We are All One Team
This is the Super Bowl weekend! I’ve had the chance to reflect on Super Bowls for many of the past years (having moved here from New England).
Sports are fascinating. They give us something to celebrate. They join us in what the sociologist Emile Durkheim describes as “Collective Effervescence,” a concept he used to describe the religious experience in his 1912 book, Elementary Forms of Religious Life. These are the opportunities in which societies come together to share in a common experience and engage in a greater consciousness. A joy of being part of the collective; thus, Collective Effervescence.
So there is, in a sense, something about sports which feels close to a religious experience. And it is simple. Rich or poor, black or white, Christian, Muslim or Jewish, Democrat or Republican, we can bond together in our collective joy of rooting for the home team. Toyota understood this when they created this awesome Super Bowl ad in 2018.
Of course, as Jews, we can see this “all on the same team” message from different angles! We can be a CHIEFS fan or a Buccaneers fan, yet we are all on the same team: the Jewish team. There may be a lot we don't have in common, but we can all pull together to do the best for our people!
Over the years, I’ve visited with all kinds of people in different communities - different countries even - and I am always touched when I hear them reciting Kiddush, or Hamotzi, right alongside me. As a child, these rituals felt like my family’s secret customs. So, to this day, it still fills my heart when I witness others reciting the same ancient words, bowing at the same time as me, or greeting each other the same way, with a “Shabbat Shalom.”
Sports give us a sense of joy (or, if you are from Philadelphia, more often pain), and a sense of being connected to those around us. But being Jewish is a whole different story! Being Jewish means you have teammates all over the world. We are instantly connected by a common language, a common root text, and a common history. Moreso, we are connected by a common future.
The other day, I asked my son to read in Hebrew, which he begrudgingly (in his tween way) did. I cried. My wife, Marni, asked me why I was crying. I told them, “Because I see you succeeding at doing something I always struggled with. I see you with the skills to join our people and be a leader, and because I feel like I’ve done something right.” Then my wife and son cried with me: tears of joy. My son experienced his very own Mahomes moment, as we watched him stepping into a role as a future leader of our Jewish team.
So this Sunday, no matter who wins, remember that beyond the jersey, we are all one team! Go Chiefs and Am Yisrael Chai!
HBHA Head of School
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