JERUSALEM (JTA) — The son of Brazil’s legendary soccer player Ronaldo is playing for Brazil at the 20th Maccabiah Games in Jerusalem — even though he’s not Jewish.
“This is the Brazilian delegation that represents us at the World Maccabi Games. A special hug to my son @ronald_lima. Good luck, guys! Go for it, Brazil,” Ronaldo posted on Instagram on Wednesday, a day before the start of the games, dubbed the “Jewish Olympics.” The post, accompanied by a photo of Ronald and the team, garnered over 40,000 likes in the first six hours.
Ronaldo’s son Ronald, 17, is not Jewish. But he is a member of Brazil’s Under 18 soccer team, which is participating in the Maccabiah games. A record 10,000 athletes from 80 countries will be competing in 43 sports at the world’s third-largest sporting event, according to organizers.
“Ronald and his mother Milena have been full members of Hebraica club for years, where they felt warmly welcomed and feel like home, as they say. They have also been approaching Judaism more and more,” Avi Gelberg, who presides over both the Maccabi organization in Brazil and the Hebraica club in Sao Paulo, told JTA.