In the 1965 World Series, Sandy Koufax of the Los Angeles Dodgers famously decided not to pitch against the Minnesota Twins on Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement.
Over the past 50-plus years, the Sandy Koufax Yom Kippur story has been told and re-told. It gets told at Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, at Friday night dinner tables, at weddings, at Passover and, this is also key, at the 4th of July, over turkey at Thanksgiving and with, say, friends by their Christmas tree. The reason for all this telling is simple. Sandy Koufax proved at the 1965 World Series that American Jews could be both American and Jewish. You didn’t have to choose. You could be both without sacrificing either.
Now comes Dan Kremer, who is Israeli and Jewish, and the World Equestrian Games, which are ongoing now in a little town in the western North Carolina mountains called Tryon — assuming Hurricane Florence doesn’t get there — and, as it turns out, Israel for the first time on the international stage has put together a show jumping team with an eye toward someday making the Olympics, the WEG jumping competition is scheduled for Yom Kippur, September 19, and Dan Kremer made it plain that, just like Sandy Koufax, he could not and would not take part on Yom Kippur.
All of which raises a fascinating series of questions.