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“Jersey” Jews

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Thu, September 20, 2012

  “Jersey” Jews       by Rabbi Amy R. Perlin, D.D.

Shabbat Nitzvavim        9/14/12     Last Shabbat of 5772

(congregants were invited to wear their team’s jersey. I wore my Redskins RG III Jersey)


In an article entitled, “Football Jersey,” James J. Farrell, aka Dr. America, states, “During football season, many of America’s athletes don their pads and uniforms to play games for the honor of their schools and communities. But, it also means that even more Americans put on replica jerseys in order to watch.  What is the cultural function of these shirts?


It’s cool.  Everybody does it.


Bizarre that we don’t wear jerseys with our name and number, but with someone else’s name and number, because we are not the players, but the fans.


Why replica jerseys?  We could wear t-shirts or sweatshirts that say, “I am a ______fan,” or we could have Fan Jerseys. Instead of wearing our own apparel, we wear someone else’s.  Most specifically, the players from our team.  The replica jersey allows “a sense of identification and impersonation.”

--it is more serious and even more magical than we may realize. 






In an age where not too many things bring people together and everyone wants and strives to be an individual, GAME DAY brings out the WE in all of us.


And we can’t forget that a part of all of the sharing, is paying for the privilege to be a fan, to wear the jersey, and to be in the stands on game day.


Sunday night and Monday is Rosh Hashanah.

For the HH days, as much as we stand before God as individuals, we repent as a community.  We come to identify with our fellow Jews. We come as members of the Jewish team.  We come to show pride and to support our team in what is arguably the Super Bowl of our Jewish year. 


The High Holy days are our Jewish game days.  We pay to play, but more importantly we pray to play. 

I pray for you and you pray for me.  Some of us are God fans and others are Torah fans. Some are Jewish family fans and others are history and tradition fans. 


Just as some of us sing Hail to the Redskins or whatever other song you may sing for your team, so irrelevant to me and mine, we sing the songs that unite us and help us feel the WE part of connecting to our faith community. 


On the High Holy days, we are “Jersey” Jews.  We wear one name on our backs and that is Jew, or for some “I love a Jew” and that unites us in this sacred stadium we call a sanctuary, on our holiest days of the year.


I am so thankful to be a member of your team and to have you on mine.  Let us share our pride this New Year, as WE support one another and keep Judaism alive and thriving.   Shabbat Shalom.


Inspired by an article by James J. Farrell in The Clergy Journal, October 2008

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