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Mandy Patinkin Finds Healing in Refugee Work and Praying With His Dog

2. Praying with his dog, Becky With the pandemic and all the healing that needs to be done, I thought, “I’ve got to feed this dog twice a day. I’ll say the healing prayer for the whole world.” So I do three Jewish prayers: the Shema first; then the “Mi Shebeirach,” which my dear friend Debbie Friedman made the popular version of for the reform Jewish community; then the blessing over breaking bread. And she knows to sit there. She knows each melody, and she knows when it’s getting close. Then I say, “OK,” and she goes to her bowl.

3. Live performance Work-wise, my favorite thing to do is to sing music in concert for people all over the world. I finished a 30-city concert tour the week before the pandemic hit. Then, all of a sudden, we’re locked up. My piano player, Adam Ben-David, and I started working again about two, three weeks ago.

It’s interesting. The concert I put together, called “Diaries,” [reflected] what was going on in our country, with the election and the polarization. Friends would come and went, “Wow, we loved what you had to say, but that’s pretty dark.” So we changed. I went over hundreds of [more upbeat] songs, and I said to Adam, “Let’s put all these songs back in our bones and our bodies and work them together because I need happier stuff.” And that’s what we’ve been doing — welcoming us back to being alive with the music.

4. International Rescue Committee They are trying to take myself and my wife and my son Gideon to the Ukraine-Polish border as ambassadors from the I.R.C. to bring attention where attention must be paid. Our initial question was, “What is the Covid situation in Poland?” And then you think of the optics. We’ve been vaccinated and boosted. Essentially what’s there now, you’re well-protected and you won’t die from it. And I thought, “I’m going to wear a mask next to these women and children who have been fleeing for their lives? I’m going to keep a distance from these people when they need to be held and near humanity who cares?” And I finally came, “No. I’ll take my chances because they need people that pay attention. I’m finished being afraid.”

5. National Dance Institute We have a place in the country that we love. One day, I believe my son Isaac was 3 or 4, this car drives up and this guy gets out and he comes running down the mountain, and he goes, “Hello, hello, hello! I want to meet Isaac!” And this is Jacques d’Amboise, the true Pied Piper of the world. He grabs Isaac and he says, “You’re going to be a dancer!” We don’t know what he’s talking about. Then Isaac became part of the Tiny Tots [renamed the First Team in 2004], and we became part of Jacques’s life.

6. “Benjamin Franklin” by Walter Isaacson and “John Adams” by David McCullough I started reading the Isaacson book again, and I couldn’t get over how much I missed the first time I read it. These guys are just phenomenal history teachers. You know, as you read any book, it’s mentioning all kinds of other books along the way. Isaacson is constantly nodding the head toward McCullough. So I’m three-quarters of the way through McCullough’s book, which I’ve tried to read countless times in the past. And because of this experience, I’m sailing through it.

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