THE JEWISH ROYALS
Like the rest of Kansas City, I rooted for the Royals. They played magnificent baseball and gave us true community pride. Although they didn’t win the World Series, we are proud of our team and what they accomplished.
In addition, they taught us three important Jewish lessons.
Lesson #1: Power comes from the spirit.
The Royals were the “small” team. With one of the smallest payrolls. With one of the smallest media markets. With a record that barely squeaked us into a Wild Card game. Yet, what we saw in the subsequent Pennant race and World Series was a team with heart and spirit. Just recall those incredible outfield catches. Recall Salvador Perez’s determination to continue in Game 7, after being hit by a ball just above his knee.
In a month and a half, we will celebrate Chanukah. It is the story of a small group of Jewish believers, willing to fight the largest army of the day. They weren’t the strongest. They weren’t the richest. They weren’t the most numerous. But they had spirit. As we learn in Zechariah 6:4 (and made more memorable by Debbie Friendman), “not by might nor by power, but by spirit alone…” This is the story of the founding of the State of Israel. It is the Jewish story. With heart, all things are possible.
Lesson #2: It takes everyone to build community.
It has been incredible watching the Royals…not just post-season but all year…and all the years before. They have worked hard. They have – especially in the last two years – been a team – working together to achieve success. Are there individual heroes on the team? Of course! But that is not how the 2014 Kansas City Royals will be remembered. They will be celebrated for being a team.
In Judaism, the classic definition is, “You can be a Jew on a deserted island. But you can’t be Jewish.” For that, it takes community. We are a disparate group of individuals in our congregation and in our community. But we are one – as the old UJA campaign urged! While we are a small group, when we band together, there is so much we can accomplish. We contributed over THREE TONS of food to Harvesters and over 100 BAGS of groceries to our JFS Food Pantry. That is what a community can accomplish!
Lesson #3: It is always good to play at home.
The Royals won 5 of their 7 post-season home games. There was something special watching them play at Kauffman Stadium. Perhaps they were more comfortable at home. Perhaps it was the home crowd – 40,000 Royals fans – cheering them on. Whatever it was…it was magical.
I had a conversation with a woman in the congregation who hadn’t been to services in about 4 months, due to illness. After coming to Erev Shabbat services, she said – with tears in her eyes – “It’s good to be home. Sitting here tonight, I knew I was safe. I knew I was loved. I knew that I belong.” Isn’t that what B’nai Jehudah is supposed to be…and what we strive to be? A place to call home. A place where we can be the best (Jewish) souls we can be.
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The Royals did not win the World Series. However, they are winners nonetheless. They displayed great spirit. They taught us about community. And they valued home.
Those are our lessons.
And just as we look forward to next season, we carry the lessons we learned forward. May we be as passionate practicing what we have learned as we have been as they were being taught to us. Thank you, Kansas City Royals!