Symposium Event Recap: Art, Creativity, Jewish Genetics and Parkinson’s

On Sunday April 2nd, over 200 people attended a fascinating symposium at The Temple-Tifereth Israel in Beachwood, combining art, creativity, Jewish genetics and Parkinson’s.

Organized and hosted by InMotion co-founder and Michael J. Fox Foundation Patient Advisory Council member Dr. Karen Jaffe, the symposium brought together people from several different worlds to inform and inspire.

Artist Peter Leventhal and his compelling and emotional paintings that make up his “Lamed-Vav” series were on display in The Temple’s beautiful new art gallery. People viewed the works of this series which depict the hidden 36 righteous people for whom the world exists. Peter is an artist of tremendous skill, made all the more impressive considering he is painting with Parkinson’s Disease.  Yet, he will tell you that his Parkinson’s has given him as much as it has taken from him, and a part of that may be a burst of creativity.

Peter was able to express his feelings through both his paintings and through a moving video that opened the symposium.

Dr. Jori Fleisher, Assistant Professor of Neurology at NYU school of medicine, was on hand to address the issue of creativity and Parkinson’s.  She did so with a light touch that allowed for the non-scientists to appreciate the theories of physical, chemical and neurological changes going on with a person with Parkinson’s and how they can affect creativity.

Then it was Dr. Hubert Fernandez, Director of the Center for Neurological Restoration, Neurological Institute at the Cleveland Clinic’s turn to explain in layman’s terms about recent genetic breakthroughs in Parkinson’s research and specifically how Jewish genetics and LRRK2 and GBA mutations can both cause and be the solution to curing Parkinson’s. The takeaway from Dr. Fernandez’ talk was that participating in clinical studies can be beneficial to both the greater Parkinson’s community as well as of personal benefit as unique cures may come for those with genetically based disease even before there is a cure for Parkinson’s that results from other, yet undetermined causes.

The presentations were followed by a Q & A with the lecturers and Peter Leventhal and included artist Debbie Apple-Presser who created a community collaborative art work that complimented the Lamed-Vav series. Both Peter and Debbie’s phenomenal work will be on display through mid-June in The Temple gallery.

It was a very informative and moving couple of hours for those who attended.

After the lecture, there was a dessert reception courtesy of the MJFF. It seemed like there was a strong Jewish genetic disposition toward rugelach, but I’m sure it requires further study.

Genetic testing, and counseling is available in the Ashkenazi Jewish population for those who fall within the following parameters:

  • Anyone with Parkinson’s disease age 18 and older
  • Those without PD but are age 45 or older and have a first-degree relative with PD
  • Anyone with Gaucher Disease and are age 45 or older
  • Those without Gaucher disease but are age 45 or older and have first-degree relative with Gaucher

If you qualify and would like to participate visit the or call 888-830-6299

The symposium is available through the following links:

Once on the link, the lecture is found by going to:

  1. Chapel
  2. Chapel archives
  3. april 2 The Lamed Vav
Posted in Dr. Karen Jaffe, For Care Partners, For Clients, For Donors, For Referral Partners, News.
Dr. Karen Jaffe

Dr. Karen Jaffe

Karen Jaffe is a retired Ob/Gyn who was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease at age 49. She practiced medicine for 25 years and cared for countless women and their babies. Her current experience as a patient has given her a new perspective on medical care, now from the other side of the patient fence.