Amy Renee Krouse Rosenthal (1965-2017) was born in Chicago and studied at Tufts University. A naturally creative and spiritual person, she described herself simply as “a person who likes to make things”. After working in advertising for nine years, Rosenthal decided to pursue her passion and becoming a writer. She published her first book in 1998 and went on to write 30 more, most of them children’s books. Many were New York Times Bestsellers, and Rosenthal is the only author to have three children’s books on the list of Best Children’s Books for Family Literacy in the same year. Her book Duck! Rabbit! was read publicly at the White House in 2010, and her adult book Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life was named one of the top ten memoirs of the decade. She also published 10 journals and created many short films, several of which went viral. Rosenthal was often seen at TED talks, designing three conferences and speaking at another three. She wrote for a number of newspapers and magazines as well, including Parenting, The Oprah Magazine, and The New York Times. It was in the latter publication that she wrote an essay earlier this month revealing that she had terminal cancer. The essay was written in the style of a dating profile for her husband – with whom she fell in love on the first (blind) date – for him to find a new love once she would inevitably pass away. Sadly, this would be her last creation to go viral. Rosenthal tragically succumbed to her cancer last week.
Words of the Week
Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it?
– Thornton Wilder (This was Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s favourite quote.)
Manoel Dias Soeiro (1604-1657) was born in Madeira, an island off of Portugal, where his parents fled from the Portuguese Inquisition. They soon moved to the Netherlands, where Soeiro grew up and became a respected rabbi and author, known by his Hebrew name Menashe ben Israel. In Holland, he established the first Hebrew printing press at the young age of 22, and his writings (in five languages!) would gain great fame, not only in the Jewish community, but among the greatest scholars and philosophers of the age, including Vieira, de Groot, and Huet. A portrait of Soeiro was even painted by Rembrandt! A great kabbalist, Soeiro wrote and published one of the earliest Jewish treatises on reincarnation, called Nishmat Hayim. Among his students was the infamous Baruch (Benedict) Spinoza. In 1638, Soeiro moved to Brazil. At the time, there was a popular notion that the natives were actually the Lost Tribes of Israel. This inspired Soeiro to take up the role of helping Jewish causes around the world. His first stop was England, where virtually no Jews lived since they were expelled in 1290. Soeiro worked hard to open the doors to their return, and in December 1655, the re-admittance of Jews to England was granted. Sadly, Menashe could not continue his work. Upon return to the Netherlands, his son passed away. Unable to contain the grief, Soeiro passed away himself in the midst of the funeral.
Words of the Week
As they set out from their place above, each soul is male and female as one. Only as they descend to this world do they part, each to its own side. And then it is the One Above who unites them again. This is His exclusive domain, for He alone knows which soul belongs to which and how they must reunite. – Zohar (I, 85b)
Voted one of the greatest comedians of all time, Jerome Allen “Jerry” Seinfeld started his career at an open-mic night after graduating from college. He found his way to a Rodney Dangerfield HBO special, then appearances on late night talk shows, and small roles in little-known sitcoms. Finally, in 1989 he created The Seinfeld Chronicles along with fellow New York Jew Larry David. By its fourth season (then known simply as Seinfeld) it had become the most successful sitcom ever, and made Seinfeld the highest-paid celebrity of the time (he earned $267 million in 1998 alone!) Seinfeld is also a bestselling author and winner of multiple Emmy and Golden Globe awards. Interestingly, his father was Austrian Jewish, and his mother’s family is Syrian Jewish, having immigrated to the US from Turkey. Seinfeld also worked in an Israeli Kibbutz when he was 16.
Meanwhile, Lawrence Gene “Larry” David co-created and wrote 62 episodes for Seinfeld, including “The Contest” which won the distinction of being the best TV show episode of all time. Previously, he was a writer for Saturday Night Live, and many other comedy shows. Larry David is most famous for starring in Curb Your Enthusiasm, a unique show where the script is improvised by the actors as they are being filmed. It has been both criticized and praised for its heavy emphasis on Judaism and Jewish themes, and the show is thought to be based on the Yiddish archetype of a “schlemiel”. Like Seinfeld, Larry David is an author and winner of multiple Emmy awards.
Words of the Week
“A bookstore is one of the only pieces of evidence we have that people are still thinking.” – Jerry Seinfeld