Friday, November 4, 2016

Let’s Play Two…

I do not typically share the articles from my Temple Bulletin on my blog. Their purpose is usually more focused on our congregation. This was my October article, and I want to use it (somewhat edited) to finish my 5 part series on the Neshama (soul) of baseball.)


The Neshama of Baseball

Let’s Play Two…

This has been an amazing summer for me. In our family we have had new jobs, a high school graduation and the last child is off to college. Special for us, but most of you have those things happening as well. If not this summer then another. Those of you that know me are aware that this summer has been amazing for me in particular for one other reason: The Chicago Cubs.

My Red Sox fan friends now chortle “Now that we’ve had a few World Series, it might as well be your turn.” And I remind them that Red Sox have NEVER been the longest suffering team in baseball. They missed that honor by ten years. And in 1918, they beat…the Cubs. But I digress.

My beloved team has been in first place the entire season. They last did that in 1969, and Mets fans know how that turned out. I digress again. I mention this here for two reasons: because I want to shout it from the roof tops and because I need to explain the baseball bat in my office. It is a metaphor for Jewish learning.

The bat is signed by Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks, one of the heroes of my childhood and was a gift to me from B’nai Israel on the occasion of my 10th anniversary as educator. Whenever someone said “Hey Ernie! It’s a beautiful day for a ball game!” he would respond: “Let’s play two!”

I would tell this story whenever teaching about the Yotzer or Ma'ariv prayers. These are prayers we say as part of our regular worship service, praising God for creating the world in which we live. (We say Yotzer in the morning and Ma'ariv at night.) I would explain that Ernie believed that when it is a beautiful day, we need to show God our appreciation by doing the things we love best and by sharing it with others we love. For Ernie it was playing baseball and sharing it with all of Chicago. I was fortunate enough to meet him in the 80’s and confirm that is what he meant.

So what does the bat have to do with Jewish learning? Jewish learning – doing it myself or facilitating it for others – is thing I love doing best. Ernie’s bat reminds me that no matter the weather outside, it is ALWAYS a beautiful day for Jewish learning.

Whatever your age it is a beautiful day for Jewish learning.

Our Bonim Pre-school gets fully underway next week (We write these a month prior to publication), followed quickly by Religious School and Merkaz. Our Religious School Vision Team has already begun learning as part of the URJ Reimagining Jewish Education Community of Practice I described last June.

And our Adult Jewish Learning program, chaired by David Herbst, is also underway. I invite you to check out our offerings this month on page 6 of this bulletin. And I invite you to join me at 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 12, which is Yom Kippur afternoon. Instead of going home, stick around for some Jewish learning on the topic of gratitude - something I hope to have an extra reason to express at the end of the post-season. We will spend an hour together and then have a little time before the afternoon service begins.

When it comes to Jewish learning, let’s play two!

L’shalom and G’mar Chatimah Tovah!


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