Family: Married to Rachel Farkas, MD; children Nathan (6), Sarah (4) and Maddie (2).
Occupation: Endocrine surgeon and Associate Professor of Surgery and Endocrinology, University of Rochester; performing over 350 operations a year.
Volunteer involvements: Federation, Louis S. Wolk JCC/Wolk Children’s Center, Hillel Community Day School, American College of Surgeons
What do you like about being Jewish? “Our core values of helping others. In my work, I do my best to treat every patient as would want to be treated: with respect, expertise, candor and compassion. I often hear patients tell me, ‘This is the first time I really understand what’s going on.’ The reputation for surgeons is usually the opposite – minimal explanation, cutting to the chase. I’m proud to do things differently. That ties into Judaism very strongly because I consider my work to be a tremendous privilege; and I’m fortunate to help large numbers of people in significant ways. Rachel and I are both extremely blessed in that way.”
How do you connect Jewishly? “I grew up in Israel, where Judaism isn’t just a part of who you are; it is who you are. The whole idea of partitions within Judaism, or even with non-Judaism, wasn’t part of my childhood. What I like most about places like Federation is that they’re venues for Jews of every kind to come together. It explores our commonalities as opposed to the things that separate us – being ‘too religious’ or ‘not religious enough,’ for example. The Federation in my opinion is critically important in bringing us all together.”
What are you passionate about? “I’m passionate about doing everything I possibly can to raise my children right, with the values that Rachel and I live by; this includes doing everything we can to support Federation, JCC and the Hillel school. I’m passionate about my family. I’m passionate about my work. I spend a lot of time in the field of organized medicine – working to make sure that physicians, and surgeons in particular, are able to treat patients without being unnecessarily interfered with, and provide the best care possible. For the last twelve years, I’ve had a variety of leadership positions in the American Medical Association and American College of Surgeons.”
Can you share a Federation highlight from this past year; and a goal for the next? “Rachel and I co-chaired last year’s major campaign event. We had record attendance on a weeknight and raised $1.3 million, more than double the success of last year. In the near future we’re looking to start a Maimonides Society within the Federation – a social-professional-networking group for physicians.
In addition, Rachel and I are so excited about the unbelievable enhancements at Hillel and the JCC, and are committed to doing our best to support these other critical organizations in Rochester.”
-Interviewed by Melissa Pheterson