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Jewish Journal

How the Jewish Community can Forgive Delmon Young

by Rabbi Yonah Bookstein

May 7, 2012 | 12:48 pm

The power of teshuva can turn this hurtful incident into a one that teaches compassion and love.

Delmon should keep swinging the bat in a Tigers uniform because Judaism believes in the God of second chances. Judaism instructs us that we must give everyone the opportunity to make amends. In fact, I have a few suggestions that can make Delmon one of the most popular players in the Jewish community today.

When Young was arrested on April 27th, and charged with misdemeanor aggravated harassment and assault, Motown, the baseball world, and the Jewish community cringed in disbelief. Some called this the end of his short career.

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig, who is happens to be Jewish, suspended Young for seven days without pay. With a $6.75 million dollar salary, that added up to $258,000 in lost wages. The Tigers were prohibited from further disciplinary action because of baseball and the players’ association labor agreement.

Young issued an apology to his friends, family, team and the community, and confessed that the whole incident was related to an alcohol problem that he will now address.

In a press conference before Saturday’s game after the end of his suspension, Young said, “I made a lapse in judgment, but I can tell you that I am not an anti-Semitic. I wasn’t raised that way, came from a good family, and we weren’t taught any of that, especially growing up in a diverse area.”

In fact it seems that the hardest part of the ordeal for Young is being branded an anti-Semite.“Me branded being racist or bigoted, that’s not me,” he said. “I have a lot of diverse friends; I live in a diverse area; that’s just not me or my character.”

And while there is part of me and I am sure many other Jewish fans, who, every time that Delmon Young is going to approach the plate for the foreseeable future, will be reminded what happened, that doesn’t have to be the case.

The entire essence of the Jewish High Holidays challenges us to seek out those that we have wronged and ask forgiveness. We ask God for forgiveness for what we did against God, and we ask friends and family to forgive us for how we let them down or hurt them in the previous year.

The Days of Awe compel us to believe that everyone deserves a second chance. Does this forgiveness extend to Delmon Young? You bet.

While the hurt in me thinks that Young and his number should be ejected from baseball, on further contemplation, that would be wrong.

Rather, let’s give Young a chance to learn from his mistakes, become a spokesperson for tolerance and most importantly, let him become an ally of the Jewish community.

The power of teshuva can turn this hurtful incident into a one that teaches compassion and love.

Young knows that one apology can’t convince people that he’s not an anti-Semite and said, “I know it’s going to take a while. I can’t smooth this thing over and convince anyone after one speech, but just go out there every day and be a positive influence.”

Delmon, if you sincerely make amends now you will be forgiven in an instant.

Here are some of my suggestions:

  • Immediately make a donation to the Michigan Museum of the Holocaust - where children learn about the importance of tolerance
  • Offer to visit Jewish institutions in the off-season - letting the Jewish community get to see who you really are off the field
  • Make a visit to Israel - your faith will be inspired and it will give you more strength to fight your addiction
  • Take some classes on Judaism

Delmon, I am sure that you can become not only a friend to the Jewish community, but that you can become a shining example of the power of teshuva, the power of the individual to transcend their shortcomings and become great.

We as a Jewish community will forgive you, and make sure that you are remembered as a great friend of the Jewish people.

_________

Rabbi Yonah is an Oxford educated rabbi who loves music, Israel and runs Jewlicious. You can follow him on twitter.com/rabbiyonah 

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