Come Feb. 4, Rabbi Max Davis of Congregation Darchei Noam near Minneapolis will see a different kind of Eagle than the bald eagles he sees when walking to Shabbat services from his home.
His modern Orthodox congregation is opening its doors to Shabbat-observant Eagles and Patriots fans heading to the Twin Cities for the Super Bowl who still want to celebrate Shabbat the way they would at home.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity to reach out to the Jewish community beyond our own,” he said “and we knew there would be thousands of people coming to the Twin Cities for the event and thought it might be a great opportunity to celebrate Shabbat with our sisters and brothers from other communities.”
That it’s Eagles fans descending on the city is not lost on Wendy Khabie, a Darchei Noam congregant and understandably dejected — yet welcoming — Vikings fan.
But for her, offering to host families is a chance to introduce the Midwest lifestyle to those who may not be familiar with it.
“The irony here will be that we actually have to be nice to some Eagles fans who bounced us out of the opportunity to make history,” she laughed, “but we’re excited to introduce the Minneapolis Jewish community to people who don’t necessarily understand or appreciate that you can live in the Midwest and still have a Torah observant lifestyle even though you’re not on the coast.”
The chair of the shul’s membership committee first came up with the idea back in September, before anyone knew how the Vikings’ — or the Eagles’, for that matter — season would progress.
But as it had already been announced Minneapolis would host the Super Bowl, it offered an opportunity to give families coming for the game a more immersive Shabbat experience than just staying in a hotel.
As fans from both sides of the field have started to reach out about accommodations, she said they at least know not to house Eagles and Patriots fans together.
“I don’t know if we’re gonna hold hands and sing ‘Kumbaya,’” she laughed, adding they might even teach their guests the “Skol” chant “so they know how to root for the Vikings when the time is appropriate for that.”
There will also be some other activities going on throughout Shabbat to bring the communities together. And no matter who comes out on top — though we know it will be the Eagles — she hopes that it opens fans’ eyes to a new lifestyle.
“I just find it ironic and nothing is coincidence in this life that it was the Eagles who eliminated us yet here we are saying let bygones be bygones, she said, adding, “we’re not necessarily saying we’re rooting for the Eagles, but we can put that aside and work together.”
Davis was hesitant to allow the bald eagles that soar over his head to be a good sign for the upcoming game, but the idea of bringing community together is certainly a touchdown.
“Well I’m from Boston, so I don’t know if I want to give too many good signs,” he laughed. (He’s only nominally a Patriots fan, though.) “I think it’ll be a wonderful gathering spot for people from different communities.”
Those interested can email [email protected]. Requests will be granted based on availability on a first-come, first-serve basis. Khabie also noted there will be some “vetting” involved to confirm potential guests’ observance practices.
[email protected]; 215-832-0740