Not much luster on diamond for Giants Jewish Heritage Night … but Matisyahu adds sparkle

Jewish Heritage Night for the San Francisco Giants this year is more notable for what’s happening off the field than on it.

On the field? Feh. The Giants are limping along with more losses than wins and are settling into the National League West’s low-rent district.

But off the field, the team’s ninth annual Jewish heritage game against the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday, Aug. 6 has some pretty impressive marquee value: an appearance by beatboxing reggae star Matisyahu.

Giants mascot Lou Seal with a kippah at the 2012 Jewish heritage game — and the new-look Matisyahu (below) without one.  photo/© 2013 s.f. giants

The one-time long-bearded, Orthodox rapper — who has traded his yarmulke and Hassidic garb for dyed blond hair — is scheduled to give a 45-minute acoustic performance for Jewish heritage ticket holders before the game.

The concert will take place in Seals Plaza outside of AT&T Park, behind the center field area, during a pre-game party from 5 to

7 p.m. The gathering also will include kosher food (such as hot dogs, hummus and beer) for sale.

Later Matisyahu is slated to be on the field to sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the seventh-inning stretch. He’ll be joined by three young people from Everybody Is a Star, a Sonoma-based foundation that helps build self-esteem and confidence in children with special needs.

Some of the proceeds from tickets sold for Jewish Heritage Night will benefit Everybody Is a Star, in addition to the Junior Giants program and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

The night is being sponsored for a third straight year by Touro University California, a graduate school with 1,500 students on Mare Island, near Vallejo. Touro has 20 campuses worldwide, bases its mission on Jewish values and has only kosher cafeterias.

Matisyahu’s scheduled performance has been several years in the making. Rabbi Yosef Langer of Chabad of San Francisco knows the 34-year-old star, who has performed at some local Jewish events. Langer (aka “The Rally Rabbi”) helped get the ball rolling on the idea of Matisyahu appearing at Jewish Heritage Night, and Howard Sapper, a music industry veteran and one of the co-founders of Everybody Is a Star, helped bring it home.

The timing works out well: Matisyahu will be on the West Coast for the beginning of his Good Vibes tour, which includes an Aug. 17 date at Berkeley’s Greek Theatre.

This year’s giveaway item is a dreidel, and each special ticket also includes admission to the pre-game party.

With several Jewish groups buying blocks of tickets, the full allotment of about 3,000 Jewish heritage tickets will be sold out, Giants officials said. That beats last year’s 2,000, but is still a couple of hundred short of the record set in 2007, when “Rally Rabbi ” bobbleheads were given away and Barry Bonds was chasing Hank Aaron’s all-time home run record (he ended up breaking it the night before the Jewish heritage game).

The Giants have a 4-4 record in Jewish heritage games following a 6-1 victory over the Washington Nationals last year.

One promising storyline for this year’s Jewish heritage game went up in smoke on July 22, when Brewers star outfielder Ryan Braun was suspended for the rest of the 2013 season for violating Major League Baseball’s doping policy. The 2011 National League MVP, a five-time all-star and one of the all-time Jewish greats, Braun has been linked to a clinic in Florida that is accused of distributing performance-enhancing drugs.


San Francisco Giants Jewish Heritage Night, 7:15 p.m. Aug. 6 vs. Milwaukee Brewers at AT&T Park. $26-$127. Purchase through Giants or Jewish groups. (415) 972-2298 or

Andy Altman-Ohr

Andy Altman-Ohr was J.’s managing editor and Hardly Strictly Bagels columnist until he retired in 2016 to travel and live abroad. He and his wife have a home base in Mexico, where he continues his dalliance with Jewish journalism.