Sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell, the five senses through which we perceive the world. Being blind or deaf is well known and stories about the lack of touch or not being able to taste have been done, so two seniors from the Davis Renov Stahler Yeshiva High School for Boys in Woodmere, Dubi Fischman and Jonah Loskove, decided to focus on helping raise awareness of anosmia, a lack of smell.
“Nobody really knows what this is,” Fischman said. “People understand blindness, deafness, even muteness, but people just aren’t as familiar with this.”
DRS requires seniors to spend May doing an internship, which they call an odyssey.
Fischman and Loskove joined Anosmia Awareness, a group founded by DRS graduate, Daniel Schein. The two boys worked for 40 hours each, writing copy for Schein’s website, calling research centers like The Fifth Sense in London and raising money by selling pens and food such as donuts and popcorn at school. Fischman said they raised $530.
The relative obscurity of the condition, at least in contrast with the familiarity the average person has with blindness or deafness, is part of what drew the boys to the cause. “We thought that since it’s not so well known it would be a great opportunity to raise awareness for a great cause,” Loskove said.
Both said that the in addition to learning about anosmia, doing the project helped the gain skills that can translate to any field. “I learned things about anosmia hat I never would have otherwise,” Fischman said. “We also learned how to fundraise, do research, talk with research centers and coordinate with each other.”
Schein started Anosmia Awareness in 2012, he has lived with anosmia for his entire life and began to spread awareness of the condition while at DRS. He was thankful for the boy’s help and thinks they learned from the experience as well,
“They gained an appreciation for the effort involved in running an awareness campaign,” said Schein. “It helped them understand what anosmia is, what people with it go through and appreciate their own sense of smell.”
Loskove and Fischman’s work has had that same impact at DRS. Rabbi Aryeh Cohen, the project’s religious adviser, said he now treasures his own sense of smell. “It was truly incredible witnessing Jonah and Dubi put in so much time and effort bringing awareness to the world of anosmia,” He said. “I’m so deeply proud of them. I personally really appreciate what it is to smell today because of them and feel for all of those suffering from anosmia.”
Both will be taking a gap year in Israel before attending college. Neither student has expressed interest in medicine, but said they’d like to continue to be involved with Anosmia awareness in the future.
For information on anosmia, go to www.anosmiaawareness.org.