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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.   
Mon, January 24 2022 22 Shevat 5782