Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter



The Butler Does It

Eytan Kobre

Undeterred by tragedy, Pittsburgh’s master of inspiration takes up his next challenge.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Cincinnati, March 1974 As the director of NCSY’s Central East Region, it was Dan Butler’s job to scour all of Kentucky, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Michigan, and Ontario for public school kids who could be turned on to Judaism. Dan had just run a shabbaton for 125 kids from Louisville and Cincinnati, and on a rainy Motzaei Shabbos, everyone piled into four school buses for a bowling outing on the Kentucky side of the Ohio River. The lead bus stopped for a red light somewhere in a rural area, and standing there, soaking wet and sporting an army jacket and a “Jewfro” hairstyle, was a bedraggled kid attempting to hitchhike. A kid three rows back in the bus shouted out, “Hey, I know that kid, he’s in my homeroom!” Dan wheeled around. “Is he Jewish?” “Yup,” came the answer. “Driver, please open the door,” Dan ordered. The bedraggled hitchhiker joined Dan and his kids, first for bowling, then back at the shul for pizza, singing, and stories. On a Shabbos afternoon 28 years later, there was a knock at the door of the Butler home in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood. It was the kid from Kentucky, but now he had a wife and many kids in tow. And a hat and a tallis zeckel. He was in Pittsburgh, considering whether to take a position as the town’s new rosh kollel. For most people, meeting a public school kid they’d helped blossom into an aspiring rosh kollel would be a once-in-a-lifetime highlight, but for Dan Butler — former judge and defense attorney, kiruv veteran, advocate for the disabled, chesed dynamo, much-in-demand public speaker — it was just a day in the life.

To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha or sign up for a weekly subscription

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.
CAPTCHA
Message


MM217
 
The Fortunes of War
Rabbi Moshe Grylak We’re still feeling the fallout of the First World War
Some Lessons, But Few Portents
Yonoson Rosenblum What the midterms tell us about 2020
Vote of Confidence
Eyan Kobre Why I tuned in to the liberal radio station
5 out of 10
Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin Top 5 Moments of the Kinus
Day in the Life
Rachel Bachrach Chaim White of KC Kosher Co-op
When Less is More
Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman How a good edit enhances a manuscript
It’s My Job
Jacob L. Freedman “Will you force me to take meds?”
They’re Still Playing My Song?
Riki Goldstein Yitzy Bald’s Yerav Na
Yisroel Werdyger Can’t Stop Singing
Riki Goldstein Ahrele Samet’s Loi Luni
Double Chords of Hope
Riki Goldstein You never know how far your music can go
Will Dedi Have the Last Laugh?
Dovid N. Golding Dedi and Ding go way back
Battle of the Budge
Faigy Peritzman Using stubbornness to grow in ruchniyus
The Challenging Child
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Strategies for raising the difficult child
Bucking the Trend
Sara Eisemann If I skip sem, will I get a good shidduch?
The Musician: Part 1
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP and Zivia Reischer "If she can't read she'll be handicapped for life!"