web analytics
November 25, 2014 / 3 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
IDC Herzliya Campus A Day on Campus

To mark IDC Herzliya’s 20th anniversary, we spent a day following Prof. Uriel Reichman, IDC’s founder and president, and Jonathan Davis, VP for External Relations, around its delightful campus.



Renaissance Man

Schild-Edwin

The term Renaissance Man is defined by Wikipedia Encyclopedia as “a person whose expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas.” Many of us might think we know someone of that calibre, but does the person really have such a span of knowledge and impact on others?

I often speak with clients about one’s legacy. One’s legacy is how he or she is remembered or thought of, often after one’s death. However, our legacy starts very early in life. Are we conscious of our own legacy? In fact, sometimes we don’t even know, or understand, the legacy of some of our own family members. Let me explain.

We have very good friends in Toronto who recently suffered a terrible loss. Over Sukkos the family gathered together at one family member’s home in New Jersey. To their great shock and dismay, their oldest son, who had joined them the night before, passed away in his sleep at the age of 47. This tragedy opened a page in the life of their son which they had not known about. They knew their son had been traveling around the world connecting with people from a variety of backgrounds. Of course, they knew of his upbringing, his schooling, some of his interests, but they didn’t realize until his death the depth of his knowledge, his influence on others and the span of his travels. Now, this was a not a family with a lack of communication. It seems that this son was jut incredibly modest and his profound life journey did not afford the right opportunity to share his adventures with his family and friends. After his death, Azriel was referred to by the Jerusalem Post as the “Mystical Renaissance Man.”

Let me introduce you to Azriel Cohen. He grew up in Toronto where he attended religious day schools. After graduation he learned in Israel for five years. He obtained a B.A. in psychology and a graduate M.F.A. in computer art. Somewhere along the way he also received a diploma in conflict resolution and began body healing through somatic experiencing therapy. His professional years centered on visual arts, promoting external and inner peace and Jewish education. As such, he supervised an Israel summer tour, a Jewish camp and a Jewish student organization. For several years he focused on developing innovative approaches to healing the rifts between different segments of the Jewish communities. In addition to Hebrew and English, he also spoke conversational French, Arabic, Thai and Hindi. Azriel took note of the mass influx of Israeli army youth going to India and set up a huge sukkah in one part of the country and hosted many Pesach sedarim there are well. Azriel was also one of the founders of the eco-village and artists’ colony established by Vertigo Dance Company in Israel’s Eila Valley.

He was best known for the Traveling Jerusalem Café art installation, which he pursued during the second intifada. The Jerusalem Post article written after his death noted, “He knew the ‘in’ places to go and made friends with everyone – he was just that kind of person.”

It was most amazing when his parents recently said to me that they were overwhelmed by the tributes from around the world they have received since their son’s death. His legacy was one beyond their own awareness of their son. In fact, they shared with me some of the letters, e-mails and messages they received. I would like to share with you some of the extraordinary comments about this most amazing young man.

“He was able to connect, it didn’t matter who they were and where they were from,” said a close friend. “You [could] see it in his face, this acceptance of people and love of people.”

A friend from Singapore talked of the magical Chanukah her family spent in Chiang Mai while visiting Azriel last year, when they sent lanterns floating into the night sky for each of the eight nights, and the jazz mural he painted this past August when he visited her in Singapore.

One friend wrote that she had met Azriel when she was a freshman in college. She was “wowed by his art.” Another time he told her about the amazing work he was doing in India. She described him as “humble, matter-of-fact” in how he described his “incredible” work.

Other than being referred to as the mystical Renaissance man and the descriptions of Azriel above, additional words of praise included: magnetic personality, enthusiastic about whatever he did, passion for creating bridges between cultures separated by strife including Jews and Arabs, enormous curiosity, very sensitive man. A close friend and founder of an international organization admired Azriel’s “honesty, open-mindedness and curiosity, his kindness to all people of all backgrounds, his courage in facing difficulty and his noble refusal to step even an inch away from his deeply felt sense of integrity under any circumstances.”

