David and Goliath

photoThis time David was Goliath. The scoreboard at the final buzzer: Jews 43 Catholics 39. It was the second (annual) basketball game organized by University of Colorado students demarcated by religion. In addition to the two Sanders boys and their friends, the Jewish boys recruited an Israeli named David, a junior who had come to the United States following his army service. He was older and bigger than anyone on the court, six foot five and broad as a flatiron. Any basketball coach surveying the personnel would immediately know what the game plan should be.


The Catholic boys adjusted and swarmed when the ball was passed to David close to their basket. The game’s result was then in the hands of the guards—the accuracy of their shooting and ability to penetrate the defense. Enter the Sanders boys. Having played basketball together since pre-school they have a brother’s sense of where the other one is on the court and how to maximize each other’s strengths and the team as a whole.


I am reporting on this unpublicized event not because of the basketball game but because of the basketball players. I was amazed by the players on both teams; the camaraderie and friendly respect shared among the players. In a very physical and hard fought contest of wills and skill there was not one argued call, not one cross glance. When the game was over and it was time for a photo, the players interspersed—it was a sea of blue and white flanked by the organizers—the Chabad Rabbi and the Catholic Priest.


I have attended many of my sons’ basketball games when they were not billed as the Jews though they were seen as such by opposing players. In their high school league there were Catholic and Christian schools and the atmosphere was not often pleasant. I wondered on Sunday: Is University a place where former prejudices can be healed as people get to know each other outside their parochial settings?


The basketball players this past Sunday suggest that healing is possible.


In the much publicized event this past Sunday, thousands of people faced devastation in the Philippines. Aid is essential to help those without food, water and shelter and to bury the dead with honor. Jewish Colorado has set up a fund for donations. https://secure.ujcfederations.org/ft2/form.html?__id=28431




1 Comment

Judy M. · November 13, 2013 at 2:57 pm


Great blog as always. I attended 14 years of Catholic schools including college and never heard a
prejudicial word expressed toward Jews and certainly not in my home. One of my childhood playmates was the daughter of an Orthodox Rabbi who lived next door. My older brother was dating a Jewish woman before his death and my younger brother is married to a Jewish woman. My sister-in-law and I agree that what eternally unites us is religious guilt. : ) My first spiritual ‘guru’ was a Catholic monk and a priest I met in 1960 and he told me to read everything Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote before I tackled the Catholic Mystics–and I did. And one of my closest friends, a Jew, introduced me to Kabbalah Experience. I am fortunate not to have been exposed to this kind of misunderstanding and hatred and I am not naive. I recently lost my temper in my Book Club over intolerant remarks about Blacks and Muslims. I guess I’m less tolerant regarding stupidity as I age. Or maybe I need to deepen my compassion and take a long grueling look at my own prejudices.

I am saddened that high school students perpetuate the abuse that divides us as people and inspired by these two teams who are rewriting an old and out-dated script. Someone said, “The most dangerous thing in the world is ignorance.” Now there is a meditation!

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