Heading Home: The Tale of Team Israel

January 21, 2019

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The BIG Saturday Night Celebration of Jewish Film and champagne reception

Saturday, January 26, 7:15 pm, Sandler Center for the Performing Arts

Tickets: $35; Under 21: $18

Ty Kelly, Team Israel and New York Mets player, and Seth Kramer, director, will speak following the film.

Had Israel competed in the World Baseball Classic…Dayenu!

Heading Home: The Tale of Team Israel is the David-and Goliath story of Israel’s national baseball team as it competes for the first time in the World Baseball Classic. The film’s directors, Seth Kramer, Daniel A. Miller, Jeremy Newberger, and MLB.com reporter Jonathan Mayo are childhood friends who met while attending Jewish sleepaway camp in Verbank, New York. Little did they know at the time that Camp Young Judea Sprout Lake would be the thread that kept them together and gave way to the creation of Heading Home: The Tale of Team Israel.

In late 2016, Jonathan Mayo was reporting on the teams gearing up to compete in the World Baseball Classic. When Mayo watched the minor league no-names and retired major league has-beens join the roster for Team Israel, he knew his childhood friends of Ironbound Films needed to document the transformation that was taking place. This wasn’t a powerhouse country recruiting competitive players. This was a special story unfolding of washed-up American Jewish baseball players undergoing profound transformations both in visiting Israel and representing it on a world stage. The filmmakers and Mayo went on to witness the team’s run at qualifying for the 2021 World Baseball Classic and the lives it changed.

As spring was beginning and Passover was approaching in March 2017, Mayo reflected on the amazing and improbable story of triumph for Team Israel. The theme that kept coming to mind was the song sung at every seder: Dayenu. Mayo thought about the real meaning behind what the team had accomplished and how if the team had accomplished just a fraction of its success, that would have been enough. With this in mind, he wrote his version of Dayenu for MLB.com in March 2017:

“Had Jewish professional baseball players in the United States merely embraced being known as Jewish ballplayers and not agreed to play for Team Israel in the Brooklyn Qualifier last fall, Dayenu.

Had Team Israel gone to the Brooklyn Qualifier, but not qualified, Dayenu.

Had Team Israel won the Brooklyn Qualifier, but as a group not agreed to go on a life-changing tour of Israel, Dayenu.

Had a group from Team Israel gone on a life-changing tour of Israel, but not won a game in Korea in the opening round of the World Baseball Classic, Dayenu.

Had Team Israel won one game in Korea, thus qualifying for the 2021 Classic, but not advanced to the second round in Japan, capturing the attention of the entire baseball world, Dayenu.

Had Team Israel advanced to the second round in Japan and captured the attention of the entire baseball world, but not gone undefeated to win the pool, earning crucial dollars for the Israel Association of Baseball for development and continuing to serve as role models for Jewish baseball players everywhere, Dayenu.

Had Team Israel gone 3-0 in Korea to win the pool, earning crucial dollars for the Israel Association of Baseball for development and serving as role models for Jewish baseball players everywhere, but not won a game in Japan, thus allowing fans of the team to dream of trips to Los Angeles, Dayenu.

Had Team Israel won Game 1 against Cuba, giving fans fanciful dreams of heading to California, but not gone toe-to-toe with twotime Classic champion Japan for five innings before running out of pixie dust, Dayenu.”

Looking at that lasting legacy, there can be no doubt in anyone’s mind that what this team accomplished would certainly have been enough. Dayenu.”

By Callah Terkeltaub


This film is presented in partnership with BBYO and ODU Hillel.

Heading Home: The Tale of Team Israel, is a part of the 26th Annual Virginia Festival of Jewish Film. For more information on the festival, contact Arts + Ideas manager, Callah Terkeltaub at CTerkeltaub@ujft.org or visit JewishVA.org/FilmFestival.

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