Tag Archives: American Jews

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.

Jew of the Week: Baruch Blumberg

Hepatitis B and The First Cancer Vaccine

Baruch Samuel “Barry” Blumberg

Baruch Samuel Blumberg (1925-2011) was born to an Orthodox Jewish family in Brooklyn. He studied at the Yeshiva of Flatbush, and then at Far Rockaway High School in Queens (which was also attended by fellow prominent scientist and former Jew of the Week Richard Feynman). After serving in the US Navy during World War II (attaining the rank of commanding officer), Blumberg studied math and medicine at Columbia University. He earned his MD in 1951, worked as a doctor for several years, then enrolled at Oxford University to do a PhD in biochemistry. Decades later, he would be elected Master of Oxford’s prestigious Balliol College (founded all the way back in 1263), making him the first American and the first scientist to hold the title. In the 1960s, Blumberg discovered the hepatitis B antigen, and soon showed how the virus could cause liver cancer. His team began working on a diagnostic test and a vaccine, and successfully produced both. Although Blumberg had a patent on the vaccine, he gave it away freely to save as many lives as possible. (One thirty-year follow up study showed that the vaccine reduced infection from 20% to 2% of the population, and liver cancer deaths by as much as 90%. Some have therefore called it the first cancer vaccine.) Blumberg was awarded the 1976 Nobel Prize in Medicine for his work with hepatitis B, and his “discoveries concerning new mechanisms for the origin and dissemination of infectious diseases.” In 1992, he co-founded the Hepatitis B Foundation, dedicated to helping people living with the disease, and funding research for a cure. Meanwhile, Blumberg taught medicine and anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania. Incredibly, he also directed NASA’s Astrobiology Institute, was president of the American Philosophical Society, and a distinguished scholar advising the Scientific and Medical Advisory Board, as well as the Library of Congress. He had worked for the National Institutes of Health, and The Institute for Cancer Research. Blumberg remained Torah-observant throughout his life, and rarely missed his weekly Talmud class. He credited his Jewish studies as a youth for sharpening his mind and allowing him to excel in academia, and once said that he was drawn to medicine because of the ancient Talmudic statement that “if you save a single life, you save the whole world.” Fittingly, it has been said that Blumberg “prevented more cancer deaths than any person who’s ever lived.”

Words of the Week

Science gets the age of rocks, and religion the rock of ages; science studies how the heavens go, religion how we go to heaven.
– Renowned evolutionary bologist Stephen J. Gould