Nov 2015

Choisir La Vie

As the world mourns the loss of innocent life in Paris, I, like many, struggle to confront my feelings; Paris, Jerusalem, New York City and so many places around the world, have witnessed a common evil that must be confronted by a unified civil world.

As we all declare our solidarity, sympathy and empathy with Paris and her citizens, we must question what it really means to do so. Yes, it means to comfort and console right now. But it must mean more: radical and violent extremism must be eliminated. The civilized world must stand in solidarity about what it is that unites us. What it is that makes us human. It is the sacredness and sanctity of human life. The sacredness and sanctity of every moment of every life. Though we may passionately disagree regarding ideology, theology, politics, economics, territory, history if we are to remain human, created in God’s image, with a spark of the Divine in each of our souls, we must maintain, amidst our differences, a sense of the sacredness of human life.

Radical extremism — be it religious (and no religion on earth is without its examples), political, secular, economic — loses sight of this core value which bridges the differences among civilized human beings.

We must reinvigorate again and again the sacredness and sanctity of human life. It must transcend all differences. Not being an extremist does NOT mean being passive. We must confront and abolish, aggressively and completely, those entities which attempt to diminish the sanctity of human life to achieve their own goals, be they political, economic, religious or secular. These are the thoughts that I contemplate, amidst my feelings of sympathy, anger, defiance and deep sadness, in response to this most recent, and so many such recent events. May God bless all leaders and peoples of civilized nations with wisdom, courage, strength and peace.

Gary Grad, a Wexner Heritage Alum (Chicago I-99), has been practicing medical oncology in the Chicago suburbs for 22 years. Gary remains involved in his synagogue as an occasional shaliach tzibbur, Torah reader, lay educator and as a member of a chevre kadisha. He has also engaged non-Jewish groups in religious discussions and enjoyed the interactions and insights yielded. Gary continues to evolve concepts of the Torah as a paradigm for the healing journey, which he utilizes in caring for cancer patients of all faiths. He travels to Israel and Europe often, as well as Katmandu and Everest base camp, the South Pacific and is looking forward to an upcoming journey to Argentina and Antarctica. Gary is fascinated by the diversity of people and cultures around the world and all we can learn from each other. He can be reached at