Tonight the Cubs play the Giants in Game 3 of the National League Division Series. A Cubs victory ends the NLDS and gives the team a few days rest before they meet the Dodgers or Nationals at Wrigley Field on Saturday for the first game of the League Championship Series. If the Giants win, the NLDS will be extended to Game 4 on Tuesday night.
Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year, begins at sundown on Tuesday. Sandy Koufax famously skipped a 1965 World Series game on Yom Kippur, although I don't believe Theo Epstein will be going to synagogue on Tuesday night.
The most observant members of the Jewish community will miss the game (if there is one) because they won't be using any electronics as the Holy Day begins. But Yom Kippur is the day when synagogue attendance is at its highest, so even moderately observant Jewish Cubs fans will have a decision to make if the best team in baseball is playing as the Kol Nidre prayer is being chanted in synagogues across the country.
As Steve Zalusky wrote in the Daily Herald:
The Cubs have dominated the talk of local congregations, as they have all of Chicago, to the extent that the team has almost threatened to become a competing religion.
Zalusky's report includes the fact that at one suburban synagogue, the closing "hymn" on Friday night was "Go, Cubs, Go."
I was at my synagogue yesterday teaching Hebrew school and when asked what I would do if the Cubs played on Tuesday, answered that I'd likely monitor the first inning or two before services begin then wait to check my phone on the way out of the building. Honestly, the decision to skip watching the game is easier because it wouldn't be an elimination game for the Cubs.
Later in the afternoon, I was on the phone with the Herald's Zalusky to discuss the dilemma facing Jewish Cubs fans. It was nice to be mentioned in his article, although I probably won't be wearing my "Officially Licensed" Cubs yarmulke on Yom Kippur - I generally switch to basic black for the High Holy Days.
Should there be a game on Tuesday night, some Jewish fans will stay home. Others will be "watching" on their smart phones while trying to also be engaged in the worship service. That's not the choice I'd make - my phone will be off. Still, there might be hard-to-ignore signals of the game's progress from those congregants checking their phones.
But there's a simple solution to this problem for Cubs fans - a victory tonight in Game 3. Some of us believe God is a Cubs fan, and a win tonight (especially with Madison Bumgarner on the mound for the Giants) would be pretty good evidence that we're right.
So, please let it be a great night for Cubs starter Jake Arietta and the rest of the Cubs lineup. They didn't let us down in the first two games at Wrigley and hopefully, won't tonight.
A sweep of the NLDS with a win tonight would let Jewish fans rejoice as we prepare for our Yom Kippur fast knowing we can devote our full attention to the traditions and rituals of the Day of Atonement.
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*Hebrew for "please."
Officially Licensed Cubs yarmulke available from www.klippedkippahs.com