In my new capacity as the son of an Alzheimer's victim, I have many questions. Some of them are Jewish questions. One kept me up for hours the other night, leading me to my bookshelf at 3 a.m., combing through volumes to see what insights I might glean. What happens to the soul during Alzheimer's?
Two years ago, Andy Abrams was startled to notice a 20-something colleague tattooed with the Hebrew word, shechina. The woman hadn't been raised in an observant household, like Abrams: "Yet she not only chose a word heavy with religious meaning, she chose a style of script only found in the Torah," he said. Her intention wasn't to show off a hipper-than-thou take on Judaism, a la Heeb magazine, or the kind of in-your-face ethnicity popularized by films such as "The Hebrew Hammer."
"It was her identification with Jewish feminism and with some sense of the divine," Abrams said. "And the word meant so much to her that she was willing to permanently ink it on her body."