Jews in the News: Albert Einstein, Rodney Cline and James Caan

Einstein on “Genius”

“Genius” is a National Geographic Channel series that will present the lives of brilliant people. The first “Genius” 10-episode series began on April 25 and the subject is ALBERT EINSTEIN (1879-1955). The consensus of advance reviews is that the series depicts Einstein’s colorful life and multi-faceted personality pretty accurately. The series relied on the release, in the last thirty years, of Einstein’s huge correspondence by the Einstein Papers Project in Israel. They also used, as a major source, WALTER ISAACSON’s very good 2007 biography, “Einstein, His Life and Universe. “

I liked Isaacson’s book because it explained Einstein’s science in a way I could mostly understand. It also was very good on how much his Jewish background influenced him. Sadly, the series’ reviews say that “Genius” is not the place to get a lay understanding of the scientific breakthroughs that made Einstein “a genius.”

Couldn’t Make This Up

It’s odd how so many lives have re-current “themes.” I think you’ll see them when I tell you something about Rod Carew, now 71. Carew earned his place in the baseball Hall-of-Fame not by hitting home runs, but by getting a lot of hits year-after-year. As he posted one great season after another, everybody woke up and realized he was a true great. He was born (1945) in the Panama Canal Zone, then a U.S. territory. In 1945, Zone trains were still segregated by race and Rod’s mother was black, so she had to sit in a rear car. She went into labor on a rear train car and rushing to her aid (from the front) was Dr. RODNEY CLINE, a Jewish physician. In gratitude, Rod’s parents named him Rodney Cline Carew.

Rod and his parents moved to Manhattan when he was 12. Two Jewish scouts for the Minnesota Twins signed him right out of high school. In 1967, he was the American League rookie-of-the-year and he won many other honors before retiring in 1985. In 1970, Carew wed MARILYNN LEVY, a Jewish woman he met in Minnesota. The couple’s three daughters were raised in their mother’s faith.

Marilynn and Rod's mixed ethnic and racial heritage didn't help things when their daughter, MICHELLE, was diagnosed with leukemia in 1995. A bone marrow transplant was the only effective treatment, but finding a donor who had matched Michelle's rather rare genetic background proved impossible. Rod and Marilynn went public and appealed for donors, but no match was ever found and Michelle died in 1996 at 18. The New York Daily News reported that Rod and Marilynn were devastated as they sat shiva for their daughter. Sadly, the Carews split-up shortly after this tragedy.

Rod played his last six seasons for the California Angels and he made his retirement home in Southern California. After retiring, he frequently did good-will appearances at local schools, including Jewish day schools (answered questions, signed autographs, etc.). Of course, he visited his own children’s middle school, and that’s where his kids’ classmate Konrad Reuland met him. Reuland’s parents told CBS News that their son was so excited to meet Carew that he talked about it all day.

In 2015, Carew suffered a massive heart attack and needed a transplant. On Dec. 12, 2016, Reuland, 29, a six-year NFL football player, died of a brain aneurysm. By sheer chance, Rod Carew was the recipient of Reuland’s heart and one of his kidneys. You can find many on-line stories, now, about how Carew and the Reuland family have been drawn together by this remarkable event. Since the transplant, Carew has re-doubled his efforts to urge the public to sign organ donation cards and be bone marrow donors.

A Free Offer You Can’t Refuse

Robert DeNiro founded the Tribeca Film Festival shortly after the 9/11 attack. The attack happened near the Tribeca area of Manhattan. Tribeca’s grown into a major festival that now includes every type of media. DeNiro used “all his powers” to persuade “Godfather” film director Francis Ford Coppola to appear at a reunion panel of the major surviving actors in “The Godfather" and The Godfather: Part II”. Coppola doesn’t like to appear at such events.

The panel discussion will air, live-on-line, on Saturday, April 29, at 8:10 PM EDT. Log on to the Tribeca Film Festival Facebook page (at

The panel: DeNiro, Coppola, Diane Keaton, Robert Duvall, JAMES CAAN, 77, and Talia Shire (she’s Coppola’s sister and the mother of actor JASON SCHWARTZMAN, 36. His late father was Jewish).


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