Jewish Journal

Shameless TGR Plug

by Jeremy Fine

March 31, 2010 | 9:00 am

Recently TGR was featured the Chicago Jewish News. We are super excited about the exposure. The Article is below.

At the beginning it mentions how the blog got started. I want to make it clear that I was totally JOKING when I mentioned not having say in my wedding. I did. My in-laws are wonderful people and my wife is the best. Having been my first interview I should have realized that jokes do not always sound as good on paper.

Thanks for reading.
And Let Us Say…Amen.
-Jeremy Fine

By CJN staff (03/26/2010)
Like many young Jews, Jeremy Fine always loved sports and was fascinated by Jewish athletes.

But it took a wedding - his own - to lead him into creating what is now a popular Jewish sports blog.

It wasn’t really the wedding but the preparations for it that spurred him into the blog world, Fine said recently in a phone conversation from Israel, where, as a rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City, he is spending his obligatory year of study.

“I was getting married (last) summer, and my wife was busy dealing with details of the wedding, which didn’t interest me so much or she didn’t let me be a part of,” Chicago native Fine says. “I wanted something to do, so I thought about my two loves, Judaism and sports.”

The two had sometimes been in conflict as Fine had to decide “whether to go to Hillel or go to a sports event” and the like.

He soon started a blog, writing three times a week at first. “I noticed a lot of people were reading it, so I launched it as an official Web site,” he says. “It’s just taken off. Now it has almost 20,000 readers and has been picked up by a lot of other blogs and sites.”

It’s called the Great Rabbino (www.TheGreatRabbino.com), a takeoff on one of Babe Ruth’s nicknames, the Great Bambino, and features a picture of Ruth wearing a tallis on its logo (Photoshopped, of course). “My friends and I were going through names of what we could call it and it kind of just came to me - because I’m going to be a rabbi,” Fine says.

The blog/Web site features news about Jewish athletes and coaches, college and professional, in all sports, as well as interviews that Fine and a few volunteers conduct, such as with the Cubs’ Sam FuldYuri Foreman, plus popular polls where readers can vote for their favorite players, then order a TGR T-shirt. Before the start of the NCAA tournament, for instance, Fine listed all the Jews on teams playing in post-season tournaments. The site also features lists of Jewish sports resources, Jewish sports Web sites, kosher stadiums and more.

“In the Jewish (sports) blog world, there are a few of us, and we talk to each other, confirm who is Jewish, share stories. It’s this kind of social club through the Internet,” Fine says.

“People love following Jewish sports, and I don’t feel there is enough press about it,” he says, adding that fans of the site range from “young people through college age through retired people.”

He recalls that when he wrote a column about Harry Shuman, an obscure Jewish baseball player who was in the major leagues from 1942 to 1944, “his granddaughter wrote in, saying how wonderful it is that people know about him.” His favorite interview, though, has been with , whom he calls “no doubt the greatest Jewish basketball player who ever lived.”

Fine sees sports and Judaism as being alike in many ways.

“Tradition and faith are the two big words,” he says. “In baseball, you always root for the same team; you don’t switch, and you have faith that every year they’re going to win. For Jews right now (the sports world) is so exciting. Omri Casspi (the Israeli basketball player now on the Sacramento Kings, and the first Israeli to be drafted into the NBA) is a huge deal, and in this past Olympics you had two Jewish swimmers.

“If you go back to (Sandy) Koufax, some people consider him the greatest (baseball) player of all time, and there’s a lot of pride in that. Anyone who is Jewish is going to root for the Jewish player,” he says.

In sports, he adds, “it’s an area where your religion, your race, your ethnicity doesn’t matter so much. If you’re a good athlete you’re going to have a chance.” As for Fine, his Chicago baseball allegiance might surprise some, considering his North Side-north suburban cred: He grew up in Deerfield and graduated from Solomon Schechter Day School and Ida Crown Jewish Academy. But his heart belongs on the South Side of the city.

“I’m the biggest White Sox fan you’ll ever meet,” he says. “We had two rules in our house: Marry Jewish, and never bring home a Cubs fan. My wife is not much of a sports fan but she knew the number one rule was, no Cubs clothes. The first present I bought her was a Sox hat, and one of our wedding presents was these amazing White Sox seats.”

His traces his family’s antipathy to the North Siders to his great-grandfather. “He came over to this country and went to Wrigley Field, and there was a sign there that said, no Jews or dogs allowed,” he says. “That was a no-brainer,” he continues. “My ancestors have a lot of Jewish pride, and that was a big one for them.” His family even subscribes to the Chicago Sun-Times because “the Tribune owns the Cubs.”

This year, “I think (the Sox) have a really great chance,” Fine says. “They have a different look and the feel of a real team. They have the best pitching staff in baseball, and their offense is exciting. They have some really young, talented guys who are still pure and haven’t been swallowed up by the game. And they still have (Paul) Konerko and (A.J.) Pierzynski. I see them winning the division and getting into the playoffs, where they would have to deal with Boston and New York. But I don’t think anyone would want to face us.”

As for the Cubs, “they have two Jewish players (Fuld and John Grabow), and I will quietly root for them,” Fine says. “This is the first time since I’ve been alive that they were kind of quiet in the off-season and didn’t spend hundreds of millions of dollars on broken-down players.”

He also likes the Blackhawks’ chances of being in the Stanley Cup finals. “There are some really really good teams they are going to have to face, but this team is set for a while and will be able to compete for many years,” he says. “If they don’t win this year, they’ve got these guys locked down for a long time. I have no reason to believe they can’t do it, that they shouldn’t be at their very best.”

Fine, meanwhile, will be finished with his year of study in Israel this summer and hopes to live in Chicago after his graduation. And then, the Great Rabbino will indeed be written by a rabbi.

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Rabbi Jeremy Fine is the Assistant Rabbi at Temple of Aaron in St. Paul MN. He was ordained from the Jewish Theological Seminary where he also received a Masters in Jewish...

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