Torah learning and … football?
That’s right. Starting on Oct. 15, the Kollel Jewish Learning Center will launch another season of “Torah and Turf,” which combines competitive rounds of flag football with religious education.
Rabbi Chananel Shapiro — who recently took over as “menahel,” or executive director, of the Squirrel Hill-based organization — said the idea behind the league is simple: It’s a friendly but competitive evening of athletics combined with three- to five-minute Torah “mini-lectures” before each game.
“The point,” Shapiro said, “is to help the Kollel connect with people and them to connect with the Kollel.”
Though there are no religious requirements, Shapiro said the league, which has run for several years now, is mostly aimed at young Jewish professionals. Promotional material for the new season say they’re looking for men ages 23 to 45.
“It’s a mix,” Shapiro said. “We get some young professionals who are working. We do get students. And we do get some men from the Lubavitch community.”
The league is open to all.
Since taking over the head post in July, Shapiro said he’s been responsible for the Pittsburgh Kollel’s finances, operations and programming. He’s organizing the Torah and Turf league and will lead many of the Torah mini-lessons.
Shapiro, who originally hails from Muncie, New York, studied in Lakewood, New Jersey, before coming to the Pittsburgh Kollel about five years ago. He feels Pittsburgh’s Jewish community is smaller than the one he got to know in New Jersey — but it’s also more diverse, he stressed.
“That creates great opportunity to reach out to the community and interact,” he said.
The league will play in the evening hours at Schenley Oval. For more information, email Shapiro at email@example.com. PJC