June 28, 2012
By Misha Galperin
A few years ago I was in Israel with a group of JCC directors at a mifgash – an encounter – between us and Israeli volunteers at the Israel Forum, then headed by Avraham Infeld. I will never forget one of the leadership exercises they did with us. They asked us various questions to draw attention to our cultural differences despite our strong ethnic or religious similarities. One of the questions was to name a personal Jewish hero. Many of the Israelis put David Ben Gurion in the top seat, often followed by Menahem Begin or Yoni Netanyahu – the hero of Entebbe. Many of my American colleagues said Sandy Koufax.
Even not having been born in America but now residing in Brooklyn – Koufax’s hallowed ground, I am all for left-handed baseball players who get into the Baseball Hall of Fame (and he was the youngest person at the time to have been elected!). His decision not to pitch in game #1 of the 1965 World Series because it fell out on Yom Kippur is iconic in American Jewish history as an example of personal and professional conflicts being resolved along ethnic lines. His act was symbolic for a generation of American Jews who took pride both in his achievements and in his act of loyalty to his heritage. Read more