managing editor of, told the Associated Press. "If Falwell wanted to send a strong message to Muslims, he might have done it by reaching out to mainstream Muslims, rather than extremists."

Caner, 39, is the co-author -- with his brother, Emir -- of the 2002 book "Unveiling Islam," which says, among other things, that the prophet Muhammad is a lesser religious figure than Jesus and that "war is not a sidebar of history for Islam. It is the main vehicle for religious expansion."

Book Bannings

Canadian health officials said they have identified a new source of germs -- the Bible -- and ordered its removal from patients' rooms at several hospitals in New Brunswick.

Directors of one of the hospitals, Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital in Fredericton, said the policy does not single out Scripture and also required removal of phone books and hospital directories. Bibles remain available on request.

But critics are accusing the hospital with doing away with Christian symbols. "A lot of it, in my mind, seems to be political correctness," Fredericton Mayor Brad Woodside told the National Post.

The Rev. Karl Csasz, a hospital chaplain and Baptist pastor, said that the Bible is no greater threat to a hospital patient than other objects in the room and that it is inconsistent to remove it for hygiene's sake.

"If the Bible is a threat in a drawer, where does it stop?" he said. "Is it possible for these germs to reside and live on lampshades, curtains?"

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