By Steve Schauder, JFS Executive Director
When I lived in Jerusalem in the late 1990s, I used to trudge out to Kibbutz Gezer by public bus to play baseball with a ragtag group of olim and American expats. I remember people on the bus staring at my glove, often asking what it was used for (Israelis, as we know, have no qualm striking up a conversation with anyone at any time) and I explained that it was used for baseball.
“Where is there baseball in Israel?” I’d be asked and inform them that there was a field at Kibbutz Gezer. While the field today is a full regulation field for the Israel Baseball League and hosts two Israeli baseball teams—the Modi'in Miracle and the Bet Shemesh Blue Sox—back then, I remember that as I ran to catch a fly ball hit to me in left field, I needed to pay as much attention to the ground to avoid tripping over the ancient rocks dotting the field as I did to the sky to keep track of the ball coming in my direction. I often imagined that one of King Solomon’s soldiers might have tripped over the same rock when they conquered the city in the 10th century BCE.
When JFS Board member, Dr. Jordan Klein, was approached by leading community member, Dan Schwab to explore if JFS was interested in sponsoring a game featuring the Israel National Baseball Team (Team Israel), we jumped at the opportunity.
As vaccinations have begun to allow us to start returning to normal life, we wanted to be part of a once-in-a-lifetime event that celebrates community and Israel. I say “once-in-a-lifetime event” because this is the first team to represent Israel in the Olympics since they fielded a soccer team in 1976 and with only six teams playing, this Israeli team has a legitimate chance to win the gold medal in Tokyo.
The event, titled “Striking Out COVID: A Family Celebration,” takes place on Friday, July 16, 2021 at 10am at FNB Field. JFS is using this event to celebrate those first responders who put the needs of others above their own during the Covid crisis and we wanted to let more people know about the important work that JFS did during the crisis and on a day-to-day basis. Some highlights regarding our work at JFS this year include:
- Our Finkelstein – Cohen Kosher Meals on Wheels program did not miss one day of food delivery during the COVID crisis, and we will end the year delivering over 5,500 meals to local homebound seniors.
- JFS will be providing more than $25,000 in emergency financial assistance to over 120 clients—helping local community members stay in their homes and employed during one of the most challenging economic times in recent history.
- We were visiting our foster care and adoption families throughout the Covid crisis, working with 70 families to help local children find forever families.
- We will end the year providing 3,200 client sessions for children, teens, families, adults, and seniors in our Mental Health Counseling programs.
- JFS is now working to feed 20-30 families a week and has gone from distributing 40 lbs. of food per month through our Food Pantry to providing 800 lbs. of food per month to community members in need.
To learn more about the event, and to purchase tickets (if you are reading this prior to the game), visit www.jfsofhbg.org.
You can also feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions before or after the event, by calling me at 717-233-1681 X3006 or emailing me at email@example.com
Let’s enjoy the summer and let’s play ball!