I am a rabbi and attorney who grew up in Baltimore. In past years I have been unsuccessful in getting the NFL to look at the religious holiday schedules before scheduling games that conflict with these observances.
Rather than set up a calendar committee to avoid cultural conflict and disrespect, the NFL chooses to either ignore the issue or view to view it with "benign neglect." Neither is acceptable.
It happens that, aside from being observant, I am also an enthusiastic sports fan. There is simply no excuse for intentionally scheduling sports events on days that conflict with major religious holidays.
On Thursday, the first night ending the first day of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year's celebration, the NFL scheduled the Baltimore Ravens against the Denver Broncos for a much anticipated rematch after last season's Ravens win in the playoffs. For those of us who are observant, that means the game is off-limits — and recording it is not the same thing.
More importantly, the scheduling conflict points to the lack of the accountability the NFL has to the community at large. How can we be expected to teach our children that heritage, culture, family history and faith take priority over money?
This year the Jews are the target. Who's next on the list to take the NFL's greatest cultural hits? What kind of message does that send to the players and their families who are observant, or to their friends who may not be but support them ?
The NFL ought to be ashamed of itself for putting teams, families and fans in a position of having to support this type of discrimination. Have we forgotten that our families came to this country to rid themselves of cultural oppression? Sadly, not much has changed, as the strong still dictate to the weak.
I grew up with the old Colts and remember my heart sinking as the Mayflower vans pulled out of the team's training facility forever in the snow. But that pales compared to the message of lack of respect for Jews by those who schedule these games.
Stuart Jay Robinson, Grand Isle, Vt.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun