A Legacy of Jewish Learning
Dr. Adam Glasgow internalized several quotes he learned from David Frim Pirkei Avot class at Prozdor Hebrew College.
“Be a tail among the lions, rather than a head for the foxes.”
“Everything is planned, but free choice is always given.”
“Words are like arrows. Once downed, they cannot be recovered.
The quotes, he says, remind people of the importance of taking personal responsibility – of striving to be better by seeking out people who can teach you (to be the tail of the lion rather than its head); think before you speak (and the arrow is shot), and make the right choices (with free will). All three, he says, are relevant to his work as a bariatric surgeon.
“My patients succeed to the extent that they empower themselves. Although God may have ultimate and supreme knowledge of our human experience and potential, God still grants that we make our own choices and live with our decisions,” he says. “It was true in Gan Eden and that remains true wherever we are in the world today.
Glasgow took responsibility for his own future when he enrolled at Hebrew College in Prozdor in 1980. At the time, he was a camper at Camp Yavneh in New Hampshire, founded in 1943 to expand the use of Hebrew language beyond the walls of the Hebrew of the time. Teachers College. One summer, he was told that if he wanted to become a councilor, he had to speak better Hebrew.
“I took that message very seriously,” said Glasgow, who grew up at Temple Beth David in Westwood. “I came home to my parents and said, ‘I have to go to Prozdor to improve my Hebrew. Newton Center at Hebrew College on Hawes Street in Brookline.
Glasgow says he ‘feared and respected’ his teachers at Prozdor but became so comfortable with his Hebrew that a few years later he performed the musical ‘Oklahoma’ in Hebrew with his classmates . During his final year at Camp Yavneh, he said, he was able to join the advanced Hebrew language class, filled with campers who had attended Jewish day schools. “I always hang out with the guys from Schechter and Maimonides that I met there. They made it cool to have a solid Jewish education, and it made me want to learn more. Prozdor helped me achieve my goal of speaking Hebrew. I credit Prozdor with much of my Jewish identity.
And while Glasgow came to Hebrew College Prozdor to brush up on his Hebrew, he learned about Jewish ethics in the process. In addition to Pirkei Avot Quotes, he often thinks of a teaching he learned about a man coming to first century scholars Rabbi Hillel and Rabbi Shamai, proclaiming his willingness to convert if they could teach him all of Torah while holding on one leg. As Shamai dismissed the man, Hillel said, “What is heinous to you, do not do to your neighbor.” The rest is just commentary. Now go ahead and master it.
“Unfortunately, my patients are often victims of discrimination and cruelty. If more people remembered to love their neighbor and speak kindly to them, what world would be decidedly better,’ said Glasgow. “I could go on and on about how and why I draw strength and inspiration from Pirkei Avot. I love that the 2,000 year old wisdom is still applicable today.
Glasgow says Prozdor is now part of his family’s identity. Jordana “Jody” Berkowitz, his high school sweetheart and now wife, also attended Prozdor, as well as Camp Yavneh. His mother-in-law, Margie Berkowitz, was the director of Camp Yavneh when he was a camper and later served as director of Prozdor.
“Our sons have a Jewish knowledge rooted in their history. Jordana and I raised them to know how important it was for us as teenagers and even more so as parents. My children went to school day, one of them went to Yavneh, another is now active in the CJP, and both went to Birthright Israel,” he said. “They know mom and dad went in Yavneh and Prozdor, and that their grandparents also met in Yavneh. Their grandmother also ran Prozdor for several years. It’s in their DNA.
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