Chicago Sun-Times: Jewish Sox Fans Face a Rare Dilemma

It was almost a game-day decision for Sox fan Jonathan Greenspahn. He struggled until late Tuesday to decide whether to attend tonight’s American League Championship Series game, which falls on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year in the Jewish calender.

In the end, the season ticket holder, a managing partner in Le Lan restaurant, sold his tickets, opting to skip the game.

Jewish rabbis — from reform to orthodox — said Tuesday it’s not allowed under Jewish law to attend the game — or even to watch it on TV.

As Rabbi Sholem Fishbane of the Chicago Rabbinical Council explained, Jews aren’t supposed to work or “create” anything on Yom Kippur, which is considered the “Sabbath of all Sabbaths.” By turning on the TV or radio, “You are creating a fire.”

Rather, they are supposed to be in temple.

The dilemma has been rehashed each year around this time, often in the context of whether an athlete should compete. But the obligation not to do any work or anything similar extends to fans, too.

Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, who is Jewish, said Tuesday that he would not attend tonight’s game. He declined to say whether he would attend temple or watch the game on television.

‘Thank God for TiVo’

Both Greenspahn and Reinsdorf did attend the game last week that fell on Rosh Hashanah, Jewish New Year. Greenspahn, 35, missed a family dinner to come, but this time he called his mom to help him decide.

“In the end, it was a feeling that it was wrong to go,” he said. “Thank God for TiVo.”

Meanwhile, Muslims, who are celebrating the holy month of Ramadan, have less to worry about. Muslims are required to pray five times a day, plus an additional sixth “communal” prayer, said Ahmed Rehab, spokesman for the Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. However, that sixth prayer — which takes place at 8 p.m. at most mosques in the area — is not mandatory.

“There is nothing that suggests that we can’t watch the game,” Rehab said. He knows a group of five Muslims who plan to watch it, and then pray together afterward.

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