A native of Staten Island, Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld has served for a decade as spiritual leader of Ohev Sholom: The National Synagogue in Washington, D.C., which bills itself as the city’s oldest Orthodox congregation. The rabbi, who was ordained by Yeshiva University and served for five years as associate rabbi of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, has helped revive Ohev Sholom by conducting a high-visibility outreach to unaffiliated Jews. He also teaches a regular class on Judaism at the U.S. Senate.
According to legend, a destitute man came to a rabbinic sage in Jerusalem in the middle of the 18th century, complaining of his economic plight. The rabbi’s advice: He wrote an amulet on parchment and instructed the man to place it between the stones of what was then called the Wailing Wall.
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 has been the director-general of the medical center in Jerusalem for the past 26 years.
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?”
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.