This Saturday, NFL teams will be readying themselves for their Sunday games (yes, there are Jewish NFL players), hundreds of college football teams will take the field (and yes, there are Jewish players in NCAA football), and Jewish athletes around the world will ask themselves the same questions: To fast, or not to fast? To practice, or not to practice? To work out, or not to work out? To pray, or not to pray? We all know the story of Sandy Koufax refusing to pitch in the 1965 World Series because of Yom Kippur, but that tends to be the exception.
I am not here to offer my advice to Jewish athletic elite on whether or not they should be fasting. But I will play a little game and make some suggestions on what or where five of my favorite Jewish athletes could eat post-fast in they happened to be in town on Saturday night.
For Kevin Youkilis, all-star and Gold Glove first baseman for the Red Sox: Kosher brisket from The Butcherie. For a tough guy like Youk, red meat is the way to go. Granted, he has been rehabbing his thumb and not playing for a few weeks, and the season is basically over for the Olde Towne Team, but to keep the competitive fires stoked a delicious brisket should do the trick. For full observance, he could even slow-cook it in a Crock-Pot for a full day to enhance the flavors.
For Omri Casspi, forward for the Sacramento Kings of the NBA and Israeli National Team: shwarma from Rami’s in Brookline. It can’t compare to the best shwarma in Israel (located, IMHO, at the Central Bus Station in Be’er Sheva), but it’s the best you can get around here. Also, to pick up a truly unique Casspi-related gift for your favorite hoops fan, check this out.
For Deena Kastor, world class runner: a trip to Russo’s in Watertown. Russo’s is the place to go for fruits and veggies, and is a mecca for expat Israelis looking for good produce. After a grueling run, or fast, Deena can pick up some bananas and other good energy food to keep her in top running form.
For Amare Stoudamire (although the debate rages on his Jewish credentials) of the New York Knicks: a fat deli sandwich from Rubin’s Deli in Brookline. Amare just went to Israel and dropped some Hebrew knowledge; now that he’s playing in Manhattan he should get a taste for classic Jewish deli cuisine. A sampling of some of the over-stuffed sandwiches on Harvard Street would be a great place to start before he heads to this Manhattan mainstay come NBA season.
For Igor Olshansky, offensive lineman for the Dallas Cowboys (and native of Dnepropetrovsk, Boston’s sister city in the Ukraine): this is a tough one. All that football players do is eat- especially when you are 6’6” and 309 pounds- so it has to be a big, bad meal, and perhaps one with a Ukrainian twist. In lieu of recommending a venue for him to go, I would instead offer to cook him a homemade feast for the post-Ne’ilah repast: borscht (take your pick from one of these recipes), some good Horilka (Ukrainian vodka), a hearty helping of cholent, and, my personal favorite, stuffed acorn squash.
Tzom Kal — have an easy fast — and Gmar Tov — may you be sealed for good in the Book of Life.