All Star Season

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All Star Season book coverWhat the Book is About:

Baseball is everything to ninth-grader Reuven and his younger brother, Avi. Both boys are determined to become All-Star players and compete in the championship game. As Reuven’s desire for success grows, he struggles with his increasing jealousy of Avi’s confidence, easy-going attitude, and gregarious personality. This story’s exciting, play-by-play baseball game descriptions make it a great choice for sports lovers.

Jewish Content and Values

  • Modern Orthodox Jewish life in America is the backdrop to this baseball story. Reuven and Avi attend an all-boys Yeshiva day school, where in addition to secular subjects like Math, English, and Science, students are taught Jewish Studies subjects such as Torah, Jewish History, and Jewish Philosophy.
  • While Reuven and Avi are frustrated that some of their baseball games take place during Shabbat (the Jewish sabbath, Friday night to Saturday night), they would never consider playing in those games or even attending them. Shabbat is their time to enjoy family and quiet time without practice or school work.
  • When a game is rained out, both boys join other Jewish teens in visiting patients in a hospital, exemplifying the Jewish value bikkur cholim (visiting the sick).
  • Tikkun nefesh (improving the soul) is emphasized. Struggling with his own jealousy, Reuven finds meaning in the story of Joseph and his brothers. Reuven’s rabbi encourages him to try to overcome his jealousy and tells him, “People who spend their time wishing for something they don’t have, forget to enjoy what they do have.”

Positive Role Models

  • Reuven overcomes his jealousy and pride in order to help Avi succeed.
  • Simcha, newly arrived from Russia, reminds Reuven of the things he takes for granted in America, particularly the ability to be openly Jewish without fear of reprisal. Simcha is a hard worker and makes the school honor roll even though he only learned English two years earlier.
  • Avi is gregarious and a great team player. It is Avi who invites Simcha to attend their baseball games so that he can learn more about this all-American sport.

Content Advisory

No content advisory

Talk it Over

At the end of the book, Avi makes the All-Star team and Reuven does not. Reuven manages to overcome his jealousy and give Avi the advice he needs to win the championship game. Do you think there was more that Reuven could have done to help Avi? Are you sometimes jealous of your friends or siblings? What helps you deal with your jealousy?

More For You

Many people have tried to understand why baseball has become such a favorite Jewish-American pastime. Perhaps it’s because baseball exemplifies the American dream and the ability to succeed with hard work, perseverance, and patience – a recipe many Jewish immigrants utilized to realize their own dreams in this new land. Perhaps it’s because of Jewish superstars like Hank Greenberg and Sandy Koufax, who inspired Jewish pride by openly identifying as Jewish and by sitting out on championship games that took place on the Jewish High Holy Days. Some insist that baseball, with its focus on skill, strategy, and coordinated team work, mirrors historical Jewish values in a way that make it a perfect sport for Jewish Americans to fall in love with.

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