NOTE #1: This is not a sponsored blog post. Jason just really likes baseball and Jewish community life, and is therefore extremely excited to share the many Jewish baseball festivities happening this summer.
NOTE #2: Jason is also getting married this WEEKEND! If you want to wish him and his bride Carly a Mazel Tov, email us at email@example.com , and we’ll relay the message.
For the first time in nearly 50 years, DC hosted the Major League Baseball’s (MLB) All-Star Game. Our hometown fan favorite, Bryce Harper, won the Homerun Derby and represented the National League, along with his Nationals’ teammates Max Scherzer and Sean Doolittle. As a huge baseball fan, this was a very exciting day for me.
Alex Bregman, the first time All-Star third baseman from the Houston Astros, was named the game’s “Most Valuable Player”. Bregman hit a homerun in extra innings and clinched the game for the American League. Also, Bregman happens to be both Jewish AND has some DC roots! According to ESPN, Bregman’s grandfather used to serve as the Washington Senators’ general counsel. The baseball playing Senators left DC in 1972 (those playing the game of politics still remain).
The Nationals, and their Jewish owners – the Lerner Family – should be proud of the job that they did in hosting the All Star-Game game this year. DC should be proud of the work done by MLB and the Nationals in showcasing our vibrant city to the world as a baseball town. From the Fan Festival at the Washington Convention Center to baseball related activities at The Wharf, DC demonstrated that we are far more than just a political town.
A few Jewish groups leveraged the excitement around the All-Star Game to host some amazing events for baseball fans across DC’s Jewish community – all for good causes.
One such event was The JNFuture (the young professional arm of The Jewish National Fund) Happy Hour & Watch Party near Nationals Park during the MLB All-Star Home Run Derby. This Watch Party raised awareness around JNF’s “Project Baseball” Initiative. According to JNFuture DC Chair Ben Goodman, this initiative is focused on “growing America’s national pastime to Israel by building state-of-the-art baseball and softball fields, and teaching [Israeli] children the game through Little Leagues, camps, clinics, and more.”
B’nai B’rith International organized a tour of the Japan Information & Culture Center (JICC) whose current exhibit happens to be, “A New League: Shared Pastimes and the Story of U.S.-Japan Baseball.” The exhibit is a joint effort of the JICC, The Embassy of Japan, together with The Gordon W. Prange Collection, University of Maryland Libraries, and Japanese baseball specialist, Adam Berenbak. Berenbak led the tour for the B’nai B’rith group of the exhibit, which will be on display until August 10th.
I’m personally very happy to report that, even though the All-Star Game has come and gone, the Jewish baseball festivities are just getting started. On Sunday, August 19th, The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington will be hosting Grand Slam Sunday, an annual Jewish community celebration at Nationals Stadium. This is a day when more than 1,500 Jewish community members come out to the ballgame to celebrate our city’s love of America’s favorite pastime, and cheer on our home team.
Access to the ballpark on this Jewish community day will begin two hours before game time at 11:35 am. Before the first pitch, fans can enjoy food from Signature Caterers, family-friendly activities, games, giveaways, and even a free Nationals hat if you buy your tickets with Federation. Young adults are invited to gather at The Bullpen ahead of the game for a drinks and fun.
One of the groups partnering with Federation for this day at the ballpark is Israel Bonds New Leadership – a group that I volunteer for in my free time. Israel Bonds New Leadership Washington division will offer access to party suites for young professional who invest in Israel by buying a bond at their 8th Annual Israel Bonds Day at the Ballpark. They’ll be providing a kosher lunch and drinks in their suites, but they’re nearly sold out, so get your ticket now if you’re interested.
As a Nationals season ticket holder who just had the chance to attend my first MLB All-Star Game, it’s been great to see, first-hand, how DC is becoming a baseball city. Even more so, as a Jewish young professional, seeing how our home team has helped to support our Jewish community is truly incredible.
I hope to see you at the Jewish community day at Nats Park on August 19th! And as an aside, big thanks to the Lerner Family for not trading Bryce Harper this week!!! It would have been quite a “shonda” (a shame) for the Nats future.
About the Author: Jason Langsner is a part of our “Gather the Bloggers” cohort of talented writers who share their thoughts and insights about DC Jewish life with you. Jason has been an active lay leader of the Washington Jewish community since moving to the city in 2004, and volunteers for several Jewish organizations including B’nai Brith International. He is a small business owner and formerly served as the head of digital strategy for the oldest Jewish human rights and humanitarian organization in the world. When not blogging, he can often be found walking around his Eastern Market neighborhood, or riding around DC area bike trails.