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June 5, 2009

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JUNE 5, 2009 PAGE 13A By Brad A. Greenberg Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles Playing a position in base- ball known for its abuse on the body, BradAusmus has proven to be one of the most durable Jews in Major League history. Entering this season, his 17th in the majors, the Dodg- ers' new reserve catcher was only 10 games from having played in more games than any MOT in MLB history. Athree-time Gold Glovewin- ner who was inducted into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame five years ago. Ausmus is 40 now and adjusting to his new role as a backup to one of the best catchers in the game: Russell Martin, who started be- hind the plate for the National League All-Star team last July. As of press time, Ausmus had only appeared in eight games. But he's off to a good start, batting almost. 346 in 28 plate appearances as of May 26, and the Dodgers have opened hot- ter than any team he's played for before. "It's been a lot of fun." Ausmus told The Journal in a recent interview. "This is a group of young, energetic, very talented players. So it's been a lot of fun to come to the stadium, even though I am in a new role as a backup. It's been exciting." Ausmus was sitting in front of his locker and opening fan mail as he spoke. It was Jew- ish Community Night at the ballpark Ron Carner. the general chairman of the USA 18th Maccabiah Organizing Committee. was throwing out the first pitch. The Dodgers' only Jewish player, Ausmus wouldn't make an appearance in the game against the New York Mets. Still. he's become the marquee Jewish name on a team with a storied histori- cal roster. Sandy Koufax. one of the greatest lefties to ever pitch, was joined on the mound by right-handed pitcher Larry Sherry, the MVP of the 1959 World Series whose brother, Norm, played catcher for the club from 1959 to 1962. The club has also laid claim to Mike Lieberthal. one of the best hitting Jewish catchers in history, and Steve Yeager, who like Ausmus was a defen- sive standout but unlike the Dodgers' new backup posed for Playgirl. And then. of course, there was Shawn Green. who ranks second in career home runs and hits among Jewish play- ers. In 2002. Green set a num- ber of Major League records when he hit four home runs in a game against the Brewers and notched 19 total bases. Though Green retired before last season. Jewish Dodger fans still haven't recovered from his being traded to Ari- zona in 2005. Ausmus isn't the slugger Green was. (In 1999, he hit a career-high nine home runs.) But he's one of the best Jews to ever call a game. "In a different era, Aus- mus might have been con- sidered one of the greats." Howard Megdal writes in "The Baseball Talmud." in which he ranks Ausmus the third-best Jewish catcher of all time. "But with base stealing deemphasized and power considered the key, a catcher who prevents thefts and provides little pop is less valuable than ever." Ausmus' childhood was not steeped in Jewish identity, with a Protestant Christian father and a Jewish mother. As a child he celebrated Jew- ish holidays with his mother's family, but Ausmus didn't really identify as a Jew. "I wasn't raised with the Jewish religion, so in that sense I don't really have much feeling toward it." he said. "But. however, in the last 10 or so years. I have had quite a few young Jewish boys who will tell me that I am their favorite player or they love watching me play or they feel like baseball is a good fit for them because itworked for me or it worked for Shawn Green or other Jewish players at the Major League level. "It has been a sense of pride. If you can have a positive impact on a kid, ['mall for it." While Ausmus is winding down his career, Major League baseball is experiencing a bit of a Jewish resurgence. Last year, 13 Jews played in the bigs; this year the number fell to 10. but three of those players are among the best in the game. Brewers' left fielder Ryan Braun. Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis and Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler each were All-Stars last year and have been es- sential to their teams' success this year. "If you look at the big three of Jewish ballplay- ers--Youkilis. Braun and Kinsler--you'd have to say it is the golden age of Jews in baseball," said Martin Abramowitz, "president, CEO and chief file clerk" of the Jewish Major Leaguers baseball card company. Ausmus wouldn't say if this stop would be the last of his career. He still feels like he could go out and play every day, but the Dodgers signed him to a one-year. $1 million contract, and at this stage Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers Brad Ausmus sits in the dugout during a game at Phoenix. Ausmus. whose family lives near San Diego, really doesn't want to play anywhere but Southern California. That limits his options. "I'm not going to worry about it." he said. "So far I've had a lot of fun doing this in L.A." Brad A. Greenberg is a senior writer for The Jew- ish Journal of Greater Los Angeles. By Dan Pine j. the Jewish weekly of northern california SAN FRANCISCO Drop- ping her daughter offat school on the morning of May 26, Rabbi Camille Angel turned to the first-grader and said, "I'm not picking you up today. I'm going to get arrested." A few hours later, that's exactly what happened when Angel was arrested along with some 160 others, including 30 religious leaders, in front of the California Supreme Court at Civic Center Plaza in San Francisco. They were protesting the court's decision to uphold Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marnage in the state. The arrests were part of a long day of protests and counter-protests that in- cluded marches, sit-ins, rallies and prayer. As the court's decision ~vas announced at 10 a. m. May 26, protesters gathered in Civic Center Plaza. Among them were Angel, spiritual leader of the largely LGBT Congregation Sha'ar Zahav, and fellow rabbis Sydney Mintz of Congregation Emanu-El and Reuben Zellman of Sha'ar Zahav. Joining a crowd of morn- ing protesters estimated at a couple hundred, Jews from around the Bay Area congre- gated under and around a chuppah set up near the steps of the court. The participants were from synagogues, the Jewish Community Relations Council and the S. F.