Tonight, Coach Marc Trestman faces his first test as he sends his players to face the rival Green Bay Packers
Head Coach Marc Trestman of the Chicago Bears watches warm-ups before a game against the San Diego Chargers at Soldier Field on Aug. 15, 2013, in Chicago. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
I wish it weren’t true, but the one piece of relevant rabbinical wisdom ever dispensed my way was from a rabbi trying to get me to join his study group. When I told him that I couldn’t make it because I had tickets to see the Chicago Bears play, he forced a smile, let out a sigh, and said something that has since become not just my excuse to continue rooting for sports teams from my hometown, but also my mantra when the season ends: “Being a Chicago fan and being a Jew have a lot in common: You wait and you wait, and there’s a lot of suffering.”
Even thought I didn’t—and still don’t—want to admit he was right, it’s the truth. There was Michael Jordan’s Bulls, or the Blackhawks’ bids for greatness after decades coming up short, but then there are the Cubs: 100-plus years of wandering in the desert, searching for that elusive World Series championship, making them easily the saddest franchise in American sports. Yet I still find myself cheering for the Cubs long hot summer after long hot summer. Mine is a thankless faith, one that I’m told should finally pay off now that the team has hired former Red Sox Jewish wunderkind Theo Epstein to help do for Chicago what he did for Boston. They say Epstein could get us to the World Series, but I’m skeptical, and I have history on my side.
I tend to give up hope on the Cubs by the middle of the season, but with Chicago’s football team, the Bears, who usually play through the city’s hellishly cold winter, I try and hold out hope a little longer. And after more than 25 years of using the same formula of a powerhouse defense in their fruitless bid to re-capture the lightning in a bottle responsible for their 1985 Super Bowl win—with what football fans consider one of the, if not the, best single season team in the history of the sport—the Bears are finally taking some risks.
During the recent off-season, the Chicago Bears fired their coach since 2006, Lovie Smith, and hired Marc Trestman: formerly the Canadian Football League Championship-winning head coach of the Montreal Alouettes; NFL experience relegated to a short stint as an offensive coordinator; quarterback coach for several teams; and gifted with the ability to shape young sportsmen, earning him a reputation as something of a guru. And now, the guy I am going to place all my Super Bowl hopes and dreams on.
“The Rabbi!” a burly guy in a Walter Payton #34 jersey stood up and yelled as Trestman took the field as the Bears’ head coach for his first game, against the Cincinnati Bengals, on Sept. 8. I wasn’t watching from anywhere near Soldier Field; instead, I was at Canal Bar in Brooklyn, the weekly meeting place for Windy City expats like myself and the big guy chugging his afternoon High Life and screaming at the television. Against my better judgment, I decided to ask him where that nickname for the new coach came from.
“Because he’s Jewish,” he said, without looking at me, waving his hand in hopes of catching the swamped bartender’s eye.
Trestman is the rare Jewish football coach in a sport that hasn’t always elicited the same connection for American Jews that baseball has. He grew up in St. Louis Park, the same Minneapolis suburb that has, somewhat inexplicably, spawned a number of talented Jews, including the filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen, the former comedian and now Sen. Al Franken, and New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. Trestman was the Bears’ coach, therefore he was my coach; but he was also my people, which is something I honestly never thought I’d hear myself say.
We used to joke in my family that we were Jewish Chicago Bears fans. Getting ready for a Sunday game was more of a tradition than cleaning the house before Passover or making challah for Shabbat, and preparation for any given Bears game called for plenty of food and pre-game prayers that the team could deliver us to victory. Our devotion was thanks in large part to a player who helped revolutionize not only the quarterback position, but also the game itself: Sid Luckman, a Columbia-educated kid from Brooklyn who played during the Bears’ glory days of the 1940s, when they won four NFL championships.
Chicagoans whose ancestors saw Luckman play still regard the Bears as the city’s “Jewish team.” There have been others since—for the past two seasons, the Bears had offensive tackle “Bear Jew” Gabe Carimi before trading him to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this past July, and there was the forgettable tenure of Rex Grossman who, thankfully, only had a name like a Jew, but in fact, wasn’t. But because Bears founder George Halas, in all his football wisdom, decided to take a chance on making Luckman the centerpiece of his team in 1939, it was the Bears—not the Cubs, the Bulls, the Blackhawks, or the White Sox on the South Side—who gave Chicago its greatest Jewish sports hero.
(Photo: Aish.com / YouTube)
Despite advances in modern medicine, China is setting up roadblocks to cope with an outbreak of an ancient plague that once wiped out one-third of the world’s population and may have been one of the plagues that God used to strike Egypt.
