Rabbinic Reflections: Issue 30

An NBA Update for CBIOTP!

August 28, 2020

Dear Holy Friends,

I hope this letter finds you doing well and in good health. We are busily working towards meaningful High Holy Day services and cannot wait to have your Neshama (soul) join in our prayers to Hashem.

My favorite month of the year used to be May, during which I could watch a spectacular display of NBA and NHL athletes each evening. Whether on the court or on the pond (as we Canadians like to call it), it was fabulous to be able to watch world class athletes flaunt their talents for me (and everyone else) every night.

Due to COVID-19, typical sports calendars have been pushed aside and frankly, given my preparations for a new school year and the upcoming High Holy Days, I do not really have the same time to indulge and enjoy. Nonetheless, I would like to share an update on the NBA, which probably didn’t make most newspapers.

Who remembers Amare Stoudemire? The Knicks signed the 6-foot 10 power forward, African American free agent a number of years ago. Well, here is what he has been up to:

Amare Stoudemire (an American Israeli professional basketball player for Maccabi Tel Aviv of the Israeli Premier League and the Euro-League) announced on Wednesday on his Instagram account that he has officially converted to Judaism.

“It’s official,” wrote Stoudemire.” I finalized my final meeting with the Beth Din and went to the Mikva. My Hebrew name is Yahoshafat Ben Avraham.”

Stoudemire has been learning Torah for an extended period of time with a kollel group from Yeshivas Orchos Yosher in Bnei Berak, Israel.

Stoudemire’s conversion was carried out at a Beit Din in Bnei Brak on Wednesday and immediately afterward, he returned to Orchos Yosher for a “l’chayim” in honor of the happy event, during which he was greeted with great simcha and traditional “l’chayim.”

Stoudemire also spoke, expressing his great joy in joining the Jewish people and his hope that the Moshiach will come quickly.

Stoudemire played for the Suns, the New York Knicks, the Dallas Mavericks, and the Miami Heat before retiring from the NBA in 2016.

I think I will invite him to shul the next time he is in the United States!

I also think this tells us something fascinating about Judaism: We open, with welcome arms, those of all backgrounds, who wish to share in the values of Torah and the destiny of the State of Israel and the Jewish people.

So, as I wish you a wonderful Shabbat, I encourage you to enjoy your sports, your athletic heroes and remember: they too are of depth and perhaps tomorrow, they may join us in shul!


Rabbi Eric L. Wasser, EdD
201 562 5277

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