Almost ‘Norfolk native’ creates Haggadah for baseball fans of all ages

March 20, 2015

Book Reviews

The Baseball Haggadah: A Festival of Freedom and Springtime in 15 Innings
by Rabbi Sharon Forman
Illustrated by Lisa J. Teitelbaum
54 pages
2015/5775

A Reform rabbi and a mom of “dedicated little leaguers,” Rabbi Sharon Forman has created a Haggadah that covers all of the bases: it is readable, respectful and fun.

Last Passover, Forman’s 10-year-old son asked her to find a Haggadah with a baseball theme. “We searched all over, and to our surprise, with all of the chocolate, environmental and even animated versions of the Haggadah available, no one had published a creative, sports themed guide to the Passover seder.

“I promised my son that I would write one myself. After all, baseball and Passover both involve stories of wandering, of confronting challenges as we venture out from safety, and of finally coming home. On Passover, we celebrate God’s ‘mighty hand and outstretched arm.’ Baseball also celebrates the ability of a good arm to take a team home.”

Along with another mom in Edgemont, N. Y., artist, Lisa Teitelbaum, and a foreword written by Jon Daniels, general manager of the Texas Rangers, and his brother Ryan, a soonto- be-ordained Reform rabbi, Forman produced a Haggadah with “faithfulness to the contours of a traditional seder.”

With The Baseball Haggadah, Forman has hit a homerun. Sorry about the puns! Even the Wall Street Journal agrees, with Ralph Gardner Jr. writing on Monday, March 16, “Sharon Forman just made the Passover Seder easier and more fun to follow.”

Cleverly divided into Innings and Teams (The Israelites with Moses as captain and The Taskmasters headed up by Pharaoh), The Baseball Haggadah has an Announcer instead of a Leader, Batters instead of Participants and Coach’s Tips instead of Commentaries.

The illustrations are terrific and sophisticated. Moses and Pharaoh are depicted on baseball cards, the seder plate resembles a baseball and the four children (not sons, but children) wear baseball uniforms.

Songs are included after the 15th Inning (the conclusion). There’s a baseball version of Echad Mi Yodeah?, among others.

One of the many aspects that I appreciate about this Haggaddah, is that while fun with plenty of baseball references, it’s true to the service. It’s all there and easy to follow with Hebrew, transliteration and English. The blessings are the blessings. The story is the story.

“It is my hope that baseball lovers of all ages will find this Haggadah to be a meaningful way to connect to the tradition and values expressed in a modern Passover seder, such as love of freedom, kindness to strangers, and concern for the hungry and weaker members of our community,” says Forman.

The daughter of Vivian Fish Forman and Rabbi Lawrence A. Forman, Sharon Forman is practically a Norfolk native. She and her siblings, Dr. Julie Forman- Kay, Rabbi Joseph Forman and Cantor Alisa Forman, all grew up at Ohef Sholom Temple and attended and graduated from Norfolk Public Schools.

In the “About the Author” section Forman mentions the New York Mets and the Cincinnati Reds. Who knows, maybe the next printing will include the Tides.

This song takes place at the Seventh Inning Stretch and is sure to be a winner on its own. I’m sure you’ll guess the tune.

Take Me out to the Seder:
Take me out to the seder
Take me out to the crowds
Feed me some soup with a matzah ball
Pesach’s in spring and is not in the fall
For we’ll root, root, root for the Israelites
As they cross right through the Red Sea,
For it’s one, two, three, four cups of wine
We rejoice that we are free.

The Baseball Haggadah is available on amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com, as well as booksamillion.com and alibris.com.

by Terri Denison

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