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May 7, 2004     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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May 7, 2004

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"-E FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MAY 7, 2004 PAGE 11 ByAmir Efrati place, schooling, denomina- collectors, amassing more tion, locationofyeshiva, and than 100,000 trading cards, IOWA CITY (JTA)--In a Jewish date oftheir death, if mostly baseball, that filled i~91 episode of NBC's game applicable, an entire room in his apart- ow To Tell the Truth," a "There is no question that ment. He sold the collection ea'rded Orthodox Jew baseball cards make baseball in 1982 for $10,000 ~aa~edL Arthur Shugarman morepopularwiththekids,"The idea for the rabbi " me show's celebrity said S~lugarman, who was a cards is logical, he says--a Stumped: Was his joblongtime collector of base- way to tie his love for card- .'opleget ridoftheirball cards. "Rabbi cards are collecting and for gdolim. its, or was he meant to do the same thing" After all, 20 photos of rab- .nation's only maker of for Judaism. bis hang on his living room ling cards? But, and Shugarman wall. few had heard stresses this part, the he- Shugarman says he just Cards--glossies thatroes of the Torah are meant made rabbi cards "official Orthodox rabbis, to pick up where he says and organized" here in the alive, andhad today's heroes of sports fal- United States: The Israelis S.hcs printed on theter:generosity, integrityand have had their own rabbi Jstlike baseballcards, virtue, trading-card industry since Was no surprise that"When I was growing up,at least the mid-80s. Indeed, ~dy on the panel in-we had players like Sandy yeshiva students in Jerusa- rectly pegged Koufax, Brooks Robinson." lem created a minor hubbub the AmericanThey were "really nice in 2002 when they were essor Henry people, who gave to the fans found collecting rabbi cards ,the George Bernard and used to feel something in lieu of Torah study. #hoteaches good about signing auto- And for years, small pho- how to speak graphs," he said. tographs of rabbis without .a proper British accent Whereas the emphasis inidentification or stats on the "Pygmalion." baseball card-collecting to- back had been sold in New flewould dayisonmintconditionandYork for $2-3 a piece. ect rabbi cards monetaryvalue, theconcept Shugarman alsosaid black- too fake to them," ofthe rabbi cards is old-fash- and-white rabbi cards were tgarman, now a 49- ioned: to see and appreciate given as prizes to studious aCCountant in Bal- the person on the card.yeshiva students in the That's not to say that all 1970s. Today, yeshivas are a :ards first came out rabbi cards are equal. Back significant buyer of and 16 years later,on "To Tell the Truth," as Shugarman's cards. has sold more the show's celebrity panel After Shugarman's ap- tnillion cards in five grilled Shugarman, he was pearance on "To Tell the Lrough his non- asked to name the most pro- Truth," which prompted Personalities lific rabbi, mention of Torah Person- Cards Shugarman "Moshe Feinstein," he alities in Time and Sports as a"media that said, instinctively. Illustrated, the cards re- corn- Nobody on the panel hadturned to obscurity--al- can use" to unify heard of the revered dead though they continued to be Jews. rabbi, one of the century's a common item in Jewish marks the most influential authorities stores in North America, as ersonalities' on Jewish law. well as in England, South series, acoiorfulsetof In the rabbi card Africa, Australia and israel. cards that took "rankings,"aFeinsteincard Then, in 2000, the hit arman and his younger is worth more than, say, a comedy film "Keeping the four years Rabbi Nachum Mordechai Faith," the story ofa friend- to make. They Perlow (deceased, from ship between a rabbi and packs of five cardsBrooklyn), just as a baseball priest in New York, plunged t $1 in Jew- card of Dodgers outfielder the cards back into popular ,roceries and book Shawn Green is more valu- culture by showcasing tic- able than a card of Red Sox tional, 1980s-era"Heroes of even lionizing platoon player Gabe Kapler the Torah" cards collected r great rabbis, (both Jewish). by the rabbi--played by ac- ew word for At 