In the swing of things

BY SARAH WILSON, SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH LIGHT

Team members and fans gathered around the B’nai Amoona softball field on Sunday to participate in the eleventh year of the Inter-Congregational Softball League.

There are 14 teams that participate in the league, with ten congregations total. Two teams were added just this year, from Bais Abraham Congregation and Central Reform Congregation. Every team has its own different colored T-shirt to wear during the games, with the name of the team printed on the shirt.

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“It’s been a great opportunity for all the Jews in the area, including Orthodox, Conservative and Reform, to spend time together and I think that’s been very positive,” said Ken Schwartz, program and membership director for United Hebrew Congregation. “It’s proved to be a very successful model.”

Schwartz said the league started off in 1996 with only three congregations, but since then has grown tremendously. Now there are at least 200 players total that participate in the league every summer, with two different divisions, called the Aleph and Bet divisions.

The league started this year on May 6, with games that take place every Sunday, with the exception of Mother’s Day. The final game will take place on Aug. 6.

“The intent is to be recreational, and it has become a little more competitive over the years,” Schwartz said. “The interest level and participation has really increased in the last several years. It’s a friendly competition. We have people of all ages and even kids playing with their parents.”

Some congregations have more than one team, so they try to make sure each team plays each other at least once during the season.

Towards the end of the season, the league has playoff games.

“We have a traveling trophy that goes to the winning team, and they keep that in their synagogue for a year after winning, so it’s a traveling trophy,” Schwartz said.

Jerry Chervitz is a member of the Traditional Tikkunim team, and has been for roughly six years. He is also the board president for Traditional Congregation.

“It’s fun,” Chervitz said. “We just wanted to feel the team and the league and it’s a great experience. This is just a nice way to develop a lot of camaraderie with the synagogue.”

The league encourages anyone that is at least 18 years of age or older to join. Even though the league is co-ed, Schwartz said there is not an even ratio of men to women on the teams.

“That’s the one downside,” Schwartz said. “There is a shortage of women in the league. If we were to put a plug in for next year we definitely could always use more women. Each congregation is responsible for recruiting their synagogue members to be a part of their team.”

Schwartz said the fan base consists of mainly family members and friends, but there is not a huge crowd.

“For the most part there have been very few injuries, which has been good,” Schwartz said. “It’s been a very smooth summer and we’ve only had one rain out day. There’s also for the most part pretty equal competition. There’s not just one team that’s just blowing everyone else away, so it’s good.”

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