Throughout our history the Jewish people, has been known to defy the odds. Making it out of slavery in Egypt, when David defeated Goliath, the Six Day War and—on a lesser level—the sucess of Team Israel in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. The story of this miraculous run is captured in the film “Heading Home: The Tale of Team Israel,” produced by Ironbound Films.
The World Baseball Classic is a baseball tournament which takes place every four years, in which the best baseball players represent their countries. There is a rule that players can represent their country of religiosity, even if they were born or live elsewhere (unlike the Olympic Games). The Israeli national team boasted a roster filled with Americans, some of whom played at the highest levels including in the major leagues. These athletes were all Jewish, yet many didn’t have even a tenuous relationship to Judaism or the State of Israel. The film “Heading Home: The Tale of Team Israel,” goes into detail, depicting the journey that the Israel National Baseball Team took to revisit their Jewish roots, as well as represent the country of Israel and the Jewish people on the grandest stage.
Over the course of the film, the players receive a tour of Israel, which for many of the players was their first time stepping foot in the country. This tour helped them realize that they were not just playing for the number on the back of their jerseys, but rather the name on the front. This mindset help aid the Israel national team to go undefeated in the qualifier round and gain much publicity going into the World Baseball Classic.
Dubbed as the modern-day Maccabees, the Israel national team had not only the citizens of Israel watching them play, but Jews all over the world were excited to tune into the World Baseball Classic. Led by former and current MLB players Ike Davis, Jason Marquis, Ty Kelly and their famed mascot “The Mensch on the Bench.” Whether playing like team on the field, or having karaoke battles off it, there was always entertainment that took place.
Although Team Israel’s run was cut short with a second round defeat, they made a kiddush Hashem and represented the State of Israel and the Jewish people in a very gratifying matter. “Heading Home: The Tale of Team Israel” is definitely a must-see film for all Jews and baseball fans who want to see an enjoyable movie, that will make you extra proud to be a Jew.