Counting the H(omer) One Jewish Athlete at a time
You shall count for yourselves — from the day after the Shabbat, from the day when you bring the Omer of the waving — seven Shabbats, they shall be complete. Until the day after the seventh sabbath you shall count, fifty days… -Leviticus 23:15-16
In Jewish practice, we count each night from the second night of Passover until Shavuot, with Shavuot beginning on the 50th night. (Learn how to count the homer here )
One tradition states that we should live each day of the omer to its fullest- never bringing in a new day until nightfall is upon us. On an even greater level, we are told to say “today/yesterday was the 16th day” as opposed to looking ahead by stating “tonight begins the 17th day.” A few days ago, I got the idea to introduce the Omer using sports stars jersey numbers. I let the congregation know that yesterday was Michael Jordan, and tonight begins Kobe Bryant. Why stop there? Here’s a list of some of the greatest Jewish athletes based upon their jersey number. I focused mostly on the 3 major sports taking place at this time of year (baseball, basketball, hockey), though a few exceptions creeped into the list. Please note that some of the greatest Jewish players of all time did not make the list because they played before numbered uniforms existed. Some portions of the list will be updated over the coming weeks to include anecdotes and honorable “menschen”
1. Amare Stoudemire (basketball)
2. Red Auerbach (basketball)
Honorable Menschen: Shay Doron
3. Mel Hirsch (baseball)
Honorable Menschen:: Dick Sharon
4. Dolph Schayes (basketball)- factoid: when he retired from the NBA, Dolph was the all-time leading scorer with over 19k points
Honorable Menschen: Donna Orender , Nadav Henefeld
5. Hank Greenberg (baseball) – I’m curious if the honorable menschen picked #5 in honor of the great Hank Greenberg. Food for thought.
Honorable Menschen: Ian Kinsler, Lou Boudreau, Mike “Super Jew” Epstein, Jordan Farmar, Sam Fuld (on rays)
6. Sid Tannenbaum (basketball)- I may be biased since he went to my alma mater.
Honorable Menschen: Tal Brody
7. Al Rosen (baseball) one of the easiest picks to make.
Honorable Menschen: Steve Yeager
8. Ryan Braun (baseball)
Honorable Menschen: Lior Eliyahu
9. Ralph Kaplowitz– wore both #5 and #9 in his career
Honorable Menschen: Sue Bird, Max Zaslofsky
11. Larry Brown (basketball)
Honorable Menschen: Doron Shefer, Brad Ausmus
12. Ron Blomberg (baseball)
13. Michael Cammalleri (hockey)- our first hockey player on the list. I’ll pause here to recognize Coach Red Holzman, who has his jersey , corresponding to his number of wins as Knicks coach (613- the same as there are commandments) hanging from MSG. One could argue Holzman deserved either spot #6 or #13.
14. Sonny Hertzberg (baseball)
Honorable Menschen- Ernie Banks*- while note a Jew himself, Banks did call up my father in law on behalf of a congregant requesting that he chant a certain L’dor Vador tune. Sounds like an honorable mensch to me!
15. Shawn Green (baseball)
Honorable Menschen: Jeff Halpern (hockey)
16. Harry Boykoff (basketball)- wore the #16 Jersey in 1951.
Honorable Menschen- Red Holzman wore #16 for the Rochester Royals from ’49-’53.
17. David Newhan (baseball) This is by far the greatest stretch on the list. Newhan wore #17 in 2007 for the Mets, plus while he considers himself Jewish, he has accepted Jesus into his life….
18. Omri Casspi (basketball) – not that he’s undeserving, just surprising how few Jewish athletes wear #18.
19. Moe Berg (baseball/spying) While Berg had a few numbers on his back, he wore #19 for both the Indians and Red Sox (the only number he had on both teams).
Honorable Menschen: Danny Valencia
20. Kevin Youkilis (baseball)- he gets the nod for his defense.
Honorable Menschen: Joe Horlen, Sid Gordon
21. tie- Jason Marquis, Elliot Maddox (baseball)
22. Ernie Grunfeld (basketball)
Honorable Menschen: Tamir Goodman
23. Jesse Lavis
24 Art Shamsky (baseball)
Honorable Menschen: Ossie schectman, Amit Tamir, Mike Lieberthal
25. Art Heyman (basketball)
26. Danny Schayes – wore #24 for most of his career, but did wear #26 for the ’94 Lakers.
27. Sam Fuld (baseball)- when he broke out with the cubs, Fuld made #27 a fan favorite.
28. Richie Scheinblum (baseball)
Honorable Menschen: David Justice- though not a Jew, a great Jewish name!
29. Ike Davis (baseball)
Honorable Menschen: Dave Newmark (baseball)
30.Ken Holtzman (baseball)
Honorable Menschen: Jon Scheyer (basketball)
31. Bernie Fliegel (basketball)
Honorable Menschen- Scott Radinsky (baseball)
32. Sandy Koufax- ‘nough said.
Honorable, though distant menschen- Steve Stone, Cal Abrams
33. Gabe Kapler (baseball)
34. Norm Sherry (baseball)- personal MVP for Sandy Koufax as his catcher
35. Rudy Larusso (basketball)
36. Scott Schoenweis (baseball)- although he wears #60, did wear #36 briefly for the Mets
37. #73 Adam Goldberg (football)- Since most Jewish football players wore numbers higher than 50, the easiest place to put one is here at spot #37. I could not find history of a Jewish athlete adorning this number. Props to Adam Goldberg for being the lone football player on the list.
38. Adam Henrich (hockey)
39. Scott Feldman (baseball)
Honorable Menschen: Skip Jutze
40. Dave Roberts (baseball) – no not that Dave Roberts, the other Dave Roberts.
41. Neal Walk (basketball)
42. Dylan Reese (hockey)
43. John Grabow
44. Aaron Poreda (baseball)
Honorable Menschen: Rick Fox. JCC basketball camp represent!
45. Eddie Zosky (baseball)
46. Jacoby Ellsbury- though not a Jew, I did grow up on Aylesbury Rd. Therefore I shep naches for him
47. Steve Ratzer (baseball)
48. Jason Hirsh (baseball)
Honorable Menschen: The other Jose Bautista
49. Brian Horwitz
Stay tuned for a special Shavuot #50.