Rabbis' Wager Gives Super Bowl 50 a Jewish Twist

Rabbi Judith Schindler of Charlotte's Temple Beth El and Rabbi Joe Black of Denver's Temple Emanuel devise wager will see both communities donate to charity, no matter if Carolina Panthers or Denver Broncos emerge victorious.

Peyton Manning, left, and Cam Newton are set to face off in Super Bowl 50 on Sunday.
Peyton Manning, left, and Cam Newton are set to face off in Super Bowl 50 on Sunday. Getty Images / JTA Photo Archive

JTA - When the Denver Broncos face the Carolina Panthers in Sunday’s Super Bowl 50, only one team will emerge victorious. But two rabbis are giving the nation’s most-watched sporting event a win-win outcome.

Rabbi Judith Schindler of Temple Beth El in Charlotte and Rabbi Joe Black of Temple Emanuel in Denver have devised a wager that will see both their Reform communities donate to charity, ReformJudaism.org reported. Two-thirds of the money raised in a joint online fundraiser for the bet will go to a charity chosen by the synagogue in the winning city. The other third will go to the losing city.

If the Panthers win, the larger share will go to the Shalom Park Freedom School in Charlotte, which offers summer programs to low-income children. If the Broncos win, the larger share will go to Denver’s Jewish Family Service, which provides meals to families in need. As of Wednesday afternoon, the synagogues had raised more than $4,100.

Schindler makes a convincing case in a promotional video that the Panthers are God’s team. The team’s star quarterback Cam Newton recently named his son Chosen — bringing to mind the phrase the “chosen people,” she says. And Newton said at a press conference on Monday that his 1-month-old baby is already walking, which as Schindler notes, strongly suggests the child has superhuman powers.

Furthermore, Schindler says, if the Panthers win the Super Bowl, their overall record (including the regular and postseason) will be 18-1. Of course, 18 means life and good luck in the Jewish tradition (since the values of the two letters of the word “chai,” or “life” in Hebrew, add up to 18).

What Schindler doesn’t mention is that Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning’s wear the number 18 on his jersey.

So which team is really chosen? We’ll find out Sunday. Either way, though, Jews in need will have something to celebrate.