In my effort to teach that Judaism is “a way through Life”, more than a “religion” (the “way”, “derech” includes religion), I am fond of suggesting that Judaism is my way of life and the Giants my religion.
Both will come together on Wednesday August 17, when we serve kosher hot dogs, peanuts and other American baseball food in welcoming KNBR radio host Marty Lurie for conversation engaging baseball and Judaism and shared traits and ways for appreciating and enjoying life.
Baseball is the closest thing America has to a unifying secular religion. Certainly following the Giants unlikely journey to becoming world champions, with a team of no names, something icons of the past could not achieve, bordered on the unbelievable.
Judaism and baseball are both products of time and are at their finest when evoking awareness of timing and history.
What are the odds that in 52 years of major league baseball in San Francisco, that the year the team finally wins it all is the same year that Marty Lurie joins the radio team covering the Giants in one of the most accessible timeslots for fans, before and after games, on weekends? What made Marty’s arrival poignant is that he brings energy to baseball that is inherent in that sport, yet not elicited through other commentators, as he does it: he brings the sense of belonging to all his listeners, and he treats all of his callers with dignity, respect and appreciation for their part in reflecting on the game. He speaks with a smile in his voice, and at once you are part of his family, joining his community. I first heard it when one year he enriched my enjoyment of Cal basketball post game shows for all ten of us listening.
I am excited that Marty will join us in conversation because through his worldview you can see how baseball and Judaism function as “systems” that build community around the principle of sharing time while building memories.
To the degree that our country is “challenged” when it comes to providing community, baseball, especially as Marty brings it alive, addresses and fills that need, at least during the summer.
I feel kinship with him as each of us, in our own ways, wants people to feel connected through the values of our “programs”.
As much time as people put into baseball, in following their teams from start to finish, with hopes that this will be the magical year, it feels even more engaging when someone welcomes you to participate beyond following the games and the statistics. Many listeners credit Marty with contributing to the growing fan base for the Giants above and beyond the team’s success.
While Judaism is inherently a community based and generating system, that does not automatically come alive, as most of us know from our years in synagogues and Jewish settings. Yet, just as community has come alive with the Giants this past year, so it feels that way for many of us Jewishly at B’nai Israel: ritual and celebration has seemed extra special because of the growing sense of community.
I look forward to reflecting on how Judaism sheds light on what is special about life in its secular contexts, i.e. baseball, and how lessons associated with baseball bring to light what is special about our shared experiences in Jewish community, particularly through CBI.
What a wonderful way to orient us to the upcoming program year, even as we tune in to the Giants’ continuing saga of a group of no names attempting to do what has not been done in many years, one team winning 2 consecutive championships. And, of course, Judaism has something to say about how much more one can achieve when egos and personalities are subsumed by complementary teamwork, a unique characteristic of this generation of Giants.
So, make your reservations and come on out to the “ballpark” …to CBI on Wednesday, August 17, for a very special “pre game-post-game” show with Marty Lurie as we enjoy “Talkin’ Baseball and Judaism…in support of Community”
Join in Tisha b’Av observance on Monday, August 8 at 7:30 pm
Plan on attending the start of Tisha b’Av, the day that commemorates almost everything bad that can and did happen to our people, as a wake-up call to what life can be like when society is at its cruelest.
Ironically, Tisha b’Av serves as the lowest point of the year, from which we gradually ascend over a 2 month period to arrive at the highest point of the year, the Days of Awe and the promise of a new and better beginning to a year.
Contrasted with the fast of Yom Kippur, one of hope and optimism, that we can and will change for the better, is the dark fast of Tisha b’Av, in lament of many destructive points in Jewish history, each of which could have spelled the end of our people, yet through which, we somehow survived and prevailed. The ninth of Av in 586 BCE is the day the First Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by Babylonia. The ninth of Av in 70 CE is the day the Second Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by Rome. The ninth of Av in 1492 is the day that Spain exiled the Jews.
Paradoxically great nations that have attempted to destroy Israel and the Jewish people are gone, relegated to the history books, whereas, we, a tiny people in numbers, continue to persist in our conviction that people will change and societies will emerge that treat human beings with care and dignity.
Join in the ushering in of this sad holy day on Monday August 8 at 7:30 pm as we welcome our friends at CBS in Napa for a service and a reading/recitation of Jeremiah’s Lamentation in his description of the Jerusalem of his day in ruins.
Through the sadness of history’s darkest moments, we will emerge with renewed hope as we look forward to better days and doing our part to bring them to life.