The last time the New York Yankees battled the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series, Jewish fans wanting to nosh on a kosher hot dog would have had to brown-bag it. And as for getting a last-minute prayer in while wearing the small black leather boxes known as tefillin? Forget about it!
But for the thousands of people who came by subway, bus, train, car and foot Thursday night for Game 2 of the historic matchup at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, Rabbi Levi Shemtov, director of Chabad-Lubavitch of Riverdale, N.Y., helped Jewish men don tefillin in the parking lot; he and his children also handed out Shabbat candles to passing women.
Inside the brand-new stadium, meanwhile, a kosher kitchen hawked hot dogs, hamburgers, falafel sandwiches, deli meats and shwarma, and provided gourmet kosher food for the VIP suites.
“I remember sitting in the old stadium over 45 years ago,” remarked Barry Goldberg, 76, standing just yards away from one of Ouri’s Kosher Caterers’ five concession stands. “I would have never imagined that there would be a Jewish presence and kosher food at a Yankees game.”
On the field, the Yankees scored three runs to the Phillies’ one, tying the Fall Classic at one game apiece.
Outside, Shemtov sported a well-worn Yankees cap in the place of his more-traditional black fedora. He told passers-by that his attire notwithstanding, any Philadelphia fans that came by to his Chabad House for Shabbat would get the same food as everyone else.
“This is a special opportunity,” he said more seriously. “We’re here to help fans celebrate in a distinctly Jewish way.”
Patrons place their orders at one of five kosher concession stands at Yankee Stadium.
Credit: Yossi Percia
Karen Lowe, an accountant from Queens, said the rabbi and his family made quite a sight.
“I’m an underappreciated Phillies fan,” she said. “But, the atmosphere of the games was incredible and I appreciate a rabbi that roots for his team.”
In Philadelphia, where the Bronx Bombers routed the home team in Games 3 and 4 Saturday night and Sunday, Rabbi Baruch Kantor of the Chabad House serving Temple University said on Monday that he was planning on setting up a stand outside Citizens Bank Park for Game 5. Last year, he helped hand out Shabbat candles outside the stadium for a rally celebrating the Phillies’ victory against the Tampa Bay Rays in the 2008 World Series.
“People here are very excited for their team,” said Kantor, who during last month’s holiday of Sukkot, brought a mobile sukkah to the stadium’s parking lot when the Phillies faced off against the Colorado Rockies. “Everybody is hoping they’ll be able to hold off the Yankees.”
Shalom Klein contributed to this article.