Daniel Schifrin |
Special To The Jewish Week |
There is an old story, a kind of midrash, in which the wanderings of the Jewish people are compared to the journey of a stone. Brought back to life by the mysterious modern commentator known as the Draschba, this story begins with the Akedah, the binding of Isaac, which we read during Rosh HaShanah. In the Draschba’s telling, the rock on which Abraham attempted to sacrifice Isaac was split open when the ram was substituted for the man. Those flints, impregnated with the joy of life affirmed, floated downstream into human history, distributed randomly in every direction, bubbling to the surface every time a text is split open, and its holy power ignited and revealed.
Dr. Jonathan Halevy, whose specialty is liver diseases, has been the director-general of Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem for the past 26 years. He is also chairman of the Israel Health Basket Committee, which determines which drugs, medical procedures and technology will be approved and subsidized by the national health care system. Shaare Zedek made news this month when breast cancer researchers there found that women who carry the BRCA1/2 genes are prone to breast and ovarian cancer — even if they have no family history of the cancers. Halevy was interviewed during a recent visit here.
Noting that a character’s first recorded words in the Bible reveal a great deal about his personality, Rabbi David Wolpe pointed out at a Jewish Week Forum here last week that as a youngster, the future King David’s first words in the Book of Samuel are, “What will be given to the man who slays Goliath?”
Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik |
Jewish Week Online Columnist |
A Rabbi's World
I don’t anticipate having a chance to write for next week’s paper– the week of Rosh Hashanah is just a little busy for rabbis in the pulpit– so I hope you’ll indulge me in sharing a thought that, though a few days early for the holiday itself, is actually timely for the Shabbat of S’lichot, the penitential prayers recited on the Saturday night before Rosh Hashanah.
At first glance, the resemblance is unmistakable — the diction, gestures, cadences of the deep voice of author Mark Obama Ndesandjo seem uncannily similar to his brother, President Barack Obama. In fact, with his shaved head, Ndesandjo looks like a younger, hipper, more smiling version of the President. But as he shows in his just-published compelling memoir, “An Obama’s Journey: My Odyssey of Self-Revelation Across Three Cultures” (Lyons Press), he’s very much his own person, exploring issues of identity, race and family, along with his Jewishness. The two men share a father, Barack Obama, Sr., but they were born to different mothers; the president is the son of the second wife and Ndesandjo is the son of the third, a Jewish woman named Ruth Beatrice Baker. (Ndesandjo’s parents divorced when he was 7, and he later took on the name of his stepfather, only to reclaim the Obama name in recent years.)
Myron Kandel |
Special To The Jewish Week |
Leipzig was a flourishing German city before World War II. In 1964, as part of communist East Germany, it was a desolate place, bomb damage still not repaired, store shelves bare and streets dimly lit. It was not a tourist destination.