This past Friday evening, I learned that a basketball game had taken place up in Massachusetts, between the all-boys Catholic Memorial School and Newton North High School which has a sizable Jewish population. According to the article, students from Newton North High began calling out Sausage Fest, alluding to the fact that Catholic Memorial was all male. This prompted students from Catholic Memorial to respond with You Killed Jesus. And faster than you can say Shma Yisroel, that’s when the Jews in attendance began to invoke the anti –Semite card. As a rabbi, I am appalled that students at Newton North High dared to cast aspersions at students from another school. As a rabbi, I do not for a moment believe that the retort on the part of the students from Catholic Memorial was the least bit anti-Semitic. Thoughtless, yes! But not in any way anti-Semitic. Because boys will be boys, I believe that the retort was made in the heat of the moment. The only problem is that we Jews tend to be hyper-sensitive when it comes to anti-Semitism, either real or perceived. Accordingly, I have sent the following memorandum to the Basketball team at Catholic Memorial.
Note to the Basketball team at Catholic Memorial School:
The next time students from another school with a sizable population of Jewish students tease you for being an all-boys school by calling out sausage fest, consider the following:
Respond by saying: You are full of kreplach (dough pockets filled with meat or potatoes, not all that different than won ton). You’ll show that when it comes to food analogies, you can dish it out as well as they can, if not better. By invoking kreplach, not only will you show your quick wittedness, but you’ll also show that you don’t resort to terminology that reeks of sexuality. Who knows, you might even get Jewish students to look up the word kreplach.
Respond by saying: Actually we are wine and wafer people. And by the way, we will be happy to discuss religion with you at a different venue. One thing we have learned in our religion classes is the importance of Christian love and that means we do not cast aspersions or slurs on others either on or off the basketball court, even if it is meant in jest. As students at a Catholic school, show the very best side of your religion. You just might get non-Christians to show the very best of their religion as well, provided of course they know anything about the religion into which they were born.
Respond by kneeling on the gymnasium floor and offering a silent prayer both for the victory of your team as well as for the victory of good over evil. As a Jew who does not believe in Jesus, I cannot help but feel that had basketball been around two thousand years ago, and had your coach been none other than Jesus himself, this is exactly what he would have wanted you to do. By praying (provided silent prayer is still constitutional in a gymnasium) you would have at the very least shown that while a level playing level may exist, a level behavioral level does not exist, merely by your refusal to engage in name calling. Regardless of the final score of the game, by praying rather than by responding to the insensitive taunt hurled at you, it would have been quite evident who the losers are.