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    Blessed Thorn: The Excommunication of Baruch Spinoza

    Community Tuesdays

    When: Tuesday, 2/18/2020 1:00 PM - 2:30 PM

    Where: Albert and Janet Schultz Cultural Arts Hall (Bldg F)

    This program will present a lecture and staged reading of the one-act play Blessed Thorn by Ron G. Rosenfeld. The play is based on the excommunication of Baruch Spinoza from the Jewish faith. The lecture delves into Spinoza's life and philosophy and their relevance to modern thinking.

    Baruch Spinoza (1632–77) was the son of a Portuguese-Jewish family that fled the Inquisition and settled in Amsterdam. Early in life, he was identified as an exceptional Biblical and Talmudic student, predicted to become the most brilliant Jewish scholar in Amsterdam. In 1656, when Spinoza was 23 years old, he received a life-time excommunication from the Jewish faith by the leaders of the Amsterdam Sephardic community. The events that led to this extraordinarily harsh ostracism remain unclear, but they resulted in Spinoza's departure from Judaism and his ultimate development as one of the most famous philosophers of the Enlightenment, whose concepts of Biblical criticism, ethics and the nature of God and the universe continue to have great influence. Einstein would state, "I believe in Spinoza's God, who reveals Himself in the lawful harmony of the world."

    Dr. Ron G. Rosenfeld received his BA, summa cum laude, from Columbia University in 1968 and his MD with Honors from Stanford University in 1973. He joined the faculty at Stanford in 1980, was promoted to associate professor with tenure in 1985 and to professor in 1989. In 1993, he left Stanford to accept the position of Chairman of Pediatrics at Oregon Health Sciences University, where he served for nine years. In 2003, he returned to Stanford as the Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs of the Lucile Packard Foundation. In 2008, he established STAT5, LLC, to provide specialized consultation services in endocrinology and pharamacogenomics, while maintaining his research laboratory at OHSU.

    Dr. Rosenfeld is an internationally renowned authority on the endocrine basis of growth and development and has been at the forefront of understanding the biology of growth hormone and growth factors for over 30 years. His work has elucidated physiological, pathological, cellular and molecular aspects of mammalian growth, as well as the role of growth factors and their receptors in the fetus, newborn, child and adult in health and disease.

    The author of over 660 publications, eight edited books and three plays, Dr. Rosenfeld has received numerous awards, including a Mellon Foundation Fellowship, Basil O'Connor Award from the March of Dimes, an NIH Career Development Award and 30 years of continuous NIH grant support. He is the recipient of the Kaiser Award for Excellence in Teaching at Stanford, the Joseph St. Geme, Jr. Award from the Society for Pediatric Research for pediatric education, the Ross Award for Research from the Society for Pediatric Research, The Clinical Endocrinology Trust Medal from the Royal Society of Medicine, the Maureen Andrew Mentor Award from the Society for Pediatric Research, the 2008 Transatlantic Medal as the outstanding North American endocrinologist from the Society for Endocrinology, the 2008 Robert H. Williams Distinguished Leadership Award from the Endocrine Society, the 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award from Stanford University, the European Society for Pediatric Endocrinology International Award (2013), the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Human Growth Foundation (2014) and the Judson J. Van Wyk Award from the Pediatric Endocrine Society (2014).

    His three plays include Survival Of The Fittest (based upon the competition between Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace), Helios (based upon the 19th century photographer, Eadweard Muybridge) and Fixation (based upon the German Nobelist Fritz Haber, the inventor of chemical warfare).

    Daytime Adult Learning and Culture Programs are made possible in part by the John R. Schwabacher Family as well as a grant from the Maimonides Fund at the Jewish Community Federation & Endowment Fund of San Francisco, The Peninsula, Marin, Sonoma and the East Bay. 

    Tuesday, February 18
    1:00–2:30 PM
    Schultz Cultural Arts Hall
    $15 or one punch of the Community Tuesdays Punch Card
    No registration required
    Contact: Michelle Rosengaus | (650) 223-8616 | [email protected]



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