Heard Round Wexworld: Super Bowl 50
My second child (and first son) was born just one hour before kick-off on Super Bowl Sunday in 2005. From that point on, I knew I would always have an affinity for this momentous day in American life. Little did I know that I would one day live in North Carolina, where people greet each other during the NFL season with the Panthers’ motto, “Keep pounding,” and where Super Bowl Sunday preparations are underway. When I asked my son what was Jewish about the Carolina Panthers, he replied with disbelief — “What isn’t Jewish about the Panthers? The Jewish people ARE the Panthers.” So, we settled on the following nimshal (parable): Cam Newton, the Panthers’ famed quarterback, was originally known primarily for his running ability. Unfortunately, this style of play left him susceptible to injury. Ultimately, it wasn’t the most effective strategy for winning. Instead, Cam learned to stay in the pocket and throw like the other quarterbacks. As a result, he is now a double threat because he is an exceptional thrower and he can run the ball like no other. What is his “Torah?” We must possess multiple well-honed strategies and skillsets to lead and succeed. The Jewish people have always known this truth. If we truly want to overcome the challenges we face as a Jewish people, we need to capitalize on our unique, natural gifts and acquire new skills. Keep pounding!
Jenny Solomon, a Wexner Graduate Fellowship alum (Class 10), is a spiritual director, dynamic adult educator and leader of creative Jewish prayer and ritual who compassionately inspires her congregants and students as they navigate their Jewish journeys. With roots in Dallas, Texas, Rabbi Solomon received her undergraduate degree from Brown University, was ordained from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and completed a doctorate in counseling from the Postgraduate Center for Mental Health. She currently serves as a rabbi at Beth Meyer Synagogue in Raleigh, North Carolina. Rabbi Solomon is the founding director of Libi Eir Awakened Heart Community Mikveh and has published numerous articles on mikveh, parenting and Jewish contemplative practice. She is launching “Yanika: A Jewish Women’s On-Line Nursing Network” in the coming year. Jenny can be reached at email@example.com.
In Denver, there is an old joke: “How do you know that God is a Broncos fan? Because sunsets are blue and orange.” The funniest part of this joke is that I’ve heard people in other cities tell different variations of it about their own sports teams. I find it hard to believe God gets too wrapped up in sports rivalries. When Super Bowl Sunday comes, I won’t be praying for God to look more favorably upon the guys on our side of the line of scrimmage. But I will join in that most beloved of American rituals and cheer on my team. God willing, it will be a good game.
Josh Fixler, a Wexner Graduate alum (Class 25), is a fourth-year rabbinical student at Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion. He currently serves as the rabbinic intern at Beth Haverim Shir Shalom in Mahwah, NJ. While he completes his rabbinical studies, Joshua is also pursuing a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from New York University. Josh has previously served as a rabbinic intern at synagogues in Washington, DC; High Point, NC; and Denver, CO. This past summer, Joshua served as the Rabbinic Intern for Temple Micah in Washington, DC. Josh is also an alum of a number of leadership training programs, including the Tisch Rabbinical Fellowship, the Rabbis Without Borders Rabbinical Student Fellowship and the Jewish Organizing Institute & Network’s Seminary Leadership Course. Josh can be reached at JoshFixler@gmail.com.
I love football because it’s a true team sport where talent can win a game, but true teamwork and intelligence are required to win championships. So, Super Bowl fans: which team will have the intelligence and teamwork to win this weekend? I’m betting on Carolina, and I’ll be there in person to cheer them on….Wexner reunion, anyone?
Estee Portnoy, a Wexner Heritage alum (Washington DC 13), manages the business affairs of NBA Hall of Famer Michael Jordan, overseeing his marketing endorsements, business partnerships, public relations and branding. She also serves on the Executive Committee of the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets. In her “spare” time, she is passionate about Jewish teens and young adults, and serves on the international boards of BBYO and Hillel International. She is the proud mom of 3 children and resides in Bethesda, Maryland. Estee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Denver Broncos are headed to their ninth Super Bowl this Sunday behind future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning, #18. As Manning said to Coach Belichick after the AFC Championship game, this is probably his “last rodeo.” The road to Super Bowl 50 has been one filled with many ups and downs for Manning, but not unlike our patriarchs, he came back at the end of the season and led the Broncos to new life. Now an entire state and beyond are “United in Orange.” As a dedicated fan, I am hoping “Chai” will end his career with a Super Bowl championship for himself, his team and the Orange faithful! Go Broncos!
Lisa Engbar, a current Wexner Heritage member (Denver14), is a renal social worker with Davita Healthcare Partners, Inc. Lisa is involved with numerous organizations, including JewishColorado, Denver Jewish Day School, BMH-BJ Synagogue and Jewish Family Services. She is married to Vern and has two children. Lisa can be reached at email@example.com.
From the youth athlete to the Super Bowl winners, it is all about the individual’s passion, drive and natural ability, and then combining that with the team around you to accomplish a larger goal. But isn’t that true in anything we want to achieve?
Greg Abrams, a Wexner Heritage alum (Cleveland 05), is President of Force Sports. Greg can be reached at Greg@Force-Sports.com.
If there’s one thing that supersedes religion and politics and unifies us all here in Colorado, it’s our love of the Denver Broncos. On the verge of their NFL-tying eighth Super Bowl appearance, the Broncos have been among the most successful franchises in the NFL throughout my 40 years. In fact, most Coloradans would probably opt for worship of the Broncos over their religion if they were given the choice.
Andrew Feinstein, a current Wexner Heritage member (Denver 14), has over 20 years of experience in entertainment, communications, event production, hospitality and real estate management. Currently, Andrew is a managing partner in the EXDO Event Center, Tracks nightclub and Jake’s Sports & Spirits sports bar/restaurant, as well as the EXDO Management property group. He is a co-chairman of the RiNo Art District, as well as a member of the board of the Anti-Defamation League and Rocky Mountain Region and Engage Denver. Andrew is also a die-hard Denver Nuggets fan and is the founder and proprietor of DenverStiffs.com, the most-read blog devoted to the Nuggets and their fan base worldwide. Andrew can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The rabbi of Temple Beth El in Charlotte, NC, where my parents belong, is in a cute challenge with a rabbi in Denver. I’m sure my parents would be pleased if I shared their rabbi’s “sermon” about the Panthers: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/sports/nfl/carolina-panthers/panther-tracks/article57754453.html.
Ruthie Warshenbrot, who grew up in Charlotte, NC, is an alum of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship (Class 23) and Program Director at The Wexner Foundation. She is leading the development and implementation of new initiatives for the Wexner Graduate Fellowship/Davidson Scholars Program, including the Wexner Field Fellowship (in partnership with the Jim Joseph Foundation), alumni engagement and advising on Foundation-wide initiatives. She can be reached at email@example.com.