This first appeared in the New Jersey Jewish News:
Dear Mr. Schwartz,
When I first heard that you, an offensive guard for the New York Giants, are planning on playing against the Dallas Cowboys on a game unfortunately scheduled to begin after sunset on Sunday, Sept. 13, the first night of Rosh Hashana, I have to admit that I was a bit crestfallen.
I know that when you were a college freshman on the University of Oregon team, you took a day off for Yom Kippur. When I heard that the NFL had ignored the Giants request, and scheduled te game on Rosh Hoshanah,
I was hoping for another Sandy Koufax-like headline that I could show to my kids. I could imagine the cameras on the Goodyear blimp zooming out from the billion-dollar Texas stadium during a timeout and zooming in to a local synagogue as they got a nice close-up of you swaying to Avinu Malkeinu.
But then I second-guessed myself. I tried to imagine what it must be like to be a caring and committed Jew as a player in the NFL. I started to ask some serious questions. What are a player’s responsibilities to the team? What would it mean, in a setting where sacrifice and loyalty is valued even above physical safety, to sit one out? Would hearing the blasts of the shofar on Monday morning feel different if you felt like you had, even in the smallest of ways, let your teammates down?
Knowing how intense the rivalry has been between the Giants and the Cowboys, I started to think that maybe, if I were somehow blessed to have my childhood dream to play in the NFL come true, I would make the same decision that you made.
I joked to my friend Adam Oded, a native of Passaic and a lifelong Giants fan, that at the very least we should send you a nice juicy piece of brisket to enjoy in the locker room. But Adam loves nothing more than disagreeing with me, so he suggested that instead of sending brisket we should send a crate of apples and some local honey. This way, he argued, you could share a quintessential Rosh Hashana food with your teammates. And that is when I had the vision:
It would be historic. Professional football teams have been playing on Thanksgiving since the 1890s. Why not let 2015 — or 5776 in the Hebrew calendar — be the first time Rosh Hashana entered into the mix? The TV crew would have a field day creating the popping, spinning 3-D “Happy Rosh Hashana” graphic where slices of apple, like footballs, soared through the air and landed in an end zone of honey. At halftime, crates of apples and jars of honey could be brought out in old-fashioned wheelbarrows while Phish’s cover of “Avinu Malkeinu” blasted on the loudspeakers. It would be good for the Jews. It would be good for America’s apple-growers and beekeepers. And it would be good for the NFL. Coming off a sour season of domestic violence scandals and head injury inquiries, the league might appreciate a blessing for a sweet new year. Can’t a rabbi dream?
Read the rest: HERE
BREAKING NEWS: We are starting up an online campaign and we aren’t just sending apples and honey to Texas Stadium, we are going to send apples and honey to food banks in the area and support MAZON: A Jewish response to hunger in its efforts to make sure that nutritious food is a reality in the lives of the poor this year.
Our plan: Let’s turn this NFL fumble into something sweet.