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October 20, 1989 - Image 52

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-10-20

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52

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 20, 1989

f the idea of the first Bay
Area World Series isn't
enough to spur regional
rivalries, consider this: The
owners of the San Francisco
Giants and the Oakland
Athletics both belong to the
same San Francisco
synagogue.
Bob Lurie, whose Giants
are facing off against the
A's, is a fellow congregant at
Temple Emanu-El with the
man who owns the A's:
Walter Haas Jr. and his son
Wally, chief operating offi-
cer of the A's.
It's enough to make a
rabbi kvell with pride. Or
weep.
"You wouldn't believe
some of the questions I've
been getting since both
teams became division
champions," said Emanu-
El's senior rabbi, Robert
Kirschner.
You think King Solomon
was put on the spot when he
had to make his famous
decision over who was the
real mother of a baby? For
the biblical monarch, the
solution was relatively sim-
ple.
"Divide it!" he said with
characteristic sagacity — a
tactic that brought the in-
fant's real mother forward in
a plea for mercy.
Kirschner should have it
so easy. "Rabbi," a con-
gregant approached him re-
cently with a query, "what
kind of brochah do you say
for both teams? Who do you
want to win?"
Said Kirschner, preferring
not to bring deity into the
equation and assuming his
most Solomonic, and diplo-
matic, pose: "I'm rooting for
a tie."
That may be all very well
and good, but as a tie in a
best-of-seven game Series
would be nothing short of a
miracle, the pressures for
rabbinic backing for one
team or the other are sure to
mount.
The Giants, after all, are a
San Francisco team, and
Emanu-El is a San Francisco
legend — albeit a bit older,
having been founded in
1850. To be sure, some
Giants fans probably feel it
has been almost as long

Winston Pickett writes for
the Northern California
Jewish Bulletin.

Norm Sherry

since their team went into a
World Series — 27 years, to
be exact.
Emanu-El's assistant
rabbi, Mark Schiftan, a San
Francisco native, is feeling
the strain. But he is
resisting the sentimental
tug that underdog status is
making at his heartstrings.
Even at a recent
synagogue meeting, Schif-
tan couldn't help thinking
baseball. While discussing
whether the congregation
should change the colors of
its rabbinic robes as part of
the current massive
synagogue renovation, he
considered how the team
colors might wear in the
synagogue.
"For the time being," he
joked, "they'll remain
black."
Still, he admits, the addi-
tion of the Giants' orange
hue to that most basic of
colors might just be an in-
spiration. The only trouble,
he says, is "we'd have to con-
template reworking the
color scheme of the sanc-
tuary in [the A's colors of]
green and yellow."
Emanu-El's spiritual
leaders aren't the only ones
weighing-in with a posture
of neutrality. Indeed, said
Rabbi Brian Lurie — no rela-
tionship to the Giants' Lurie
— sometimes you have to in-
voke a higher authority
rather than take sides.
"There's a rabbinic princi-
ple that says when there are
compelling arguments on
both sides of an argument,
the only alternative is to
wait for the Messiah to come
to render a decision," said
Lurie, who was an assistant
rabbi at Emanu-El before

becoming executive director
of the San Francisco-based
Jewish Community Federa-
tion.
In other words, when it
comes to kavod, or honor,
there are no favorites. Both
the Haas and Lurie families
are longstanding members
of Emanu-El. The synagogue
lists Bob Lurie as having
joined in 1956. Walter Haas
Jr. is listed as pre-1945, a
notation that 'hides volumes:
The Haas family's in-
volvement reaches back to
the Gold Rush days, the
creation of Levi-Strauss
Company and the founding
of the synagogue 140 years
ago.
Both are heavily com-
mitted philanthropists
within San Francisco's
Jewish and general com-
munities. So for Jewish fans
in the Bay Area, the feeling
is one less of competition
than the sense that the first
Bay Area World Series may
be a little slice of heaven on
earth.
And for those interested in

When Rabbi
Kirschner was
asked which team
he was rooting for,
he assumed his
most Solomonic,
and diplomatic
pose; and
answered: "I'm
rooting for a tie."

playing a Jewish Who's
Who, Lurie and Haas aren't
the only Bay Area Jews of
note involved in this World
Series.
Barry Weinberg of the A's,
who may be the only Jewish
head athletic trainer in the
major leagues, is a member
of Temple Israel in Alameda.
So is Andy Dolich, vice pres-
ident of business operations
for the A's.
On the other side of the
bay, Al Rosen, the Giants
general manager, is Jewish,
as are Norm Sherry, Giants
pitching coach, and Corey
Busch, the team's executive
vice president.
Meanwhile, for all their
efforts at neutrality, Rabbis
Schiftan and Kirschner may
find it difficult to resist offi-
cially taking sides, even if it
is only to cancel each other
out.
But having just emerged

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