Foul on the field

Elizabeth Hersh is Senior Rabbi at Temple Emanuel (TE), and a blogger on the Jewish Light’s website (   Joel Iskiwitch and John DeMott, authors of the  “What can you do?”  sidebar, are congregants at TE.


I have a new job description. I can just see the headlines. “Temple Emanuel Senior Rabbi Plays Slow Pitch Softball!” Last week I joined our congregation’s team for inner league play against two other softball teams. Each team is to play with at least two women. Interestingly, my son saw this differently and asked if each team needed a rabbi!

I admitted that I had played fast pitch softball for my college club team. I don’t even want to do the math but let’s just say I had a big college reunion this year. Needless to say, it has been many moons since I donned the cleats and warmed up with a bat.

I happily went behind the plate to take the catcher’s position. During the two consecutive games I enjoyed the opportunity to get to know the umpire. It took me awhile to become accustomed to two home plates – one for the runner and one for the catcher to stand on to prevent a collision. It took a few “at bats” before I connected — high and outside — just as I liked them over 25 years ago. I called for a runner when my hit took me to first. They ignored me citing I was a runner. “That’s exactly my point!” I shouted to the bench. “I don’t want to injure my feet!” They ignored me.

I was proud that my 9-year-old was there cheering me on. What I wasn’t proud of was his observation that the other team was sure swearing a lot. Wow. He heard every curse and voice of frustration.

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It was a fun day for me except explaining to my son that the words he heard were not appropriate especially on a congregational league. There is a time for everything under the sun. And there is never a time for this behavior, especially under a Jewish setting. I was proud of my temple members who carried on with grace and dignity.