Jewish Journal

Where Should We Look Now?

by Jeremy Fine

September 26, 2010 | 7:55 pm

Many people all over the blog world expressed their disapproval/disappointment over Jason Marquis’ decision to pitch on Yom Kippur. Plenty of comments were made and the fact is the majority of people can’t understand why he had to pitch on the holiest day of the year (to most people, but rabbis would argue Shabbat is the holiest day of the year). But in all fairness Marquis wasn’t alone. No Jewish MLBers sat out for Yom Kippur (unless on the DL). In fact, even minor league players like the Indians up and coming Jason Kipnis played.

So TGR begs to ask the question, where are our Jewish role models? If we are looking at athletes as potential Jewish heroes, don’t they have to stand for something? Or do they simply need to be Jewish?

I propose two professional athletes. The first is Omri Casspi. Casspi has not only been carrying the Israeli flag where ever he goes, but he was immersed himself in his Jewish identity. Rumor has it he has kosher meals prepared for him on the road. I know for a fact who has been very active in the Jewish community and spoken with several rabbis. He has done this not for money or exposure. He has done this for Jewish pride. He has been a symbol for the Jewish people.

The second is Yuri Foreman. While he lost his big fight at Yankee Stadium, Foreman has become a well recognized boxing champion. In the bright lights and the glory that comes with appearing on the Jimmy Kimmel show Foreman has stayed true to who he is and to his heritage. Yes, Foreman is studying to be a rabbi. And one could say…well he is a Super Jew so that is not a fair comparison. I say, all the more so we should get behind him. He won’t fight on Shabbos, great. He keeps kosher, amazing. He believes in God, even better.

Many years ago when the story about Tamir Goodman broke and Goodman said that he wouldn’t play on Shabbos people thought he was crazy. He was willing to give up a ride to Maryland (which won the NCAA Championship that year by the way) for his religious belief. Seriously, as a high school student playing basketball at the time, I thought he was an idiot. But looking back at it, now I would love someone to stand up for their beliefs like that. At very least take off the one day in which the whole Jewish world recognizes that you are pitching (because in the case of Marquis no one has noticed him all season long anyway). So, today we should really stand behind Casspi and Foreman and all other players, coaches, or athletes who say…at least one day a year, that Judaism is more important than the game/job we play.

So, my word of advice is to go see Casspi this year. If he is coming to your town, buy the ticket. Even if it is a little extra money. Hold up that Israeli flag. Buy the jersey. And relish that one of your own is doing the right thing.

And Let Us Say…Amen.
- Jeremy Fine


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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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