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Beneficial spirituality


A Jew without belief
Sherwin Nuland Surgeon
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But I loved to go to the synagogue. I do to this minute. And I love to say Jewish prayers, and I feel very attached to the Jewish people and I know a great deal about Biblical history and post-Biblical history. So, when Sarah and I were married, I used to take her to the synagogue, where I loved to be. Now here's this woman who's a devout Quaker and over the years, I never once mentioned any possibility of out, of her being converted. We were married in a Quaker ceremony six months after that proposal. But without my realising it, she was getting more and more interested in Judaism, and about six or seven years ago, she actually converted, and we were remarried in the Jewish cemetery right in the back yard, under this Japanese elm that we have. And she now knows more about Jewish ritual than I do. She's on the Board of Directors of the Synagogue, and people are pushing very hard for her to accept the presidency, which is four years down the line, because there's a sort of succession, and we practice Judaism. All my friends know I'm an agnostic, but I just love to go to the synagogue every Saturday. I love to be there. I love to be there with her. I love the prayers, I love the people I've met there. I love the sense of community that this particular group gives me, and I've written a book on Maimonides, who was one of the great Jewish intellects in the 12th century. And again, I've been closely associated with Judaism and Jewish things, and I never hide the fact that I don't believe.

Sherwin Nuland (1930-2014) was an American surgeon and author who taught bioethics, the history of medicine, and medicine at the Yale University School of Medicine. He wrote the book How We Die which made The New York Times bestseller list and won the National Book Award. He also wrote about his own painful coming of age as a son of immigrants in Lost in America: A Journey with My Father. He used to write for The New Yorker, The New York Times, Time, and the New York Review of Books.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is a London-based television producer and director who has made a number of documentary films for BBC TV, Channel 4 and PBS.

Tags: Maimonides

Duration: 2 minutes, 9 seconds

Date story recorded: January 2011

Date story went live: 13 September 2011