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April 20, 2014 / 20 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘San Diego’

Learning From My Partner

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

I live in Baltimore, Maryland. Wendy lives in Santee, California. So even though we’ve loved being Partners in Torah for almost five years, I really didn’t think we’d ever get to meet. But it was Wendy who kept the faith. As she often reminded me, God can make anything happen.

So when my oldest son and his family moved to Phoenix recently, we went to visit them.  It was the day before Rosh Hashanah and everybody was busy getting ready for the holiday when I went off into a quiet room and gave Wendy a call. Upon hearing that I was in Phoenix, she decided, on the spot, to book a flight from San Diego for the next morning and come join our family for Rosh Hashanah!

We gave Wendy instructions on the kind of clothes it would be appropriate to bring (even though the temperature was in the nineties – no shorts, and no sleeveless tops) and we picked Wendy up when her flight arrived, two hours before Rosh Hashanah.

Then suddenly there she was – materialized – and we were no longer just two voices reaching across the continent.  She told me that I was shorter than she had thought. My first reaction? Just amazed at her calmness – and her courage.

I have got to admit, I was more than just a little nervous about how things would turn out. I mean, Wendy wasn’t observing Shabbos, and here she was about to immerse herself in two full days of her first real Rosh Hashana. So while we were still driving back from the Sky Harbor International Airport, I told her that I had escaped from my first real Shabbos, and she could feel free to go on a long walk away from the scene if at any point she felt like the experience was getting to be too much for her.

But that never happened. Wendy loved every minute of it – she really didn’t even want to leave when it was over And, she immersed herself alright – Wendy loved helping my daughter-in-law chop up vegetables, rocking my new granddaughter to sleep, and reading books to my grandsons. She loved clearing the table from the many interesting guests my children had for the meals, she loved the divrei Torah discussions, and she even loved the services.

We attended what was called the Learner’s Minyan that my son was helping to lead at the Phoenix Community Kollel, and it was such a clear and wonderful prayer service. On the second day, a woman standing near us started sobbing after one particularly moving part. I turned to offer the woman an understanding smile, and I saw that Wendy had already gone over to the woman, and she was hugging her. For about a minute, they just stood there like that, total strangers no longer, and tears were already streaming down Wendy’s face as well.

And the questions Wendy kept asking! Oh boy, did she get us all scrambling for good answers! Some of the answers weren’t all that terrific either, which helped each one of us to see where our clarity gets a little fuzzy. And that helped each of us probe deeper, to seek the truth more sincerely.

Over the past four years, Wendy and I have been learning, over the phone, a couple of works on the parsha and several of Rebbetzin Jungreis’s books, and we have shared many hours of the best kind of joy. I originally became a Partner in Torah as a zechus for one of my daughters to find her soul mate, and today that daughter is now blessed with two little children, in addition, thank God. We have also each gone through our own personal tragedies during this time period, and it was Wendy who helped me see God through the tears, repeatedly.

So, days after Wendy left Phoenix, my two-year-old grandson was still asking, “Where’d Wendy go?” She left an indelible impression on all of us.

Yep, Wendy, you’ve taught me so much through these years. And now you’ve taught me  how to really “wing it”. My admiration for you just keeps soaring.  There’s a waiting list with people of many ages wanting Partners in Torah.  To become a Partner in Torah, call 1-800-STUDY- 42! Have you met Bracha Goetz’s newest children’s books? The Happiness Box, What Do You See at Home? and What Do You See on Chanukah? can be found in Jewish bookstores and online Judaica sites like Eichlers.com. Her newest book of all, The Invisible Book can be found there too – even though it’s invisible! For Bracha Goetz’s presentations, you can visit her on Host-A-Jewish-Book-Author.com.

Winter Thoughts On The Summer Game

Wednesday, February 6th, 2008

         The Boston Red Sox will have three opening days in three different countries. The first will be in Japan on Tuesday, March 25, against Oakland. The A’s will act as the home team in the two-game series that opens the 2008 major league season. After the Wednesday, March 26 game, the teams will return to the U.S. to open the season in Oakland on April 1. After two games in Oakland, Boston goes to Canada for the season opener in Toronto.

 

         Red Sox Nation will have to wait until Tuesday, April 8, for the Fenway opener, but will be rewarded by seeing baseball’s best two teams – the Red Sox and the Detroit Tigers – go at it. The Tigers’ lineup – their new additions combined with last year’s regulars – had a collective batting average of .312, tops in the majors. The Yankees were second at .292 and Boston slid in third at .287.

 

         Boston and Detroit both boast good pitching, but I’d give the edge to the Red Sox. However, the ferocious lineup of the Tigers can start a rally at any time. No one knows who will have baseball’s best record in October, but it should be either Detroit or Boston.

 

         Speaking of Boston, the Red Sox sold out the 2007 season at Fenway and drew 2,970,755 fans – 29,245 short of three million. They’ll hit the aforementioned milestone for the first time this year as 840 new seats have been added to the roof of the storied ballpark.

