Posted on October 1, 2010
For some, the seventh inning stretch only happens when they venture out to a professional ball game. However, for decade long temple members Scott and Barbara Berzak, it has been a weekly and at times daily occurrence as their athletic daughters Paige and Rachel play competitive softball in such places as Tennessee, South Dakota, Illinois, Georgia, Vegas and yes, here in southern and northern California, too. Until recently, all of their family vacations for the past six years were “softball tournament” related.
Yet when the opportunity to travel to New York arose this summer — to set up their daughter Paige in college – the Berzaks jumped on the opportunity and had a wonderful vacation. While Barbara and Scott love watching their children play, Scott’s love for the sport (actually, baseball) began well before having children. He has been a lifelong New York Yankees fan recalling the year 1966 as his first ever Yankees game. He also enjoyed playing a variety of sports growing up and was on the synagogue basketball team through a Jewish Community Center league in New York.
In addition to being involved in a Jewish league, Scott embraced Judaism as a religion off the playing field. He was raised Conservative, attending Hebrew school and Jewish sleep away camps in the Catskills, one of which was the Central Jewish Institute where the campgrounds had an Ark and Torah for Shabbat services and did the prayers before and after meals, among other religious practices. Barbara was also raised Jewish yet didn’t experience many of the formalities until marrying and joining Temple Beth David.
Scott was born and raised in New York and moved to California to go to college (he finished high school in New York on a Friday and by that following Monday moved to California to begin college at UC San Diego that fall). Barbara was also a New York native yet moved to the west coast in kindergarten and attended college at UC Irvine.
Years later, at the advice of a friend, the two met on a blind date and this coming May 2011 will be celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary. Most likely they’ll have a softball tournament at the time yet have the goal of going on an Alaskan cruise for their 25th anniversary once the children are grown. Ten years ago, the family joined Temple Beth David so the kids could begin religious school. While they originally attended Shabbat services sporadically, now they go nearly every week ever since they came to say kaddish for Scott’s mother five years ago.
Scott says the Friday night service gives them a separation from the rest of their busy work week – Scott as a compliance specialist for a retirement administration firm and Barbara as a surgery scheduler for an ophthalmologist. They also enjoyed how lively Temple Beth David is and the music, especially hearing their eldest daughter Paige who until recently sang in the adult temple choir. The Rabbi and Cantor have also made a difference in their lives. Scott recalls growing up around Rabbis who were stoic and unapproachable and says that our Rabbi and Cantor are more than religious leaders. “We can go up and talk to them…there’s a friendship there.”
So what’s next for the family? Yes, more softball. Paige just left for college (Dominican College in New York) on an academic and softball scholarship majoring in Biology. She plays first base and catcher for the college softball team. Her goal is to become a physical therapist. Rachel is a junior at Pacifica High School and plays second base and outfield on the school’s softball team while simultaneously playing on a travel team at the highest competitive level with girls from San Diego to Ventura. She plans to go to college to become a psychologist.
Now that Paige is away at school, Barbara says this will be the first time that she and Scott are able to go to the same tournaments since they no longer have overlapping games to attend. They’ll definitely be some of the greatest fans on the bench quietly cheering their daughter on. Yet they are also one another’s greatest fans. Scott says of Barbara… “She’s the smartest one out of all of us! She’s so loving and has lots of common sense!” Barbara is equally fond of her husband saying, “He is caring and always thinks of others before he thinks of himself. He does the worrying for us.”
Together they have so many kind things to say about their children. “Paige sees the good in everybody. Rachel is quick-witted and has a friendly sense of humor. Both are very intelligent!” So while the Berzaks are use to seventh inning stretches, they surely don’t have to stretch the truth at all when it comes to how much they love their family and their temple.