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Oliver Sacks and the Sabbath

August 21, 2015

Every week, Jody Hirsh, the JCC's Judaic Education Director, provides a Judaic message that is featured at the top of the JCC's weekly email newsletter. Below is the Shabbat message for Friday, August 21, 2015.

Oliver Sacks and the Sabbath

Oliver Sacks, the renowned physician/neurologist/storyteller is dying of cancer. His latest writings have been personal, autobiographical, and crammed with the most beautiful observations and reminiscences now, during this final period of his life. Last weekend, he wrote an article/memoir for the New York Times in which he revisits the meaning of the Sabbath in a profound and moving way. He speaks of his Orthodox upbringing, his childhood Shabbat experience, and his later rejection of religion.

But then, having visited Israel only once, he returned after 60 years of avoiding visiting his orthodox family in Israel. His visit was for the 100th birthday of his cousin Marjorie. It was then that he rediscovered the Sabbath:

The peace of the Sabbath, of a stopped world, a time outside time, was palpable, infused everything, and I found myself drenched with a wistfulness, something akin to nostalgia, wondering what if: What if A and B and C had been different? What sort of person might I have been? What sort of a life might I have lived?

In spite of his cousin John Robert’s insistence that observation of the Sabbath is impossible without being religious, he manages to infuse a universal understanding of what the Shabbat can mean to a secular Jew like himself.

Sack’s article is beautiful and profound, and has much to provoke our thoughts.

To read the entire the article, click here.

Shabbat Shalom