While pundits spent the days leading up to Super Bowl XLVIII dissecting the offense of the Denver Broncos and the defense of the Seattle Seahawks, I dedicated my programming to topics of greater interest to Jewish listeners and viewers around the world.
Over the course of Super Bowl week several fascinating tidbits were revealed:
- Jay Glazer of FOXSports (who joined me on air) is not only one of the NFL’s top insiders but also a great inspirational speaker who loves Judaism;
- Jewish Super Bowl Winners John Frank and Alan Veingrad both became Orthodox in the same month (May 2003);
- David “Dr. Laz” Lazerson almost convinced Buffalo Bills coach Marv Levy to put on tefillin before Super Bowl XXVIII;
- SodaStream shocked the Jewish world for the second time in one week when they announced that their Welch’s Grape flavor will be certified Kosher by the Orthodox Union (OU);
- Steven Fulop, the Mayor of Jersey City and the “host” of the two Super Bowl XLVIII teams, is a yeshiva graduate.
Following the big game, I learned one more important fact:
When you present a Super Bowl halftime show featuring Lenny Solomon and Shlock Rock, you had better include fan favorite “Minyan Man” on the set list or you will get hounded by Lenny’s hard core fans.
I am referring, of course, to the song selection for the Nachum Segal Network’s first-ever “Kosher Halftime Show,” a 20-minute online experience that streamed on NachumSegal.com as an alternative to the NFL’s big show.
Yes, you heard right: a “Kosher Halftime Show.”
You see, the halftime show has become a key component of the big game, and the NFL consistently brings the biggest names in contemporary music to play on the main stage. The only issue is that those acts often contain inappropriate content and don’t appeal to many in the Jewish crowd. We wanted to make sure that there was a quality alternative that was clean, entertaining, and fun for everyone.
When I was growing up, sporting events (live or televised) were almost universally accepted as family-friendly entertainment. Today, however, these events have been hijacked by advertisers who use every trick in the book to sell their products. And as we well know, many of these tactics are beyond the pale.
In addition, the halftime shows have gotten out of hand, with many of the musical act using their Super Bowl platform as an opportunity to launch a scandal that will keep their names in the headline for several news cycles.
But letting family entertainment “die on the table” didn’t sit well with us. And so, we hatched a plan to make sure that the many families who had planned on watching the Super Bowl together could do just that.
With close to 10,000 viewers enjoying the “Kosher Halftime Show” during the game, it’s clear that our efforts were not in vain. We scored a touchdown for family values and set a precedent for ourselves and others.
The crucial take-home message is that while we should feel comfortable availing ourselves of the numerous cultural events and experiences that this world has to offer, we should never believe that it’s an “all or nothing” arrangement. If there are elements of an experience that don’t match our values (like a Super Bowl halftime show), we must adjust those elements and elements of our own that build us up spiritually and strengthen our core values.
It might sound ambitious, but it’s actually quite basic. Because our Jewish values matter, and we are the only ones who are going to stand up for them, we need to resign ourselves of the notion that accepting a prepackaged culture won’t affect our spiritual well-being. That would be a lazy and, ultimately, dangerous way to think.
Instead, we need to shake off the complacency and start figuring out how we can enhance our lives through “Kosher” experiences. The Nachum Segal Network will gladly lead the charge.
Come take the field with us and let’s tackle this challenge together.