Jew of the Week: Pink

P!nk

Alecia Beth Moore, aka. Pink (Credit: Evan Agostini)

Alecia Beth Moore (b. 1979) was born in Pennsylvania to a Jewish mother and an Irish-American father. She enjoyed singing from early childhood and started performing at age 14, taking on the stage name “Pink” based on the character Mr. Pink in the film Reservoir Dogs. That same year, she was asked to join the band Basic Instinct. The band broke apart before releasing any songs. Two years later, Pink formed a new R&B group called Choice. After finding little success, one music executive told her to “go solo, or go home”, so she did. Her first single came out in 2000 and quickly went to the top of the Billboard charts. The album was certified double-platinum, and Pink won Female New Artist of the Year. The following year, “Lady Marmalade” (with Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, and Mya) became her first #1 single, and won her a Grammy. For her second album, Pink took things into her own hands to show her real talents, as opposed to fulfilling the boring wishes of the music industry. Pink was right, and the album was a huge international success (it remains her most successful to date). All in all, Pink has produced seven albums (so far), selling over 40 million copies to make her one of the bestselling musicians of all time. She has also appeared in a dozen films, is a vocal social activist and philanthropist, and is raising two kids along the way. Pink has been credited with inventing “the modern wave of Pop Diva Domination”, and inspired countless others, including Adele, Kelly Clarkson, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, and Rihanna. Earlier this year, People Magazine called her “a performer, mother and role model whose honesty, humour, confidence and sheer star power make her one of the most beloved and fascinating entertainers on the planet.”

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Words of the Week

The Jews gave us the Outside and the Inside – our outlook and our inner life. We can hardly get up in the morning or cross the street without being Jewish. We dream Jewish dreams and hope Jewish hopes. Most of our best words, in fact – new, adventure, surprise; unique, individual, person, vocation; time, history, future; freedom, progress, spirit; faith, hope, justice – are the gifts of the Jews.
– Thomas Cahill

Pink posted this to her Instagram page after a show in Berlin in 2017, right around the time of the Neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville.

Jews of the Week: Lederman and Ashkin

Two 96-Year Old Nobel Prize Winners

Leon Lederman in 1988

Leon Max Lederman (1922-2018) was born in New York to Ukrainian-Jewish immigrants. After serving in World War II, he returned to work on a PhD in physics at Columbia University. He would become a distinguished physics professor there before taking a leave to join the world-renowned CERN in Switzerland. There, he discovered the muon neutrino in 1962. For this, as well as developing the “neutrino beam method”, he would later win the Nobel Prize in Physics. Lederman also discovered the bottom quark. In 1979, Lederman became the director of the prestigious Fermilab, running the world’s most powerful particle accelerator. After retiring in 1989, he was an occasional teacher at the University of Chicago and the Illinois Institute of Technology. He was also president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 1993 he published his bestselling book, The God Particle (coining that now-famous term). Lederman won countless awards and inspired a generation of physicists. Sadly, he was diagnosed with dementia, and the illness took a toll on both his health and his finances. He was forced to sell his Nobel Prize gold medal in order to pay for his medical bills. He passed away last week, at age 96.

Arthur Ashkin

Another 96-year old Jewish scientist who made headlines last week is Arthur Ashkin (b. 1922). He won a Nobel Prize in Physics for his invention of optical tweezers. Like Lederman, Ashkin was born in New York to Ukrainian-Jewish immigrants, and also attended Columbia University. During World War II, he was asked to stay in his lab to build magnetrons for US Army radars. After earning his PhD in nuclear physics at Cornell, Ashkin was hired by Bell Labs. He first worked on microwave technology, then moved on to lasers. After some two decades of work, Ashkin created a working optical tweezer, described as “an old dream of science fiction”. This allows tiny things like atoms, viruses, and cells to be grabbed, moved and manipulated. Today, it is an indispensable tool for countless research facilities around the world. Ashkin also co-discovered the photorefractive effect, and holds a whopping 47 patents. In addition to his many awards, he has been inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. His Nobel at age 96 makes him the oldest person ever to win the prize.

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Words of the Week

An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that, in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle.
– Francis Crick, Nobel Prize-winning biologist