Hitting a Home Run for the Temple
With a little ingenuity, my synagogue managed to combine fundraising and socializing at a recent event. The Long Island Ducks are an independent baseball team located in Suffolk county Long Island, part of the Atlantic League. Every year, the team invites groups to sing either the national anthem prior to the game or a mid-game rendition of “God Bless America.”
Our temple is blessed with talented and enthusiastic adult, teen, and youth choirs, which got us thinking…
Earlier this year, I called the Ducks’ group sales department and secured tickets for a day game in June. Although some of the younger choir members could not attend because they were leaving for sleepaway camp that morning, it was the only Sunday home game that didn’t interfere with other temple activities and had an opening to sing the national anthem.
Our cantor stepped up to the plate and offered to coordinate the choirs, including recording a CD. An email went out to all choir members inviting them to participate, and tickets were sold to all temple members and their families and friends. One choir member ordered eleven tickets for her entire family! The synagogue added a few dollars above box office price to the cost of their game tickets to bring in a profit. For some congregants who have lived on Long Island their entire lives, this would be their first trip to see the Ducks play.
The Thursday night before the game, the four-day forecast promised sunny and warm with only a 20% chance of late-day showers. That Friday night at services, during quiet meditation, I prayed for the rain to hold off until everyone was safely back in their homes. I slipped it in when the rabbi asked for safety for those going on a journey.
Sunday turned out to be an amazing day, hot and without a cloud in the sky. A few choir members warmed up in the stands as we waited to be escorted to the field. Once on the field, we posed briefly for photos before our cantor gave us the down-beat to begin. Our choirs led the Ducks’ fans in singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” While, using American Sign Language, a teen member of our choir signed the anthem for the crowd. At one point, I looked up at the giant video monitor in centerfield, and there was our happy group, on display. Applause and cheering are not permitted during the anthem, but finally, as we sang the final measures of the song, the choirs were able to hear cheers and applause for their singing.
Our congregation turned a small profit for religious school programming from the event, but more importantly, everyone had a great time. Of course, it’s too late to perform at the all-star game at Citi Field, so I’ll have to check with the Meadowlands for the Super Bowl in 2014!