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Jewish Indians Fans May Need VCRs

October 10, 1997

CLEVELAND (AP) _ Jewish fans of the Cleveland Indians will be facing a choice Saturday: be faithful to their religion or their favorite team.

The Indians play Game Three of the best-of-seven American League Championship Series on Saturday afternoon against the Baltimore Orioles. The series is tied 1-1.

Saturday is also Yom Kippur, the final day of the Jewish High Holy Days. The holiday ends at sundown, which comes more than 2 1/2 hours after Saturday’s game time.

Jews spend much of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, at the temple or synagogue in prayer. It is a day to abstain from work, sex and food, and confess sins and ask for forgiveness from God.

That means no baseball, too.

``We have to focus inward on that day,″ said David S. Ariel, president of the Cleveland College of Jewish Studies in the suburb of Beachwood.

But Ariel also had a solution for true Indians fanatics. ``There are VCRs,″ he said.

According to Rabbi Arthur Lavinsky of Akron’s Conservative Beth El Congregation, baseball playoffs on Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah always present a conflict.

``I always tell the joke that whichever side has more Jews at the game on Yom Kippur is more likely to lose,″ he said. ``God may not care which team is triumphant in the American League series, but He is very concerned about our celebrating the Sabbath and the Day of Atonement.″

Lavinsky told the Akron Beacon Journal several members of his congregation had tickets to Saturday’s game but gave them to charity.

``Jews who take their Judaism seriously, absent themselves,″ he said. ``You can’t dance at two weddings. You want to, but you can’t. The one you are at speaks volumes about who you are.″

Marc Merklin, an attorney in Akron and an Indians’ fan, has game tickets for Saturday but won’t go.

Yom Kippur ``is the most solemn and important day of the year,″ he said. ``God inscribes the book of life as to what will happen in the coming year and on Yom Kippur He seals it. That is how solemn it is. Baseball has to take a back seat.″

Temple Israel Rabbi David Horowitz of Akron said he hopes it is not difficult for Jews to choose between going to temple or watching the game. ``My gut level would be that it would be a dilemma for a very few,″ he said.

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