Keeping Yom Kippur

Today is Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement, and as a result of that fact I spent some time this morning weighing whether to skip out of work today. This, even though I am more or less entirely nonreligious, and don't believe in any sort of god, and feel antsy and uncomfortable whenever I am near prayer, and feel, contrarily to the popular portrayal of these activities, more guilty about attending religious services than I do about not attending them.

So it was sort of a consolation to read Greg's defense of working on Yom Kippur. Hank Greenberg, the 30s-era baseball player who became famous for refusing to play on Yom Kippur, apparently has a granddaughter named Melanie. And Melanie thinks that all Jewish baseball players should sit out playing today, as a show of solidarity. Greg, meanwhile, thinks that idea is not only offensive, but destructive:

I would argue, in fact, that sitting out games today when you’re not even religious could actually forward an anti-Semitic idea — that is, that Jews always remain a people apart. Being a regular player, though, does just the opposite.

But maybe that’s because I think baseball is a force for good, and religion is, well…

Greenberg writes that while her grandfather “would not be met by the roar of the stadium crowd, he was greeted with thunderous applause and a standing ovation when he walked into temple.”

I know which one I’d choose.
I know which one I chose. Not that walking into work today involved any thunderous applause. That I was aware of. Or that was audible to the human ear.


Cunning_Linguist said...

yeah, because the mass egress of Jews in sports would just create another stock market crash. Call me crazy, but the last time I heard of a Moishe or Saul on the NBA/NFL or MLB team was a little while ago.

illudote said...

I mean, it's not like a huge group, but MLB currently has a number of Jews, including Ian Kinsler, Kevin Youkilis, Jason Marquis, and Ryan Braun; the last 3 were all on playoff rosters this year.

For what it's worth, my aunt still swears that the reason the '86 Mets won the world series was that they were the only team to complain that MLB had scheduled a game on Yom Kippur. Despite not having any Jewish players on their roster, they felt it was unfair to their fans. The game on Yom Kippur was rained out, and while that was actually disadvantageous to the Mets (it gave the Astros an extra day to rest a better starter) the mets still won the series...

RW said...

I always feel compelled to say that it isn't "religion" that has been a negative influence on the world, but men using religion to justify their own shortcomings instead. I don't know why I feel a need to say that except I think that the idea of spirituality can be a useful one, and that it's what we, ourselves, have done with it that pretty much sucks ass.

xopjesse said...

How is stating that Jews are "a people apart" anti-semitic? Being a people apart is a cornerstone of the faith!

Also, there were no baseball games today so it was kind of a non-issue on that end.

Course, I'm at work right now so maybe I don't really have a leg to stand on here.

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