A common question asked about Rod Carew, the Hall of Famer who played for the Minnesota Twins and the California Angels, is whether or not he is Jewish. Fair enough, given the many photos of him wearing his chai necklace during his playing days. Add in the fact that his first wife Marilynn Levy is Jewish and that the Carew family belonged to Temple Beth Sholom in Santa Ana, and it’s not an unreasonable inquiry. He also did a number of things to suggest as much to the public, like discussing the topic of possibly converting in a Jet Magazine interview during the mid ‘70s and taking off for the Jewish holidays. However, the truth is that the famous hitter, who won the American League Most Valuable Player in 1977, never formally converted to Judaism. As Carew notes in his latest memoir “One Tough Out,” “I never converted. I embraced Judaism. I appreciated the heritage and traditions. I gladly attended Seders, bar and bat mitzvahs and other Jewish events.” He recounts that as a black man, born in Panama and raised in New York City, he understood some of the struggles Jewish people have encountered over the centuries. A lifelong Episcopalian, Carew adds, “I believe a prayer to God is a prayer to God, regardless of whether it’s said while wearing a yarmulke in a synagogue or bare-headed in a church.” Amen, Rod, and thanks for being a welcome guest of the tribe.
Dalia Taft, archivistof the Orange County Jewish Historical Society, highlights images from the archives every month. For more information, please visit www.jewishoc.org/history. You can also contact Dalia at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (949) 435-3400. The Orange County Jewish Historical Society is a program of the Merage Jewish Community Center and is fully funded by the Jewish Community Foundation Orange County.