Rabbi Ron Symons on November 9, 2015
My Hat of Choice: Brooklyn Dodgers
My Dad, Jerry, still thinks that the Dodgers play in Brooklyn! He won’t give up on that reality even though he and I, along with my son Micah, have actually been to a Dodgers game in Los Angeles. It is my Dad’s honor that I wear a Brooklyn Dodgers hat as my baseball hat of choice (except when I am at PNC Park).
Even as my Dad revels in his memories of the Brooklyn that was, I seem to have been brought into that memory with him. Keep in mind; Ebbets Field was long gone before I was born in Brooklyn in 1967. Micah and I, and so many others, enjoy the conversations about the Dodgers that were. We read about those Boys of Summer (Roger Kahn, 1972) even during Snow in August (Pete Hammil, 1997)and talk about them as if they were a part of our lives. Our favorite number and movie is 42. It parallels 18 and 36 for us. Neither Micah nor I lived one day while the Dodgers were in Brooklyn, but we sure feel like we did and do.
I think Isaac of the Torah wore a Brooklyn Dodgers hat, too. Well, not really, but kind of:
Isaac dug anew the wells which had been dug in the days of his father Abraham and which the Philistines had stopped up after Abraham’s death; and he gave them the same names that his father had given them.
Isn’t it true for all of us? Isaac dug the wells of his father Abraham. I wear a Dodgers hat in my fathers honor. Micah wears my Dad’s beloved Dodgers jacket (a gift my Dad gave to Micah this past weekend.) Each of us has our own ‘Dodgers hats’. I know, it’s not about Dodgers hats. It’s about the mandel bread recipe, the stories, the necklace, the photos, the books, the silverware, the leather jacket, the memories… that have been given to us and that we use in order to live in a time we never knew.
This is the meaning of collective culture.
Culture is the memory of what did not happen to us. This is the memory of family stories that we may have heard at our grandfather’s knee, images in films, tales in books, events in history. Our memories are crammed with such materials out of which we can form a larger story about who we are. People who come out of the continuous familial or ethnic tradition possess a self that is intimately connected to other selves as part of the family tree…Part of what it means to be a Jew is to develop this [aspect of] memory and to develop it in relation to the history and the myth-theology of a Jewish tradition.
(Peter Pitzele, Our Father’s Wells: A Personal Encounter with The Book of Genesis, 1996.)
I wonder if Micah’s kids will root for the Brooklyn Dodgers, too. After all, I am confident that they will never leave Brooklyn.
Photo Source: My Dodgers Hat 1939-1957
(You can read more straight from the Torah this week in the portion Toldot: Genesis 25:19 – 28:9