By Yanky Nemon, chabad.org
Most students at the University of Pennsylvania weren’t even born the last time the Philadelphia Phillies won the World Series. That was back in 1980, when they played against the Kansas City Royals. So collegians here felt they had something to celebrate following the Phillies’ victory against the Tampa Bay Rays to win Major League Baseball’s top title.
Adding its own touch to the festivities, the Chabad-Lubavitch House at the University of Pennsylvania planned to throw a baseball-themed Shabbat kiddush Friday night. With a menu of ballpark favorites like hot dogs and caramel corn, the Jewish student center aimed to provide a spiritual backdrop to all the partying.
“The Lubavitch House is going red,” reported Rabbi Levi Haskelevitch. “We’re doing a little redecorating, getting a cake and maybe even making the matzo balls red.”
Moments after Wednesday night’s victory, Philadelphia’s streets were abuzz with excited crowds. On Thursday, fans couldn’t stop talking about baseball.
“I’ve never experienced this in my lifetime,” said David Drowos, a researcher at Penn from neighboring Wilmington who goes to the Lubavitch House every Shabbat. “It feels surreal.”
Andrew Kener, a Penn sophomore from South Florida, didn’t begrudge the Phillies for beating a team from his home state.
“I’m a Marlins fan anyway,” he said, referring to Miami’s home team. “But it was incredible to be here and get caught up in the series.”
On Friday, the city will be throwing a parade in the Phillies’ honor, culminating with a rally at sports complex in South Philadelphia. Rabbi Gedaliah Lowenstein, director of the Jewish Center of Northern Liberties, will be there to hand out Shabbat candles and don tefillin with Jewish men.
“There will be more than 100,000 people between two stadiums, and we want to be there to meet them,” said Lowenstein.
“Me and my friends have waited 20 years for this moment,” said Jesse Wenger, a Penn sophomore and Philadelphia native. “It is the best experience of our whole lives, everything from the win last night to the parade tomorrow.”
Keeping fans’ perspectives in mind, Haskelevitch saw a religious lesson in the Phillies’ victory. He told students in an e-mail that as he drove through the streets last night watching jubilant fans, he had a “flash-forward.”
“I imagined that in some way this will resemble the days of Moshiach,” said the rabbi. “The long-awaited moment will finally arrive and people will flood into the streets dancing. There will be lots of noise and honking horns, and everyone will toast each other.”