Being a grandparent sure beats football as the best Jewish sport

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"I wanna go roller-blading in Golden Gate Park," proclaimed Drew Scott Brown, my daughter's 8-year-old son, in a phone call from New York.

"No problem. Next time you visit, we'll drive there. We'll watch," said I, his 58-year-old grandfather.

I bit my tongue and swallowed my qualms. After all, everyone knows roller-blading isn't a Jewish sport.

So imagine my surprise when he shlepped four bags with him for a 10-day solo visit, one of them bulging with trendy blades and socks, knee pads, wrist pads, elbow pads, padded gloves and a padded helmet. Smart kid, my grandson — he practices safe skates.

As for the other luggage, his Jewish mother packed enough junk food to fend off starvation for a month in case, God forbid, California didn't have any vending machines. New Yorkers may not yet believe in broccoli.

A backpack was jammed with books, a laptop computer, a Game Boy, a Walkman and a few more electronic gadgets, just enough stimulation to generate Einstein-like brainwaves.

At least those things are educational, I mused. Education, clearly, is one of the most Jewish sports.

The final suitcase was swollen with clothing, enough to stock an entire Gap. My wife stopped counting when the T-shirt quotient hit 50.

Maybe his Jewish mother thinks packing is some kind of Olympic event.

To be honest, I succumbed to a packing fit, too — I packed his vacation with so many adventures we all were pooped when he left. In the first few days we sped from Berkeley's Lawrence Hall of Science to an Oakland A's game to San Francisco's Pier 39 to the Marin County Fair to Marine World/Africa USA.

For those keeping score, science is always a Jewish sport, ballgames never — indeed, a Major League Jew is as rare as a yarmulke at a Shriners' convention.

Computer stuff at fairs? Jewish. Touristy gamerooms? Gentile. Theme parks, a little yes, a little no, but for grandparents too much walking translates into a firm nyet. And kvetching about extensive legwork assuredly has Jewish overtones.

The most fun? Drew squealed with joy as he watched potbellied pigs race at the fair. Kashrut wasn't an issue.

The next day, he and a dozen others became clowns-for-an-hour with the traveling Make-A-Circus troupe. His New York sophistication disappeared when, later, he recounted what he had liked best about the show:

"The part when Flip-Flop, the bad guy, got stuck in the butt with a big needle."

He also roared at a big guy being slammed in the face with a basketball in the Whoopi Goldberg movie "Eddie."

Does Rambam offer any morsels about laughing at someone else's troubles? Snickering certainly isn't a Jewish sport. But feeling guilty about it — well, that's another story.

We urged him instead to plunk out songs on our piano, stroll across the Golden Gate Bridge and shop in Chinatown, howl on rides at the Great America amusement park, marvel at the Big Dipper as seen on the ceiling of the Morrison Planetarium and get drenched in the flumes at San Jose's Raging Waters.

We learned that plain old fun can be a Jewish sport, even if racing from one place to another adds years to the ages of aging grandfolk.

Speaking of racing, Drew seemed totally unimpressed when a mechanic at Sears Point Raceway sat him behind the wheel of a $128,000 car. Racing, obviously, is for non-Jews.

But then, so is spending an hour browsing in a National Football League shop — or so you'd think. My grandson managed to caress every Chicago Bulls and Dallas Cowboys souvenir garment. Is worshipping Michael Jordan and Troy Aikman proper for a Jewish boychik?

No, but my wife lit the Shabbat candles the two Friday nights he was in California. As we chanted, Drew also recited the prayers — in Hebrew.

Kvelling will forever be a Jewish sport.

And while wandering through the vendors' stalls at the fairgrounds, my grandson fingered the few Stars of David he found almost hidden beneath three full rows of crosses. He held one up, as if checking for wind currents, then looked at me with huge brown eyes that wordlessly said, "Pleeeeeease."

My grandpa gland started throbbing involuntarily. My wallet opened. I bought the Mogen David.

And a chain.

He hasn't taken them off since.

Buying jewelry is a Jewish pastime, of course, even for kids.

A final note: The word zayde may be old-fashioned, but being a grandpa is by far the best Jewish sport.

Now if only Jordan and Aikman would consider converting to Judaism…