For the past 50 years, Nettie Berkson, 91, has attended Dodger home openers religiously. For her grandson Glen Greenberg (no relation to me), the Dodgers have been as much a part of his life as Moses' law. "When I was born," Greenberg said while sitting in the family seats a few rows behind home plate during yesterday's home opener, "it was like, Alright, I'm Jewish and I'm a Dodgers fan."
Jon Weisman, who writes the blog Dodger Thoughts, took that connection between being Jewish and loving the Dodgers several steps farther.
My 13th birthday came in 1980, which is of some significance to the Jewish people. However, I was never a religious person. I flunked out of Hebrew school after my first year because most days, I stayed home to watch the Bugs Bunny-Road Runner Hour instead of attending. I was not moved to change my ways when my older brother was bar-mitzvahed in 1976, nor when my sister was bat-mitzvahed in 1978. In the case of my sister, she had herself quit Hebrew school after a couple of years, but then did a crash course at the last minute when she realized that she was going to miss out on a heck of a lot of presents if she didn't get that bat mitzvah.
Me, I didn't want the presents that badly. I was a pretty content kid. But as the time approached, my father grew a little concerned that I would follow my sister's less-than-sincere path. So, in a fashion he compares to "The Devil and Daniel Webster," he made me an offer. If I gave up my right to have a bar mitzvah, my Dad would give me a lifetime pass to the Dodgers.
Yep, that was the offer. I hope it doesn't alienate the more righteous of my readers to learn that I snapped that offer up in a second. (I would say that about 10 percent of the people to whom I tell this story are appalled to some degree.) But that's why, in at least one respect, the Dodgers are my religion.