Around the League

ABC7NY: 'Yom Kippur: Minor League ballpark transformed into open-air synagogue'

By Sandra Bookman, ABC News

SOMERSET, New Jersey (WABC) -- The COVID pandemic didn't stop a Jewish congregation from hitting a home run on their holiest day.

It wasn't a catcher, but rather a cantor standing behind home plate at TD Bank Ballpark in New Jersey.

On this Yom Kippur, the home of the Somerset Patriots Minor League baseball team was transformed into an open-air synagogue.

About a thousand congregants from Temple Har Shalom, were spread out across the ballpark observing what is the holiest day on the Jewish calendar.

"We could sit with our families but be socially distanced from others and yet see everybody," one congregant said. "Everybody is just so happy to be able to be together and see each other after all this time."

Josh Kalafer is not only a member of Temple Har Shalom, he and his family own the Somerset Patriots.

When he was asked about using his ballpark for today's service, he said it was a no-brainer.

"It's one of the most meaningful things we've ever been a part of," Kalafer said. "Because after all of this separation, after all of this distance, after all these virtual things - good as a lot of them are, as well intent as a lot of them are - nothing is better than having people get together. To do it in a safe, socially distanced but still very meaningful and personal way."

Rabbi Randi Musnitsky says that despite what has been thrown at them, she believes the community can make the best of it.

"I think of our ability here at Temple Har Shalom to be able to hit the ball out of the park even though it was a curve ball, it's a reminder to all of us that no matter what comes our way, we can make the best of it," Musnitsky.

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