(JTA) — Is it starting to feel like the New England Patriots win the Super Bowl every year? That’s because it’s almost true: The team has made seven appearances in the big game since 2000.
One of the Patriots’ most valuable players — and quarterback Tom Brady’s favorite wide receiver target — is Julian Edelman, 30, who could safely be called the best active Jewish player in the NFL.
With Edelman playing a starring role, the Pats mounted an amazing comeback to beat the Atlanta Falcons 35-28 in Super Bowl LI.
Until recently, there was some debate over whether Edelman was Jewish — the Patriots maintained that he was raised Christian, despite having a Jewish father. But since identifying himself as a member of the tribe during a 2013 interview on the NFL Network, Edelman has shown his Jewish pride a number of times.
Here are five of those moments, plus one fabulous catch.
Edelman made an incredible tumbling circus catch to tie the Super Bowl in the last minute of regulation time.
We’re not sure exactly what is Jewish about the 28-yard reception, but it’s certainly the highlight of this Jewish athelete’s career.
Quarterback Tom Brady called it one of the best grabs he’s ever seen — and Edelman said it was only worth anything because his team went on to win in overtime.
The time he wore an Israel pin
In a game against the Denver Broncos in November 2014, Edelman was spotted sitting on the team bench wearing a pin on his hat with the U.S. and Israeli flags. It was reportedly given to him by Israel’s then-ambassador to the United Nations, Ron Prosor, before the game.
;) RT @jkersh3: @Edelman11 thanks for supporting #Israel !!! #GoPats pic.twitter.com/bLk91nAhMO— Julian Edelman (@Edelman11) November 4, 2014
His funny matzah ‘ball’ tweet
Edelman is one of the savviest pro athletes when it comes to social media. With the help of the Boston-based company Superdigital, he has branded himself as an amiable goof by posting comedic videos of himself online. As an aside, it’s worth noting that his brand logo JE11, a combination of his initials and jersey number, looks almost like the word “Jew” in the right light. In April 2015, he posted a photoshopped image of himself catching a piece of matzah as a friendly Passover greeting.
#happypassover pic.twitter.com/mobNRuXdsd— Julian Edelman (@Edelman11) April 3, 2015
When he kicked off El Al’s Boston-Tel Aviv flight route
Edelman and his sister Nicole were among the first passengers to try the new direct flight to Israel from Boston’s Logan International Airport in the summer of 2015.
His well-documented first trip to Israel
After Edelman touched down in Israel — with representatives of the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston and a group of Boston-area young adults — he made the most of his first visit, doing everything from praying with tefillin to tossing the pigskin with members of Israel’s national football team. He captured his journey in a produced video.
“Exploring my heritage is something I started in the past few years and seeing Israel for the first time, really getting a sense of its history and culture, I now truly understand why it’s so special,” he said in a news release.
When he was named 4th-best Jewish football player of all time
On the American Jewish Historical Society list of the 10 best Jewish football players, Edelman was ranked behind only Hall of Famers Sid Luckman, Ron Mix and Benny Friedman. That’s formidable company: Luckman led the Chicago Bears to four NFL championships between 1940 and 1946, and Friedman was known as one of the game’s first great quarterbacks. Mix, an offensive lineman mostly for the San Diego Chargers, was named to the all-time team of the American Football League.
In an acute case of “no good deed goes unpunished,” Coca-Cola’s #MakeItHappy campaign has gone hopelessly awry. The campaign, launched during the Super Bowl, goes as follows: fans of Coke can tweet unpleasant things and the company, who then turns those angry thoughts into a fun image, which is then tweeted back with the slogan “We turned the hate you found into something happy.”
Our friends over at Gawker decided to test the boundaries of this experiment in happy thinking. Using specially designed Twitter bot @MeinCoke, the news outlet proceeded to tweet parts of Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” to @CocaCola.
Amazingly, Coke tweeted back.
Behold, the first four paragraphs of Mein Kampf, as illustrated by Coke:
It has turned out fortunate for me to-day that destiny appointed Braunau-on-the-Inn to be my birthplace.
