Guest blog from James Thurman Kahn, member of the Jewish Outreach Institute President’s Advisory Board
In this year full of serious issues, it can be a great relief to lose one’s cares in an interlude of baseball.
Here’s part of what’s so inspiring about the new Israeli baseball team: many of these players are Americans who grew up secular, maybe not even religious; some had only one Jewish parent or grandparent. Yet, they identify with Israel – contradicting both left-wingers like Peter Beinert, and many right-wingers who think that only religious Jews support Israel. The lie from both ends of the political spectrum, which each side uses for different reasons, is the same: assimilated American Jews are not Zionist. But here are these guys with Stars of David on their caps, and I bet they have a much stronger feeling for Israel and for Judaism than they did before this began. It’s a wonderful rallying point for the Jewish Outreach Institute (JOI).
The beauty is, it’s only a game. However, tell that to African-Americans in 1936 when racial bigotry was everywhere and the Nazis had the “superior race,” and then Jesse Owens won all those medals in the Berlin Olympics. Now, in 2012, when world leaders are sitting quietly, listening to Ahmadinejad explain how Israel and “400 years of Zionism” are a cancer that must be wiped off the map, there is a certain comfort in being allowed to compete on equal footing, a team like any other team.