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Temple Sholom's Inaugural

Distinguished Speaker Series


Since its founding, Temple Sholom has been home to seekers and leaders who move us to question the status quo and act with moral courage. Join us as we continue this tradition through our Inaugural Distinguished Speakers Series lectures — made possible by the generosity of Jan and Bruce Tranen. This year, our speakers address critical issues involving access to and equity in healthcare in the United States.

These Programs are Free and Open to the Public, but Registration is Required 

Submit a Question

An Interview with Jan & Bruce Tranen,
Sponsors of the Distinguished Speaker Series

Lecture Recordings

Additional Resources

Questions or Concerns?



Our Speakers in 5781

Georges C. Benjamin

Reframing Healthcare: Bridging the Gap in an Unequal World

Wednesday, May 5 - 7:00 PM

Free on Zoom (Registration Required)

Georges C. Benjamin, MD, is one of the nation’s most influential physician leaders, speaking passionately and eloquently about health issues having the most significant impact on our nation today.  

Dr.  Benjamin leads the American Public Health Association (APHA) and previously served as Secretary of Health the State of Maryland, and prior to that as Deputy Secretary for Public Health Services at the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Named one of the top executives in health care by Modern Healthcare Magazine, Dr. Benjamin has also been recognized for being among the 100 most influential people in healthcare.  He is a member of the prestigious  Institute of Medicine of the National Academies and a former member of the National Infrastructure Advisory Council.

Dr. Benjamin,  who grew up in Chicago, is a graduate of the Illinois Institute of Technology and the University of Illinois College of Medicine.

Ezekiel Emanuel

American Healthcare and a Prescription for Change

Wednesday, June 2 - 7:00 PM

Free on Zoom (Registration Required)

Ezekiel Emanuel, MD, is a leading practitioner shaping healthcare in the United States and around the world, with a record of experience at the highest levels of policymaking.  Trained as an oncologist and a political scientist, Dr. Emanuel offers a uniquely thoughtful perspective on the most difficult issues in medicine today.

Dr. Emanuel is the Vice Provost for Global Initiatives and the Diane S. and Robert M. Levy University Professor at the University of Pennsylvania.  He is also the former Chief of the Department of Bioethics at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center and currently serves as a Special Advisor to the Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO). Most recently, Dr. Emanuel was named to President-Elect Biden's COVID-19 Advisory Board during the presidential transition.

He also served as a Special Advisor for Health Policy in the Obama Administration and  on President Clinton's Health Care Reform Task Force.

Dr. Emanuel, a Chicago native, is a graduate of Amherst College and Harvard University (MD / Ph.D.).

Rabbi Conover: Jan and Bruce, you could have endowed a speaker series anywhere. Why was it important to you to make it happen at Temple Sholom? 
Jan:  One of my father Joseph Levy, Jr,’s z”l favorite childhood memories was of the day his mother Sarah Levy z"l took him to Temple Sholom to hear Eleanor Roosevelt speak. I don’t know the topic of Mrs. Roosevelt’s speech that day, or that of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s speech in more recent years, but I do know that Temple Sholom has long provided a forum for great thinkers and believers in social justice and reform. Bruce and I are grateful we can help to continue the conversation. 
Rabbi Conover:  That brings to mind a moment of profound appreciation. A few years ago, when the clergy of Temple Sholom fully prostrated during the Great Aleinu on Rosh Hashanah, I felt so connected to those who have spoken and prayed in our sanctuary. So many people invested their time, wisdom, and resources. Their commitment allowed me to have this particular spiritual moment. And, Jan, your family is so dear to me, and I feel grateful that I knew your Dad, and that I know your Mom. Yet, I appreciate how far back the connection between Temple Sholom and your family goes. We’re all still imprinted by those people who shaped your Dad, who then shaped you, and then as we look at the many drawings by your grandchildren behind you—there are still so many who will continue this legacy through your vision. 

