Who Am I?

No, I’m not Jean Valjean, though I am eagerly looking forward to the Movie.

I’m Michael Goldberg and I ask this question of myself every morning.  I ask it of myself because I want to put things into perspective. It’s something I started doing relatively recently and it’s helped me be at peace.   It’s helped me maintain balance in my life. It’s helps me cope with stress because I control who I am. Some might say it’s contributed to whatever success I might have or the productivity I enjoy.

So, who am I?

*I’m a human being. I’m a part of a greater whole, a resident of this planet. As such, I have a connection to every other human being.

*I’m an American.  Through a quirk of fate, I am blessed to have been born in the greatest Country the World has ever known. I feel responsible for being a good citizen of this Country. I vote in every election, I write emails to the President and my Congressmen and I am not shy about debating issues with anyone. I think debate is good. I feel that respect means that I can like you even if we don’t share the same point of view. Sometimes I feel we’ve lost this definition. We can disagree about things and still coexist.

*I’m Jewish. I was born to Billie and Harvey, two people of Jewish descent, whose parents as well were of the same Jewish lineage.

  • In fact, we’ve traced our genes and found that we have specific genes that are nearly unique to a certain tribe of Jews called Kohanim or priests.  I knew that because it’s a patrilinear heritage and my father, grandfather and great grandfather were Kohanim too. It’s weird though, to have it confirmed by a genetic test.
  • Being Jewish, I feel a responsibility to that long and beautiful heritage.  I feel obligated to see the customs and more importantly, the “ethics of our fathers” continue.  I am proud that my grandchildren are being taught these so they too can perpetuate them.
  • I feel a special link to Israel as the ancestral homeland of all Jews.  And, though I appreciate that more recently, many Jews, my ancestors and I as well, lived elsewhere, I know that Israel holds a special place in the heart of most Jews.
  • As a Jew, whose descendants were killed in the Holocaust, pogroms and Crusades, I am acutely aware of the danger of sectarianism.   I strive every day to be inclusive and not exclusive.  You might believe in different things than I but that doesn’t mean I don’t respect you.  I really believe in the words of Thomas Jefferson that we all have inalienable rights.  That’s why I started off by saying that I’m a Human Being.  That always has to come first.  Everything else follows.

*I’m a son, husband, father and grandfather and nothing brings me as much daily pleasure as this definition. 40 years of being married to a wonderful, loving and caring woman who compliments me better than I could ever have designed is just another stroke of fate.  My children, Jason and Jaimie and their spouses who live nearby and whom I see all the time are wonderful people and excellent parents.  They’re now playing the role of parental supervisors, a role that I too played with my parents.  My Dad now lives in Florida and my in-laws in the Bronx. Laurie and I have that supervisory relationship with them too. It’s funny how things go full circle.

  • Now 60 years old, I am enjoying the perspective of age. It’s one of the reasons I love being a grandfather so much. Having all 4 grandchildren live so close is a blessing I am ever cognizant of and grateful for. Boy, am I lucky.

*I’m a friend.  Though I have many “friends” I really have one person who I trust with everything. I’m lucky that this friend is also my wife.  It’s why we can work together as we do. I love having a friend in such close proximity.

  • I love my other friends. Having some for nearly 50 years is a source of comfort and joy.  Being a friend of mine is difficult because I’m not as communicative as I could be. It’s something I’d like to improve.

*I love helping others. I do so in many ways, currently by practicing, teaching and writing about dentistry and through my efforts as President of American Friends Dental Volunteers for Israel.

*I love being a Dentist. I couldn’t imagine a profession for which I would be more ideally suited. I am blessed to be able to have a great group of people who trust me with their health.   It’s a trust I take very seriously and I never take it for granted.  It’s why I am always learning and looking to improve.  I want to be the best I can be and give the best I can give.

*In my role as President of AFDVI, I fulfill all of the “I am’s” in one enterprise. I help an organization that promotes health and international, non-sectarian cooperation while helping the underserved children of Jerusalem regardless of religion or ethnicity.

Who am I?  I’m Michael Goldberg and I’m a very lucky and happy person. If you’re reading this, you might already be part of my life and I thank you for that. Your involvement in my life has meant something special to me and I want you to know it. After all, you’re a fellow Human, the first and most important “I am”.

Who are you?  I’d like to know.


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