The San Francisco Giants’ home sellout streak this season reached 52 games on the night of Aug. 2. The team’s losing streak reached five.
But even though many of the 2,000 fans who bought Jewish Heritage Night tickets were disappointed by another loss — and a mediocre outing by Giants’ starting pitcher Tim Lincecum — they did leave AT&T Park with a lovely parting gift: an orange and black mini-menorah emblazoned with the words “Giants” in English and “Go Giants!” in Hebrew.
“I came here two years ago for Jewish Heritage Night and they gave out a T-shirt,” said San Francisco resident Sam Draisin, who cheered the Giants on feverously from the last row of the upper deck. “The menorah is much better. I’ll probably use it.”
While some fans might have expected a cheap, flimsy menorah, the free souvenir was actually quite solid — made of a sturdy material called polyresin — even though it measured just 5 inches by 3 inches.
Cantor Rita Glassman of San Francisco’s Congregation Sherith Israel sang the national anthem before the start of the game. She also sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the Giants’ Jewish Heritage Night in 2007.
In the two hours before the game, the center field plaza area was vibrant as a klezmer band and Israeli dancers performed. As the 7:15 p.m. first pitch neared, the fans there for Jewish Heritage Night headed to seats that were grouped together in several sections, either in the lower boxes in left field or the upper deck.
Since there was little to cheer about at the game for Giants fans, the biggest celebration might have been in Lot D parking before the game. There, Rabbi Yosef Langer of Chabad of San Francisco held his regular Jewish Heritage Night tailgate mixer.
More than 400 fans from different synagogues and Jewish organizations — and of different faiths — celebrated by drinking free He’ Brew beer and eating what seemed to be a nearly endless supply of kosher hot dogs, veggie dogs, cotton candy and popcorn. (There were actually 750 hot dogs and veggie dogs, and zero were left when the party ended.)
A number of people from Touro University California, an independent, Jewish-sponsored institute of higher learning located on Mare Island in Vallejo, were also at the party. Touro University was the sponsor of this year’s Jewish heritage game.
A motorized cable car owned by Chabad was nearby, decorated with posters from past Jewish heritage events. Langer called it a “mitzvah mobile.” He also said he was very happy with the pre-game party.
“I feel tailgating is a subculture and the happening thing,” Langer said. “There was young and old, black and white, transgender; everyone was represented. It was beautiful.”
Adam Keim of San Francisco said he always has a good time at Langer’s party and at the game — and he’s not even Jewish.
“It’s very welcoming and open,” Keim said of the tailgate party. “Everyone is very friendly. You can tell even not being in the [Jewish] community that it’s a very nice thing they do.”
Langer’s daughter Chaya, who helps her father with the pre-game parties every year, said she loves seeing people of all groups come together.
“I think that [Jewish Heritage Night] is important because it brings Jews from all walks of life together,” Chaya said. “Jews and non-Jews celebrate Jewish Heritage Night and it breaks barriers and labels of Conservative, Orthodox and Reform because it welcomes everyone.”
As for the game, the Giants blew a chance to win their third straight Jewish Heritage Night game by losing 6-1 to the Arizona Diamondbacks. They are now 3-4 in Jewish Heritage Games at home.
Paul Goldschmidt hit a long home run off Lincecum to fuel the Diamondbacks, and while it might have made an interesting footnote to the game, the rookie first baseman is not Jewish.
Chaya Langer said that no matter what happens during the game, the unity and togetherness of the event is what is truly important — and that she’s proud of her father and his contributions at the Jewish heritage games.
“It’s inspiring to see all of the good work