Religious institutions are a great place to meet like-minded people. Whether at your local church or synagogue, chances are, you are likely to connect with the people around you. But, what if you want to get together during the week, or on the weekends outside the religious edifice?
For synagogues in the Philadelphia area, the Delaware Valley Synagogue League has the answer. For the last 25 years the DVSL has organized competitive softball games, putting 21 teams from 15 different organizations into competition for a coveted trophy every summer.
“We pray together and we play together,” Jonathan Tabas said, explaining the twin thrusts of this league.
Tabas, the captain for the Blue Team at Temple Beth Sholom in Elkins Park, has been playing in the league for 11 seasons.
The league, which has been around for a quarter century, has players that range in age from 18 to 65. And despite the growing number of players over 50, most still agree the league is very competitive.
” The league has gotten more competitive over the years. That’s a good thing,” said Scott Wexler, a 54-year-old player for the Kesher Owls.
“We have umpires, screaming, screaming at umpires and even guys getting thrown out occasionally. Not too often, though.”
Wexler, who is playing his 22nd season in the DVSL joked a bit about the competition level considering the age of some of the players. But, he said, he is pleased with the level of overall drive of players regardless of their age.
Some of the younger players, like Beth Sholom’s 27-year-old Loren Gershtein, say though it’s obvious there are older guys on the field, age is not really a factor.
Players with twenty or more years in the League “don’t really tell too many campfire stories while we’re playing… But there is a lot of tradition here [and] a lot of players who have been playing here for a long time,” Gershtein added.
The DVSL plays most of its games at Mondauk Park in Ambler, Pa., and is set up with a 16 game regular season and a four-round, single-elimination playoff.
Originally, the league was comprised of just five or six teams and the games were all played without an umpire — playground style.
After bringing in new synagogues as expansion teams, the league is now a a legitimate form of competition. Every game has an umpire and the schedules and standings are online. More recently, synagogues have been adding second and third teams, as their first teams were out of roster space.
For those interested in watching one of their games or getting more information, just click here for the most up to date standings and schedule. After all, as Wexler said, “Now usually all we get are our grandkids when their in town!”