I was working on a completely different essay about Koufax. But in light of events in Overland Park, where I used to live, I expanded on something I wrote about Sandy Koufax on October 13, 2005 in the Kansas City Star — forty years after the Yom Kippur game.
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A rabbi was speeding through Arkansas in the 1960s. Doesn’t that sound like the beginning of a joke? Micah Greenstein was the rabbi and he was trying to get back home for services; it was the day before Yom Kippur. Rabbi Greenstein was pulled over in West Memphis.
“What’s the hurry?” the police office said.
“i’m a rabbi on my way to …”
“What’s a rabbi?” the officer said, not gently. Rabbi Greenstein was beginning to worry that this was going to become very complicated.
“Well,” he said, “a rabbi is a little bit like a priest for Jewish people.”
“Yeah? Well, we don’t know much about that here.” The officer began to walk back to his car to call back to the office and start writing tickets and …
“Please,” Rabbi Greenstein pleaded. “I am trying to get to my congregation before Yom Kippur.”
And, with that the police officer just stopped. He walked back to the car.
“Yom Kippur?” he asked. “You mean the day Sandy Koufax wouldn’t pitch in the World Series?”
“Yes!” Rabbi Greenstein shouted. “That’s the day!”
“Well,” the officer said, “that’s an important day.” And he let the rabbi go.