September 22, 2015
Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon
Temple Emanu-El, Tucson, Arizona
Tonight marks the 50th anniversary of Sandy Koufax sitting out the first game of the World Series. Some of you may remember what that meant to Jews in America, when the best pitcher in the most popular sport, America’s pastime, chose not to play in the most important game of the year. It was considered a courageous act, and a symbol of American Jewish acceptance and pride in our heritage.
The best part of the story was that the Dodgers’ other ace, Don Drysdale, pitched in Koufax’ place. Unfortunately, Drysdale was pretty bad that particular day against the Minnesota Twins, giving up 7 runs in less than 3 innings including two homers. When his manager, Walter Alston came out to pull Drysdale and bring in a relief pitcher, Drysdale said to Alston, “I bet right now you wish I was Jewish too, Skip.”
But before I even start I digress…
Perhaps you saw this story, or the Youtube video.
About a month ago a 12 year-old boy in Taiwan was looking at a painting in an art museum. It was part of an exhibit called the “Face of Leonardo: Images of a Genius” in Taipei. The video shows the boy – in shorts, tennis shoes and a blue Puma T-shirt, holding a soft drink in one hand – walking past a still life. A bit clumsy, as adolescents can be, still growing into his body, he suddenly trips on the platform supporting the 6-foot high painting, and stumbles. He reaches out instinctively with his hand, which goes right through the painting… Which was a 350-year old work in oil called “Flowers” by Italian baroque artist Paolo Porpora. The 17th century painting was valued at $1.5 million dollars.
At the end of this disaster the boy looks up at the canvas, freezes, then looks wildly around at the other people in the room…
“The painting’s bottom right is damaged,” the curator said. “The boy’s hand hit the artwork and left a hole the size of a fist.”