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President's Column by President Amy Gerstein

Always Be Ready
April/May 2024

As I write these words at the end of February, there is at least one indication that things are as they should be. Baseball Spring Training is underway. 

I’m not much of a baseball fan myself. But, I did grow up watching the Yankees with my father, so I am a Yankees fan and I also love Spring Training. I like the sense of promise it brings, the notion that everyone has a clean slate, and that at least until Opening Day, every fan of every team can indulge their fondest dreams. Like the first flowers or first robins of spring, the return of baseball demonstrates that even the longest winter does, indeed, end. 

You will likely read these words sometime around Opening Day, another holiday well worth celebrating. In that spirit I want to share with you a teaching from one of our Reform Movement’s great teachers, the late Rabbi Arnold Jacob Wolf of Chicago. This is from Unfinished Rabbi, a wonderful collection of Wolf’s writing: 

Opening day at Comiskey Park reminds me again of how Jewish baseball is. Each player is alone, but they all play for the whole team, and only the whole team can win. The game is fun but is also very demanding and sometimes dangerous. 

The game has no time limits; one never knows whether the game will be long or short, though there is a general time frame for most games. Each player must hit, field and run, but each one does it in a slightly different manner and some with much more care for detail than others. The game is nonviolent but very energetic, and it calls for stamina during the long season. 

Age, size, IQ, race are all pretty much irrelevant. Unlike basketball, which is only for tall persons, or unlike even swimming, which is for the young, baseball is a universal sport. 

The most important truth about the game is this: much of it is boring. You wait and you wait — sometimes for almost the whole long game. But finally — and no one knows exactly when it will be — you will be the only one who can catch a fly ball or the only one who can drive in the winning run. Everything will depend on you. For that single moment, no matter how slowly it comes, the player must always be ready. There may be no second chance. 

Wolf is right, of course — we never know when everything will depend on us, we may not get a second chance. As we head into spring, I suggest that we take this teaching to heart not only on the baseball diamond, but in all facets of our lives. We never know when our children, or parents, will need us. We never know if the success of a program at Beth Am “will depend on us.” 

But if we are ever-mindful, always looking for those opportunities, we can ensure that we will “always be ready.”  What a perfect mindset for each of us to carry into spring!

Tue, April 16 2024 8 Nisan 5784