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.
A 2018 demonstration against antisemitism in Berlin. Photo: Reuters / Fabrizio Bensch.
A slight drop in the number of antisemitic incidents in Berlin during the first half of this year is no excuse for complacency, the city’s antisemitism commissioner emphasized on Thursday following the publication of statistics for hate crimes targeting Jews in the German capital from January-June 2019.
“Antisemitism remains a serious problem that we cannot tolerate in Berlin,” Lorenz Korgel — the city’s commissioner for combating antisemitism — told local news outlet Berliner Morgenpost. “The number of antisemitic incidents remains at a high level. ”
People wear kippas at a demonstration in front of a Jewish synagogue denouncing an antisemitic attack on a young man wearing a kippa, in Berlin, Germany, April 25, 2018. (photo credit: FABRIZIO BENSCH / REUTERS)
The population of the State of Israel has increased 2.1% since last year, according to a report released in time for Rosh Hashanah by the Central Bureau of Statistics.
Today, there are 9.1 million citizens of Israel, of which some 6.7 million (74%) are Jewish, the report shows. The country’s citizens also include 1.9 million Arabs (21%) and 0.4% of “others,” including Christians and those of other minority groups.
A women holds up a sign against anti-Semitism at a rally in New York City on Sept. 22, 2019. Photo: Rhonda Hodas Hack.
JNS.org – Hundreds of demonstrators rallied in front of City Hall in New York on Sunday, calling on New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and other municipal leaders, as well as those on the national level, to act against antisemitism and the wave of antisemitic hate crimes taking place against the Orthodox Jewish community.
The beach in Tel Aviv, Israel, May 17, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Ammar Awad.
On the eve of the holiday of Rosh Hashanah, ushering in the Jewish year of 5780, Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics released its traditional end-of-the-year findings.
Israel’s population now stands at 9.092 million people — 6.744 million (74.2 percent) of whom are Jews, with 1.907 million (21 percent) Arabs and 441,000 (4.8 percent) listed as “other.”
Drew Seigla and Stephanie Lynne Mason. Photo: Instagram.
Drew Seigla and Stephanie Lynne Mason play Pertshik and Hodl, whose love story takes them all the way to Siberia in the award-winning show by the National Yiddish Theatre.
Sep 30, 2019 0Jeremy Hunt, the British Foreign secretary, has recently commissioned a report on the persecution of Christians, most acutely occurring in the Muslim World, and especially in the Arab/Muslim...
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“There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.” — Sherlock Holmes, The Boscombe Valley Mystery
“Israel must, in the most blunt and clear way possible, illustrate to Washington that the prosperity of Jordan is a first-rate Israeli security and strategic interest.” — Former head of Mossad Ephraim Halevy at “Between Jerusalem and Amman: 25 Years Since the Signing of the Peace Agreement Between Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan,” Institute for National Security Studies, Sept. 25, 2019.
A thought came to mind the other day.
For all the bluster about Judaism and anti-Semitism in America, I am not convinced that far-out-left and liberal young Jews, who have been very strident and even threatening on Israel-related issues and local American political battles, have done much on the ground to confront and quash, one way or another, attacks on Jews. They have portrayed themselves as gliding along a moral highway but have permitted immoral actions to exist quite close to home, far from Gaza (did any of them recite a public Kaddish in the town square for murdered and injured Jews, or their damaged and desecrated property)?
One of the hallmark features of Yom Kippur are the communal sins which we need to repent for. Most Jews focus on what we have done personally towards G-d and towards others. Little thought is given to how we could be better as a community. Or the sins we bear as a community.
However, the communal recitation of the Al Chet, repeated over and over on Yom Kippur is to drive the point home that we are responsible for one another
Incoming freshman Member of Knesset from the leftist, Democratic Union list, Yair Golan, did it again. Golan’s constant delegitimization of his political opponents on the right, smacks of the same delegitimization that tyrants, dictators, demagogues and assorted totalitarians always use, just before the Putsch.
In that regard, he’s right when he said recently, “I’m reminding people that the Nazis came to power democratically, so we have to be careful, very careful, so that radicals with a messianic view won’t exploit Israeli democracy to replace the system of government.” Think “
As Israeli frustration mounts about violence coming out of Gaza, the idea of a ground invasion, and once and for all to finish with Hamas aggression, becomes more appealing. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has endorsed this approach, saying, “There probably won’t be a choice but to topple the Hamas regime.” While sympathetic to this impulse, I worry that too much attention is paid to tactics and not enough to goals. The result could be harmful to Israel.