Jewish St Kilda Football Club Heretics
It’s an unfortunate happenstance that the Jewish High Holidays frequently coincide with the AFL finals. I am ‘fortunate’ enough this year to be supporting a team that failed to qualify for the finals, and thus am not faced with the temptation to compromise my observance of the yomtovim with the thrills of observing a blockbuster football game.
But even with my team (the West Coast Eagles) finishing at the wrong end of the ladder, as I arrive in shul and open my machzor to see the Birchat Ha-Shachar (lit: Blessings of the Dawn) section, which my Birnbaum Machzor uninspiringly translates as Preliminary Morning Service, I can’t help but wonder “Who won last night’s preliminary final?”
Invariably, I will only need to scan the other congregants to find my answer. Without fail, someone who supports the victorious team will be there, silently gloating, adorned with a scarf (or worse, a kippah) with their team’s colours and emblem. This Rosh Hashonah has been particularly bad. With the success of St Kilda, I’ve seen several men wearing kippot with a most inappropriate emblem. For those unfamiliar with what I’m talking about, the St Kilda emblem is essentially a shield that features a big cross on it (see Exhibit A).
That’s right, a kippah with a big cross on it is now what passes for Jewish head covering. Even worse, the style of this shield is heavily reminiscent of the Crusaders’ shields. To quote Bob Marley, “If you know your history, Then you would know where you’re coming from.” Time does not permit a history lesson here, but suffice to say, the Crusades (to quote Wikipedia) “became a part of the history of anti-Semitism.”
Now I’m sure there’s many Jewish St Kilda Football Club supporters reading this now (some of them adorned with crosses) and saying to themselves, “He’s just bitter because his team didn’t make the finals.” Now, I’d be lying if I said that bitterness wasn’t the primary motivation behind this article. However, as a secondary concern, I would like to help Jewish St Kilda FC supporters to find a more appropriate symbol to adorn their regalia.
We all know that St Kilda FC’s moniker is the Saints; the closest Jewish equivalent to saints are tsadikim (righteous ones). From now on, Jewish St Kilda supporters could call themselves the St Kilda Tsadikim. They could remove the crusader’s cross from their emblem, and replace it with the letter tsadik (see Exhibit B).
So there it is, I’ve found a way for Jewish St Kilda supporters to support their club at shule in a less offensive and heretical manner. Now please, if you are going to write in and tell me that I shouldn’t be wearing West Coast paraphernalia because the eagle isn’t a kosher bird, you would do well to save your keystrokes. I don’t subscribe to that.