“John Gallagher and Dr. David Link, Two Jewish Brookline Guys Who Changed the World”

John Gallagher Jewish? Sounds Irish to me. The John Gallagher who was the President of the world famous Longwood Cricket Club where tennis is king and was deplored for its policy of not admitting Jews as members? The very same. The guy who wore a custom made mezuzzah with a Star of David and a shamrock embedded in it, not to mention attending more Bar Mitzvahs than most Jews, knew lots of Yiddish phrases, had his own yarmulke, and sent his daughter, Amanda, to pre-school at nearby Temple Emeth where Rabbi Zev Nelson led the congregation? Why not? It was Zev Nelson who taught John Jewish history as a a kid, befriending him when John’s forty four Jewish classmates at Baker, the local public school, left him and two others not Jewish alone, when they attended Nelson’s Jewish history class. “Three is not a baseball team,” as John puts it, so he snuck into Temple Emeth and joined that class, thus becoming Jewish, sort of. Enough to later become a Shabbat father in Amanda’s class, the only Irishman to be so honored. John says, “That is how I became an Honorary Jew AND an Irish Catholic. It shows Brookline’s egalitarianism.” At least in South Brookline, it might be said. Brookline has had its own racial problems. But not lately at Longwood which has outgrown its earlier bad rep, and now, as John proudly points out, is an oasis, open and equal, fun and friendly, moderate and not boisterous, respectful to all, the only requirement for admittance being a love for tennis. John’s Irish credentials include his stepfather, “Last Hurrah” Mayor of Boston, James Michael Curley, and his grandfather, the erudite former counsel to the Boston Globe, Francis T. Leahy. That gentleman took John into his home when his father passed early, where he reaped the benefit of learning Latin and locution at his grandad’s knee, and the pleasure of interacting with his forty four first cousins, and other members of the Leahy clan. John learned the art of getting along in a large family so well that he became an all-time integrator of peoples.

The world lost a great doctor and humanitarian when Dr. David Link unwillingly and prematurely left the world a few months ago. As an expert in vaccination he would have brought help to many souls in this pandemic. Leaving the profitable private practice of his early years to take up the far less remunerative practice of pediatric primary care and public health for the less affluent here and abroad, allied with his work as the Head of Pediatrics for over thirty years at the Cambridge Health Alliance and the Mt. Auburn Hospital. In that role, David traveled often to Africa and Europe to improve health systems. The Jewish Community Relations Council commissioned David and his team to visit  Dnieperpetrovsk, the city of Peter the Great, to introduce the vaccine for Hepatitis B so Ukrainians could get there what we get here. His team won 10,000 patients to that vaccine. Revisiting some years later, David was happy to see the  plan had been legislated into law so the vaccine was available country wide. His major interest was children. Loving music learned from his Viennese Mozart loving family, David said maybe he could save a kid who would become a Mozart – that if Mozart could have been saved from his early death from kidney disease at thirty five we would now have over 1,000 of his works instead of only 600. In my own case, it may be I owe an existential debt to David. When I developed an invasive melanoma above my left eye a few years ago, he told me in no uncertain terms that, “Anyone who has a melanoma in or around Boston who doesn’t go for care to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute is nuts.” I went. I’m here. Thank you Dr. David Link!

People, Always People!