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Letters Week of Dec. 30, 2010
Revisiting the Connection Between Jews, Baseball
Andrew Sherman's opinion piece, "The Man Who Saved Baseball (for Philly Fans, Anyway)," published in the Dec. 23 Jewish Exponent, was one of the more bizarre articles I've ever read about one of my favorite subjects, the Jewish connection with baseball. It's also filled with faulty assertions.
Cliff Lee is an outstanding pitcher and re-signing him was a coup, but he doesn't compare with Sandy Koufax, who ended his career with a 165-87 record, 2.76 earned run average, and 2,396 strikeouts in 2,324 innings pitched. He allowed only 1,754 hits and threw four no-hitters in a span of only 12 years.
In eight years in the majors, Lee's era is over a full point higher (3.85), he has no no-hitters and has thrown far fewer shutouts per year.
As for why Jews love baseball: Our immigrant ancestors struggled to create American identities, and during the 20th century, baseball was the quintessential American sport, and not an odd combination at all, as Mr. Sherman maintains.
Any serious student of baseball knows that the game was not invented by Abner Doubleday, but had been played long before he picked up a bat.
Also, the Dodgers' last season in Brooklyn was 1957, hardly a "recent" move by the 1963 season. And does Mr. Sherman know that the L.A. Dodgers had several outstanding Jewish ballplayers (Koufax, the Sherry brothers, Shawn Green), so just what does he mean by claiming that L.A. is "surely not a real Jewish baseball man's team."
And if he really is a maven, he'd also know that it isn't really that rare for a Jew to "don a major league uniform." In fact, there were five Jewish All Stars playing in the majors this past season -- Brad Ausmus, Ryan Braun, Ian Kinsler, Jason Marquis and Kevin Youklis.
As an old Dodger fan and, of course, Yankee hater, I find it laughable that the writer would challenge a Yankee fan's claim that they are over the years the "best baseball team" there ever was. Quite simply, they are. If he doesn't believe me, he can check the record books.
But most of all, I must ask Mr. Sherman why Cliff Lee has anything more to do with Jewish sports fans than does Michael Vick or Alan Iverson? As he must hear in his new home in Brooklyn: "Fugheddaboudit!"
Philly's the Perfect Place to Link Grads, Judaism
The Dec. 16 Exponent editorial, "Grasping the Future," laments that "the post-college population has long posed a challenge to organized Jewry."
Today's 20- and 30-somethings are making decisions in new ways, and these will help determine the future of the community. Without positive experiences informing their decisions, how will today's young adults choose to marry, raise families and affiliate Jewishly?
Luckily, Philadelphia is blessed with a broad array of groups that work to ensure that young adults have positive experiences that connect them with Judaism, their Jewish peers and the broader Philadelphia Jewish community. The editorial mentioned several organizations; the Jewish Graduate Student Network of Hillel of Greater Philadelphia is one overlooked.
The Grad Network engages people with campus-based and community-wide opportunities for Jewish exploration. It encourages students to settle in Philly after graduation by partnering with other Jewish organizations. Close to two thousand young people a year experience Jewish Philadelphia through the Grad Network.
Hillel's Jewish Graduate Student Network
Rabbi Howard Alpert
Hillel of Greater Philadelphia
What Makes You Think Your Synagogue's So Old?
Your cover story on Chester County ("Chester County: Forgotten Frontier?" Dec. 9) mentions early synagogues in the region as springing up in 1914 and 1916 respectively.
But Congregation B'nai Jacob in Phoenixville will celebrate its centennial in 2012. Next September, CBJ will begin hosting events to celebrate our history, contemplate our present and plan for our future.
Katie Katz and Ruth Yeiser
Centennial committee planning co-chairs
Congregation B'nai Jacob