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Jews in Baseball

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 info@gatherdc.org , and we’ll relay the message.

 

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Nationals Park ahead of the 2018 MLB All-Star Game

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.”

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JNFuture Happy Hour & Home Run Derby Watch Party

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.

Federation is selling tickets here, and is working with other Jewish community groups and synagogues so you can buy tickets to sit with a specific group – including GatherDC.

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.

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B’nai B’rith Young Leadership Network-DC volunteers join B’nai B’rith staff, guests from the Embassy of Japan in Washington, D.C., and Adam Berenbak at the JICC in downtown DC.

 

 

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.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Meet Alissa: Jewish Sports Fan of the Week!

Want to nominate your amazing Jewish friend to be featured with GatherDC? Send his/her name, brief blurb, and contact info to info@gatherdc.org.

German opera singing. Indigenous language preservation. Aaron Judge wedding fantasies. Alissa Platz is one unique lady. Get to know her in this exclusive interview!

Allie: How did you wind up in DC?

Alissa: I’m from central New Jersey, went to college at American University and have been here ever since.

Allie: I hear you work at AJC. What motivated you to become a Jewish professional?

Alissa: Growing up, I was the only Jewish person of my friend group, so Judaism took a back seat. But, my mom always instilled in me that it was important to be proud of my Judaism. I associate the Jewish community with positive childhood memories, and I love the values of being Jewish, like tikkun olam (repairing the world) and tzedakah (charity).

When I went to college, I really tried to get involved in the Jewish community in as many ways as I could. My Hillel director once said to me, “Why don’t you consider being a Jewish professional? You could make a great impact.” So, when I was looking at jobs, I looked in both International Relations (my major) and Jewish professional jobs – and landed at Sixth & I [and later went to AJC].

Allie: What do you do at AJC?

Alissa: I manage the young professional division at AJC called ACCESS, which empowers millennials to advocate for the values of AJC. On May 22nd, we are having a Young Diplomat Reception at Social Tables. This is one of our signature events that brings members of the Jewish young professional community together for a night of conversation around a specific theme. This year, the theme is sports and diplomacy. I’m personally a really big sports fan, so I’m excited to use a lot of sports puns in my Facebook posts [to promote this event].

Allie: What are your favorite sports?

Alissa: I’m a really big Yankees fan, and I love the Chile National Futbol team. I love watching sports in general, and am really excited to watch the World Cup this summer. I’m also a big Nationals fan. I love Mark Teixeira, Rhett Gardner, Derek Jeter is a classic, and Aaron Judge is my future husband.

Allie: Do you play any sports yourself?

Alissa: I’m in a rec softball league with DC Fray, we play each week next to the Washington Monument which is really beautiful. We haven’t won a game yet, but we’re working on it.

Allie: If you could be amazing at any sport what would it be?

Alissa: Baseball. But, that would require me being a lot taller than I am. I’d want to be catcher because you have to know what’s going on and strategize with the pitcher.

Allie: Where did your love of baseball come from?

Alissa: In middle school, my teacher always talked about the Yankees, and I wanted to be a part of the conversation. So, I started watching Yankees games with my dad every night. My dad turned 65 last year, and I took him to a baseball game and surprised him with his own personalized jersey.

Allie: What are you most excited about summertime?

Alissa: Warm weather, the heart of baseball season, and going to Italy with my friends! We’re going to go to Venice, Florence, and the Alps.

Allie: What’s your favorite smell and why?

Alissa: Freshly cut grass, I love warm weather and that smell signals to me that warm weather is coming.

Allie: What is something people might be surprised to find out about you?

Alissa: I love singing opera style –  in German.

Allie: Is there a quote that inspires you?

Alissa: Ellen Degeneres, who is a phenomenal human being, and the voice of Dory, says to “be kind to one another.” Today, politics can be pretty divisive, people are segregating themselves based on their political beliefs, and a lot of nasty things are being said by our elected officials – and we should all try to be kinder.

Allie: What’s your favorite way to spend free time in the city?

Alissa: I love being outside in nature. I love Rock Creek Park, the National Mall, and still have on my bucket list to go to Great Falls and Shenandoah. DC always has new festivals or activities happening, and I like to check the events section of Facebook or GatherDC’s calendar and see what’s coming up.

Allie: If you could be anything (besides an awesome Jewish community professional) what would you want to be?

Alissa: I’d want to live in an indigenous community in Latin America studying indigenous languages, and how to preserve them.

Allie: What do you find funny?

Alissa: A combination of 6-year old boy humor, SNL, and observational humor. I love John Mulaney, and also really love a good pun. I feel like an old soul trapped in a 24 year old’s body.

Allie: Complete the sentence: When Jews of DC Gather…

Alissa: We play Jewish Geography.

 

The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Nationals' Jewish Community Day. Get your tickets now

Come join hundred of other Jews from the DC area to watch the Nationals (now 44-43) take on the Colorado Rockies!

The Washington Nationals baseball team and Empire Kosher Foods are partnering up to bring you Jewish Community Day, a great outdoor event filled with food and fun!

The $35 community day ticket packages include:
-Game ticket
-Empire Kosher food sampling
-Special JCD T-shirt
-$10 concession ticket

To buy your tickets, go to:  http://nationals.com/jcd

Visit the event’s Facebook page to see who else is going:  http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=118336834922182&notif_t=event_admin

WHEN: July 10. Game time is 1:35 p.m. but be sure to come early to hear Jewish music and sample fine kosher food

WHERE: Nationals Park, 1500 South Capitol Street, SE. (Closest metro station: Navy Yard station, on the Green Line.)

 

Hope to see you there.  Go Nats!