(New York Jewish Week) — A newlywed couple took the concept of extra innings to a whole new level on Sunday when they held their sheva brachot — a festive get-together held in the week after a Jewish wedding — at Yankee Stadium.
Maya Rosen and Erez Bleicher, who were married at a synagogue last Thursday in White Plains, New York, attended the Yankees vs. Red Sox game on Sunday before flying back to their home in Jerusalem on Monday. Some 40 friends and relatives joined them on the “Grandstand Level” (aka “nosebleed seats”) to sing blessings that began in the middle of the sixth inning.
“I grew up in a home where, I think, the two pillars were Judaism and the New York Yankees,” Rosen, 29, told the New York Jewish Week. “When we thought about where to do sheva brachot, there was just no other place.”
As members of a traditional egalitarian community, Rosen and Bleicher embraced the custom of having loved ones and community members say the traditional seven blessings, or brachot, over a newly betrothed couple. These blessings are first recited underneath the chuppah and again at the meal or reception following the wedding. In the week following the wedding, they are recited at various get-togethers with different parts of the couple’s community.
Dozens of Jewish baseball fans who didn’t know the couple also joined in the celebration after the couples’ families put an announcement on the stadium’s jumbo screen that read: “Mazal Tov Maya and Erez! Join us for sheva brachot, middle of the 6th, section 423.”
“It was just so moving and touching to see people streaming [into our section] during the middle of the sixth inning, seemingly from every corner of the stadium, and to see people sort of bashfully peeking around the corner from the steps to join us and wish us mazel tov,” Bleicher, 33, said. “People were yelling out and sending good wishes.”
“Logically we knew that we had invited people, but still, on the top of the sixth when all these Jews started streaming in, I was so surprised and it was really moving,” Rosen said of the experience. “My dad said he got the chills.”
Bleicher said another family member jokingly likened the event to “an ingathering of the exiles.”
Even the non-Jewish fans in the section, which was at the very top of the stadium behind the third base line, helped the couple celebrate. “One of our friends leaned over and explained that it was a wedding custom and people got really into it and yelled congratulations,” Rosen said. “It was definitely an interesting middle of the sixth for them.”
As the short, song-filled service came to an end, the couple and their celebrants were gifted with a special wedding present from the Yankees themselves: Shortstop Gleyber Torres hit a solo home run, tying the game at 2-2.
“We were singing ‘asher bara sasson v’simcha,’ which translates to ‘oh God who created joy and happiness,’” Rosen said. “It’s sort of the last, heightened bracha, and as we were saying it, Gleyber Torres hit this homerun deep into the outfield. The crowd went wild. It was really amazing.”
Nonetheless, the Yankees ended up losing the game 6-5.
Though neither Rosen nor Bleicher grew up in New York, baseball has always been a huge part of their lives. “My dad is from New York,” said Rosen, who hails from Pittsburgh. “A big part of our Jewish education growing up was understanding what it means to be a diasporic people and being a minority where we live. It was a lesson both in Judaism and being a Yankees fan from afar.”
The couple met in 2018 when they were both living in Nachlaot, a central Jerusalem neighborhood that’s home to the Machane Yehuda market.
Much to Rosen’s luck, her new husband is a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan — even though he grew up north of Boston. Bleicher joked that their relationship probably would not have lasted had he been a Red Sox fan. “I wouldn’t even be surprised to find that stipulated in an Aramaic clause of the ketubah [Jewish wedding contract] that I hadn’t known has been added,” he said.
Rosen attested to as much. “My parents have always made their position on intermarriage very clear,” she said. “No Red Sox fans.”
Bleicher repped his teams at Sunday’s game, wearing a Cubs jersey and Jerusalem hat. Loved ones and strangers posted about the sheva brachot on social media, much to the couple’s delight. Footage shows that at least one Red Sox fan was in the crowd.
In addition to the sheva brachot at the Yankees game, baseball played a special part of the wedding itself: After the ceremony, Bleicher gave Rosen a custom baseball bat inscribed with the couple’s names, wedding date and the seventh verse from the Shabbat song “Lecha Dodi” which states, “Let’s go, my beloved.”
“It was so fun to have that Jewish content at the ballpark and to have people with us to make it joyful and beautiful in the days after our wedding,” Bleicher said.