Southern & Jewish
Southern & Jewish celebrates the stories, people, and experiences – past and present – of Jewish life in the American South. Hosted by the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life, posts come from educators, students, rabbis, parents, artists, and many other “visitors-to and daily-livers-of” the Southern Jewish experience. From road trips to recipes to reflections, we’ll explore a little bit of everything – well, at least all things Southern and/or Jewish. Shalom, y’all!
This post was co-authored by Lex Rofes and Allison Poirier.
Well, sports fans, Mensch Madness 2015 has been a whirlwind. There have been shouts of joy and tears of sadness, ecstatic victory and heartbreak on the court. After all of the drama, we find ourselves with only two competitors left, facing off in the final game for the championship match-up.
First up, we have the famous Donkey from parashat Balak. This scrappy little donkey pulled off two come-from-behind wins to make it this far: first, she was able to slither past the serpent from the Garden of Eden, and then outshine the Golden Calf. She’s earned her spot, every four-legged step of the way.
Our other final competitor is the Big Fish, most famous for swallowing Jonah when he tried to run away to Tarshish. In this tournament, the Big Fish swam past the Golem and the Scapegoat in early-round play, but now the competition is getting really tough. Will he be strong to the fin-ish? Or are his hopes about to drown?
The capacity crowd of 55,000 at Manischewitz Arena is absolutely rocking. A few celebrities have even been spotted, including Kanye West, Taylor Swift, and Hillel the Elder. Hillel looks at his watch, and is a bit annoyed that the game is starting late. He bellows “If not now, when?!” and the referees quickly gather the competitors at halfcourt for the opening tip.
Game on! And… wait, what just happened?!
Donkey won the jump ball, but Big Fish (no relation to Phish or Reel Big Fish) immediately SWALLOWED HER WHOLE.
What a move! It’s just like that time it swallowed that poor soul Jonah. The referees vigorously search through the rule book to find out whether this strange swallow breaks any rules, but alas, they find nothing and cannot even call a personal foul! So, as the crowd boos, Big Fish racks up a massive 17-0 lead.
Just as things are beginning to look desperate, a mysterious and magical looking man strolls onto the court. Balaam, despite being kicked out of Manischewitz Arena for life earlier in the tournament, has snuck his way back in to help out his loyal companion with words of blessing and encouragement. Looking up into the crowd, he yells “Blessed are those who bless you, Cursed are those who curse you!” (Numbers 24:9)
And with that, Donkey has reappeared. This is a really big disadvantage to overcome, but we have seen Donkey come back from worse in her previous two games. Now it’s time for Donkey to pull out that fancy hoofwork we’ve seen before. Because she has spent some time on the Harlem Globetrotters in preparation for this final game, no one in the crowd should be surprised at this– but the oohs and ahhs are truly deafening. She’s catching up now, only 3 points behind.
In response, Big Fish goes into a full-court press. This is one large-scale defense, and it works! Donkey turns the ball over three times in a row, and helplessly screams “What have I done for you to beat me [and my ball-handling] these three times?”
Despite a valiant comeback attempt, this deficit proves too big to surmount, and the Big Fish coasts to a 74-67 win. It’s hard to swim back up past a competitor who literally swallowed you whole. Por Donkey.
Tidal waves of applause wash over Big Fish. Fans are spouting, er, shouting cheers of victory. Big Fish has trouble cutting down the nets in the ceremonial championship ceremony, due to an inherent fishy fear of being caught in a net (and also, its lack of hands). But things have still gone swimmingly for the big ole sea monster.
Moses, last year’s inaugural Mensch Madness champion, is on the scene to present the championship trophy. He congratulates our 2015 Mensch Madness champion, the Big Fish of the book of Jonah, to a rousing standing ovation from the crowd. These competitors will be working hard in the off-season, and we can’t wait to see who will make it to the tournament when next year rolls around!
Thanks for tuning in, and here’s hoping your bracket didn’t bust early!
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