Celebrating Jewish American Heritage Month
May 01, 2023
May is Jewish American Heritage Month, and Overlake is proud to pay tribute to generations of Jewish Americans who helped form the fabric of American history, culture and society. In honor of this month, we asked Overlake staff and leaders what their heritage means to them, how it impacts their work and what insights they’d like to share with others.
Why is Jewish American Heritage Month important? What do you want to share with others?
- “Jewish American Heritage Month is a time of remembrance of a culture and a people, as well as a way of life that has profoundly impacted the world. A remembrance of more recent events (that are fading, unfortunately) of what can happen with religious persecution, scapegoating and blaming a group of people for your misfortunes. We all share the same desires, wants, fears, concerns and spirituality (in any form) and this can be a method of coming together, rather than pulling apart. Together, we are so strong and powerful and if history has taught us anything, it's when we are "one" that we progress in all realms: science, literature, arts, philosophy, inclusion and health.” – David Knoepfler, MD, Chief Medical Officer
- “Jewish American Heritage Month is a time to reflect on the powerful contributions we have made, and continue to make in America.” – Neal Perlmutter, MD
- “I think the stories of Jews coming to the U.S. is inspirational and also has much in common with other marginalized peoples who were and are on similar journeys. Values like cultural memory, resilience, the importance of knowledge, and generosity are key to the heritage. We also are at a time when antisemitic propaganda is on the rise and creating fear and danger. Perhaps learning more about the Jewish American experience could make a difference, as fear often arises from ignorance.” – Adam Wallas, Principal, Overlake Specialty School
Why do you think diversity and inclusion in the healthcare workforce are important? How do greater diversity and inclusion affect the patient experience?
- “In general, I think the opportunity to encounter people from different backgrounds and traditions enriches and strengthens everybody—it is what allows us to truly live up to our potential for democracy. In a healthcare setting, we have the opportunity to assist a very diverse community to survive and heal from disease, illness and injury. People come to us at times of significant challenge. Their outcomes are greatly impacted by the extent that we can help them feel valued and cared for.” – Adam Wallas, Principal, Overlake Specialty School
- “Broadening one's interpersonal connections minimizes distance in every dimension rather than increasing it. Even as differences become more apparent, when face to face, we find ways to overcome them and understand why the other person may have the feelings or beliefs they do.” – David Knoepfler, MD, Chief Medical Officer
- “It is important that all patients and workers feel included.” – Neal Perlmutter, MD
What brings you joy about your heritage and culture? What are some of your favorite traditions?
- “I love celebrating the Passover seder! The opportunity to reflect on freedom from oppression (both from outside, as well as self-imposed) is a core message of the celebration. I also love a lot of traditional Jewish foods, such as hamantaschen, challah, charoset, kugel—even matzo!” – Adam Wallas, Principal, Overlake Specialty School
- “The promotion of information transfer—whether a good discussion, lamenting, crying or celebration—as well as emotional connections. These are essential to human well-being.” – David Knoepfler, MD, Chief Medical Officer
- “The High Holidays, Passover and Chanukah.” – Neal Perlmutter, MD