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Have Prayers and Packers, too

by Bill Glauber – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Nathan Stern (left) works the grill as Rabbi Shais Taub (right) leads Orthodox Jews in morning prayers Sunday near Green Bay’s Lambeau Field. (Photo/Mark Hoffman)

GREEN BAY, WI — If you’re going to have a kosher tailgate at Lambeau Field, you might as well go all the way.

That means you light up the coals of the kosher grill and bring out the kosher hot dogs, beef, chicken and brats.

And you recite morning prayers in Hebrew, even if a rock band is on a nearby stage blaring “Brown Sugar.”

So Sunday, Rabbi Shais Taub of the Chabad Lubavitch of Wisconsin led a group of 10 Orthodox Jews on a pilgrimage from Milwaukee deep into Packerland.

They tailgated across the street from Lambeau, in a grass-covered parking lot, next door to Kroll’s West, where butter burgers – definitely not kosher – are a specialty.

And they prayed, with some of the men and their sons donning a prayer shawl called a tallit and phylacteries, two small leather boxes containing verses of Scripture.

They stood out amid the familiar green-and-gold sea. And they showed that people can find or express their faith at a house of worship or a house of sports.

Such a place, for morning prayers.

“What’s the point?” Taub said. “Number one, Judaism is not relegated to the synagogue or the study hall. When you’re a Jew, you’re a Jew everywhere. If a group of Jews want to go to a Packer game, we do it like Jews.”

“Number two, Jewish pride,” he added. “Some Jews should see this and say, ‘You know what, there is nothing to hide.’ I can be openly and boldly Jewish and do that anywhere on earth and go where I want to go.”

The men faced east toward Jerusalem, which also happened to the direction toward Lambeau Field. They prayed, rocking forward and back. Their voices mixed with the more familiar sounds of pre-game rituals at Lambeau.

Nearby, a few fans wore blank expressions on their faces, unsure of what was going on. A couple of people snapped photos. And nobody noticed that among the group was former Packers offensive lineman Alan Veingrad, who is now known as Shlomo Veingrad.

Veingrad still stands 6 feet 5, but he has dropped plenty of weight since his playing days. He now has a bushy, gray beard and beneath a Packers cap, he makes sure to wear a yarmulke.

“I think it’s important to be proud of being Jewish,” said Veingrad, who played for the Packers in the late 1980s and won a Super Bowl ring with the Dallas Cowboys in the 1990s.

Veingrad, now 44, lives in Florida and works as an account executive for a private lending company. He also gives speeches, detailing his quest for a more fulfilling and rewarding life. He became more observant in 2003.

“It’s a beautiful thing that you can express your religion,” he said.

And that’s what the tailgate was all about – religion, food, friendship and, yes, even football.

After praying, Veingrad and a friend poured whiskey into a couple of small cups, said l’chaim and drank the sweet, smoky liquid.

And everyone ate.

Ten of the men and their sons had tickets for the Packers game against Washington. The kids wanted to go into the stadium while the fathers wanted to linger outside at the tailgate.

Not all of the men went into the stadium. Taub didn’t have a ticket – it was tough enough to score 10 seats. And the grill guys, Sam Stern and his son, Nathan Stern, remained outside to clean up.

“We’re here being Jews,” Sam Stern said. “We’re enjoying the Packers and enjoying the day.”

Rabbi Shais Taub (center) helps Michael Marcus with his phylacteries before morning prayers and a tailgate with a group of Orthodox Jews on Sunday near Green Bay’s Lambeau Field. At left is former Packers offensive lineman Alan Veingrad, now known as Shlomo Veingrad. (Photo/Mark Hoffman)
The group’s morning prayers include the use of a prayer book. “I think it’s important to be proud of being Jewish,” said Veingrad, the former Packers offensive lineman. (Photo/Mark Hoffman)


  • 1. elchonon wrote:

    Shais! nice to see you! been years since I saw you at hadar hatorah! power to you! and alan veingrad is a awsome guy too!! not every day you see a full bearded lubavitcher with a superbowl ring (we even forgive you for beating the bills)

  • 2. Go Vikings wrote:

    Be proud to be Jewish. Being a Packers fan? THAT I wouldn’t brag about.

  • 3. you-ll never guess wrote:

    nice article, although it "pokazivaet"s the typical Jewish cheapness — he went to tailgate, but didn;t buy a ticket to the game. Or you could say that he’s a chassidisher guy who seized an opportunity to do mivtzoim but isn’t interested in a game.

  • 5. NYer wrote:

    To you’ll never guess what:

    Typical Jewish cheapness? Maybe if you had any sort of understanding of how hard it is to get tickets to a packer game you would understand…

  • 6. Joan wrote:

    I wouldn’t buy a ticket either to see the Packers – and I’m not sure the prayers helped – but what could it hurt! I’m about to say a little Jewish prayer for my Bears!


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