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For The Lulav of the Game
Washington Nationals might have just put up Major League Baseball's first sukkah.

By Ira Gewanter
Special to the Jewish Times


Members of Ohr Kodesh Congregation of Chevy Chase stand with their rabbi outside the sukkah they built at Nationals Park. Shown from left to right: Synagogue President Brian Israel, Jesse Sadikman, Elisha Friedman, Rabbi Lyle A. Fishman, and Jeremy Jacobson.  (photo Zoe Reznick Gewanter)

Washington, D.C., October 1, 2010 - Many Jews celebrate the first days of the Sukkot holiday by visiting neighborhood sukkahs. Participants make a blessing over sweet treats and enjoy sharing the holiday with each other. Colloquially, this tradition is known as the “sukkah hop.”

This year, from September 26 - 28, Jewish baseball fans in the region had the unusual opportunity to extend their sukkah hop all the way to Nationals Park in Washington, D.C.

Unlike other stands, this ballpark booth was erected by members of the Ohr Kodesh Congregation of Chevy Chase, MD. Each season, nearly 400 congregants attend a game at Nationals Park. They are hosted by the Lerner family, who are majority owners of the Washington Nationals ball club and have been active synagogue members for nearly 50 years. Realizing that this year’s outing happened to coincide with the festival of Sukkot, synagogue president Brian Israel proposed that the congregation build a sukkah at the stadium.

Principal owner Mark Lerner wholeheartedly supported the project—what he believes to be the first and only sukkah to grace a Major League ballpark. The vision was realized hours before game time on September 26.  The park's Main Concourse featured a beautiful sukkah adorned with decorations crafted by children of the Ohr Kodesh community.  Convenient access to The Kosher Grill nearby made it the perfect destination.

In true sukkah hop fashion, fans immediately began enjoying the new attraction, admiring the décor and greeting fellow visitors.

Andrew Movit, an accountant from Virginia, was pleasantly surprised to discover the sukkah. “It is really nice to see a gathering place for the Jewish community in a non-traditional setting,” Movit said.

Basha Chaya Shrater Seeman, 4, from D.C., was absolutely delighted to eat sandwiches with her family in the sukkah. Her mother, Robyn, explained that Basha is probably the Nationals’ number one fan. She jokingly attributes this devotion to the fact that Basha’s birth occurred during the team’s inaugural season.

The celebration in the sukkah was enhanced by the arrival of Ohr Kodesh's Rabbi Lyle A. Fishman, who threw out the ceremonial first pitch and was sporting a Nationals cap with the team's name in Hebrew.

“There have been a number of events already (commemorating my 25 years of service at Ohr Kodesh), but nothing else is like this,” he said. “For somebody who loves baseball, this is great.”

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