Cantor Rita Glassman is no stranger to singing in front of large audiences. That’s her job, after all.
But the cantor at San Francisco’s Congregation Sherith Israel cantor doesn’t often perform in front of nearly 42,000 people, as she’ll be doing on Aug. 2 when she sings the national anthem at AT&T Park for the Giants’ seventh annual Jewish Heritage Night.
“It’s such a great honor to represent my synagogue, Sherith Israel, and the large Jewish community in the Bay Area,” Glassman said.
Glassman also sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Jewish Heritage Night in 2007, the day after Barry Bonds broke Hank Aaron’s all-time home run record.
It was an important time in Giants’ history, and it also was important moment for Glassman, whose parents were Holocaust survivors who immigrated to the United States.
“I remember thinking about my father and what he would have felt seeing his daughter, a first-generation American, singing the national anthem of the country that he immigrated to, where he started a whole new life,” she said. “It may seem like a simple thing [to sing the national anthem], but there’s something very special about it.”
This year’s game will be an important one for the Giants, as they’ll be squaring off against the Arizona Diamondbacks, their fiercest competitors as they look to repeat as division champs in the National League West.
As with any special event night at a Giants game, there’s always a giveaway.
T-shirts, scarves and bobbleheads have been given out at Jewish heritage games in the past, but the Giants are hoping to top that this year with an orange and black menorah.
It says “Go Giants!” in Hebrew, and the team has 2,000 of them to give out to fans who buy special Jewish heritage tickets.
“I think it’s very chic looking,” said Rabbi Yosef Langer of Chabad of San Francisco. “It’s very cool.”
The giveaway won’t be the only special thing happening, as there will also be a number of festivities before the game.
Langer has been holding pre-game tailgate parties in the AT&T Park parking lot since first Jewish heritage night in 2005. This year the party kicks off at 4:30 p.m. in Lot D.
“We’ll have He’Brew beer to keep the party alive,” Langer said. Kosher hot dogs, hamburgers and plenty of vegetarian options will also be available, he added.
Starting at around 5 p.m., a klezmer band and a group of Israeli dancers will perform in the center field plaza area up for a couple of hours. First pitch is scheduled for 7:15 p.m.
Jewish Heritage Night seats this year are located in two sections: left field lower box and infield view reserve. Many local Jewish groups and synagogues have already purchased blocks of tickets (and are selling them to individuals), but fans can also buy tickets through the team; due to the Giants’ dynamic ticket-pricing system, however, prices will go up with demand.
Craig Solomon, the Giants season ticket manager, said there was no single reason why Jewish Heritage Night, which usually draws between 1,500 and 2,500 fans, is so well attended.
“It’s a combination of things that makes the event popular,” he said. “People have a lot of pride in the Jewish community and lot of them love to come out for the game.”
Glassman said it is lovely something as simple and wonderful as baseball can bring Jews — and others — together.
“I often feel when I go to baseball games that there’s a community that forms among the people who are attending the game,” she said. “Anything that involves community is a very Jewish thing.”
San Francisco Giants’ Jewish Heritage Night is 7:15 p.m. Aug. 2 at AT&T Park. $38 and $24; prices subject to change. Tickets available from Giants and various Jewish organizations. Tickets and information: (415) 972-2298 or www.sfgiants.com/specialevents.