Chinese officials installed temperature scanners at airports and checkpoints on main roads in an attempt to stop the spread of Bubonic plague as a fourth case was discovered in less than three weeks. A program to exterminate rats and fleas, which carry the disease, was also launched in Inner Mongolia where the disease seems to be originating.
Demonstrators gather in solidarity with anti-regime protests in Iran outside the Iranian Embassy in Helsinki, Finland. Photo: Reuters / Lehtikuva / Heikki Saukkomaa.
Four human rights lawyers currently imprisoned by the Iranian regime have been awarded with the annual prize of Europe’s most prestigious lawyers’ association.
The Iranian lawyers received the 2019 Human Rights Award from The Council of Bars and Law Societies Of Europe (CCBE) — a body that represents the bars and law societies of 45 countries and through them more than 1 million European lawyers.
The University of Bristol campus. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.
The University of Bristol in England has adopted “in full” the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, the school’s Epigram independent student newspaper reported on Monday.
The Union of Jewish Students (UJS) and Bristol’s Jewish Society (J-Soc) welcomed the move, saying, “The University of Bristol has not been free of antisemitic incidents and the adoption of this definition is an important first step in helping the university tackle anti-Jewish racism. We now expect the university to use this definition in outstanding disciplinary cases.”
Pope Francis Meets Thailand’s Buddhist Patriarch in Golden Temple (screenshot)
Pope Francis topped off his three-day visit to Thailand last Saturday with a meeting with Thailand’s supreme Buddhist patriarch Somdej Phra Maha Muneewong at Bangkok’s Ratchabophit Temple. The meeting took place in front of a 150-year-old gold statue of Buddha. The Pope followed Buddhist custom by removing his shoes.
During the meeting, the Pope gave the Buddhist Patriarch the Declaration on Human Brotherhood. The Declaration s a joint statement signed by Pope Francis of the Catholic Church and Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, last February in Abu Dhabi. The Pope met with the Imam last month to reinforce the Declaration.
An Israeli company says it is using space travel technology to help solve one of the most pressing problems down on Earth — the reliance on diesel fuel, a major source of pollution.
Israeli startup GenCell has developed an electric generator based on a hydrogen-energy technology used to power some of the most-famous space missions in history.
Dec 26, 2019 0by Algemeiner Staff The synagogue in Groningen, Holland. Photo: Tenar80 via Wikicommons. In what may be paradigmatic of Jewish life in Europe today, a synagogue in Holland essentially runs itself as...
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The verse (Deuteronomy 6:4) Shema Yisrael – “Hear Oh Israel the Lord our God, the Lord is One” – is understood to (in Wikipedia’s words) “encapsulate the monotheistic essence of Judaism.” It’s understood to be a declaration not only there is one and only one God, but also that God’s oneness is all-inclusive. God includes every particle of existence is within Him. God is not just ruling over the world. God encompasses the world. Time and space and all of us are within God. Nothing stands outside of God’s Oneness, and God encompasses all existence equally
Watching events unfold in Israel is an experience in split-screen living. On the right side of the screen is the chaos outside our gates, in neighboring lands. And on the left side of the screen is the chaos inside.
On the left side of the screen on Tuesday, 15,000 Israelis gathered Tuesday evening outside the Tel Aviv Museum of Art to demand legal justice for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the face of what they view as an anti-democratic usurpation of political power by Israel’s legal fraternity.
It hard to believe that two weeks ago, Israel was on the brink of war. With the Palestinian Islamic Jihad firing nearly 500 missiles from Gaza into Israel within a 48-hour period, even Tel Aviv was put on alert and certain train routes were canceled. My mind immediately raced to a Christian group I was going to host for Shabbat in Jerusalem Israel – Pastor Leroy Armstrong of Proclaiming the Word Ministries.
Turkey’s little remarked on but ongoing mistreatment of historic churches is increasingly reflective of that nation’s growing sense of Islamic supremacism.
Before the Turks invaded it, Anatolia (present day Turkey) was an ancient Christian region; a large chunk of St. Paul’s epistles were sent to or dealt with its churches, including the seven of the Apocalypse. With the Turks’ conquest, colonization, and subsequent Turkification of Anatolia—hence why it’s now simply called “Turkey”—tens of thousands of churches were systematically desecrated and turned into victory mosques.
Sorek was the grandson of a Rabbi who survived the Holocaust, and was universally described as a kind, gentle soul. His funeral was interrupted by Palestinians shooting off fireworks celebrating his murder.
Two terrorists, including one affiliated with Hamas were arrested for the murder. And at the time, Hamas said in a statement, “We salute the hero fighters, sons of our people, who carried out the heroic operation which killed a soldier of the occupation army,” Hamas said in a statement. The Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad also hailed the killing as “heroic and bold.”