JCC Newsletter – Ki Tavo

“Remove your sandals, for the place on which you stand is holy ground.”
Exodus 3:5

While the Torah is describing a burning bush, the above verse could easily apply to Japan’s cathedral, nay Beit haMikdash of baseball, Meiji Jingu Stadium. The Okini-obsessed Osaka-ben speakers of Kansai may scoff, interjecting that Koshien’s hallowed grounds possess no equal. However, students of history, specifically Jewish baseball history, know that the home of today’s Yakult Swallows played a central role in Babe Ruth’s barnstorming 1934 Japan Tour. A footnote to a footnote of that junket is that in addition to the incredible demonstration of sheer American baseball star power present in the form of Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx and Connie Mack, a little-known catcher named Moe Berg became the first Jew to step foot on a Japanese baseball diamond when he took the field at…you guessed it, Meiji Jingu Stadium, site of the tour’s inaugural game.

Did the New York born Berg hang a mezuzah outside the clubhouse door? Maybe he sponsored kiddush at our spiritual forebear synagogue in Yokohama. The answers to those questions are lost in the sands of time but what is irrefutable is that Berg did not travel to Japan merely to catch Lefty Gomez’s notorious fastball. The prescient polyglot Berg, described by Casey Stengel as “the strangest man to ever play baseball”, ascended the roof of Tsukiji’s St. Luke’s Hospital to film features of the city including Tokyo Harbor, military installations and railway yards, footage that would prove invaluable to the war effort just a few years later.

If you are attending Sunday night’s JCJ Night at the Ballpark, maybe pause for a moment to take in the full majesty of Meiji Jingu Stadium, the same one Moe Berg played in nearly nine decades ago. While our negotiations with Swallows management to open a kosher hot dog stand remain stalled, you can religiously partake in Yebisu, Kirin, Sapporo and the always thirst-quenching ‘Karakuchi’ taste of Asahi Super Dry nama biru poured seat side. Pray Ball!


Kabbalat Shabbat
Friday, September 1st
Services: 6:00pm
Dinner by reservation: 7:00pm

Shabbat Parshat Ki Tavo
Welcome Back Kiddush sponsored by the JCC. Chicago’s finest challah rolls shlepped back from the US by the Siegel Family. Spiked seltzer sponsored by the Andreu Family who have off for Labor Day.
Saturday, September 2nd
Services: 10:00am
Kiddush: 12:00pm

Kabbalat Shabbat
Friday, September 8th
Services: 6:00pm
Dinner by reservation: 7:00pm

Erev Rosh Hashanah
Friday, September 15th
Services: 6:30pm
Dinner with reservation: 7:30pm

Rosh Hashanah Day 1
Saturday, September 16th
Morning Service: 9:00am
Lunch with reservation: 1:00pm
Tashlich at Arisugawa Park (across from National Azabu Supermarket): Meet at the Bridge over the Pond by the front entrance: 16:00
Evening Service: 18:00
Dinner with reservation: 7:00pm

Rosh Hashanah Day 2
Sunday, September 17th
Morning Service: 9:00am
Lunch with reservation: 1:00pm

Kabbalat Shabbat Shuva
Friday, September 22nd
Services: 6:00pm
Dinner with reservation: 7:00pm

Erev Yom Kippur
Sunday, September 24th
Before-the-fast meal with reservation: 3:45pm
Kol Nidre: 6:00pm

Yom Kippur
Monday, September 25th
Services: 9:00am
Yizkor: 11:30am
Mincha and Neilah: 4:00pm
Break-the-fast cakes, soft drinks, coffee and tea (all invited): 6:15pm
Break-the-fast meal with reservation: 6:30pm

Erev Sukkot
Friday, September 29th
Services: 6:00pm
Dinner in the Sukkah by reservation: 7:00pm

Sukkot Day 1
Saturday, September 30th
Services: 10:00
Lunch in the Sukkah by reservation: 12:30pm
Maariv Services: 6:00
Dinner in the Sukkah by reservation: 7:00pm

Sukkot Day 2
Hebrew School Family Service
Sunday, October 1st
Services: 9:30
Lunch in the Sukkah by reservation: 12:00pm

Shmini Atzeret Kabbalat Shabbat
Friday, October 6th
Services: 6:00pn
Dinner in the Sukkah by reservation: 7:00pm

Shmini Atzeret Shabbat Service with Yizkor
Saturday, October 7th
Services: 10:00
Lunch in the Sukkah by reservation: 12:30pm

Erev Simchat Torah Service
Saturday, October 7th
Services and Dancing with the Torah: 6:00pm
Pizza, refreshments and drinks


JCJ Night at The Ballpark
Yakult Swallows vs. Hanshin Tigers
Sunday, September 3rd at 6pm
Meiji Jingu Stadium – Holy of Holies

Gernsheim Duo Classical Music Concert
Anna Gann, soprano, and Naoko Christ-Kato, piano, will perform live at the JCJ works by respected German-Jewish composers whose works were largely lost and forgotten in the Holocaust. They are dedicated to ensuring these works are not lost to future generations.
Thursday, October 5th at 7pm at the JCC

‘Masha the Rich Man’ Concert
Maria Raykhman, Ukrainian-German singer/artist, performing live with her autoharp. More info and recordings here:
Thursday, October 19th at 7:30pm at the JCC

JCJ Platinum 70th Anniversary
Saturday, November 11th in the evening
Featuring 70s music, food and cocktails

If you have an idea for an event or a topic you would like to share with others, please visit our website.


Please sign up for High Holidays on our website by the Friday, September 8th deadline. Our beloved Chazzan Yoni will be returning from Israel. Much to the relief of those forced to take PTO to observe Jewish holidays and to the dismay of children hoping to be pulled out of school, Rosh Hashana, Kol Nidre and all of Sukkot fall out on Saturdays and Sunday this year. Can’t wait to ring in 5784 with you!

For the nijikai crowd, JCJ Night at the Ballpark may be followed by JCJ Night at The Hub which may be followed by JCJ Night at the Onsen/Shvitz. No matter what, we’ll follow the Yakult Swallows with Yiddishe Simchas (loosely translated as joy in the Jewish style).

Yiddish Club with Jack Halpern: Please contact Jack at jack@cjki.org if you are interested to join. All levels are welcome, from beginner to advanced. Much more than just language, the club’s monthly meetings explore Yiddish culture as well.

Shabbat Parshat Ki Tavo
Candle Lighting: 5:51pm
Havdala: 6:47pm