Carolina Raquel Duer (b. 1978) was born in Argentina, the daughter of Syrian-Jewish immigrants. She went to a Jewish school growing up, spent time on an Israeli kibbutz, and frequented the Buenos Aires Maccabi club. When once visiting a gym with a friend, she was spotted by a boxing coach, and agreed to be trained by him. She soon became an amateur boxer, winning 19 of 20 matches, while also working as a waitress in her family’s restaurant. By 2010, Duer had become a professional boxer and won the world’s super flyweight championship. This made her the first female Jewish boxing champion. She defended the title six times before moving on to the bantamweight division in 2013 and winning that world title, too. After defending her title yet again in 2014, Duer took time off to focus on her family. She became a boxing announcer on Argentine television in the mean time. Incredibly, not long after having a baby, Duer returned to the ring earlier this year and won the International Boxing Federation’s bantamweight title. She is now among the greatest Jewish boxers (male or female) of all time. Duer has been nicknamed “The Turk” and “Iron Barbie”. In her spare time, she often volunteers with disadvantaged youth, and has said, “I do a lot of work with kids on the street. I explain to them that boxing isn’t violent. It can be used to give them focus. It’s good for both body and mind.”
Words of the Week
Transgressions of man towards God – Yom Kippur atones for them. Transgressions of man towards man – Yom Kippur does not atone for them until one seeks forgiveness from one’s fellow – Talmud, Yoma 85b
Joseph Kessel (1898-1979) was born in Argentina to a Jewish-Russian family, the son of a doctor from Lithuania. He spent his early childhood in Russia before the family moved to France. Kessel became a pilot and a writer. In the former capacity, he served valiantly in both World Wars, and in the latter, wrote over 20 novels. Many of his novels were translated into a number of languages, and were later adapted into very popular French films. Today, the Prix Joseph-Kessel is among the top literary prizes awarded for French literature. Maurice Druon (1918-2009) was Kessel’s nephew. (He went by his stepfather’s last name). He was born in Paris and raised in Normandy. Like his uncle, Druon became a writer as well. His career was interrupted by World War II, when he fought with the French Resistance, and together with his uncle, wrote the well-known anthem of the Resistance (based on an earlier Russian song).
Following the war, Druon wrote Les Grandes Familles, a bestseller adapted to an equally popular film. Druon would write two sequels to this novel, together with dozens of other important literary works. Among those is the seven-volume Les Rois Maudits (The Accursed Kings). This series was adapted to a TV show in 1972, and again in 2005. It also served as the foundation and inspiration for George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, which was adapted to the current hit show Game of Thrones. In addition to his writing, Druon was France’s Minister of Cultural Affairs in the 1970s. Both he and his uncle Joseph Kessel were lifelong members of the prestigious ‘Académie française’.
Words of the Week
No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it. – Albert Einstein
Boris Claudio Schifrin (b. 1932) was born in Argentina. His father was a professional violinist and concertmaster, and introduced his son to music at a very young age. Schifrin grew up studying under the tutelage of several great composers and conductors. He composed his first piece, inspired by a passage in the Torah, at the age of 15 for his local synagogue. Although he briefly studied law, Schifrin pursued his passion in music and went on to study at the Paris Conservatory. He returned home to start his own jazz orchestra that was soon featured weekly on TV in Buenos Aires. In 1958, Schifrin was offered a job in New York and made the big move. Several years later, MGM offered him the chance to work on a film score. He won his first Emmy Award for Best TV Theme soon after. Schifrin went on to write theme songs and scores for over 160 films and television series, including Dirty Harry, the Rush Hour trilogy, and Planet of the Apes. His score for The Exorcist was so frightening that the director had to scrap it from the film. Undoubtedly, the most famous of his songs is the theme from Mission: Impossible, now considered among the greatest theme songs of all time, and the most widely recognized around the world. It has been popular for nearly 5 decades since Schifrin first composed it in 1966. A U2 remake in 1996 sold 500,000 copies and reached #7 on the Billboard 100. Besides TV and film, Schifrin produced more than 50 musical albums, and composed over 60 orchestral works. For his work, he has been nominated for 6 Oscars and 21 Grammys, of which he has won 4. Despite being an octogenarian, he is still working on film scores and runs his own label, Aleph Records. Schifrin also has a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.
Words of the Week
… the reason imagination is more important than knowledge is because imagination turns out to be the vehicle by which we increase knowledge. And so, if you don’t have imagination, you’re not going to get more knowledgeable. – Dr. Sylvester James Gates, Jr.