It generally isn’t a good day for a baseball team when they have as many errors as hits, but the Miami Marlins versus Washington Nationals game at Nationals Park on Aug. 19 was about more than just the box score. The 1,500 baseball fans from the Jewish community at The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington’s fourth annual Grand Slam Sunday still had plenty of reasons to celebrate.
For starters, the Nationals and the Lerner Family showcased the club’s commitment to being a positive part of the local community through its Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives. Five dollars of each Grand Slam Sunday ticket purchased through dedicated links on the Nationals website were donated to Federation.
The day’s programming included a family-friendly picnic area inside the stadium. It featured Jewish baseball trivia; creative craft activities for children hosted by PJ Library®; delicious kosher food samples from Signature Caterers; and goodies from Federation, like Grand Slam Sunday Activity Books for children and limited-edition hats that transliterated “Nationals” into Hebrew.
“I’m thrilled to be here alongside my wife and four children to celebrate our vibrant community through a sport so rich in Jewish-American history,” said Gil Preuss, CEO of The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.
“As The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington continues our work to strengthen, support, and bring together our region’s diverse community, it’s a pleasure to see so many of us come together today to root for the home team,” he said.
Daniel H. Abramowitz, founder of Hillson Financial Management, Inc. and a trustee of Federation’s United Jewish Endowment Fund, threw the ceremonial first pitch to start the ballgame. He participated in Federation’s inaugural First Pitch Contest and won this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in honor of his commitment to the Greater Washington Jewish community. Before making the first pitch, Abramowitz shared that he has been a supporter of Federation for his entire adult life and was very excited to be on the field.
In addition to the family-friendly picnic area, Federation organized a “Create a Jewish Legacy ‘Thank You’ Reception” ahead of the game, attended by 80 members of DC’s Jewish community who have established a planned giving program for themselves and their families.
Federation also hosted nearly 100 young leaders in the bullpen for a happy hour before the game. Network Level donors (those who donate $1,000 or more to Federation every year) also had the opportunity to watch the game from two party suites.
Individual tickets were available for three separate areas around the stadium at different price points, or attendees could sit with any of 35 participating community organizations in reserved group ticket sections.
Just three doors down from The Network party suites, Development Corporation for Israel/Israel Bonds hosted their eighth annual New Leadership Day at the ballpark during the game in two additional party suites.
Co-chairs Ben and Sara Shlesinger and Todd Schwartz welcomed more than 60 young professionals to the sold-out event, which generated over $36,000 in Israel bond sales. In their remarks, they thanked everyone for supporting “the ongoing development of the State of Israel.” Worldwide sales of Israel bonds have surpassed $41 billion since the first Israel bonds were issued in 1951. In 2017, sales of Israel bonds in the United States exceeded $1.112 billion, the fifth consecutive year investments eclipsed the $1 billion mark.
Adam Herman, executive director of Israel Bonds Washington, thanked the Washington Nationals, the Lerner family, and Irwin Raij for their generosity in supporting the leadership event. Israel Bonds Washington provided a kosher lunch to their attendees, and all four of the Racing Presidents as well as Nationals mascot Screech visited the Israel Bonds guests for some photo fun.
Screech even wore a kippah on Grand Slam Sunday in honor of his 13th birthday and the Jewish community event. It was just one of the many signs of the fusion of America’s favorite pastime and Jewish community celebration that embodied the day.
By Jason Langsner
Jason Langsner is the volunteer chair for Israel Bonds Washington New Leadership and formerly served as the vice chair of communications for The Network at The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.