Thursday, September 13, 2007

Let's celebrate Rosh Hashanah

Today is Rosh Hashanah, or the Jewish new year. According to this handy chart Rosh Hashanah is the day when God begins deciding the humans' fate for the coming year. When I was growing up there were enough Jews in my school district that we would get Rosh Hashanah off, but not so many that I didn't feel like my gentile classmates should each thank me personally when the final bell rang the day before our mid-week September break.

But other than that I have no connection to Rosh Hashanah. At least for Yom Kippur I know that you are technically supposed to fast, and then there is the whole Hanukkah/Christmas thing, and, in my family, we actually do celebrate Passover -- although the success of our Seders is based solely on how quickly we can move through the religious obligations and get to the eating of normal food.

So, given this, I've always thought Rosh Hashanah was a good day to engage in the time-honored Jewish tradition of reflecting upon all the famous people you discovered were Jewish during the past year. But both Jews and anti-Semites agree that the Internet, and in particularly Wikipedia, has taken all the fun out of figuring out who is Jewish. (For example, here are all the famous Jews in America, listed by profession. It took me all of two seconds to find it.)

Still occasionally one slips by, and I'm a genuinely surprised to learn that a certain person is Jewish. This year it happened with the Milwaukee Brewers' slugging third baseman Ryan Braun. As a fantasy baseball participant I knew that Braun, the sure fire National League Rookie of the Year, has been putting up statistics second to only Alex Rodriguez in rotisserie effectiveness.

What I didn't know, until a couple weeks ago, was Braun, who is often likened to A-Rod talent-wise, is also Jewish.

And none of this half-Jewish stuff so many famous Jews -- especially the ones who pop up in the high profile entertainment fields -- are doing these days. In fact, just like everyone's favorite Jewess Natalie Portman, the only thing Braun mixes with his American Jewish blood is his Israeli Jewish blood.

Coincidentally Braun was the last name of number one famous baseball Jew Sandy Koufax before Koufax's mother remarried, and Ryan Braun's grandparents lived for 40 years in a home once owned by by number two famous baseball Jew Hank Greenberg.

So it looks like part of my fate in coming year will be adding Ryan Braun to the list -- already quite confusing and contradictory due to differing fantasy and reality loyalties -- of baseball players I will be pulling for in 5768.

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