Rabbi Conover: When we first discussed how you could make an impact through a gift to Temple Sholom which would impact our Social Justice initiatives, you said that it is essential for us to hear from the most esteemed thought-leaders, activists, and social commentators of our day so that we, as a congregation, can act courageously on the most important issues of our time.

Bruce, could you talk about courage? 
Bruce:  I think, as we have seen with COVID, gun violence, and rampant poverty, it is very easy to feel overwhelmed and helpless. While we hope our politicians and leaders of large organizations will take on these issues, we also need inspiration and guidance to give us the courage to tackle them ourselves. We hope the Distinguished Speaker Series will address that need. Being inspired by someone to motivate people to get involved in the way they choose, will be a 
good thing.  

Rabbi Conover:  Will you tell the story of what courage means to you?

Bruce:  I've spent many years cycling around Chicago, the US and Europe. In the Alps, I’ve faced some very, very long, difficult climbs in very remote places and it was easy to feel discouraged and hard to keep going. In France, there's a lot of support for cyclists and when you are on a country road on a tough climb, sometimes someone on the side of the road, whether a young child or an older guy with an espresso, will look at you and say "Courage!" It makes you want to keep going, just keep pedaling, you'll get to the top.

Last year, when I was diagnosed with cancer, a cycling friend of mine sent me an email saying just that: "Courage!" Just keep going, do your treatments, and you'll get to the end of this. And so that word took on a deeper meaning for me; not just keep pedaling but keep going. Which led to this speaker series: a chance to look at big problems and keep going.

Rabbi Conover:  Jan, can you talk about why this topic—equitable access to healthcare—was the topic that felt most important to open the Distinguished Speaker Series?

Jan: The last year of Covid has magnified already existing healthcare inequalities. We are hoping that the experts we’ve invited to speak will be able teach us more about the impact of the virus and to suggest ways in which we can provide support to others.
Rabbi Conover: Yes. And I appreciate your emphasis. Our speakers will help us learn what we can do to make sure that equity in the healthcare system will become better than it was before Covid. Harkening back to Bruce’s comments on courage: May the speakers we host this spring—and in future years through your generosity—inspire us to courageous acts of tikkun olam, repairing our world. I’m in awe of you and your vision—and this world will be a better place because of how you have inspired our community of Temple Sholom. Thank you.  



Question & Answer




Full Lecture



Question & Answer




Full Lecture


Additional Resources & To Learn More About Our Past Speakers


Dr. Georges C. Benjamin:
•    The Quest for Health Reform: A Satirical History By: Georges C. Benjamin 
•    Publisher of: The Nation’s Health, A Publication of the American Public Health Association
•    Publisher of: American Journal of Public Health, A Publication of the American Public Health Association 
•    TED Talk: The Secret Weapon Against Pandemics, May 2020

Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel 
•    Which Country Has the Best Health Care? By: Ezekiel J. Emanuel 
•    The Trillion Dollar Revolution: How the Affordable Care Act Transformed Politics, Law, and Health Care in America By: Ezekiel J. Emanuel and Abbe R. Gluck 
•    Reinventing American Health Care: How the Affordable Care Act will Improve our Terribly Complete, Blatantly Unjust, Outrageously Expensive, Grossly Inefficient, Error Prone System By: Ezekiel J. Emanuel 
•    Prescription for the Future: The Twelve Transformational Practices of High Effective Medical Organizations By: Ezekiel J. Emanuel
•    Brothers Emanuel: A Memoir of an American Family By: Ezekiel J. Emanuel 
•    Healthcare Guaranteed: A Simple, Secure Solution for America By: Ezekiel J. Emanuel and Victor Fuchs
•    The Ends of Human Life: Medical Ethics in a Liberal Polity By: Ezekiel J. Emanuel 



Questions or Concerns?

Contact Allison Barker, Temple Sholom's Development Associate, with event-related questions and for further information.  Allison may be reached at 773-435-1535 or via email at

Sun, September 26 2021 20 Tishrei 5782