PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Phillies have a crucial game to play Friday night  but what do you do if you are a Jewish baseball fan? This important game falls on Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar.

Some Jewish baseball fans say as much as they would like to watch Game 5, they will not be able to because they will be in synagogue.

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“Once I get there it won’t be a problem. But as soon as I get out, I’ll probably think about it!” one fan said.

Rabbi Avi Winokur, of Society Hill Synagogue, says American Jews have a rich history with baseball.

“The relationship of Jews to baseball is a really fascinating one. Baseball was for Jews, and for many immigrant groups in those days, a way that they learned how to become American,” Winokur said.

Winokur says he will not be policing his congregation to make sure they are not checking the baseball score but he hopes they will have their minds in the right place.

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“I hope and pray that the members of my synagogue, while they’re in synagogue, will keep their mind on their prayers,” Winokur said.

He remembers the story of superstar pitcher Sandy Koufax, who declined to play the first game of the 1965 World Series because it fell on Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement:

“For American Jews, I think Sandy Koufax not pitching on the World Series was incredibly, incredibly important. It really was a statement that, ‘We Jews are here publicly. We’re proud of who we are, our religion and our people. They matter even more than the World Series.”

Reported by Hadas Kuznits, KYW Newsradio 1060

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