The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Donate Canned Food, Watch Jews Defend Football Championship

By Hanna Aronovich in News on Nov 15, 2006 1:35PM

Self-mockery and political incorrectness are the perfect backdrop to any giving effort. And, both are present at the seventh annual Indo Jew Bowl football game in Skokie. What started in 2000 as a friendly Thanksgiving Day game has become an annual competition and fundraising event.

This year, on Thanksgiving, the 11-on-11 (that’s 11 Jews against 11 Indians) match takes place at Niles North High School. The ceremonial coin toss kicks things off at 11:50 a.m., and Vip Shah, president of the Indian Community of Niles Township, will do the honors. Last year’s coin tosser, Skokie native and former NFL referee Jerry Markbreit, will also officiate.

In addition to being a traditional football game — with hot chocolate and T-shirts for sale — canned food is being collected. The drive officially began on Nov. 1 at various drop-off locations, and all donations go to support Apna Ghar, The Arc and Niles Township Food Pantry.

indo7frontnavy.jpgOne of the event’s founders, Matthew Robins, says although the Indo team won the first game in 2000, the Jews have been victorious since. Robins predicts yet another win for the Jews. “I think the Indos would be more surprised than anyone else if they left Niles North on Thanksgiving with a victory,” he notes. “So pencil me in for a Skokie victory; as always, that village can't lose!”

Robins attributes the long-running success to a reasonable bedtime the night before the game and one mandatory practice. “The Indos are out at Champs in Morton Grove drinking heavily, playing darts and drunk-calling us to come out,” he says. “I think both teams are equal on smarts,“ he adds, “and honestly feel the game could go either way each year.”

Players have traveled as far as Israel to compete in the game, and many rearrange Thanksgiving plans to be able to attend. “We really do try to put in a solid effort in helping out those needy this time of year,” Robins says. “We are just trying to give back to the village that gave us so much in the only way we know how: playing football in an Indian vs. Jewish game.”