Saul Chapnick

It’s Hard to Keep Up with an Octogenarian

He is not an Olympian but has more endurance than most people half his age.

He is able to outsmart and out-think most of us. Most of all, this octogenarian is still growing and learning from life and frequently shares his wisdom and experiences with his readers on these Times of Israel (TOI) pages. The manner which he expresses himself is refreshing, easy to understand, yet deeply profound.

I do not know Dr. Esor Ben-Sorek personally, but I am drawn to his articles during those infrequent times these days when I am able to read the TOI Blog pages. I look for his columns first and allow myself to “binge-read” them. He is a prolific writer. I say “prolific,” because I always learn something new from each of his columns. He shares himself, and at his age, he continues to share that which he is still learning. That is a sign of true “Chochma,” that rare type of wisdom that the rabbis admire because it combines the heart (emotion) with the brain (intellect). If only schools graded students on “Chochma,” rather than on the accumulation of knowledge based on test score results.

Unfortunately, most people lack “Chochma.” When reading the Blogs on this website, TOI has its share of serial writers, rather than the likes, as in Dr. Ben Sorek’s case, prolific writers. I consider Dr. Ben-Sorek in the same category as a Naomi Chazan, a Sarah Tuttle-Singer, a David Harris, or even Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks. Each of those mentioned have a unique and magnetic writing style and know how to compose a sentence (which is becoming a lost art).

Dr. Ben Sorek is not an ideologue. He is a Likudnik, who questions the party line. He is Modern Dati, but does not accept dogma. He will refer to the past but knows that history and experience are organic and always in flux.

He, at his advanced age, is not in good health both physically and emotionally. He struggles and questions life, especially after the loss of his beloved wife of 56 years, Rahel, in 2016. In some correspondences with me or in his articles, he states that he is unable to write anymore. Yet, after contemplation, his blogs resonate more than ever.

This man of many letters does not need his degrees. His writings, his heart and his being touches each and every one of us. He is a real and good person. In other words, he is amiti-אמיתי, honest to himself and honest to his readers .

I wish him a long life, a quality life with his beautiful family. His writings, his heart and being touches all of us. On the day that he is not physically with us anymore, he should know that he made a difference to this world. His writings are a testament to that.

Dr. Ben-Sorek, Biz Hindred ein tzvunzig, May you live to be 120, but until then, I look forward to your 1,000 column which should be any day now.

About the Author
For nearly thirty years, Saul passionately devoted and immersed himself to studying Jewish life in interwar Europe. Overnight, not only did this 1000-year-old community vanish, but so did its complex communal infrastructure. What piqued Saul Chapnick’s interest and curiosity was finding out exactly what it was that disappeared. In talking to politicians, survivors, scholars, Jewish communal leaders from Eastern Europe, and making trips there, Saul Chapnick was able to uncover the richness and the tragedy of interwar Jewish life in Europe. At the same time, Mr. Chapnick has discovered a limited reawakening of Jewish life in his parents’ and ancestors’ native land, Poland. Saul Chapnick has talked in various venues whether Yiddish and Yiddish Culture still has relevance today. He has also spoke about the importance this 19th and 20th Century world has to contemporary life today as well as to post-Holocaust Jewish identity. He also prepares the adult participants of The March for the Living about modern day Jewish Poland
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