For Cheesehead Jews, tonight brings two events of significance: Yom Kippur and the decisive Game 5 of the NLDS. You can’t observe both, which prompted an email I got yesterday from a friend under the subject “Hebrew Hammer.”
When talking about the Brewers, the Hebrew Hammer is none other than Ryan Braun, a leading candidate for National League MVP. But Sandy Koufax he is not. He’s more of a Shawn Green, and my response to the email was “No way.”
As I discussed in a 2008 post titled “Brains and Braun,” the Brewers’ left fielder, like Jordan Farmar in the NBA, knows that being the pride of Jewish fans comes with the territory. But he’s not particularly observant. In fact, as has been noted in the comments on this blog, he’s not a Jew under the law: father yes, mother no.
In a short article, The New York Times explains why Braun will not be Hank Greenberg and Koufax:
Braun played on Rosh Hashana and will play Friday. Perhaps it should not be an issue, but it has become one in some quarters, particularly on the Internet.
“The Jewish community is always looking for Jewish baseball heroes,” said Rabbi Jason Miller of Farmington Hills, Mich., who blogs about Jews and sports. “Braun is not considered a Jewish player, yet Orthodox Jews would cite him as their Jewish hero.”
Indeed, there is a lot on the Web about whether Braun will, or should, sit out tonight’s game. For more on Braun, baseball and Jewish fans, check out this piece from Tablet.