These are exciting days here in Baltimore! Its fall with an unexpected and long hoped for pennant race and the start of a new football season. Even those of us who don’t follow sports are aware.
We here in Baltimore are dedicated and enthusiastic fans. We root for our teams just as many of our parents and grandparents did. Families pass on cherished memories of big games, exciting wins, and disappointing loses. As fans, we engage. We wear our orange or purple. We form community with other fans and sports enthusiasts. We go to the games we can. We cheer. We yell. We second-guess.
In short, we’re loyal to our teams. Still upset over losing the Colts, many of you remember the Oriole’s past victories and embrace the Raven’s success almost like a religion. And that’s the point I want to make.
Judaism and the Jewish people need at least the same passionate loyalty and devotion we give to our sports teams. Loyalty to a team is fun. It’s entertaining. It’s a diversion. When they win, we feel good. When they lose, we’re frustrated. But win or lose, our lives go on unchanged. We’re just fans.
As Jews, however, we’re participants and teammates. We’re the ones on the field. Sports teams trade their players. They build the rosters they want in order to compete. We can’t do that. We who are Jews are the only roster players eligible. Each one of us is precious. We depend on each other because Judaism is not a spectator sport.
Consider your role on the roster of the Jewish people. What more can you do as a Jew? What else do you need to know or receive? What prevents your participation? Who can help you find your place?
The history of our people calls us. More than being Jewish, we have to suit up and get out there. We have to do Jewish in this New Year. We have to celebrate and debate. We have to participate and explore. We have to advocate and represent.
And just like when we go to M&T Bank Stadium or Oriole Park at Camden Yards, we have to bring our children and grandchildren with us as we do Jewish things, learn Jewish ideas and skills, and celebrate Jewish life in order to pass along our feelings of Jewish loyalty and the values of Jewish tradition.
We don’t sit passive at the ballpark. We cheer. Go Orioles! Go Ravens! Let’s not be passive Jews, either. Am Yisrael Hai! The Jewish people lives!