“I think Philadelphia is cursed,” lamented a Scott Rubenstein in the Jewish Exponent’s Feb. 10, 2005 issue, following the Eagles’ devastating Super Bowl XXXIX loss.
Hopefully that curse will be broken this weekend.
Stacey Rabbino had a good feeling about the Eagles this season.
So in October, she booked a hotel room in Minneapolis so she’d be ready to go cheer on her team when — not if — they made it to the Super Bowl.
She’ll be heading to the game with her 12-year-old son, Ethan, to be greeted with a not-so-warm welcome of an estimated high of 6 degrees on Feb. 4.
To her, the weather will just be another challenge for the team to overcome.
“I can’t believe of all the places in the world that the Super Bowl could be that we’re going to Minneapolis in the dead of winter,” laughed Rabbino, who belongs to Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El. “But it seems fitting for the rest of the season because this season has really been one of overcoming adversity and working together as a team and looking toward that common goal.”
(Luckily, the stadium is indoors.)
A “rabid” Eagles fan, Rabbino based her good instincts on the team’s dynamic and Doug Pederson’s playcalling. After years (and years) of heartache and disappointment, however, she remained cautiously optimistic.
Now, she’s sharing the Super Bowl experience with her son, whose upcoming Bar Mitzvah is fittingly football-themed.
“I’m looking forward to the victory, that’s No. 1,” Rabbino said. “And I’m really looking forward to spending that time with my son … and being able to have a lifetime of memories with him in such a special season and to celebrate such a special city.”
Leading up to this weekend, Philly institutions have been making bets on the outcome with their Boston counterparts and ridding the city of its rival flavors.
Outposts of Boston Market have undergone a cosmetic change as large “Philly” signs have replaced the titular “Boston.” If you’re looking for a Boston creme doughnut at Dottie’s Donuts, tough luck. But you could try their Greased Pole doughnut instead.
If you’ve missed the ongoing Twitter feud between Philly and Boston NPR affiliates WHYY and WBUR, you might want to go check it out, if not only for a photoshopped image of M.O.T. Fresh Air host Terry Gross sporting an underdog mask
Synagogues have joined in the competitive fun, too.
Philly’s Congregation Rodeph Shalom challenged Temple Israel of Boston to a charitable wager in which upon an Eagles victory, the Boston shul will donate 18 times the difference in scores to Philly Youth Basketball, or Rodeph Shalom will donate 18 times the difference in scores to the CTE Center at Boston University Medical Center.
All bets were off in Minneapolis, however — at least in the Jewish community, which is welcoming Super Bowl attendees with open arms.
Shabbat-observant Eagles and Patriots fans were invited to join the modern Orthodox Congregation Darchei Noam near Minneapolis for accommodations and services.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity to reach out to the Jewish community beyond our own,” said Rabbi Max Davis of Darchei Noam, “and we knew there would be thousands of people coming to the Twin Cities for the event and thought it might be a great opportunity to celebrate Shabbat with our sisters and brothers from other communities.”
That it’s Eagles fans descending on the city is not lost on Wendy Khabie, a Darchei Noam congregant and understandably dejected — yet welcoming — Vikings fan.
“The irony here will be that we actually have to be nice to some Eagles fans who bounced us out of the opportunity to make history,” she laughed, “but we’re excited to introduce the Minneapolis Jewish community to people who don’t necessarily understand or appreciate that you can live in the Midwest and still have a Torah-observant lifestyle even though you’re not on the coast.”
But for the fans heading out to Minnesota, it doesn’t matter the weather or what bets are made — they just want to support their team.
“It really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and something I definitely want to cross off my bucket list,” Ken Weinstein said.
He and his friend Michael Cohen will head out early Feb. 3, which meant Weinstein had to change some of his plans.
Typically, he invites friends over to watch the game. In fact, he already reached out to several people that he then had to cancel on. But at least it’s for a good reason.
“It’s probably the best excuse you could have is actually going to the game,” he laughed.
He’s looking forward to partaking in the festivities around the weekend, too.
“It’s been a dreamlike season,” reflected Weinstein, who belongs to Mishkan Shalom. “Carson Wentz has taken us this far, and there’s just an excitement and a confidence level that I have not seen in years. … I’m excited beyond words to go.”
Marc Shaw is heading out with a big group to take care of some “unfinished business.”
The Congregation Rodeph Shalom congregant and his brother — who between them have missed maybe four or five home games since the late ’80s — went to the Super Bowl in 2005, so he’s hoping for a different outcome this time. And with the way this season has gone, a victory isn’t too far-fetched.
“This is a special run and we feel like it’s going to be capped off with the Super Bowl, and we want to be there,” said Shaw, adding they will be back in time for the victory parade. “These types of seasons, they don’t come around often. Although the expectations might be that we’re gonna be back soon with Carson Wentz, it’s never a guarantee and you want live in the moment and participate in what is a great experience … when you can because you don’t know.”
So what would these fans tell their team if they could offer some pre-game encouragement?
Said Weinstein, “I’d tell them to make Philadelphia proud and make themselves proud. Just as this is maybe my first and only Super Bowl appearance, that may be the same for them, so they should make the most of it and go out there and play their hearts out.”
“I’d do the fight song, for sure, and then I think what I would tell them is just keep on doing what you’re doing,” Rabbino said. “We’ve got one more game, really, that’s it. We’ve four quarters, 60 minutes and just keep on doing what you’re doing.”
“This is what you’ve been working for and dreaming of since you were a kid,” Shaw added, “and as much as every player across the league dreams and hopes and prays and wants to be in this situation, you’re in this situation for a city that would put you on a pedestal for the rest of your lives. … It would be a celebration of epic proportions.”
Just one thing left to say: Dilly dilly! (Or Philly Philly!)
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