Come out to the ballpark

Don’t bother tallying up any runs, hits or errors. Israel is sure to win its “big game” at SBC Park on Sunday, June 6, when thousands will gather at the home of the Giants for a giant celebration — the 56th birthday of the Jewish state.

Titled “Israel in the Ballpark,” the annual event moves out of Yerba Buena Gardens into a bigger venue this year to handle the ever-increasing crowds, which are expected to hail from throughout Northern California. Some 15,000 are expected — a tight squeeze for most places but not a major league ballpark.

The San Francisco festival brings together singers and dancers, artists and musicians, along with vendors from Israel and the United States, to take part in an afternoon event geared to people of all ages. There will be hot dogs and hummus, a parade and puppetry, and performances by Israeli rock musicians, an Israeli American dance troupe from Los Angeles and plenty of local entertainers.

There will also be an array of activities for kids of all ages and the young at heart — from storytelling to crafts, including an opportunity to make your own “Dead Sea Scrolls” (or, more accurately, “McCovey Cove Scrolls”).

Plus, the ballpark adds a whole new flavor to the festival — and it’s not just the garlic fries, pretzels and chocolate malts. If you haven’t yet spent an afternoon at SBC Park, the festival is a great opportunity to make up for lost time (and, if you don’t really like baseball, this is your big chance). You can slide down the Coke bottle, cruise the concessions and drink in the majestic view of the bay for the price of a $5 ticket. Kids under 12 even get in free. And if beer is not your beverage of choice, you can sample premium Israeli wines.

This year, for the first time, the fair will enjoy the participation of all three area Jewish federations — not to mention myriad other organizations, including the Consulate General of Israel. In addition, because the venue is fully enclosed, security will be tighter than ever, and nobody will have to scramble for a seat.

As well as being a great day at the park, the festival is an opportunity to support Israel and the local Jewish community while having fun and reconnecting with old friends. You can also shop for Israeli-made goods, from fashions and art to books, music and Dead Sea beauty products, aiding the Jewish state in the process.

So, showing Jewish pride and helping Israel will be easier than Barry Bonds makes it look to crank a 95 mph fastball into the water. Don’t get caught looking — take a swing at “Israel at the Ballpark.”