01/21/1980 at 01:00 AM EST
Jean Parker, 27, is one architectural preservationist who has to know how to hang in there. Her current job is checking the exterior and spire of Manhattan's Chrysler Building, the world's sixth tallest (77 stories), currently undergoing a facelift. "People think of restoration as just colonial houses," she says, "but here we're working on a. 50-year-old Art Deco skyscraper." Parker is the first to admit that teetering on a two-and-a-half-foot-wide scaffold nearly 600 feet above street level gets "a little hairy when the wind is blowing," which is why, she adds, "I don't look down much." Born in Washington, D.C., the daughter of a lawyer, she switched from music and art to architecture her senior year at Yale ('74), "because I didn't want to sit and write papers all my life." Armed with a master's from Columbia, she has worked as an architectural historian for the National Park Service in Denver, done research on Martin Van Buren's mansion in upstate New York, trekked to Skagway, Alaska to photograph the town's landmarks and made a "fabric analysis" of a frontier log cabin in Jackson Hole, Wyo. "I really prefer houses between 1790 and 1840," she admits. "That's where I go bananas." Her short-range goal is to pass her final architect's licensing exam next month. Her long-range ambition? "In my retiring years," laughs Parker, "maybe I'll want to restore the World Trade Center. After all, every building eventually gets old."
Yechiel Eckstein, 28, is a fourth-generation rabbi with a very contemporary mission. As associate director of the Chicago office of B'nai B'rith's Anti-Defamation League, he is the force behind both a Holocaust Research Center (now being considered at the local Roosevelt University) and a new course, "Man's Inhumanity to Man," for the city's public school system. A national troubleshooter for the ADL, Eckstein became convinced of the need for such study by the planned American Nazi march on Skokie and Arthur Butts' book The Holocaust Is a Hoax. The first of the family line not born in Jerusalem, Yechiel grew up in Ottawa (where his father was chief rabbi). Yechiel was ordained at New York's Yeshiva University and then spent two years studying on a kibbutz in Israel. He entertained troops on guitar at the Syrian front and in hospitals during the 1973 war. Eckstein has since played on U.S. and Canadian TV and likes to fill in as a cantor at a storefront synagogue near his residence in Rogers Park, Ill. He is married to Bonnie Siegman, daughter of another leading U.S. rabbi, and they have a daughter, Tamar, 3. Eckstein ruffles some of his Orthodox colleagues by fighting the historic misogyny in their faith and by his insisting that the "Inhumanity" course stress the plight of the Boat People and Russian dissidents as well as the Holocaust. He has also disturbed a few Jews by his campaign for interfaith dialogue. Retorts Rabbi Eckstein: "We shouldn't feel we can grasp God as if we have Him in the palm of our hand."