5-foot-5, Shugarman,tor Ben Stiller--as a child. interpret the To- who's been an accountant Series byseries, thecards Jewish for 27 years, is soft-spoken have evolved from dark, mdamental corn- and succinct. He wears postcard-size photos into Orthodox Juda- glasses, has a salt-and-pep- sleeker, smaller-framedsets Torah Person per beard, and also goes by with specific themes ex- r~arria,~ . alities isthe his Hebrew name, Chonon. piored on the back. ~itht~,~~ tthat tradition He lives with his wife,Thenewestseries, distrib- PUlse'~card,~t, -collectingim- Marsha, and his four chib uted by the Jewish candy /:; "" ~merican culture dren. company Paskesz, shows '~,~e t anaL ~uon~^he. batting average Laibel, 45, a mortgage rabbis performing tradi- on tL . ~ run totals printed broker, works out ofArthur s tional mitzvahs, or corn- tO ue backs of To s and were raised in a Reform-Jew- from the usual--eating ~r.dser~esand second rabbl ish home in Baltimore but matzahonPassover--tothe UallyI ,moughsubstan- as adults converted to Or- unusual--chasing away a spo arger in size than their thodox, mother bird before taking th~'~'~s COunterparts, had Between 1964 and 1980, eggs from her nest. ~,t OW, English ~ .stats,' both in Shugarman sayshe becameGetting the rabbis' mug 0" ~nd Hebrew: birth- one of Maryland s top card shots for the cards has not I'l~hae~-Orlando chapter of donor ~]nh Will celebrate its l 'mCneon on Sunda . He.athro a~ 11:30 a.m. ~; ,ketho- orsshould reservationsASAP. ~h~haver t members ~0-08~ y ~dermanat407 407-89,~ r Ruth Goldhar at Shoup'~" (436. Sabra mere ~ ucall, bers . 9-1155 rnelene Ross at 407 t 407 8 onaron Sissels ~Yti~e~-~'6299 evenings (okYr Sharon~l'869-6888). "Sselsky, imm ~t Presid ediate -.~,t, wni install the following officers for2004-2005: President:BetteRobertson;Vice President of Education: Marge Pariser; Vice President of Mem- bership: Bernice Diamond; Vice President of Program: Bunny Rosen; Co-Vice Presidents of Fundraising: Paula Fischbach and Leah Levinsky; Recording Secretary: Sharyn Lazare; Cor- responding Secretary: Sylvia Hershbein; Treasurer: Beth Burpee; Record Administrator: Karen Sheffler. Rose and Hy Meltz, who re- cently moved to Sarasota, will be honored by their many friends in Orlando Hadassah. BETTE ROBERTSON, 2004-2005 president of Or- lando Hadassah. been as simple as pointing and clicking. "The living rabbis do not want this honor," Shugarman said. "Theyhesi- tatingly go along because of the value to the children." Ed Bernstein, 60, a Denver photographer who has taken more portraits of gdolim, 275, than anyone else, and who has sold Shugarman photos for the cards, said shooting a rebbe roll is no easy task. "This isn't Hollywood; we're not dealing with mod- els," he said. "It's very atypi- cal for a rosh yeshiva," the head rabbi of the school, "to stop what he's doing and pose for a photo." One rabbi made Bernstein promise to take a widow from his con- gregation out on a date be- fore he agreed to pose. -In an unscientific survey of New York rabbis spanning the more mainstream Jew- ish denominations, none of them took real issue with rabbi cards, though some ex- pressed distaste; others just laughed. Most rabbis agreed that The front of a rabbi trad. ing card. The back of a rabbi trading card. the cards typified the "au- Shugarman said, "A real thoritarianstructure"offer- rabbi knows and lives the vent Orthodoxy. laws as handed down Rabbi Paul Menitoff, ex- through the generations, be- ecutive vice president of the ginningwith Moses."And for Central Conference of how long does Shugarman American Rabbis, the Re- plan to continue making the form rabbinical group, said cards? Orthodox Jews put their rab- "As long as the kids want bis"in a less reachable posi- more cards and I'm not Ios- tion." He added: "If they ing too much money, I'dlike came and asked me to be on to keep it up," he said. one of those [cards], I would (The cards are available say, 'Absolutely not.'" As for by writing Torah Personali- excluding non-Orthodox ties, Inc P.O. Box 32514, rabbis from his cards, Baltimore, Md. 21282) Part-Time Florida Jewish News has an opening for someone to help bundle newspapers on a once-a-month basis, must be able to lift 30 lbs. 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