SUMMER 2019 The Summer of Torah, Hesed, and Charity

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By: Freida Schweky

Sunday morning softball has been one of the Deal’s community most beloved activities since the 1970s. Community members got together recently to spotlight Deal softball and do hesedat the same time.

Spotlight On CARE

On July 4, 2019, the inaugural “Legends Softball Classic” took place at Deal School to benefit a wonderful community organization dedicated to helping families of children with special needs, CARE (Community, Advocacy, Resources, and Encouragement). CARE was founded by a group of parents of children with special needs, together with community activists and rabbis. The organization’s goal is to address the needs of the special children and to help the entire family. For the past five years this program has been filling a void in the community by giving parents of children with special needs somewhere to turn. In times of stress, families reach out to CARE for support and as a source of hope and encouragement.
CARE advocates for these families and works hard to help get them
to procure the benefits they are entitled to. In addition, CARE sponsors different programs such as basketball leagues, sibling workshops, and parent and sibling support groups.

CARE staff members meet parents and families of special needs children to help them to formulate a plan. CARE is known for its high professional standard of confidentiality.   There is no automatic “menu” of services offered. This ensures that each family gets a plan tailor made for them. Families are treated with the utmost care and sensitivity. Staff members meet with families, inform them of the benefits to which they are entitled, and help them to obtain those entitlements. In addition, CARE staff members offer a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, and a wealthof knowledge for these community families.

An Event Is Born

Abe Saka, the event coordinator stated, “We felt there was a glaring void in our community for a game with so much community history and one that we love so much. We saw this as an opportunity to help a very special organization raise money and gain awareness in our community. The idea was to honor past community players, ‘Legends’ so to speak, while raising money for a worthy community-based organization.”

The entire event was dedicated to the memory of DJ Cohen, a beloved community member who passed away this past year. “DJ was a great source of inspiration for myself and many others,” said Saka. “As a dear friend of mine and several other committee members, we felt it was a very fitting way tohelp his legacy live on. The “Team Deej” logo on all the apparel at the events continues the conversation of the impact he left on so many people.”

Event Day

In addition to the softball games, attendees were able to enjoy activities for children, such as water slides and bouncy houses, a breakfast buffet, a barbeque lunch, and a marketplace where community vendors sold their products. A percentage of their proceeds were dedicated as tsedaka to CARE.

 The tournament consisted of eight teams, most of whichwere named for their sponsors. The team names were: “Team Deej,” “Prime Kosher Sports,” “Mazza Queen,” “Bawabeh Realty Holdings,” “Cherokee Jerky,” “Brooklyn Residential,” “M&S Softball,” and “Team SHS,” sponsored by the Shamosh family. The team logo paidhomage to DJ’s love of dressing in costume to bring levity to the other cancer patients and their families, who were dealing with treatments in the hospital. Each team was assigned a Legend who was paired with a captain, who was either a son or dear friend of DJ’s. The Legends coached, managed, or in a few cases, played with the teams. Teams “Cherokee Jerky” and “M&S Softball” squared off in the finals, with “M&S Softball” emerging victorious, taking home customized wooden bats with the tournament’s logo.

Monument Park Unveiled

Yankee’s stadium has its Monument Park, and now, thanks to the hard work of Morris Kassin and Marcia Harary, our community has one of its very own! Donated in honor of Rabbi Jack Mevorah, who started the original Deal Softball League in the early 1970s, the extensive exhibition was truly a sight to behold. Community softballers of all ages loaned out over 140 items of memorabilia to be displayed, including uniforms, trophies, balls, and scorebooks. Oneof the oldest items on display was a bat on loan from David "Hurdle" Tawil that he had used in the mid-1970s. Over 1,000 photos were also on display throughout the exhibit, many of which were generously provided by Natalie Serure. Walking through the exhibit, you could see families strolling together including three generations. Young and old shared their stories of the game, the players, and love of softball. They admired the many trophies from community members’ homes cared lovingly for over so many years.

Cherished Memories
and Friendships Rekindled

Legend Jackie “Peaches” Picciotto said, “It was a magnificent day, a great day for guys like myself to feel young again. It was amazing to see how important the sport of softball was and still is to the community. They truly made us, ‘Legends,’ as they called us, feel like a million dollars. Also, I was put on ‘Team Deej.’ What more could I ask for then to be a part of a team named after my son-in-law?!”

Marvin Saka, one of the honored Legends, said, “My sonAbe told me in January he wanted to organize a softball tournament for charity. I was amazed at what it became. He did an amazing job. Not to mention, he also played and made it to the finals! It started in the 70s, we would play and our moms, wives, and kids would come watch us. This day brought back all those amazing memories! My fellow Legends are my friends for life. When you play in a league with someone, you never forget them. It was amazing to see all those guys in that setting again.”

In the early afternoon, the main field was cleared for the Legends to take turns hitting around. Their faces lit up as they wacked balls clear across the field, one after the next, just like the good old days. Towards the end of the day, right before the final game, the 16 Legends who were being honored received plaques, each with a picture of himself playing in his prime, and a sentiment thanking them for their impact on the softball community.

 “I want to thank Abie Saka and Raymond Esses for bringing back a tremendous amount of memories,” said Ronnie Gindi, a former community softball player who was honored at the tournament as a Legend. “Sharing the comradery of all different people who played that day as well as men I used to play with and stayed friends with all these years was incredible. It was a beautiful day and it was truly an honor to be honored.”

The event was very successful, with over 100 men participating in the tournament, and over 1,000 people coming out to support the cause. The organizers plan on expanding this event next year, and are considering several ideas, such as a two-day event and an old timer’s game.