 

         Look for other cities to also set new attendance highs. Detroit is poised to top last year’s record mark of more than three million. Season ticket sales were cut off at 25,000 in January in order to accommodate groups and individuals for selected games. Baseball expects to set a new collective attendance high this year.

 

* * * * *

 

         I’m lucky enough – and old enough – to have seen games in two Washington ballparks. Griffith Stadium, where the Senators played through 1961, and D.C. Stadium (later renamed for Robert F. Kennedy and called RFK Stadium).

 

         The first game of the 2008 season on American soil will take place in Washington’s spiffy, brand new Nationals Park on Sunday night, March 30, and carried around the baseball world by ESPN.

 

         The best viewing location in Nationals Park is the upper deck along the first base line. You’ll be able to see the Capitol dome about two miles beyond left field, and if you want to see the Washington Monument at the same time, move down the line closer to right field.

 

* * * * *

 

         Don’t you wish you could sit in a big league ballpark without a coat and see lush, green grass at this time of year?

 

         Well, you can – and I did.

 

         You can sit and snack in the bleachers in Petco Park in beautiful downtown San Diego. There’s a plaza behind the outfield decks and bleachers that is open to the public on non-game days.

 

         You can also take a guided tour of the four-year-old 42,445-seat impressive home of the Padres. The left field corner incorporates a most unusual building. Built in 1909, the 80-foot high former home of an iron and steel foundry, overlooks the field. Bleachers on top of the building and three levels of bleachers attached to the structure hover over fair territory.

 

         On a tour from the top deck behind the infield, you can look in the opposite direction from the field and even see Mexico while drinking in the view of the Pacific Ocean.

 

         Forget Florida – San Diego is a lot cheaper this time of year.

 

         There are motels a pop-up away from San Diego’s two kosher eateries, and the shul – Beth Jacob – is less than a mile from there. Rabbi Avram Bogopulsky and his rebbetzin are superstars and Brooklyn natives. The rabbi still has some Yankees memorabilia from the early 70′s when the Yanks were on the wrong end of the standings.

 

         Affluent LaJolla also has a beautiful shul and superstar leaders (Wohlgelernters). However, the impressive area is almost a half-hour drive from the San Diego eateries, and motels are much more expensive and quite a walk to shul.

 

         Another advantage of the Beth Jacob area is that the San Diego Aztecs baseball team, coached by Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, plays in a cute little ballpark (named for him) in the college area about a mile from the shul.

 

* * * * *

 

         I’ve had the pleasure of being the baseball-scholar-in-residence at many shuls through the years. (“You’re the Paysach Krohn of baseball and Jewish baseball stories,” one fellow told me. Well, I’m not as good as Rabbi Krohn, but who is?)

 

         Anyway, no matter what color hat or head covering we wear (if any), one thing unites us: baseball.

 

         And it never fails – old-timers always bring up Hank Greenberg and anti-Semitism.

 

         “Pitchers didn’t want Greenberg to break Babe Ruth’s home run record in 1938,” they say.

 

         Is that really true?

 

         As history buffs recall, Greenberg was chasing Ruth’s single-season record of 60 home runs set in 1927 (since broken by steroid stuffers in recent years).

 

         I grew up (though not all the way) in the 1950′s, years after Greenberg retired as a player, but I also heard in the community that managers and players at the time didn’t want a Jew to break the Babe’s record.

 

         I was lucky enough to interview Greenberg and had the chance to ask the Tigers superstar about 1938.

 

         “Most players were my friends and wanted to see me break the record,” Greenberg recalled.

 

         “In fact,” he said, “my 57th home run that year was a gift. I should have stopped at third with a triple but kept going, trying for an inside-the-park home run. I was called safe at the plate but was really out by a mile. The umpire was a friend of mine and the catcher didn’t argue the call. We were playing Cleveland, and I felt the Indians were rooting for me to do it. But I could never hit Bob Feller and had to face him too often as the season wound down. I just ran out of gas.”

 

* * * * *

 

         The initial offer by the Yankees and Red Sox for Twins lefthander Johan Santana was far better than the package Minnesota received from the Mets. At least Boston and the Yanks included one impact player and better prospects.

 

         Mets general manager Omar Minaya landed a superstar pitcher and gave up nothing of importance in terms of players the club was counting on. Will the addition of Santana be enough for the Mets to win the National League East? I’ll give my predictions after spring training.

 

         In the meantime, send me yours.

 

         Irwin Cohen, the author of seven books, headed a national baseball publication for five years before earning a World Series ring working as a department head in a major league front office. His “Baseball Insider” column appears the second week of each month in The Jewish press. Cohen, president of the Detroit area’s Agudah shul, may be reached in his dugout at irdav@sbcglobal.net.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/sports/winter-thoughts-on-the-summer-game/2008/02/06/

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