A New Year: Prayer Before Entering the Lions' Den

Sept. 22, 1979 New York, New York Rabbi Maurice Davis Jewish Community Center Soundview Avenue White Plains, NY 10605

Dear Rabbi Davis:

I realize this is a bad time to ask for a favor with the Book of Life coming up for renewal and all, but the situation is crucial. Now I understand Saturday is Rosh Hashanah--one of the highest of High Holy Days, and I should be in temple; but you've got to understand it's also the Harvard season opener against Columbia.

Now I know, a football game hardly compares with the sanctity of the Jewish New Year (though I've never understood why we celebrate the new year in September), but the Crimson needs all the support it can get. Now that's not to say Harvard's in trouble. Columbia is nothing to write home about. I know you don't read the magazine, Rabbi--neither do I. But someone forced me to read Penthouse's college football preview though I refused to look at any pictures), and the magazine picked Columbia as one of its 20 worst collegiate football teams. Still, I know you're a sports fan and you know that Ivy League football is an unpredictable mess. Look, Princeton tied us last year; so it's conceivable that the Lions could cause a problem.

I agree it's not likely. OK--we're not an awesome team this year, either; but they guys are pulling together. And like Coach Joe says, we have spirit. And didn't you always tell me spiritual commitment is the key to a good life?

I understand this is a time of great introspection, a time to be humble. And with the pope coming to Boston on Yom Kippur, we'll have especially sacred holidays this year. I was at services Friday night, and I promise to fast extra long on Yom Kippur. One thing I am kind of upset about missing is the sounds of the shofar: The Harvard Band won't be a very uplifting substitute.


But I will take the spirit of the holiday with me. I will be praying for a new beginning. (Harvard football really could use one.) Besides, Rosh Hashanah is a festive holiday: I'd never think of going to a football game on Yom Kippur.

I've done some advance thanksgiving. I've given thanks for Paul Connors' return to action, after a long rest due to a groin pull. I've given thanks for Richie Horner's return to health, after rib injury. We need them both, and their recovery has made life a bit easier for Coach Joe.

I'm also thinking about my sins, asking forgiveness for going to the Hong Kong twice a week, for buying LaCoste shirts, for taking Nat Sci 150, and for harboring evil thoughts about the Red Sox. But it's not all that bad. I've resisted the temptation to make fun of pre-meds, I've lived through three years at Harvard without starching my collars or buying tortoise-shell glasses, and I've avoided taking "Boats" or "Gas Stations."

So I'm asking for this favor, to carry inspiration to Baker Field. I realize I'm requesting quite an indulgence, but I don't think you'll be sorry for helping me out this time. Really, Harvard wouldn't make me miss services for a loss, would they? Shanah Tovah,

P.S.--If you have extra space in your sermon, could you say a few words for the team and also pray I do well in my predictions?

Harvard at Columbia--With Richie Horner healthy and Paul Connors set to start, but whether Connors can fit in well after just a few days of practice is a big guestion. Harvard has its full forces ready. Both teams have new offensive backfield, a wealth of rookies, and untested kicking games. Look for Restic to aim his running game at the inexperienced Columbia linebackers. If the backers play hard against the run, Restic says he'll have Burke St. John throw play-action passes to mess up the Lion defense. In the end, Baker Field is ugly and Harvard will take it, 23-13.

Princeton at Dartmouth--Big Green quarterback Buddy Teevens is gone, but the kids from New Hampshire look big and strong. If they can make up for the loss of Teeven's arm, they would vie for the title. Against hapless Princeton, an easy 35-12 win, especially with the hometown Hanover animals cheering.

Brown at Yale--The best game of the weekend, with two serious title contenders slugging it out. Both teams lost talented quarterbacks--Brown lost Mark Whipple and Yale lost Pat O'Brien. Brown has a proven offensive backfield except for the quarterback; Yale does not. Brown also holds a defensive edge with just some secondary vacancies to fill. But for the sake of variety, Yale in an upset, 24-21.

Recommended Articles