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My Greek Physical Therapist and Chanukah

12/02/2021 04:58:51 PM


Rabbi Dan Dorsch

I had a rather humorous encounter at physical therapy.  My excellent therapist had grown up as a Brownie and learned about Chanukah as a game of dreidel.  Could I tell her the real story about what the holiday was all about?
So as she dug into me, I did.  I told her about the struggle for religious freedom.  I spoke about the “mean, old Antiochus” who desecrated the Temple with a Greek statue to Zeus.  I spoke about the brave Maccabees who drove out the Greeks and re-established Jewish autonomy in the Land of Israel.
At the end of the story, there was a concerned pause in my treatment: “Wait...does this mean that my ancestors persecuted your ancestors?”  There was genuine concern.  She seemed a little upset.
That’s when I remembered that my therapist told me a few appointments prior she belonged to a Greek Orthodox Church.  She was absolutely ecstatic when I had told her that I knew the Father who married her.  He is a sweet human being, and was among the first of local clergy to welcome me to the area and take me to lunch.
So I explained to her that was unlikely that her ancestors had persecuted mine.  After all, when Alexander the Great died and his empire had broken into three.  Seleucid Greeks were only one of three sects.  So there was a ⅔ odd that her ancestors did not persecute mine.  Those odds are pretty good right?
Today, we live in a country with the kind of religious freedom that the Maccabees would relish for its opportunity but revile for its level of assimilation.    
Maybe the Maccabees would have been conflicted about going to a Greek physical therapist.  But in our modern era I’ve never felt better about it.  I feel honored to have the opportunity to work with such a caring human being, who thousands of years later, is as empathetic as they come.   

Vayeishev: Be like the Maccabees

11/27/2021 11:30:00 AM



11/20/2021 11:30:21 AM



11/18/2021 10:18:00 AM


Rabbi Dan Dorsch

After the success of its Cassini probe, NASA is building another probe to launch into deep space.  There’s only one challenge.  Unlike the last one, which after twenty years was complete, this new probe is expected to last for a century. It is an impossibility that any of the scientists present at the launch will live to see the probe fulfill its mission.

Thinking ahead, NASA has hired a sociologist to ask the right kinds of questions.  At what point should scientists pass down knowledge to the next generation of scientists?  What information should they transfer?  Will the next generation of scientists view the mission the same way they will with advances in technology, or will they want to do things differently?

Shabbat.  Kashrut.  Torah.  Israel.  We don’t need a sociologist to tell us how to pass down our heritage.  It’s written in our DNA.

We look to the farthest reaches of the galaxy for inspiration.  But if we probe ourselves, we can find everything that we needed was inside of us all along.

Toldot: Veterans Day Remarks

11/08/2021 08:22:26 AM


Mon, January 24 2022 22 Shevat 5782