Rosh Hashanah and Football…Perfect Together

As a devout Jew and a devotee of the National Football League, I face a conflict every few years when the High Holy Days fall on my holy NFL Sunday.

September 20th, 2009 was Week 2 of the NFL Season. It was also the second day that the Jewish people turn 5770.

Some Jews are so devoted and disciplined that they would simply skip the games without batting an eyelash. Sure they could Tivo them, but without much concern.

Other Jews have virtually no Jewish identity, and watching football would make more sense than celebrating some holiday.

I care about both.

So what does one do?

One year I simply ran back and forth like Mrs. Doubtfire across the street between the Chabad House and Maloney’s Sportsbar. That was exhausting. It was also meaningless, since I do not remember any of the service, or the scores of any of the games, or even what year it was on the Hebrew or NFL Calendar.

I consulted several years ago with my close friend’s father, who is a proud Jew and die hard football fan.

He broke down in simple terms why he would be watching the games. It was like Judaism explained with Xs and Os. Boy was my friend raised right.

Yet at a Rosh Hashanah dinner on Saturday night, a young Rabbi provided me with some invaluable information.

This Rabbi was a left-winger. He liked Barbara Boxer and Keith Olbermann. Politically we could not be more different. Yet what some people fail to understand about me is that I do not demonize political opponents. I prefer friendly dinner conversation, and only react with hostility when confronted with it first. I became a blogger due to a hostile woman at a dinner party. Coincidentally, these were the same hosts.

While this Rabbi and I did not agree on politics, he liked football. With me, that offers the potential for instant kinship. His knowledge of football was outmatched by his knowledge of Judaism, and I am forever grateful for this.

He informed me that a Synagogue in Pacific Palisades was doing something that to my limited knowledge had never been done before. Kehillat Israel was simulcasting their service on the internet.

I have been to Kehillat Israel 3 or 4 times. While it is a Reconstructionist Synagogue, meaning it is very “new-agey,” my experiences there have been pleasant. The Rabbi is very nice and friendly. Although the Synagogue is very liberal in terms of beliefs, I never felt it to be an ideologically vicious place. In fact, this Temple was what true liberalism was supposed to be–tolerant.

I am under no illusions that the purpose of this simulcast was not to help me. It was so that elderly and sick hospital patients could participate in the holiday experience. Yet I benefited from this.

As with any NFL Sunday, I had multiple televisions broadcasting multiple games. This was in addition to some live blogging of the games. Yet my computer was also hooked up to the Kehillat Israel Rosh Hashanah Service.

As I watched the Raiders battle the Chiefs, and my friend watched the Cardinals play the Jaguars, at a certain juncture we muted the televisions. The Rabbi was about to blow the Shofar (ritual ram’s horn). It was just as beautiful, meaningful, and spiritual had we been in the Synagogue. In fact, it was better because it was a new experience. When the Rabbi was finished, he went into his Sermon. I confess that at that point attention returned to football.

The Rams horn did not inspire the St. Louis Rams, who lost 9-7. Also, it was pointed out to me that the Minnesota Vikings have a Shofar on their helmet, although neither Brett Favre, Adrian Peterson, or Brad CHildress are Jewish. However, the Raiders won 13-10, and the Cardinals won 31-17.

(In Emmy Award news…oh who cares, nobody watched.)

More importantly, I got to watch football and still attend a Rosh Hashanah service.

This will not be something that most synagogues will do. After all, Reconstructionist Judaism is far left. In Orthodox Judaism, electricity is forbidden on the Sabbath,

So while I normally fall on the side of the conservatives (Not to be confused with Conservative Judaism, where the conservatives are actually the centrists), I have to confess that a liberal Rabbi and a liberal Synagogue helped me have a truly enjoyable start to the New Year. Of course, the Raiders winning did help.

Some will say that I should have just gone to temple and skipped the game. This would have been an awful idea since I would have been thinking about the game. I would have been physically in temple, but my mind would not be on Judaism.

This way, when I muted those televisions, I was completely focused on the Jewish Shofar ritual. My attention span was not divided. This was a marriage of ideas, since when a couple gets married, they do not split themselves into 50%, but unite into one couple of 200%.

I remember every detail of the football games. I also clearly remember how nice it was to hear the Shofar.

NFL 2009 Week 2 was awesome.

So was Rosh Hashanah 5770 Day 2.

Happy New Year all.

Thank you Kehillat Israel of Pacific Palisades.

Oh, and JaMarcus (Russell, Raiders Quarterback), step it up buddy. This was a close one.


2 Responses to “Rosh Hashanah and Football…Perfect Together”

  1. […] The Tygrrrr Express – Rosh Hashanah and Football…Perfect Together […]

  2. Dav Lev says:

    If President Obama doesn’t do something about Iran, and fast,
    there may not be too many more holidays to celebrate.

    Let me explain: Ahmad gave a speech in which he denied the Holocaust ever existed, claiming this was the pretext to create the Zionist state of Israel, anathma to every Muslim.

    Hmmmmmm I thought Jews and Muslims were semitic brothers, both originating from the same roots.

    Of course, in the Muslim bible, anyone who doesn’t convert is toasted.

    Maybe Ahmad is angry that no one in Israel has converted as far as I know.

    We have to ask ourselves, what in heavens name is his beef?
    Israel is over 1,000 miles away, doesn’t share a waterway or a border, and in fact has nothing to do with these generations of Indo-Europeans.

    Ahmad and his buddies celebrate a Palestinian day each year..with
    the usual diabribe. This year was no exception. Some believe it’s a way
    to unite Iran’s disparate groups, and take the news away from the massive protests. Maybe?

    Frankly I don’t understand our President? We have 3 nuclear powered
    aircraft carriers and attendent ships in the Persian Gulf. Why we
    don’t use them to take out 9 nuke sites and perhaps the Iranian gov’t is beyond me? What are we in the West waiting for..the mushroom clouds?

    I am not a war monger, but I see a danger when it’s real.

    We are concentrating on Afghanistan and Obama is reviewing his options,
    while the real threat to world stability is in Iran.

    Prior to WW2 folks, there were hundreds of French and English divisions surrounding Germany, yet until Poland was attacked..they sat on their
    hands. 70m people were killed, including 6m Germans. 250,000 German Jews were sent to concentration camps..or otherwise murdered. Germany was flattened., a divided country. The 3rd Reich lasted not 1,000 years, but 12., it’s cities bombed out of existence., it’s women raped, it’s future
    problematic. Some wanted to try every NAZI. Our pre-occupation with
    the Soviets ended that.

    Obama could have helped the people of Iran, by simply giving Ahmad 2 days to leave the country, similar to Bush’s suggestion to Saddam.
    A few sorties by our B1s would have stopped the Iranians cold and avoided
    problems down the road.

    Soooooo, now that the single payer health plan is history..(there will be
    some version however to insure 50m people), No. Korea is still manufacturing plutonium, Iran is still pushing for the “bomb”, the Palestinians have said ynet to any cooperation with Israel….what else can Obama do to fail?

    Hey guys, I watched the Giant vs Dallas and Jets vs New England..maybe someone made money on the spread in points, or lack thereof. They were good games. Oh that Sanchez…

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