In 1965, legendary Major League Baseball pitcher Sandy Koufax opted not to pitch Game 1 of the World Series for the Los Angeles Dodgers because the game coincided with Yom Kippur. Half a century later, Koufax's decision is being invoked for a university commencement speech.
Don Greenberg—presumably no relation to Hank Greenberg, another famed Jewish baseball player who sat out a pivotal game on Yom Kippur—was slated to be the student speaker at the May 16 commencement ceremony for Binghamton University’s Watson School of Engineering. But May 16 is a Saturday, preventing Greenberg from using a microphone for the speech without violating the laws of Shabbat.
Greenberg told campus administrators that he would not be able to use the microphone, and in a compromise, his commencement remarks were pre-recorded and will air during Saturday's ceremony.
Rabbi Aaron Slonim—executive director of The Rohr Chabad Center for Jewish Student Life at Binghamton University, where Greenberg is an active member—likened Greenberg's situation to Koufax's moment of truth 50 years earlier.
"I'm reminded of when Sandy Koufax refused to pitch during the first game of the '65 World Series, which coincided with Yom Kippur eve," said Slonim. "His courage gave many Jews the strength to be unabashed of their Judaism.”
Slonim added, "Dan's unwavering commitment to the Shabbat and to Judaism is a source of great pride and strength, to Jewish students here at Binghamton University and to Jews, and particularly Jewish college students around the world.”
Part of Greenberg's pre-recorded commencement speech can be watched below.