The countdown to Super Bowl XLIV (that’s 44, people) is exactlyÂ 2 days: 2 hours: 42 mins: 2 secs, but since the Giants aren’t involved, I honestly couldn’t care less. What I can’t help but wonder, however, is what Chabad is doing about the game this year.
You see, it’s been two years since Eli Manning’s “miracle drive” — the 38-yard seemingly impossible pass to David Tyree, followed by a game-winning touchdown pass to Plaxico Burress with only 39 seconds left. But that same day, some avid fans credited the Giants’ Super Bowl success to a source far mightier than Manning’s nimble arm and Tyree’s solid grasp — these fans felt that their newfound tefillin addiction had given the Giants that extra wind. After the team began that season with a lousy 0 and 2 record, lifelong fan Jay Greenfield finally caved to his Chabad rabbi and friend, Yisroel Shemtov, who had been pestering Greenfield about wearing tefillin. If the fan would strap on the prayer boxes just three times each week, Rabbi Shemtov would add the New York Giants to his prayers and ask for a little divine intervention on behalf of the beloved team.
This Sunday in sunny Miami, the New Orleans Saints face the Indianapolis Colts, led by Eli Manning’s older brother Peyton — also known to be a miracle-worker of sorts. As usual, Chabad is getting in on the action.
Rabbi Zev Katz, director of Chabad of Miami Beach (also known as “Chabad on Wheels”) has been at it all week — wrapping tefillin on visitors and localsÂ alike who are gearing up for Sunday’s game. Throughout the week and all day today, Rabbi Katz says he’s had his mitzvah tank parked on Lincoln Road, a thoroughfare for shopping, dining and tourism in Miami Beach. And he’s had no trouble getting Jewish passers-by aboard the Chabad mobile, doing everything possible for just one more mitzvah. He even went so far as to invite anyone reading this post to attend Shabbat at his Chabad House, located on 309 23rd St.
Until then, he’ll continue to get football fans to wrap themselves with tefillin.
“We had one guy who was 13, and he wasn’t really religious at all,” Rabbi Katz said. “But he said he would do it for the Saints.”
Also in the region, Rabbi Shuey Biston (Chabad of Parkland — North Broward and South Palm Beach) is hosting a kosher Super Bowl party with over 100 guests at a community member’s home, where fans will gather first for a service, and then to watch the game.
“We always have a Super Bowl party every year,” Rabbi Biston said.
Of course, not every Saints or Colts fan will actually get to the Miami region this weekend, but Chabad in Louisiana is bringing together Jewish Saints fans for some social action. The Chabad Jewish Center of Suburban New Orleans is striking up a Super Bowl pool, whereÂ local fans have the opportunity to win up to $1,800 ($450 per quarter) just by donating $36 or $72 to the center’s educational programming.
I guess we’ll see on Sunday whether or not that 13-year-old Saints fan’s prayers were strong enough to give New Orleans’ Drew Brees the edge he needs to defeat a seemingly invincible Peyton Manning of Indianapolis.
Speaking of Mannings, let’s rewatch those final moments of Super Bowl 42, especially since the Giants were certainly not interested in offering us New Yorkers anything similar this year. And hey, maybe if a few more Giants fans (Dad?) try strapping on tefillin at their tailgating parties, next season will be a different story.