As the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks faced off last Sunday in the Super Bowl, two rabbis from those cities organized their own face-off, although their confrontation had nothing to do with physical combat and everything to do with the performance of mitzvot.
Rabbi Joe Black, senior rabbi of Denver’s Temple Emanuel, and Rabbi Daniel Weiner, senior rabbi of Seattle’s Temple DeHirsch — longtime friends — initiated their wager shortly after the Broncos and Seahawks won their respective conference championships, two weeks before the Super Bowl.
Rabbi Black, a self-described Broncomaniac who is as depressed as virtually everyone else in Denver at the team’s stunning loss on Sunday, proposed a “friendly wager,” pledging to donate $100 to Rabbi Weiner’s favorite Seattle-based charity in the event of a Broncos loss.
Rabbi Weiner, although a lifelong fan of the San Francisco 49ers (who also fell to the Seahawks during the NFL playoffs) agreed to pay $100 to Rabbi Black’s favorite Denver-based charity in the event of a Seahawks loss.
The private wager, however, grew quite quickly into a public one.
The rabbis put out snappy, rather tongue-in-cheek, online videos asking Denver and Seattle Jews to jump on the bandwagon.
“We can multiply this mitzvah - no matter who wins,” says one of the videos which invited Broncos and Seahawks fans to contribute to the pot and increase its ultimate charitable impact.
Termed a “super mitzvah,” the pot did indeed grow.
The bet ended up making some $3,600, Rabbi Black told the IJN this week.
“It all started off with a fun challenge,” the rabbi said. “Obviously we lost, Jewish Family Service of Seattle won. Had the Broncos won the money would have gone to the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Food Pantry here in Denver.”
The money was raised in less than two weeks with donations from more than 100 people, “pretty much evenly split” between Denverites and Seattleites, Rabbi Black says.
Rabbi Black’s video wager first appeared on Temple Emanuel’s Facebook page and was quickly posted on the Reform movement’s national website and any number of other sites and blogs.
“I wouldn’t say it went viral,” Rabbi Black says, “but it raised a lot of money.”
Even though Denver is not the recipient of the money, Rabbi Black feels the mitzvah will make the Broncos’ devastating loss go down a little easier, at least for him.
“Absolutely,” he said.
“It became something good no matter what happened in the game. It was a super mitzvah, so no matter who won the game, it actually makes the loss a little less painful in the end.”
Copyright © 2014 by the Intermountain Jewish News