A Liberal Thanksgiving: Giving Thanks This Year To An Amazing Woman

Photo Courtesy of Dr. Donna Halper
Geddy Lee, Donna Halper and Alex Lifeson

Many will give thanks this Thanksgiving for their freedom while others will give thanks to family and close friends. I give thanks this year to a woman, a Boston-based historian and radio consultant as well as a professor, who introduced a band in the 70s to the U.S. as the music director for the former rock station in WMMS in Cleveland, Ohio, and for making me the liberal that I am today.

That woman is Dr. Donna Halper, and she introduced the Canadian rock band Rush to the U.S. via the working class folks in Cleveland. As music director, she dropped the needle on a record, she heard the song Working Man and knew that this song was representative of the Ohio working class. Her insight launched the most successful Canadian rock band to multiple awards as well as getting the band into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

I met Dr. Halper through Facebook and have conversed with her. Unlike someone who is of prominence, who feels that their private life should exclude them from the populace, Dr. Halper and I would correspond back and forth. I explained in detail how the band Rush changed my life, my experience as a liberal after listening to the song the Manhattan Project, our love for truth and justice, our struggles and other challenges we faced. You see, Dr. Halper is a devout Jew and she would share her Jewish culture with me…even though I am an atheist. I respect her dedication and learn quite a lot from her.


Then this morning, after opening up my Facebook page, I read this:

Donna Halper
November 21 at 3:24pm · Quincy, MA ·

I’ve always believed that the most important thing in life is health; it’s even more important than wealth: I mean, what good is being rich if all your money is going to your doctors? SO, today, I received the news from my doctor that nobody wants to get– I’ve got the Big C. It’s not a total surprise– my mother and grandmother both died from cancer. But while I was understandably upset by the phone call, in my case, there is some good news: they caught mine at a very early stage, and it’s treatable. Plus, Boston has some amazing specialists. Still, I must say it’s been quite a year– and once they schedule the surgery, I hope this will be the last time I see a hospital for a while!!! If you are a believer in the power of prayer, please send one in my direction for a full recovery. Thanks.

My jaws dropped. I was in shock. Thoughts were running through my mind. I started to think: why is it that the good people have to suffer and the criminals, get away? Why is it that the people sharing the good karma, people who exercise positive ideology and put their religious belief to good work suffer, but not those who exploit their belief to create fear? Then I read on:

there is some good news: they caught mine at a very early stage, and it’s treatable.

A sigh of relief. My racing mind slowed down. My anger of wanting equality and equity in life was allayed. They caught the cancer in time. I breathed the proverbial sigh of relief and peace lifted my emotional burden…you see, my aunt died of cancer six months after 9/11 from cancer. She had thyroid cancer after her town was bombed on August 6, 1945. So the connection to my aunt’s death to Rush was the song and Dr. Halper made it happen…and when I read she had cancer, well my life started to fall apart.

Yet with science and her faith, I believe she’ll make it and live a long and healthy life. So I am thankful for Dr. Halper for being a friend and person I truly love forever. Dr. Halper, thank you and may peace, joy, happiness and love be with you forever.

6 Replies to “A Liberal Thanksgiving: Giving Thanks This Year To An Amazing Woman”


    Dr. Donna Halper was working in Cleveland and not Cincinnati. The error was based upon emotional distress when I read that Dr. Halper was diagnosed with cancer. Her life has a deep impact on me and I was distressed.

    I apologize for any harm or distress this may have caused.


  2. Tim, I was in no way distressed by the little mistake– it did not detract from a very kind and thoughtful article. [picture of Donna, feeling she is not worthy…]

  3. Dr. Halper

    You do not know me, but I have known of you for almost thirty years. My thoughts and prayers go out to you, and I know that with God and medical science’s help, you will be able to beat this disease.

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