@MeinCoke We turned the hate you found into something happy. RT to make people :) http://t.co/k4GYJBCmNh pic.twitter.com/r9hUrn1lgz — Coca-Cola (@CocaCola) February 3, 2015
There were wings, beers, giant TV screens, and football fans wearing New England Patriots sweatshirts and Seattle Seahawks jerseys. If not for the fact that it was 1 a.m. and former Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid stood in the center of the bar, it could have been mistaken for Anytown USA.
Most Israelis don’t mark Super Bowl Sunday — or, really, Super Bowl Early Monday Morning — in any real way. But a group of Americans in Israel (and some Israelis who became acquainted with American football during stateside stints) showed up past midnight, an hour before the kickoff, putting off sleep and trying to forget about work the next day to watch the big game.
Elie Pieprz, who in 2012 founded a nonprofit to urge American-Israelis to vote in U.S. elections, came to see the game with his 11-year-old daughter, Eliana, in what has become an annual tradition for them. Father and daughter, pulling for Seattle, both wore Washington Redskins jerseys.
“We feel strongly about our connection to America,” Pieprz said. “We didn’t make aliyah to leave America. We’re bringing the best part of America to Israel.”
This Super Bowl party in central Tel Aviv was sponsored by Lapid’s Yesh Atid party, the centrist faction that for now boasts the Knesset’s only American lawmaker, Dov Lipman. Wearing a black sweater along with his trademark black velvet kipah, Lipman appeared chipper at halftime as Katy Perry ascended a robotic lion on a TV screen behind him.
“I thought to myself, there’s enough Anglos in Israel who want to watch, so why not watch it together?” said Lipman, who helped organize the gathering. “It’s not a political event. People are coming to watch the game.”
Some 200 fans attended the party, but most were surprisingly quiet for people who chose to pull an all-nighter to watch the big game. Aside from some hard-core New England fans in the center of the room, much of the crowd timidly cheered for the Seahawks.
JTA — During the Super Bowl Sunday night, many Jews across the country no doubt had the same question: Is Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman Jewish?
Edelman had an excellent game Sunday night, catching nine passes for 109 yards and a touchdown in New England’s dramatic comeback victory over the Seattle Seahawks. He also happens to have a Jewish-sounding name. But is he actually a member of the tribe?
While his father has Ashkenazi roots, this is what Edelman had to say on the topic on a media day before his previous Super Bowl appearance with the Patriots in 2012:
“Well, I’m not completely Jewish, if you know what I mean. I know people want me to be. My father is Jewish. My mother isn’t. I’ve been asked this before. I guess you could say I’m kind of Jewish but not really.”
For the record, while traditional Jews believe one must have a Jewish mother or convert in order to be considered Jewish, both Reform and Reconstructionist Jews recognize patrilineal descent.
Idina Menzel sings the National Anthem at the Super Bowl// Getty Images
It may have been a football game but Jewish diva Idina Menzel hit a home run with her version of the Star Spangled Banner.
Katy Perry at halftime? Feh.
No. For us at The Forward, Idina Menzel (or Adele Nazeem, if you’re John Travolta) Let It Go!
America agrees. Elsa the Snow Queen was Flawless.
And that black jumpsuit by Angel Sanchez? Perfect.
Ex-husband Taye Diggs, with whom the “Frozen” star has a son, gushed: “Yup. Baby Mama crushed it at the Super Bowl.”
Yup. Baby mama crushed it at the Super Bowl. pic.twitter.com/94Vs8trhuD — Taye Diggs (@TayeDiggs) February 2, 2015
Menzel has sung the National Anthem at other sporting events, but this, by far, was her largest audience ever.
Menzel hit all the notes just right — a big difference from a month ago when she flubbed a high note on New Year’s Rockin’ Eve and suffered a quick death by Twitter.
Ah, social media, you give and you take.
She asked the Twitterati before taking the field to “send me good vibes.”
Send me good vibes! #SB49 — Idina Menzel (@idinamenzel) February 1, 2015
The former “Wicked” star exclaimed, “Yes” when she nailed that final note Sunday night.
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