The Washington Hebrew Congregation softball team last month defeated Temple Isaiah in the Suburban Maryland Synagogue Softball League’s championship game.
Winning five out of six playoff games, Washington Hebrew’s team (known as the Washington Hebrew Nationals) brought its overall record to 22-2 for the nine-week season that began April 7.
Lead by team captains, Rob Bindeman and Ron Winson, the Washington Hebrew Nationals are just one of 20 teams that represent the 16 Reform, Conservative and Orthodox synagogues in Montgomery and Howard Counties that comprise the league that was formed some 20 years ago.
“The Norbeck East team and B’nai Shalom of Olney used to play a pickup game on Sundays and were joined by other synagogues,” explained Larry Parizer, who has been co-commissioner of the league with Alan Perry for the last five years. “It just kept growing and eventually morphed into an actual league.”
Playing doubleheaders every Sunday morning on county fields, the teams, which are comprised of the synagogues’ brotherhood members, sport their uniforms and get to participate in some friendly-yet-competitive play.
“It’s just great camaraderie with your teammates and great, spirited but friendly competition,” said Bindeman, who has played second base for the last five years. “It boils down to just fun. We get pumped up during the week, and it’s a lot of fun to be a part of a competitive sport when you’re 40.”
Bindeman added that he enjoys being able to not only bond with his teammates, who range in age from early 30s to late 40s, but with members of other congregations as well.
“You really get to know and become friendly with people from other synagogues,” he said. “It’s a nice addition to the Jewish community.”
Parizer, who has pitched for B’nai Shalom of Olney’s White Team since the league was formed and has been the team’s captain for the past 12 years, expressed his love for the game and the league.
“I love the people we play with, not just my own team. The people in the league are great and the camaraderie in so many people and Jewish men is great to see,” he said. “We all really enjoy it.”