Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Stoudemire has Jewish roots

Here's something you don't find every day: NBA players with Jewish mothers.
U.S. Basketball star Amar'e Stoudemire is apparently on his way to Israel for a voyage of discovery after learning he has Jewish roots.

"On the flight to Israel. This is going to be a great trip," announced the power forward, who plays in the NBA for the New York Knicks, via the micro-blogging site Twitter.

According to an Army Radio report, Stoudemire plans to spend time in Israel learning Hebrew, having recently learned he has a Jewish mother.

"The holy land. Learn about it," he wrote, adding "ze ha'halom sheli" – Hebrew for 'this is my dream'

News of Stoudemire's trip quickly had Israeli basketball fans buzzing with speculation that they might one day see him playing alongside another Jewish NBA star, Israel's Omri Caspi, on the national team.
“The Holy Land has always been high on my list of places to visit, and when this opportunity arose, I wasn’t going to push it off any longer,” Stoudemire told The Jerusalem Post as he ate dinner at one of the capital’s fine kosher establishments with his girlfriend, Alexis. “I’m here for a vacation and to get some rest before the season.”

I am “so excited to be here,see all the important historical sites, learn Hebrew and to get a better understanding of my heritage,” he said.[...]

“I don’t really consider myself to be a religious person, but rather a deeply spiritual individual,” Stoudemire told the Post.

“I have been aware since my youth that I am a Hebrew through my mother, and that is something that has played a subtle but important role in my development,” he went on.

“I have never hid my spiritual roots,” he said. “They just weren’t something that came under the spotlight.”[...]

“I am proud to be a Hebrew and embrace my Jewish background,” he said Told that his new status might give him more “street cred” in his new home – as New York has the largest Jewish population outside of Israel – Stoudemire laughed deeply and said, “I look forward to that.

“I’d like to thank all my fans in Israel and my supporters worldwide,” he added. “I plan on having a great vacation and learning a whole lot as well.”[...]

Stoudemire’s Twitter announcement had both the sports and Jewish worlds abuzz on Wednesday, with news organizations and bloggers speculating as to what a Jewish Stoudemire might mean.

“#1 Jewish athlete of all time” was the most common online response to the news, although others expressed hope that Stoudemire would join his NBA colleague, small forward Omri Casspi – who plays for the Sacramento Kings – on the Israeli national basketball team.

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