Thursday, December 06, 2007

The scholar of Christian-Jewish ethics you hadn’t yet heard of

Emily Arndt, the author of “Demanding our attention : the Hebrew Bible in Christian ethics : an illustrative analysis of the akedah” (the binding of Isaac), wrote this study after having given birth. With a newborn she finished her dissertation and won a competitive job. She was teaching at Georgetown University when she gave birth a second time, but she never came home from the hospital, and this weekend she passed away.

She and her husband were so committed to the inter-religious dialogue that is so lacking in our world today that he had put his promising literary career on hold (he’d published a book of poems and the poems from his second manuscript are published in the best literary journals) to help her finish her book about the Akedah and teach in the theology department. There she taught with great respect for Judaism and sensitivity.

Her husband, my friend (we are alumni from the same MFA program and colleagues now), took care of their 4-year-old daughter and intended to care for the newborn son and taught as an adjunct. I remember his excitement when he told me they were expecting again. We used to meet to read one another’s poetry during lunch.

Emily discovered she had cancer in the final trimester of her pregnancy. I suppose she had very little to gain if she were to begin treatment then, and so much to lose. Her 4-month old son is healthy and thriving.

Emily lived guided by the ethics she taught, and so did her family. If I may say so, she was a real Ayshes Chayil, a woman of valor. And it’s a great loss to Jews and Christians alike that her work has been halted by her death.

Should anyone wish to help her husband defray the enormous costs of treatment that insurance did not cover, here is where they can do so.


Emily Arndt Fund
c/o Linda Ferneyhough
Theology Department
Georgetown University
Box 571135
Washington, DC 20057-1135

1 comment:

Gluckel of Manhattan said...

Maya, hamakom yinachem. I know someone else who lost her sister only a year after she had given birth. It is a tragedy whenever you lose someone important to you, but an even more profound wound when you consider all that the world loses (and each of us individually) because that person was not able to continue to make her mark on the people around her.