The World is Flat and Small: John Cocke and Rabbi Michael Shields

I had a wonderful phone call earlier today with Peter Capek, a friend and colleague for over forty years, both at CIMS and IBM.

During the call I learned of an amazing coincidence, proof yet again that the world is much smaller than most of us think.

Peter said he heard me mention, or write in an email, the phrase “Lake Norman.”

I said that would have been because my son Michael is Rabbi of the Lake Norman Jewish Congregation. I mentioned that Lake Norman is about twenty miles north of Charlotte, North Carolina, and was built by a power company in the 1920’s.

Peter then spoke of John Cocke, the legendary computer scientist, one of the five smartest people I have ever met.

I knew that John came from North Carolina and that he came from a very wealthy family.

Peter confirmed this. Moreover John’s father was Norman Cocke, and the lake is named after John’s father, Norman Cocke!

It’s a small world indeed.

My son is the Rabbi of a congregation that takes its name from a lengendary figure in the history of computer science.

I also take this as further proof that fewer gifts are more precious than The Gift of a Name.

Mazel Tov!

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