The Philadelphia Phillies probably won’t win the World Series this year. But on Sept. 6, shortly after 7 p.m., they did do at least one thing that no other Major League Baseball team did this year.
On Twitter, the Phillies wished their Jewish fans “L’shanah tovah and happy #RoshHashanah!”
Beneath that caption, the team posted a picture of the sun setting behind the scoreboard at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies page on the sports blog Fansided, That Ball’s Outta Here, first reported this story.
The Philadelphia area has one of the largest Jewish populations in the United States, with many estimates placing Philadelphia behind only New York and Los Angeles. But the New York Yankees, Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers, among other MLB teams in areas with large Jewish populations, did not make Rosh Hashanah posts this year.
“Holidays are a universal opportunity to interact in a positive way with different segments of your fan base,” said Michael Harris, the Phillies’ vice president of marketing and new media.
Harris said the Phillies have also posted for Christmas, Kwanzaa and several other holidays that honor the heritage of their fans. The “happy Rosh Hashanah” post is, at this point, an annual gesture. So is Jewish Heritage Night at CBP.
“I’m proud of my Jewish faith and love the fact I work for an organization that encourages its employees to honor and celebrate their heritage,” Harris said.
Local Jewish baseball fans agree with Harris. They appreciate that their team acknowledges their community.
Conservative Rabbi Eliott Perlstein, who leads Ohev Shalom of Bucks County, called the post a “teaching moment.”
Many non-Jews assume that, due to its proximity to Christmas, Chanukah is the biggest Jewish holiday, according to the rabbi. This post makes them more aware of the High Holidays.
“Maybe a lot of people say, ‘They have their own new year?’” Perlstein said.
Wyndmoor resident Michael Seeherman is president of the men’s club at Beth Tikvah-B’nai Jeshurun in Glenside. Before COVID broke out last year, the club bought tickets to Jewish Heritage Night.
The group views the Phillies as a good community partner, Seeherman said.
“We’re looking forward to having another outing next year,” he said. “This only encourages groups like ours to stay supportive.”
In divisive times, it’s refreshing to see such a big and visible organization reach out, Seeherman added.
Social media can drive the divisiveness of our times. But it’s also necessary to use social media as “a big part of any marketing strategy in this day and age,” Harris said.
The Phillies do their best to use it to be inclusive. They might just do that better than any team in baseball.
“I was surprised to hear we were the only team to acknowledge Rosh Hashanah,” Harris said. “I certainly can’t speak for others as to why that’s the case.”
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