Jack Flamholz Memorial Yom Iyun
Judaism in America: Intersecting Values and Identities
Sunday, November 12, 10am-4pm
Please join for a day of learning in memory of Jack Flamholz, z”l. The program, moderated by David Silber, will consist of two major lectures, by Dr. Rivka Schwartz (SAR High School) and Dr. Bernard Steinberg (Director Emeritus, Harvard Hillel), each followed by learning workshops led by educators, scholars, and communal leaders.
Dr. Rivka Schwartz on “Dirshu Et Shalom HaIr Asher Hegleti Etchem Shama: On American Jews and American Citizenship”
Dr. Bernard Steinberg on “Jewish and American Ethos During Tumultuous Times: Complementary and Conflicting Visions of Human Dignity and Worth”
There will be choices of workshops following each of the above talks. Workshops will be led by Shira Billet (Princeton), Miriam Gedwiser (Drisha), Shira Hecht-Koller (Drisha), Aaron Koller (Yeshiva University), Raphael Magarik (UC Berkeley), Yoni Pomeranz (Stanford), Jason Rubenstein (Hadar), and Sarah Zager (Yale).
About Jack Flamholz, z”l
(Dec. 15-1949-Oct.1, 2016)
Jack Flamholz moved to Teaneck, New Jersey, in June of 1994. A born and bred Brooklyn boy, he graduated Magna Cum Laude, with a Bachelors and Masters in Physics, from the Polytechnic Institute of New York.
As the “Winds of Change” affected us all, the call for Physicists diminished, and “cutting edge Geeks” were in high demand. Jack changed with the times and went on to work at Ma Bell, and her progeny, Nynex and Verizon. He excelled in his trade and won the Nynex Technical Excellence Award in 1992, and the Verizon Excellence Award in 2004.
Verizon sent him to Columbia University for a Masters in Computer Sciences, and in 1990-1994, he conceived, designed and led the development of “MAX” (a loop- maintenance expert system). Jack was required to hire Anthropologists, Speech Therapists, and Psychologists to create the Max Program. It was one of the first Artificial Intelligence programs of its kind…. and the beginning of Machine Learning. If there was a dire emergency anywhere in the United States, a person could call 411 and the computer could “hear” in the person’s words the crisis at hand, and respond accordingly. The machine was able to teach itself, from within the program, how to deal with a totally new situation. The computer could be soothing, directional, comforting, and emotive, depending on the Caller’s voice. Today MAX is used across the USA and the World in many different facilities.
In his private life, Jack Flamholz was an avid learner. Every book or article he read captured his imagination; he was a True Renaissance Man. In his last years, he designated for himself 3 projects to pursue.
- A Water Sustainability Project to start small at the Hawthorne Elementary School and the Teaneck Creek Conservancy. Once credible, the project was to slowly expand throughout Bergen County. Click here and here to read about it.
- A Computer generated Torah that closely followed the Sofer’s rules. Each page would fit beautifully on its section of the parchment. All the empty spaces between the words would disappear to create a symmetric claf. It would be the ideal Scribe’s guide for his manual work.
- Flamholz, a physicist and computer scientist, also had a strong interest in Jewish American history. He had delved into the writings of 14 th century Talmudic scholar Rabbi Nissim of Gerona, whose “Drashot HaRan” discussed the factors that allowed Jews to prosper in medieval Italy and Spain( specifically chapter 11). Mr. Flamholz was comparing Chapter 11 to the Federalist Papers, looking for similarities in the writings of the American founding fathers.
The latter topic inspired Drisha and the Luchfeld- Flamholz family to organize a Yom Iyun in his memory. The prime intent is to prepare the participants for critical and thankful table discussion on Thanksgiving.