Arsonists attempted to burn down our synagogue but failed to understand the power of miracles. The attempt was claimed to be the biggest anti-semitic attack in 25 years. Our synagogue was one of three attacked. The communal response was, however, immediate and miraculous! Over 300 clergymen gathered in support of the Jewish community; a gathering least expected! Contributions poured in from all over the country. The community was able to rebuild, foiling the arsonists plan and dismissing the opinion that this country harbors anti-semitic sentiment.
One of the organizations that helped us was the Oakland A's Major League ball club. They pronounced a "Jewish Community Night" and invited the three synagogue communities to come to a game at severely discounted prices to raise money for the rebuilding of the synagogues. The three rabbis of the shuls were invited to an opening game ceremony to throw out the first pitch. I had the opportunity to be out at the mound, and be introduced to some of the players. Although I did not throw out the first pitch, our Hazan sang the Star Spangle Banner! After the first ceremonial pitch, the other two rabbis made themselves available to the press, I made my way to the A's dugout where I spied former all-star pitcher, Vida Blue doing an ESPN radio interview.
[Blue was a left-handed fastball pitcher when I was in High School. I recognized him immediately, since I also had the pleasure of meeting him at his home in Oakland with my High School typing teacher who was from the same home town. My teacher asked me one day if I wanted to meet Vida Blue and I could not refuse!]
After the interview, I introduced myself as one of the rabbis whose synagogue was arsoned, reminded him of our meeting many years ago with my typing teacher, and asked Mr. Blue if I could leave him with thought! He said, "sure Rabbi!, I'am pleased to make your acquaintance again!"
I said the following, "One need not be religious to appreciate that Baseball is the only sport that teaches miracles happen! Because it does not matter how far behind a team might be trailing, one may always come back and win! Without a clock, there is no time limit in Baseball! Like life it self, a game runs its course. Yet, when one least expects it, however, the fate of the game can change at any moment just like a Miracle happens with the blink of an eye! We don't rely on Miracles to happen everyday- a life runs its' course, but a true ballplayer understands and believes that they happen! Miracles happen in baseball!"
Vida Blue gave me a great big smile, saying "Rabbi! Thank You! I am going to use that in my next speech! (but I'm not goin' to quote you!)"- he said with big jovial laugh and a two handed handshake! I responded, "you don't have to quote me! What I said is self-evident!"
I turned from the former fireballer, and saw the manager, Art Howe and I immediately approached him, introducing myself and recounted the same thought about baseball. I evoked a giant smile and also a two handed handshake from him.
I returned to the stands and enjoyed a classic "come from behind, 'miracle' A's victory!" As I exited the stadium, I commented to my wife that "I bet the manager and Vida Blue remember that diminutive rabbi based on what actually happened tonight!..."