This past week, I was honored to install my brother as rabbi at Temple Israel Synagogue in San Diego, California. Here are my remarks from this past Sunday:
For those of you who may not know me, which at last count, is probably almost everyone in this room, my name is Dan Dorsch, and I am Josh’s older and clearly, somewhat better looking brother. I want to begin this morning by wishing all ya’ll a boker tov, from my community where I am privileged to serve as a rabbi, Congregation Etz Chaim, in Marietta, Georgia. It looks like I got here just in the nick of time to enjoy my brother’s installation, and so I want to express my appreciation to Deborah Mishek, and to Dr. Seth Krosner, President of Congregation Tifereth Israel, for bringing me here this morning. Some of you may know that Josh was unfortunately unable to attend my installation in Georgia a little over a year ago, because he told me he just had to take this interview at a synagogue that he had an incredible feeling about. That synagogue of course, was Tifereth Israel, and needless to say Josh, given how happy I see you, Stef, and Nadav today, it seems to have been well worth the trip.
Of course, I could, as a rabbi regale you with words of Torah, just as my brother does from this pulpit. But instead, this morning, I hope you’ll allow me to speak a little about my brother, the other Rabbi Dorsch. However, because in California it’s only 11 a.m., and because the popcorn is still hot at Petco Park, I only want to speak about two items that are really the essence of what brings us together today. And that is Josh, why Tifereth Israel is so fortunate to have you as its rabbi, and why Josh, you are as equally fortunate to have found your match in Tifereth Israel.
By now, you all know that Rabbi Josh Dorsch was born on October 30, 1985. Which I am sure you’ve mentioned to him at least a half dozen times, makes him the same age as many of your children (I also get that a lot). I wouldn’t exactly say that Josh was always going to be a rabbi, after all, one of our favorite stories about Josh was when at age 10 he fought with my parents about when he could finally leave the house and eat a cheeseburger--I will tell you that Josh was raised in an extraordinarily committed Jewish family. Josh, our brother Matt, myself, and our sister Emma, were blessed to have parents and grandparents who served as wonderful Jewish role models for us. Our mother of blessed memory, Cheryl, was a social worker dedicated to helping others, as well as the Camp mother at Ramah who modeled compassion for us--and no doubt, Tifereth Israel, her memory lives on, whenever you walk away feeling truly cared for in a one on one interaction with Rabbi Dorsch. Our father, a lawyer by day, continues to serve as a Jewish professional volunteer by night, and he passed that passion for service on to us. Our grandparents Zaydee and Gigi, remain active members of their synagogue in Metuchen, New Jersey, where my Zaydee has served as a Gabbai for nearly fifty years...although he keeps telling us that as the synagogue brings in new blood, he has been demoted from the First Gabbai to the fifth. All of them are here this morning, including Nadav’s Bubbe, Deborah-Jo, and we couldn’t be prouder.
Rabbi Dorsch, I’d like to think that it was the moment when you won Dover Ivrit HaShavua, Hebrew Speaker of the Week at Ramah, that you knew you would become a rabbi. But in truth, with the exception of that one brief moment where our grandmother of blessed memory, Nana Rowena, told you that she would haunt you from the grave if you didn’t go to law school--which I hope she continues to do often--I can’t think of a time when you weren’t headed this direction. By now, members of Tifereth Israel, you know that a love of Judaism and Torah are a part of Josh’s DNA, that yiddishkeit flows from his tongue effortlessly, as do a lifelong commitment to role modeling Jewish values. Rabbi Dorsch is honest. He is caring. He is among the best, most creative young talent that our Conservative Movement has to offer. And I do say myself as a proud brother, you got him.
Which brings me now Josh, to the other side of the coin: and that is why, I hope you realize, how very fortunate you are to serve Tifereth Israel. Certainly, living in San Diego, which consistently gets ranked the best place in the country to live, not to mention having a beach with the sealions doesn’t hurt. But first and foremost by now Josh, I hope you know that you are fortunate to have come to Tifereth Israel because for nearly thirty years, this synagogue was under the rabbinic care and guidance of our colleague Rabbi Leonard Rosenthal, who is a true scholar and a mensch. And I want to publicly thank Rabbi Rosenthal on behalf of our family for everything he has done for Josh and this wonderful community. By now Josh, you know that Tifereth Israel is all about the exceptional people here today who have to wish you well. It is truly a multi-generational, inclusive family. It has a thriving preschool, full of young Jews looking for the next generation of spiritual leader, not to mention plenty of friends for Nadav. It comes with a dedicated team of professionals eager to work with you to carry out your vision, as well as Jews who will inspire you, as well as Jews who are eager to be inspired by you.
Rabbi Dorsch, never forget that Tifereth Israel underwent an extensive search process, and after what was a tremendous amount of work, the community decided that you were going to be their next spiritual leader. Josh, you and I both know that to serve as a rabbi is, in today’s day and age of Jewish community paradigm shifts, is an incredible privilege. And more wonderful than fenagling the first pitch at a Phillies game, this ceremony today marks their official gushpanka, placing of their trust in you.
Today, as not only a rabbi, but as a brother, I feel extremely proud and privileged to play a small role in the history of this exceptional congregation that has now found its new exceptional rabbi to lead it into the future. May you teach Torah to one another. May you inspire each other. And may you grow ever closer in the years you have together. Amen.