Jewish Journal

A religion writer comes to grips with his own mortality

by Brad A. Greenberg

June 20, 2010 | 3:32 pm

Bruce Feiler is the author of “Walking the Bible,” a book a very much enjoyed, and has received other mentions on this blog.

I thought I had been keeping tabs on the religion author and former Beliefnet blogger, so this CNN link from my wife Friday caught me by surprise—and watered my eyes as I took a break from working on Holocaust reparations cases. The story discussed, as Feiler had revealed two years ago and wrestled with for a while after, that doctors had discovered a large tumor on his leg:

The official diagnosis was an osteosarcoma. Osteosarcomas strike just 900 Americans a year. Two-thirds of them are younger than 40. Feiler was 43.


News of the diagnosis terrified Feiler. “There’s never a moment that is not shadowed in some way by that cancer, illness, the idea of dying is never that far away,” he says.

The man who’d made a living by walking knew he might never walk again. He knew that he might not live to see his twin daughters, Eden and Tybee, grow up. “I’m a person who has tried in my life to dream undreamable dreams. Who’s gonna teach them how to dream? Who’s the person that’s gonna tell them if they want to run a marathon, open a restaurant, write a book, cook the hardest soufflé. Who’s gonna say to them, ‘You can do it?’”

Feiler came up with a extraordinary answer. He would put together a group of men and call them his council of dads. Six men from different stages of Feiler’s life who could be Feiler’s voice, and could teach his girls the life lessons he might not be there to teach.

It was around this point that I wanted to cry, partially for Feiler, partially for his girls and partially because Father’s Day was on my mind.

Ever the journalist, Feiler has written a book about his plan and aptly named it “The Council of Dads.” Get to know the guys in the above clip.

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