-based Jewish Community Federa- tion's LGBT Alliance. "We were all incredibly upset, "Mintz said. When Mintz and many oth- ers sat down in the streets near Civic Center Plaza, the arrests began, though Mintz praised the police department's han-" dIing of the incident. "They were mostly gay and lesbian cops, " she said. "They were incredibly respectful." Charged with misdemean- ors, arrestees were handcuffed and taken to a nearby city jail for booking, then held for three hours in an open-air holding facility. Shortly after her release, Mintz said, "The spirit was great. The fight is not over." Not everyone in the Jewish community lamented the court's ruling. Amber Weiss stands be- neath a chuppah to protest the Supreme Court ruling upholding Proposition 8. The Orthodox Union released a statement saying that it "op- poses in principle the recog- nition of same sex-marriage based on Jewish religious tradition, and we reiterate our opposition to this radical change to a timeless institu- tion today." Similarly, the Orthodox or- ganizations Agudath Israel of America and Agudath Israel of California said in a statement: "We are gratified that the will of the people of California to preserve the traditional meaning of marriage has been legally affirmed by the State Supreme Court." The statement went on to decry the court's further deci- sion to keep as legal the 18,000 same-sex marriages thatwere conducted in the five-month window following the state court's May 2008 ruling to legalize same-sex unions. That aspect of the court's May 26 decision proved small comfort to the estimated crowd of 2,000 protesters that gathered later that day on the steps of City Hall for a late- afternoon rally and march. "I don't like the courts carving away at rights," said attorney Deb Kinney, who co- chaired the Northern Califor- nia finance committee of last fall's No on 8 campaign. "The court's original decision [le- galizing same-sex marriage] was so well reasoned and well thought out. It's a shame they couldn't stand by this. I have a lot of respect for this court, but they failed today." Carrie Rice, membei'ship director for San Francisco's Congregation Sherith Israel, stood near the chuppah with a sign that read, "I am Jewish. I want equality." "As a progressive Jewish community, "Rice said, "we believe we're all made in God's image and have the same rights. It's my responsibility to stand up for all people." DanielIe Askini, a transgen- der woman arrested earlier in the day, returned to Civic Cen- ter for the evening rally and march. The granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, Askini said, "It's important to send a message we're not going to do business as usual. All minority groups should be concerned." Askini added that her family has been fully supportive Of her as a transgender person, noting that she received a call from her Holocaust-survivor grandmother that morning. "She said 'Be safe,'" noted Askini, "'and eat something before you go to jail. They may not feed you there.'" From Civic Center Pla- za. the 2,000 or so people marched past the Supreme Court building, shouting "Shame! ShameF' before heading toward Yerba Buena Gardens, where a second rally took place. There, several speakers addressed the crowd, among them State Sen. Mark Leno. The San Francisco Democrat, who is both Jewish and gay, blasted the court's decision as "foolishness... some same- sex marriages are recognized; others are not. " JCRC Executive Director Rabbi Doug Kahn also spoke to the crowd, saying, "We stand with all who oppose the increasingly desperate efforts to deny full civil rights to those who simply ask to marry the one they love." He added: "We stand to- gether today because we know from our own [Jewish] historical experience the pain, the vulnerability, and even the sense of violation that comes with discrimination, and we are determined that our friends in the LGBT com- munity finally be spared that pain and injustice." As the big rally wound down, dozens gathered at Congregation Sha'ar Zahav for an early evening Jewish prayer service, led by Angel. Toward the end of the service, the rabbi addressed the sanctuary while waving the "notice to appear" sum- mons issued to her by the San Francisco Police Department about eight hours earlier. "I'm hoping you'll all come to the hearing," she said of her upcoming court appearance. "It's likely to be dismissed, but I think it's incredibly important you show up for me." Congregants responded with cheers and applause. Before the last congregant headed home, Angel reflected on the day's events. "It was clear to me that the justices were saying that the system is broken," she said. "What gives me hope is the LGBT movement has gotten itself incredibly organized. There are days when the laws of the land must be protested. This was one of those days." And as for her early morn- ing conversation with her first-grade daughter, in which Morn predicted she'd be arrested, "At first she was horrified," Angel said. "But then she came to un- derstand." Reprinted with permission from j. the Jewish weekly of northern california, www. Temple IsraelSisterhood Requests the p asure of your company at the - GOLDENJUBILEE Given in honor of PHYLLIS K MENOFF In recognition of more than 50 years of Dedicatedservice to the CI mp and Community Sunday, June 14, 11:00 am to 2:00 pm At Maison & Jardin 430 South Wymore P aa , Altamonte Springs Cost: $40 (luncheon & entertainment) P ase P SVP by Tuesday, June 9 to the Synagogue Of ce At 4O7-647-3O55 Or online at T~ple ! 50 S. Moss Road Winter Springs, 32708 407-647-3055 / Templel sraelg~ciflorida, org