Monday, September 14, 2015

5776 And 2019

TigerBlog's people turn 5,776 today.

Something like that. Today is Rosh Hashanah, and it is the start of the year 5776 on the Hebrew calendar.

Today is a huge day in TB's religion. It's the start of the new year, and the start of an eight-day period of reflection called the High Holy Days. It ends with Yom Kippur next week, during which time Jews throughout the world - though not all of the ones in Jadwin Gym - will fast to atone for their sins of the past year.

TigerBlog is about as Jewish as anyone you'll find whose oldest child is a graduate of a high school called Holy Ghost Prep and a freshman at a college called Sacred Heart University. Okay, so he's not exactly a rabbinical school graduate.

Still, he's Jewish, and proudly so. Oh, and according to TigerBlog Jr., the president of Sacred Heart sent an email to the entire university community wishing all of their Jewish friends "L'shana tovah."

When he was little, his mother made several contributions to his religious development. First, and most notably, she and FatherBlog were founding parents of a synagogue, and it was MotherBlog who gave it its name - Temple Shari Emeth, which means "the Gates of Truth." TigerBlog and BrotherBlog were both bar mitzvahed there, and, coming full circle, MB's funeral was there as well.

In addition, she also made her two sons stay inside after school on three consecutive afternoons to watch "Exodus" on the 4:30 movie.

If you are TB's age and grew up close enough to New York City to get channel 7, then perhaps you remember the 4:30 movie. It was what it sounds like, a move on each day at 4:30. From 4:30-6, to be exact.

Of course, factoring in commercials and all, that meant that most movies had to be shown over two days. Long ones, like "Exodus," took three days.

The movie stars Paul Newman and Eva Marie Saint, among others. It tells the story of the birth of the nation of Israel, after World War II, and TB and BrotherBlog watched it on a Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

TigerBlog has seen it since one other time, though all in one sitting. He remembered very little about the actual movie from when he'd seen it as a kid, but he remembered - and still remembers clearly - that his mother made him watch it and why.

The third thing that MotherBlog did was make TigerBlog and BrotherBlog take the High Holy Days very seriously. There was no playing outside. There was no wearing jeans or shorts. There was nothing but reverence. And a tie.

TigerBlog has never worked on the High Holy Days, and he has gone to services almost every year going back to when he was in college. The only times he has worked is when Princeton has played football on either Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur.

One of those years, TB went to Brown for a football game. He fasted the whole time, which wasn't easy, until he broke the fast at a Wendy's off of I-95 in Rhode Island. When he went to services next to Brown's football stadium, he saw a Brown player there in his uniform.

TigerBlog won't be at work today, and as such, he'll miss one of the more fascinating events of each year, Freshman Student Athlete Orientation. Today is the Class of 2019's turn.

Classes begin this week at Princeton, which is really late by most standards, though there are other schools - like Drexel - haven't started yet either. Because of the academic calendar, there have been orientation events that have had to be held on Rosh Hashanah.

Freshman student-athlete orientation always makes TigerBlog think for a few reasons.

First, it's one of a very few times that the entire class of athletes will be together. There is that. There is a welcome event for athletes at the start of each year.

And there is the Gary Walters ’67 Princeton Varsity Club Senior Athlete Awards banquet just before graduation. That's about it.

The time that elapses between orientation and the banquet is a little less than four years. It always seems like it takes about four minutes.

When TB sits in freshman athlete orientation, he sees a bunch of kids just out of high school who find themselves at Princeton University - hey, congrats to TB's employer on again being ranked No. 1 in the U.S. News and World Report rankings - as athletes and students. They are half feeling great about themselves and half scared out of their minds.

TigerBlog got an email from a men's lacrosse freshman this past week that said "it's still seems surreal to me that I'm going to go play lacrosse at Princeton." Multiply that out by 38 teams and 225 athletes or so in the class and that's about how they all feel.

The banquet is the end of the road. Some at orientation won't be athletes four years from now, as there will always be attrition. Most of will make it to the banquet. Some will be four-year starters. Fewer will be first-team All-Ivy. Eventually, someone from orientation wins the Roper and von Kienbusch Awards as the top male and female senior athletes.

The experience they're all about to have? It's undefined now. Some will play four years without a scratch. Others will battle injuries from Day 1. There will be championships won - and some that will get away.

In the end, the perfect outcome is that they get to spend four years playing the sport they love, have a championship experience at least once, get a Princeton degree and ultimately become loyal alums who never drift that far away from their beloved teammates, no matter where in the world life takes them.

Fortunately for Princeton, more often that not, it's freshmen go on to have that kind of experience.

TigerBlog is sad that he won't be there to share orientation with them this year.

At the same time, MotherBlog wouldn't like it if he went.

Happy New Year to all. May 5776 be a time of peace and happiness, whatever your religious beliefs are.

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