“How long do you think this tasting will last?”
That’s the question I posed to my boss, Larry Levin, before leaving to meet others for a tasting at the Ritz-Carlton in anticipation of the meal that will be served at the Light’s 50th Golden Anniversary Gala Oct. 6.
Larry thought maybe 45 minutes, an hour at the most. Yeah, right. Seven Jewish women seated around a table deciding about food? It took 45 minutes to an hour to come to a consensus on how the napkins should be folded.
As many of you know because you have worked on gala committees, these undertakings are a whole lot of work. Everyday as the event draws nearer, more and more “little details” emerge that have to be handled. And because these galas are almost always fundraisers for the (non-profit) host organization, every dollar counts. In the case of the Light, we hope to raise enough money to be able to create, and pay for, several key initiatives, the most significant being digital archives so that we can preserve our region’s storied Jewish past.
Luckily, we are in immensely capable hands with Myrna Meyer at the helm. Myrna could well be the poster child for how to juggle 80 balls at once without losing your sense of humor. I’m sure she would credit her amazing committee as well as support staff at the Light with their tireless help, and I am sure that is true, but trust me, Myrna’s energy and enthusiasm for the event are unwavering.
So I hope you will consider joining us at the Ritz at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 6 for the Golden Light Gala saluting 50 years of being the independent Jewish publication of the St. Louis region. Celebrating us means celebrating you, the reader, along with the Light’s past presidents and two special people, Bob Cohn and Lois Caplan. Myrna and her committee have worked hard to make sure the “organized program” portion of the evening is fairly short and sweet. They’ve even arranged for two TVs to be set up in the cocktail reception area should the Cardinals (let’s pray) make it to post-season play.
Oh, and I can promise you the kosher meal, which has been vetted by seven of the most discriminating palates in Jewish St. Louis should be pretty tasty, and the napkins, impeccably folded.
If you would like to request an invitation or get more information about the gala, see the ad on Page 24 or call 314-743-3660.
That’s just one of the five teams involved in “Torah & Turf,” a local flag football league made up of 55 young Jewish professionals. The all-male league has been around for about seven years, but this season it partnered with the St. Louis Rams to provide some fun events along with regular, weekly play.
“We are trying to meaningfully engage the most difficult Jewish demographic, which is young professionals between the ages of 25 and 35,” explains Rabbi Shaya Mintz of the St. Louis Kollel, which sponsors Torah & Turf. “So we came up with this idea to start a flag football league, which before play involves a half-hour Torah class that discusses Jewish lifecycle events, Jewish holidays, Jewish philosophies, daily Jewish rituals and the like.
“A lot (of the men involved) haven’t had any Jewish education post-bar mitzvah. We’re giving them an adult understanding of what the Jewish religion and culture has to offer. Our hope is that they will see there is something rich in having a spiritual connection with Judaism.”
Typically, the league meets every Tuesday evening from September through December at 7:15 p.m. at the Jewish Community Center. After the half-hour Torah class at the JCC’s Beit Midrash, the guys walk outside, put on their uniforms and cleats and play flag football for a couple of hours.
This year, the Kollel reached out to Kevin Demoff, COO of the Rams, who is Jewish. For one of the league’s recruiting events, Demoff offered up two luxury suites to a Rams pre-season game at the Edward Jones Dome for league members and their spouses or girlfriends.
“Kevin said he was willing to do anything to help us engage young Jews,” said Mintz. “We had a great night at the Dome and even held a kosher tailgating party prior to the game.”
Demoff has also told Torah & Turf that he will help secure either the Dome or Rams Park for the league’s “Torah Bowl” Dec. 17. There are also plans in the works for the league to host several social events, including a Hanukkah party.
“The league is growing largely through word-of-mouth,’ Mintz continued. “I met three or four new players who just moved here from places like L.A. and Detroit and were recruited by friends in the league.
“Once they meet on the field, a teammate or friend will schlep them to some other Jewish program like the Federation’s Young Professional Division and they wind up getting involved in that. It turns out to be a win-win for everyone.”
Except, maybe, those who end up fracturing an arm or a leg. “Our games can get pretty rough,” Mintz added.
For more information on Torah & Turf, call the St. Louis Kollel at 314-726-6047.