Annals of Jewish Spirituality: Bob Arum fights Jonathan Ballan over a bar mitzvah and a Yuri Foreman boxing match at Yankee Stadium

Just when you thought that spirituality had disappeared altogether from New York Jewish life, along comes a deeply meaningful tale that restores your faith in the mystical purpose of the ritual celebrations of Judaism in the context of a classical Talmudic dispute.

We hasten to add to the story below that perhaps the disputants in this utterly Talmudic melee forgot how this can be resolved. We still have the two Yankee Stadiums. One can be used for a bar mitzvah - where they can serve ice cream and cokes - and at the very same time the other can be used for an Orthodox Jewish boxing match where they can serve all beef kosher hot dogs and beer.

Another chapter in the Annals of Jewish Spirituality and Talmudic Disputation ripped from the headlines of the Times. [Hat tip to Barak.]
Bar Mitzvah May Complicate Plans for a Bout in the Bronx

Bob Arum, the boxing promoter, has seen his share of great fighters: Muhammad Ali, Ken Norton, Manny Pacquiao. He can add Jonathan Ballan to that list.

Ballan, the lead bond lawyer for the financing of Yankee Stadium, reserved the stadium for his son’s bar mitzvah on Saturday, June 5. In addition to providing lounges, the Yankees promised to give the Ballan party access to the stadium’s giant scoreboard in center field for 30 minutes.

But now the Yankees are negotiating with Arum to hold the first boxing event at the new stadium on, you guessed it, June 5. The 30,000 or so fans expected at the bout would probably not enjoy seeing a montage of Ballan family photos on the scoreboard.

The main event would feature Yuri Foreman, the World Boxing Association’s 154-pound champion, against Miguel Cotto, in his first fight since his loss to Pacquiao in November.

Foreman, an observant Jew, has a large following in New York. His fight would not begin before 11:30 p.m., so the Foreman fans who are Orthodox could get to the stadium after the Sabbath ends at sunset.

The Yankees are negotiating with Ballan and expect to reach an agreement by the end of this week. The price of the bar mitzvah is at issue, Arum said.

To sweeten the deal, Arum offered everyone in the bar mitzvah party seats for the fight. Foreman has agreed to meet the bar mitzvah boy in his dressing room before the fight. Arum said the Yankees would give the bar mitzvah boy and his friends autographed baseballs. In effect, the most powerful team in professional sports and the country’s most prominent boxing promoter are negotiating with a bar mitzvah boy.

“The bar mitzvah saga continues,” Arum said.

The Yankees confirmed they were negotiating with Arum, but declined to discuss specifics. Ballan declined to comment.


Unknown said...

I love this story! I mean how NY and How Jewish can it get. Perfect!

Unknown said...

Here's a video of him winning the world title http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=baECvLpO1EI&feature=related