After Jerusalem terrorist attack, to play or not to play baseball

The youth baseball team I coach here in Jerusalem, the Wildcats — which comprises 15 boys aged 10-12, including my son — had a game scheduled at the Kraft Family Stadium in central Jerusalem on Wednesday at 5 p.m.

In the morning, my biggest concern was whether we would be rained out. Two hours before the first pitch, a package bomb went off within shouting distance of our field, at the International Convention Center. One woman was killed, and dozens were injured.

Should we play the game? Could we play the game?

Our opponents, the Beit Shemesh Rockets, were ready to come. Their coaches offered the classic line, which I heard from the Jerusalem Police spokesman on TV even as I exchanged rapid-fire e-mails and text messages with them: We cannot let such an event disrupt our daily lives. Of course, getting to Jerusalem would itself be a challenge, with roadblocks everywhere.

I polled the parents of my players. Most said they would send their kids to the game. A few demurred, believing it would not be appropriate. No one mentioned the potential danger of a follow-up attack. My wife was concerned that our son and the other boys would see inappropriate things. But in the end, she said that we should judge whether we should play on whether we even could get to the field.

Surprisingly, the roads to Kraft were clear. The umpire had laid out the basepaths and bases. In the end, 12 of my 15 players arrived. Beit Shemesh, one hour late because of taking the backroads, brought 11. We played the game. The Wildcats rallied for a dramatic 5-3 victory on a walk-off two-run homer.

For a moment, the bitter taste of the day had been washed away. The banners for the Jerusalem Marathon, scheduled for Friday and still set to go, fluttered by as we drove home.

I’m still not sure if playing the game was the right thing to do. Did we expose ourselves and our kids to danger? Were we crazy even to consider playing?

It was another Israeli moment — with no complete right or wrong answer.

(Alan Abbey is the author of The Eulogizer, JTA’s daily appreciation column of those who recently passed away.)

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