Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Fast Forward

Why a non-Jewish NBA player is buying Hanukkah donuts for fans

The first 500 fans to drop by Section 111 at the Sacramento Kings’ home game Wednesday night can pick up a free jelly donut

Fans of the Sacramento Kings will be treated to a Hanukkah surprise at tonight’s home game: sufganiyot paid for by the team’s all-star power forward, Domantas Sabonis.

Domantas Sabonis in action for the Kings. Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

Sabonis, a Lithuanian American who played at Gonzaga University, isn’t Jewish — but his wife, Shashana is, and their toddler has a Hebrew name.

The Sabonises announced the giveaway — the first 500 fans to visit section 111 in the Golden 1 Center’s lower bowl get a free jelly donut — on their Instagram pages Wednesday. (If you weren’t already aware, deep-fried jelly donuts recall the oil that miraculously lasted eight days in the Hanukkah story.)

Sabonis’ announcement today. Photo by screenshot from Instagram/@dsabonis11

Shashana Sabonis (née Rosen) attended Milken Community High School, a Jewish school in Los Angeles, and married the former Indiana Pacer in a Jewish ceremony on the French Riviera in 2021. She runs a dance studio for kids called The Movement.

On her Instagram account earlier this year, Shashana revealed that the couple’s child, Oliver Tiger Sabonis, also has a Hebrew name: Shiloh. And Domantas Sabonis is clearly hip to some of Los Angeles’ Jewish cultural landmarks, as he’s known to bring his wife goodies from Canter’s Deli when the Kings are in Los Angeles.

She also wrote that the couple plans to raise their kids Jewish, including by teaching them Hebrew.

“That’s something Domas brought up like week 1,” she said on her Instagram story in September. “He knew I wasn’t going to take him serious bc of religion. I am a practicing Jew, I have been my whole life, that was not something I was willing to compromise on.”

The couple met at Catch, a trendy restaurant in Los Angeles opened by Jewish nightlife impresario Mark Birnbaum.

Domantas Sabonis, a 7-footer whose father Arvydas Sabonis is in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, is one of at least two NBA players with a Jewish spouse. The other, Kevin Love, married Kate Bock under a huppah at the New York Public Library this summer.

They aren’t the only American professional basketball players celebrating Hanukkah this year: The Wizards’ Deni Avdija, the NBA’s only active Jewish player, lit candles before taking on the Lakers in Los Angeles, and Ryan Turell of the G League’s Motor City Cruise participated in a public lighting ceremony in Detroit.

Engage

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.