Wednesday, March 9, 2011

TBE Bar/Bat Mitzvah Commentary: Tyler Zielinski on Rosh Hodesh Adar II

Those of you know me know that I love basketball. Those of you who don’t know me, well, you should have been paying more attention! JUST KIDDING.

Anyway, I love basketball for lots of reasons, including that great feeling when you take a shot and it goes through. It feels just like when you answer a question right in Hebrew School or the feeling when you do something nice for someone.

But there are other reasons I like basketball and some of them are connected to being Jewish.

For one thing, basketball and Judaism are all about teamwork, on the one hand, but also the ability to stand out.

At times you need to be able to take the last shot. The ball is in your hands, the clock is winding down and your teammates are not open. It’s all up to you.

That’s exactly the situation Esther faced in the Purim story. Only she could save the Jews. And there was no time to spare.

There are other times when it is better to pass off and give others the chance to score. I’ve learned a lot about teamwork by being a twin. And in a few minutes, I’ll be handing off the mic… to Mike and he’ll have the chance to score some points and take the last shot.

In basketball, while many players are very tall, you don’t have to be the biggest to be the best.
Believe it or not, I’m not the tallest player on my team – not the shortest either. No matter what your size, you can outrebound taller people through positioning and anticipating where the ball will go.

Similarly, the Jewish people are very small in number, far from the largest religious group in the world. Did you know that Jews are estimated to be .235% of the world’s population – which is a little more than 2 tenths of one percent!

But look what we’ve done. At least 181 Jews have been awarded the Nobel Prize, accounting for 22% of all the recipients in the world since 1901, and equaling 36% of all US recipients during the same period.

Plus there are some great Jewish athletes, including great Jewish basketball players – like Amar'e Stoudemire of the Knicks and the all time great Dolph Shayes and…and…Jordan Farmar.
So you can see that there is a lot that Judaism and basketball have in common. And one other thing that they share, is… me!

For my mitzvah project I’ve been working with 7 and 8 year olds at the JCC, teaching them how to swim. It’s been a blast working with them and I plan to keep it up until the summer.

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