Feb 10, 2024 8:30 PM
Football isn’t for most people in the Haredi world, where watching television or following sports is considered by many to be anathema to the Haredi lifestyle. Nonetheless, some Haredim will be watching the Super Bowl this Sunday, and for them, there’s a more kosher alternative to at least one part: the halftime show.
Chazaq, a Queens-based Haredi organization that offers Torah lectures and community events, will be presenting “Halftime for Torah,” an online program to be streamed at the same time as the official NFL halftime show, featuring Haredi A-listers like Rabbi Paysach Krohn, a highly sought-after speaker, and Charlie Harary, host of the popular “Unlocking Greatness” podcast.
In comments to Shtetl, Meir Markow, director of special projects for Chazaq, said, “If someone is going to watch the game already, we want to provide them with something kosher, at least to replace the halftime show — which, you know, is worse than the game itself.”
Markow also referenced comments by Rabbi Elya Brudny, a scholar at the Mir yeshiva in Brooklyn and a member of Agudath Israel’s Council of Torah Sages, who said that allowing children to watch the Super Bowl is not ideal, especially the halftime show.
“They’re going to be looking at inappropriate things during the intermission,” Brudny is seen saying in a video of a 2019 event.
But Brudny acknowledged that among some Haredi families, concessions must be made to reality. In some cases, if children aren't allowed to watch the Super Bowl at home, they’ll watch it at friends’ homes instead. For those people, Brudny said, he had a better solution.
“Bring an outside device, just for tonight,” he said, referring to those who don’t otherwise have television sets at home. “And watch the football as a family. If you want, you can bring some friends.”
He added, “Do I condone watching the Super Bowl? That’s not what I’m saying.” But he suggested that allowing children to watch the game in homes with lower religious standards was a bigger problem. “It’s a dilemma,” he said.
According to a flyer posted on Chazaq’s website, the show is being sponsored by many Orthodox organizations, including some Haredi ones, such as Partners in Torah and Project Inspire.
The “Halftime for Torah” event has been taking place at least since 2019. Last year, Markow said, there were 3,000 separate devices tuned into the program. He estimated that those connections represented around 10,000 people, as viewers tend to watch in group settings.
Markow added that many kosher restaurants that aired the Super Bowl last year switched to “Halftime for Torah” during the halftime show. He believes many will do so again this year, he said.