MIAMI (WSVN) - The two teams are rivals, but off the field it’s all about love of the game and love for one another.
“First of all, we have to love each other,” said a coach.
Coaches and players from the national baseball teams of Israel and the Dominican Republic are in South Florida this week for the World Baseball Classic.
“It’s an important time, both in the Latino and Jewish community, but in particular in the Jewish community hate has increased,” said Jesse Rojo, director of Philos Latino.
On Tuesday, they came together at Jose Marti Park in Miami to spread a message against hate.
“Member of the Jewish and Latino community to promote hope and friendship, solidarity, a time to use sports to build bridges,” said Rojo.
“Teach the kids the importance and hopefully educate them,” said Nelson Cruz, general manager of the Dominican Republic baseball team.
“To teach them from a young age, baseball is a sport that you learn from a young age. If you want to be good at baseball you have to practice,” said Jordy Alter, president of the Israel Association of Baseball.
“It’s the same message when it comes to anti-semitism and racism in general, you need to learn the facts, you need to learn what’s going on, and you need to have that type of structure to resist what is out there in the world,” said Alter.
This comes during a moment in history where the incidents of anti-semitism are on the rise.
Just this past week, a neighborhood in West Palm Beach was hit by hate. Zip-lock bags carrying flyers with menacing symbols and messages were tossed in front of dozens of homes.
For both of these countries, it’s about continuing an international friendship that stretches back decades.
“Dominican Republic is one of the only countries to open up its doors to jews that were fleeing Europe, so we have a history with them that is almost 100 years old,” said Alter.
The teams hope that the bonds created will have a lifelong effect toward acceptance.
“It’s so cool to see different nations come together, and the fans of those nations come together and just share the love of baseball because baseball is what brings people together,” said a baseball player.
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