People from around the world admired Azriel for his art and peace promotion activities.

How is it that these remarkable tributes caught his parents by such surprise? Perhaps we parents know the goodness of our children only through our own eyes without understanding them through the eyes of others. Perhaps his parents really didn’t know the tremendous impact their son had on the world. His legacy truly preceded him through the eyes of so many. Azriel was truly “a person whose expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas” – a Renaissance Man.

Our legacy is a gift. We build it with great difficulty and we can lose it with one foolish act. Our challenge as parents is to instil in our children the wonderful, caring, good qualities most of the world cherishes – and the means with which to accomplish them. Then we need to teach them to share them with us. Love them, teach them and they will make you proud – just as Azriel did for his parents. His soul should rise and his memories should be a motivation to us and our children.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

One Response to “Renaissance Man”

  1. Eli Freedman says:

    Beautifully written. Sums up Azriel Z"L and his forever lasting legacy and impact he had on all who knew him. May his memory be always blessed. B"H.

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
Iran Wins 7 Month Reprieve, Nuclear Talks Extended
Latest Sections Stories
Schonfeld-logo1

This core idea of memory is very difficult to fully comprehend; however, it is essential.

Respler-112114

Sometimes the most powerful countermove one can make when a person is screaming is to calmly say that her behavior is not helpful and then continue interacting with the rest of the family while ignoring the enraged person.

LBJ-112114

“Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples shall divide within you.”

Divorce from a vindictive, cruel spouse can be a lifelong nightmare when there are offspring.

There were many French Jews who jumped at the chance to shed their ancient identity and assimilate.

As Rabbi Shemtov stood on the stage and looked out at the attendees, he told them that “Rather than take photos with your cellphones, take a mental photo and keep this Shabbat in your mind and take it with you throughout your life.”

Yeshiva v’Kollel Bais Moshe Chaim will be holding a grand celebration on the occasion of the institution’s 40th anniversary on Sunday evening, December 7. Alumni, students, friends and faculty of the yeshiva, also known as Talmudic University of Florida, will celebrate the achievement and vision of its founders and the spiritual guidance of its educational […]

The yeshiva night accommodates all levels of Jewish education.

Recently, Fort Lauderdale has been the focus of international news, and it has not been about the wonderful weather.

Rabbi Sacks held the position of chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth for 22 years until September 2013.

The event included a dvar Torah by student Pesach Bixon, an overview of courses, information about student life and a student panel that answered frequently asked questions from a student perspective.

It is difficult to write about such a holy person, for I fear I will not accurately portray his greatness…

“Grandpa,” I wondered, as the swing began to slow down, “why are there numbers on your arm?”

So the real question is, “How can we, as hosts, make sure our guest beds are comfortable?” Because your guests will never say anything.

More Articles from Edwin Schild
Schild-Edwin

Interestingly, sometimes people who have a very high self-awareness may experience intense reactions to circumstances that others might respond to more mildly.

Schild-Edwin

We define stress as the feeling we get when there is too much to do and too little time to do it in.

I’d like to share some valuable insights that, with clear and meaningful understanding, will have a tremendous impact on our family’s future

Josh is only nine years old, yet he’s an addict. How is that possible? You’re wondering where he gets his drugs from, how does his addiction manifest itself and if there are treatment plans.

often find myself telling clients, “There is no such thing as emotions!” Then I wait for their reactions. My hope is that the client will challenge me, as obviously we all experience emotions. It’s the way we are wired.

In Part I talked about celebrating 30 years of Regesh Family and Child Services providing services to children, teens and families. I shared the agency’s origin and the many lessons I have learned through this journey. As I mentioned, it is my hope that my experiences will add to your toolbox of life skills.

As I look back, it is clear that I learned much as an administrator and therapist – and as an individual experiencing life. I hope you will stay with me as I reminisce.

I know what you are thinking. What possible situation could cause a professional to advise a parent to “Pray hard that your children ignore you”?

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/marriage-relationships/renaissance-man/2013/02/28/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: