Jews aren’t exactly famous for their athletic prowess — the punch line of many a joke, including this classic from “Airplane!”
But in honor of Hanukkah, Sports Illustrated is generously celebrating “prominent Jewish athletes,” compiling an online compendium of top Jewish sports stars from over the past 70 years.
A list rather than a ranking, the collection focuses primarily on professional athletes, ranging from baseball players Hank Greenberg and Sandy Koufax to NFL great Sid Luckman. There’s also hockey goalie Marty Turco, billed as the “smartest goalie in the NHL,” and tattooed, Ukrainian-born NFL player Igor Olshansky. Several Olympic champions are also in the mix, including swimmer Dara Torres and two Jewish gold medalists once featured on the SI cover: swimmer Mark Spitz and ice skater Sarah Hughes.
Largely focused on American Jews, the list also includes two Israelis: NBA player Omri Casspi and soccer star Yossi Benayoun.
In the tradition of Hank Greenberg and Sandy Koufax, Nathan Diament, the director of the Orthodox Union’s Institute for Public Affairs, will be sitting out an important event due to religious observance. Only this time, it’s not a baseball game, it’s a Ramadan feast — at the White House.
Last year, Diament joined Israeli ambassador Michael Oren, Religious Action Center director David Saperstein and a long list of diplomats and politicians at President Obama’s interfaith dinner celebrating Ramadan.
But this year, the Iftar break fast is scheduled for a Friday night, and — as Diament explained in a blog post on the Institute for Public Affairs’ website — he has declined the invitation so that he can observe Shabbat at home.
“It’s a wonderful testament to the freedom we enjoy in the United States that one can be invited to a dinner event with the President and decline on the grounds of one’s own religious commitments and receive complete understanding,” he wrote.
This article has been sent!Close