Baseball for Judaism

The upcoming Jewish holidays brings a couple of baseball star players to a tricky decision to make. Should they follow in the footsteps of Sandy Koufax and Hank Greenberg and choose their religious conscience over their contracts or should they play on the well-known religious holidays? During the end of September and early October, the playoffs are clashing with many High Holy Days. These start with Rosh Hashanah, which is the Jewish New Year.

Many years ago the two legends, Koufax and Greenberg decided to choose their religion above their contracts and decided not to play during the World Series which took place on the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. This holiday is celebrated by Jews globally. Now many major league players are stuck in precisely the same kind of situation when the playoffs start soon on Rosh Hashanah. The Jewish holiday starts when the sun sets on Sunday 29 September and lasts for 48 hours. Then on the 8 October, it is the start of the 24 hours of Yom Kippur.

The Houston Astros, as well as the Los Angeles Dodgers, have all already secured their place, and now the Milwaukee Brewers will probably compete for the position in the wild-card slot within the National League, four players will have to make a choice. The weight of this decision is resting on the shoulders of Max Fried, Ryan Braun, Alex Bergman and Joc Pederson.

National League Wild-Card Game

The wild-card slot game is set to take place on 1 October, which is still Rosh Hashanah and this is a problem for Braun. The Milwaukee Brewers will most probably be involved in this game and Braun, the son of an Israeli born Jew, will have to make a decision. This might not be the only decision which Braun would have to make. In the case scenario of the Brewers advancing, then the Division Series is set to be played on the 8th and 9th of October.

8 October is the arrival of Yom Kippur as signalled with the Kol Nidre prayers, and the 9th is a mandated rest day for Jews. This would also leave Pederson, Fried and Bergman with some serious decisions to make.

Fried might still be able to get away without any severe choices since he only plays every fifth day. The Los Angeles roster leave some flexibility for Pederson too. Bergman is, however, standing in the position of being a strong contender for this year’s full-season honour of the American League. His team needs him and relies on him, yet he is very connected with his heritage. Bergman’s great-grandfather, Samuel, managed to escape the anti-Jewish massacres when he was 11 years old in Russia.