Rose Bowl Rabbinic Rivalry

When Oregon and Ohio State take the field tomorrow in Pasadena at the Rose Bowl, there will be more going on than meets the eye.

Enter Rabbi Drew Kaplan, newly appointed head of Jewish Student Services and SoCal Campus Rabbi at Long Beach State, and across Orange County. Rabbi Drew is loves Torah, his family, and Buckeye Football. A native of Ohio Drew will be praying for a Bucks victory at the Rose Bowl.

Then there is me, past head of Jewish Student Services and a SoCal Campus Rabbi, and now Director at JConnect. I love Torah, my family, and Duck Football. I am a native of Michigan, and will be praying for a Ducks victory in Pasedena.

Now both of us being Shabbat observant Jews, our passion for our respective college football teams could not help but be tempered by the reality that we cannot watch any of these games live. The only times I seem to ever see the Ducks play football is in a Bowl Game. And this is a big deal — Ohio State (10-2) hasn’t played in the Rose Bowl since 1997, while Oregon (10-2) hasn’t made it since 1995.

If measured in Jewish students, Ohio State has a clear edge. With 3,200 Jewish students approximately, it is the 16th largest concentration of Jewish students at a public university in the country. Oregon, has perhaps 1,000 Jewish students, and doesn’t even rank in the top 30.

The Ducks have a famous Jewish alum who plays now for Dallas, Igor Olshansky. Ohio State has John Frank, who also was part of the Israeli Bobsled team!

We were going to set out and go together to the game. The moment that this matchup was announced, we realized the monumental nature of this contest, and the ramifications for Jewish life in California and beyond.

I had dreams of a kosher tailgate party, where Jews from both sides of this contest, could break bread together, and enjoy harmony before the war of roses.

I imagined the scene of praying mincha at half-time, one part of the minyan in Duck colors, the other in Buckeye colors. Jews, divided by geography, and allegiances, could lay down their vocal weapons and for a moment give thanks to the almighty. I imagined a harmonious moment that could usher in the Messianic age.

But then we realized that this game was being played on Erev Shabbat. I frantically contacted Drew and we began thinking of plans. We could try to get rooms (unlikely) staying at a hotel near the stadium, in case the game was still going on when Shababt arrived. We contemplated making a Shabbat Tent in the Rose Bowl parking lot, but management doesn’t allow overnights.

This once-in-a-life-time contest would have to be watched from the comfort and affordability of home. When the dust settles on the field, we will get back to planning Jewlicious Festival.

Go Ducks, Go Buckeys, Go Shabbos!
A side note — both teams are staying in five-star hotels down the street from our offices on Avenue of the Stars. They arrived on Monday from the airport with police escorts in four large tour buses.


13 Old Wants Bris, US Supreme Court Says “Foreskin Stays”?

An interesting case below. Once a boy reaches 13 – his father has no more obligations over his religious observance. If a boy is 13 and wants a bris, then he can get one – without his father’s consent according to Judaism. The mother, again, according to halacha, has no more say once the boy hits 13. If a child can get an abortion without parental consent in some states, can a child get a bris without parental consent?

UPDATE – My good friend Rabbi Zalman Berkowitz at miyan this morning reminded me that a conversion is in almost all cases not complete without the bris. In other words, the Supreme Court is preventing the kid from his religious aspirations by not ruling in favor of the father. It is not going too far out on a limb to come to the conclusion that this case prevents freedom of religion, and is an invasion of privacy. The case now goes back to an Oregon judge to determine whether the boy wants to undergo the procedure.

Supreme Court rejects Oregon circumcision case

By The Associated Press PORTLAND — The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected an Oregon dispute between a father who wants to circumcise his 13-year-old son against the wishes of the boy’s mother.

PORTLAND — The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected an Oregon dispute between a father who wants to circumcise his 13-year-old son against the wishes of the boy’s mother.

The case now goes back to an Oregon trial judge to determine whether the boy wants to undergo the procedure.

James Boldt converted to Judaism and says his son wants to be circumcised for religious reasons.

But his ex-wife, Lia Boldt, claims that her son is afraid to tell his father that he does not want to undergo the procedure.

The Boldts married in the early 1990s. Lia Boldt filed for divorce in 1998 and initially had custody of their son before James Boldt gained custody.

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