Nice Jewish Boy Signs With Israeli Team

By Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt

Published August 07, 2008, issue of August 15, 2008.
  • Print
  • Share Share

For the past quarter of a century, basketball fans around the world have been eager to anoint the next Jordan (not the country, but the next Michael Jordan — by consensus the greatest player the game’s ever known). Every few years, a new athlete seems poised to assume the mantle, from Kobe Bryant to Tracy McGrady to Lebron James to… Tamir Goodman?

HOOPS: Tamir Goodman, an Orthodox player, recently joined the Maccabi Haifa Heat Professional Basketball Club.
HOOPS: Tamir Goodman, an Orthodox player, recently joined the Maccabi Haifa Heat Professional Basketball Club.

Only one of the potential anointees sports a yarmulke on the hardwood, wears tzitzit under his jersey, observes the Sabbath by arriving at the site of a Saturday night game Friday before sundown and avoids setting foot on the court Saturday until the stars are shining.

Pegged as the “Jewish Jordan” by Sports Illustrated 10 years ago, Goodman recently signed a contract with Maccabi Haifa, a respectable team in Israel’s second-tier basketball league that is gaining steam under the new ownership of Jeffrey Rosen, an American-born billionaire.

Goodman, who is a former Maryland high-school hoops standout, was ranked as the 25th best high-school basketball prospect when he was in the 11th grade. While attending the Talmudical Academy of Baltimore, he achieved a mind-blowing average of 35.4 points a game (the original Jordan didn’t even make his high school’s varsity team until 11th grade, and averaged 25 points a game when he did), which thrust him onto the national stage.

Goodman had a decent, though unspectacular, freshman campaign at Towson University, but clashed badly with his new coach. The following year, he left the team and the school under a cloud of he-said/he-said, with rumors of antisemitism and verbal abuse on one side, and unjustified prima donna behavior on the other.

In 2002, Goodman signed a three-year contract with Maccabi Tel Aviv, the premier team in Israel’s premier league. But he didn’t get the playing time he’d hoped for, as he was up against some of the world’s best basketballers. After playing for several of Israel’s lower-tier teams, he served in the Israel Defense Forces and received a knee injury that required surgery and months of physical therapy.

Goodman’s career on the court has not met with the stratospheric predictions forecast by many in the sports media, but perhaps he’ll find his game by playing guard for Maccabi Haifa. Regardless, it seems he has his hands full. Goodman lectures at yeshivas, encouraging observant Jewish students to reconcile their dreams and goals with their Judaism. He runs a camp that brings together youth, both Jewish American and African American, on the basketball court, and heads up a charity in Israel to help children who have been affected by Qassam attacks.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Is pot kosher for Passover. The rabbis say no, especially for Ashkenazi Jews. And it doesn't matter if its the unofficial Pot Day of April 20.
  • A Ukrainian rabbi says he thinks the leaflets ordering Jews in restive Donetsk to 'register' were a hoax. But the disturbing story still won't die.
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.