Quick: What did the S. Francisco Giants give away during last Wednesday’s Jewish Heritage Night at AT&T Park?
Would you believe a shofar-blowing bobblehead, bearing the likeness of Chabad of S. Francisco’s director Rabbi Yosef Langer, in full Chasidic dress?
No stranger to publicity, the charismatic Langer has garnered gobs of media coverage in the past. His ingenious approach to Jewish outreach in one of the most eclectic cities in the world, has led to a host of well publicized and innovative programs and events. But the bobbleheads blew him out of the ballpark.
People were asking for my autograph,” says Rabbi Langer. “Both Jews and non-Jews were clamoring for the unique bobbleheads that are actually being hawked on Ebay for up to $60. Rabbi Langer was one of the coordinators for the Jewish Heritage Night event which drew more than 3,000 Jewish men, women and children, to the stadium. Some 1,500 requests for tickets could not be filled.
"The Lubavitcher Rebbe gave us a charge” says Langer “to take Judaism to the streets; and what better venue than a home-team game, where people are happy and enthusiastic. I wanted to use that positive energy to kick off our campaign for goodness and kindness."
Chabad S.Francisco is proposing a program to sign up people to do 600,000 random acts of kindness, corresponding to the 600,000 letters and characters in a new Torah scroll which will be written in honor of this campaign. California philanthropist and inventor Maurice Kanbar, has already contributed towards the purchase of the scroll. The campaign was prominently featured at Chabad’s annual tailgate party at the stadium, where more than 1,500 people enjoyed a full kosher BBQ, kegs of HeBrew–the chosen beer and Jewish music and Chasidic dancing.
The famous Chabad Cable Car was on hand offering "mitzvot on the spot for people on the go" while a tefillin booth was a popular destination for the men and boys. During the seventh-inning stretch, the evening prayer services were offered up, right under the famous Coke bottle where Barry Bonds' 756th home run sailed into history just the night before.
In preparation for the Jewish month of Elul and the Jewish New Year, dozens of people blew Shofars in the stands, cheering on their team in a unique display of Jewish pride. Langer is known as the "Rally Rabbi" at the ballpark because of his shofar blowing at last year’s Jewish Heritage Night which rallied the team and generated a flow of favorable publicity, including appearances on sports radio and which became the catalyst for this year’s bobblehead.
Chabad friend and supporter Lauren Levine, CEO of The Concierge Company in S. Francisco, said that “people’s reaction to Rabbi Langer was amazing to watch. Everybody wanted to talk to him, ask him a question or talk about the shofar, he’s a superstar.” Levine also noted that “the energy in the stadium was incredible. So many people from every part of the Jewish community participated…and seeing all those faces just gave me a warm, fuzzy Jewish feeling.