History and Mission Statement
Rabbi James Gordon, a highly respected Jewish educator, community leader and knowledgeable sports enthusiast, first shared his ability to relate the deeper messages embedded in the feats and strategies that drive the world of sports, to the values that characterize and guide Judaic life through his book, PRAY BALL! The Spiritual Insights of a Jewish Sports Fan, in 1999. Inspired by rave reviews, Rabbi Gordon recruited the diversely talented team of friends, family and colleagues that he credits with much of his success, to lend the support and multi-faceted expertise needed to achieve his next goal –answering the call for a creative and engaging medium for teaching and facilitating (secular/non-sectarian) universal life lessons to the general population, as well as programs designed particularly for the Jewish community at-large.
Founded upon this incredible spirit of camaraderie in 2004, Team Spirit Institute (TSI) is a 501(c)(3) not-for–profit organization with the mission to promote universal values, ethics and practices that are rooted in Jewish tradition through innovative educational programs, publications, services and activities. TSI uses the many contemporary life issues emanating from the world of sports to illustrate relevant educational and ethical life lessons.
While a primary target audience is the Jewish community (with an emphasis on 12-18 year-old youth and their families), TSI also has educational programs that are secular, non-sectarian in composition, designed for people of all faiths and backgrounds. By design, TSI’s programs and materials project a positive, albeit realistic, image of contemporary sports and the athletes and others who participate.
Current Programs & Publications
- Lifting the Human Spirit by Visiting the Sick (LHSVS). Based on the understanding that sports is a passion shared by many, LHSVS – a secular, non-sectarian initiative – inspires and trains our youth (ages 10-18) to be effective visitors of the sick, lending social and emotional support to patients/residents in nursing homes, hospitals and similar facilities, accompanied by local sports figures. The LHSVS program is designed to lift the spirits of these elderly, sick, and often lonely individuals, which is known to help improve their overall health as well. Whenever possible, LHSVS youth reach out to injured or ailing athletes who have been temporarily or indefinitely benched. LHSVS is hosted by The Claremont Rehab and Living Center in Buffalo Grove, IL. For a more in-depth description of LHSVS please go to Program Descriptions.
- Team Spirit Value Series (TSVS) Educational Curricula. TSVS is a curriculum that uses sports stories, figures and drills, along with Jewish historical figures and educational exercises to link and teach spiritual values rooted in Jewish tradition. TSVS is both comprehensive and highly adaptable to suit most any educational environment – both formal and informal, secular and Jewish. Such educational settings include schools, summer camps, community centers and youth groups. For a more in-depth description of TSVS please go to Program Descriptions.
- Jewish Community Days and Nights. This program seeks to bring the Jewish community together through group outings to professional sports games/events, featuring an enjoyable presentation by a sports figure and Jewish community leader that creatively ties Jewish ethical considerations to sports. These events provide a means of introduction to other TSI programs, as well as a supplementary activity for youth and families already utilizing the TSVS curriculum. For a more in-depth description of Jewish Community Days and Nights please go to Program Descriptions.