Nats fans savor victory, while Astros fans get a downhome D.C. meal

Stacey Relkin Winkler and Jeffrey Winkler celebrate the Nat’s first World Series victory at Holy Chow.. Photo by Samantha Cooper

Rabbi Lyle Fishman spent Wednesday night watching the final game of the World Series. When the Washington Nationals’ victory announced, he immediately texted members of the Lerner family, owners of the team and members of Fishman’s Ohr Kodesh Congregation.

“I would echo what Ted [Lerner] said, ‘It’s a dream come true,’” Fishman said in a phone interview on Thursday. “[The victory] is great for Washington and it’s wonderful for Ohr Kodesh. It’s great for all of us.”

The Chevy Chase-based synagogue hosted watch parties for the games last weekend. And for Fishman, a lifelong baseball fan, the victory was a “happy moment,” even if they Nats aren’t his top team.

At lunch time, Jeffrey and Stacey Relkin Winkler came into Holy Chow restaurant wearing Nats paraphernalia. They said they became Nationals fans when their youngest child, Sam, was born in 2009.

“We were worried at the beginning and then everything turned around,” Jeffrey Winkler said of that final game. “It was amazing.”

For David Pollak, a lifelong baseball fan, this year’s victory was basically a miracle and he gave general manager Mike Rizzo a lot of the credit.

“He’s been working since 2009 to put together a team. He did it. They were the oldest team chronologically, they had the worst bullpen. [But] it was magical,” he said. “There’s nothing like it.”

For others, some of the excitement didn’t come from the victory itself but the reactions of those around them. Debbie Stillman, a mother of two boys, had stayed up with them to watch the game.

Almost immediately after the game ended, she received a text from friends saying they’d be there in five minutes to pick her up.

They sped over to Dick’s Sporting Goods to pick up commemorative jerseys and hats, where they ran into people Stillman knows from all over.

“I’m so proud of the Lerner family and how they have managed the team and reinvigorate the excitement for baseball in Washington in a way that hasn’t existed for years,” she said. “I’m proud to be a part of the fan community.”

And some synagogues made the Nationals’ World Series rivalry with the Houston Astros personal. Temple Rodef Shalom, in Falls Church, made a little wager with Congregation Emanu El, in Houston, over the series’ outcome. Had the Astros won, Rodef Shalom’s clergy would have come to Shabbat services decked out in Astros paraphernalia. Texas barbecue would have been served at the oneg.

“[The victory] is really exciting for Washington [and] certainly [our synagogue has] a lot of diehard Nats fans,” Rabbi Jeffrey Saxe said. The week of the series was filled with gentle teasing between the two synagogues, who were posting songs and videos to Facebook.

Rabbi Oren Hayon, of Emanu El, instead will dress up in Nats’ gear for Shabbat and will be treating the congregation to some chili and fixings from Washington’s legendary Ben’s Chili Bowl for Kiddush. (They will also make charitable donation to a charity that Rodef picks.)

“It was a nice connection with another synagogue. [This year] we’re understandably heartbroken. The Astros had a huge season and maybe overconfidently we thought we’d be able to bring home another ring,” he said.

But the main focus for Jewish baseball fans in the area, is now on the miraculous victory

“I think [the victory] speaks to a Jewish value of excellence and persevering and this team certainly went from a low point in May to these great heights. They sought excellence,” Fishman said.

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Twitter @SamScoopCooper

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