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It’s Relative

Libi Astaire

Just last week physicists proved the existence of gravitational waves in outer space — and in the process confirmed that Albert Einstein was right when he predicted these “ripples in space” a century ago. But as reporters rushed to get a quote from Dr. Roni Grosz, head of Hebrew University’s Albert Einstein Archives, they were in for yet another amazing discovery: the head of the archives is a Kopycznitzer chassid.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

This past week, physicists associated with the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory announced they had heard a chirp from outer space, and the news was broadcast throughout the world almost as fast as the speed of light. Why all the excitement? This was no ordinary chirp. It was the sound of two black holes colliding more than a billion light-years from planet Earth — and it proved there is such a thing as gravitational waves, a central pillar of the theory of relativity that Jewish physicist Albert Einstein penned a century ago.  For Dr. Roni Grosz, head of the Albert Einstein Archives located at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, this discovery was music to his ears. “A smile from heaven,” is how the Kopycznitzer chassid described the event to reporters from around the world. A Kopycznitzer chassid at Hebrew University? For many, that might sound like two black holes colliding. But according to Dr. Grosz, it’s not as strange as it sounds. About a decade ago, an ad appeared in the Jerusalem Post. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, home of the Albert Einstein Archives, had an opening for the position of director of the archives. The ad listed ten necessary qualifications, including German as a mother tongue and knowledge of library and computer systems. After the hiring committee sorted through the hundreds of résumés they received, they narrowed the list to about half a dozen names. One of the candidates on the short list wasDr.RoniGrosz, a Vienna-born Kopycznitzer chassid. “When you write your CV, you don’t write that you’re chareidi,” saysDr.Grosz, recalling that day back in 2004 when he was invited to meet the hiring committee. “When it was my turn to be interviewed, they thought I had walked into the wrong room.” However,Dr.Grosz possessed nine out of the ten requirements; he lacked only knowledge of the exact sciences (i.e., physics). By the end of the interview, he had dispelled the committee members’ preconceived judgments about chareidi Jews. And he got the job. 

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