The First Orthodox Jew to Play Professional Baseball

In the third game of the World Baseball Classic last month, a nineteen-year-old unknown struck out a thirty-year-old veteran. Such an upset would be noteworthy in itself, but what makes the event truly surprising is that the pitcher was an Orthodox Jew named Jacob Steinmetz, playing for team Israel, and the batter Manny Machado, considered one of the best of the Major League, playing for the powerhouse team of the Dominican Republic. (During the regular season, Machado is the third baseman for the San Diego Padres.) Elli Wohlgelernter writes:

It was July 13, 2021 [when] the Arizona Diamondbacks selected seventeen-year-old Jacob with the 77th pick of the amateur draft, a month after he graduated from high school. It was a watershed pick: Jacob became the first practicing Orthodox Jew drafted to play organized baseball, dating back to the first draft in 1965.

Arizona wasn’t worried about caring for Steinmetz’s religious needs when they drafted him. According to the scout [Alex] Jacobs, the senior vice-president and assistant general manager of the Diamondbacks, Amiel Sawdaye, is a practicing Jew . . . who explained the inside baseball of kosher to the front office . . . and assured them that it would not be a problem.

“In fact,” Jacobs said, “they called his agent right before they were going to draft him and said, ‘Listen, we’re going to accommodate everything you could possibly need to make this as comfortable as possible for you so that you can be set up for success.” And so they have. Whereas once upon a time, Jacob had to pack his mom’s sandwiches in a cooler bag when traveling to tournaments, frozen packages will now be shipped to the team from a catering company once a week to wherever Jacob is playing.

As for Machado, he proved himself a model of sportsmanship, autographing a ball for Steinmetz after the game with the words, “Great pitch. Keep working. The sky’s the limit.”

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: American Jewry, Baseball, Modern Orthodoxy, Sports


Hizballah Is Learning Israel’s Weak Spots

On Tuesday, a Hizballah drone attack injured three people in northern Israel. The next day, another attack, targeting an IDF base, injured eighteen people, six of them seriously, in Arab al-Amshe, also in the north. This second attack involved the simultaneous use of drones carrying explosives and guided antitank missiles. In both cases, the defensive systems that performed so successfully last weekend failed to stop the drones and missiles. Ron Ben-Yishai has a straightforward explanation as to why: the Lebanon-backed terrorist group is getting better at evading Israel defenses. He explains the three basis systems used to pilot these unmanned aircraft, and their practical effects:

These systems allow drones to act similarly to fighter jets, using “dead zones”—areas not visible to radar or other optical detection—to approach targets. They fly low initially, then ascend just before crashing and detonating on the target. The terrain of southern Lebanon is particularly conducive to such attacks.

But this requires skills that the terror group has honed over months of fighting against Israel. The latest attacks involved a large drone capable of carrying over 50 kg (110 lbs.) of explosives. The terrorists have likely analyzed Israel’s alert and interception systems, recognizing that shooting down their drones requires early detection to allow sufficient time for launching interceptors.

The IDF tries to detect any incoming drones on its radar, as it had done prior to the war. Despite Hizballah’s learning curve, the IDF’s technological edge offers an advantage. However, the military must recognize that any measure it takes is quickly observed and analyzed, and even the most effective defenses can be incomplete. The terrain near the Lebanon-Israel border continues to pose a challenge, necessitating technological solutions and significant financial investment.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Hizballah, Iron Dome, Israeli Security