Oliver Sacks, neurologist and ‘Awakenings’ author, dies at 82

(JTA) — Dr. Oliver Sacks, a noted neurologist and the best-selling author of “Awakenings,” has died.

Sacks died Sunday of cancer at his home in New York City, according to The New York Times. He was 82.

He gained prominence from his work as a clinical neurologist, as well as from the books he wrote based on his patients’ cases.

“Awakenings,” which was published in 1973, was about a group of patients with encephalitis and was turned into a popular film in 1990 starring the late Robin Williams and Robert De Niro.

Sacks wrote more than a dozen books. Another noteworthy work was 1986’s “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat,” about a patient who could not interpret what he saw. Some of the books were memoirs or dealt with music and the mind.

A London native, Sacks moved to New York as a young man. For decades he worked at Yeshiva University’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine before moving on to Columbia and New York universities.

Sacks was raised an Orthodox Jew but was not observant as an adult. He did write about Jewish subjects, including a 2015 essay in The New York Times called “Sabbath.”

“And now, weak, short of breath, my once-firm muscles melted away by cancer, I find my thoughts, increasingly, not on the supernatural or spiritual, but on what is meant by living a good and worthwhile life — achieving a sense of peace within oneself,” he wrote in the essay’s final paragraph. “I find my thoughts drifting to the Sabbath, the day of rest, the seventh day of the week, and perhaps the seventh day of one’s life as well, when one can feel that one’s work is done, and one may, in good conscience, rest.”

Sacks is survived by his partner.

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