Saturday, December 4, 2021 (Sarah Escobar, Director of Religious School)
Sandy Koufax Chose His Jewish Faith Over Baseball Sandy Koufax, “The Left Arm of God,” as he was known, played 12 years in the National League, most of them with the Dodgers. Koufax, so talented and dedicated to his skill, was the youngest player to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Koufax is remembered not only for his love of baseball but he is also remembered for what he loved even more than the game, his Jewish faith. In 1965, the Dodgers were warming up for the first game of that year’s world series when Koufax announced his decision to not play in the game as it coincided with Yom Kippur. His Dodger fans and teammates were disappointed that they would have to play game one of the World Series without their ace-pitcher. Deeply entrenched in his Jewish faith, Koufax had to decide between his religion and his day job. He chose religion. During the celebration of Chanukah, the Festival of Lights, we are often called to reflect on people who have brought light into this world.
As a parent of Jewish athletes, I think about Sandy Koufax. I’m in awe of his talent, his hard work, and his dedication to one of the hardest games ever played in America. I’m equally in awe of the decision he made not to play on Yom Kippur. His decision to publicly put his faith first certainly wasn’t an easy or popular decision. In this moment Koufax impacted American Jewish history by leading by example. He made it known in this moment that he was not just an athlete; he was a Jewish athlete, and his religious calling was good and notable to who he was in this world. May Sandy Koufax and his choices always shine light on how we move through this world as Jews and how we can choose to put our calling to our faith first regardless of what’s at stake.