Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Our challenge to Larry Baras and Jeffrey Rosen: Guys, do a baseball mitzvah this summer!

So here are after nine months of covering the state of professional baseball in Israel and what have we got to show for it? The players have scattered to the four corners of the Earth, the most prominent being a journeyman from the Dominican Republic who’s made his way up and down in the Yankees farm system; the founder of the Israel Baseball League is facing lawsuit(s) and questions he refuses to answer as he hunkers down in a bunker of his own creation; and the American businessmen who want to take his place with a league of their own have proven to be just as secretive-- and a lot less personable!

And despite our best efforts, in the end there’s no pro ball in Israel this summer.

So how can we make some good out out of this?

How can we get Larry Baras of the Israel Baseball League and the Israel Professional Baseball League's Jeffrey Rosen to do a mitzvah?

Well, leave it to Our Man Elli in Israel to take these lemons and make lemon-flavoured hummus-- in the form of a challenge to the Boston bagel baron and the Miami millionaire Magnetix maven to do something besides lining their pockets and ignoring us.

“I got an email from Janglo, a community bulletin board for Anglos in Jerusalem. Somebody named Shuki Goodman wrote this:

farm program for english speaking kids at risk
is looking for used baseball equipment in decent condition.

Tizku L'Mitzvot,

Shuki Goodman

“Baseball equipment!! For kids at risk! I spoke to Shuki. Turns out, he's from Queens, and he used to be a vendor at Shea Stadium! Now he runs a non-profit program called Chein Farm Learning in the Galilee, in upper Israel. It’s for 14- to 17-year-old kids who, he tells me, are either starting the slide downward, or trying to climb back up.

"Heres a quote: 'One 11-year-old is here for defending his mother from his father's beatings; another kid has been kicked out of 12 schools; another one was depressed and locked himself in his room. Some of these kids have been involved with drugs and alcohol-- not all by any means, but some-- and they're looking to find their place.’

“They stay in a dorm facility, and some of the boys are so attached to the community here that they even stay for Shabbatot,’ Shuki said. ‘Playing baseball is a good thing to keep them busy. It’s a much more gentle sport then basketball or hockey, where one player can be so good he can run over the others. Baseball is so much a team sport. They all need each other, so it creates more of a unity. It teaches better values, getting along, caring for someone else.’

“Hey," Elli says, "I agree.”

And so do we, Elli. So here’s the deal:

Yo! Larry Baras and Jeff Rosen! You both were planning on a baseball season this summer, which we now know will not be happening. So certainly there must be some equipment that you have that will go unused.

Help out Shuki Goodman’s kids!

Here's an opportunity to do something for disadvantaged kids, and at the same time do something to repair your tarnished reputations.

As Shuki Goodman wrote:

Tizku L'Mitzvot.

"You should be worthy of doing mitzvot."

Here's your chance to do a really good deed.

Why not?

It’s even got Sam Peters (at left) smiling! And anyone else who wants to chip in, contact Shuki Goodman at shukig@juno.com.

We'll keep you updated.

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