The news that Ryan Braun, the star Milwaukee Brewers outfielder who won the National League Most Valuable Player award last year, has been suspended for the rest of the season for violating baseball’s drug policy, is disappointing for baseball fans everywhere. Perhaps more so for those who embraced him as “The Hebrew Hammer,” one of the finest Jewish players in the game in many years.
No doubt some fickle fans in our community will now place greater emphasis on the fact that while Braun’s father is Jewish and a Holocaust survivor, his mother is Catholic, and they’ll proclaim, “He’s not really Jewish, after all.” But hey, he has always said he is Jewish and asserted that he is “extremely proud to be a role model for Jewish kids.”
Not these days, though.
We tend to embrace as Jews the heroes we like, even if their lineage is not fully halachic, and distance ourselves from famous folks who, though clearly members of the tribe, we’re not so keen on. As in: “You mean Lepke Buchalter (the mobster from Murder Inc.) was Jewish?!”
In the meantime, Shalom, Ryan Braun — and is it true Miguel Cabrera’s bubbe and zeyde founded a shul in Venezuela?