Ex-New York Knicks Player Converts To Judaism — Joins Israeli Team by the Forward

Ex-New York Knicks Player Converts To Judaism — Joins Israeli Team

The Jewish people have added an unlikely new member to the team — a pro basketball player whose journey took him from Catholic prep school to a cameo stint with the New York Knicks to Israel.

Chris Smith, the younger brother of Cleveland Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith, converted to Judaism earlier this year, and made Aliyah in late November. He signed with the Ironi Nahariya of the Israeli Basketball Premier League. The deal was first reported by David Pick

How did a graduate of Saint Benedict’s Preparatory School end up with a “Home is where the hummus is” sign? According to ESPN, it was Smith’s agent, Daniel Hazan, that helped him through the conversion process.

The 30-year-old has documented the journey on Instagram.

In early September, standing with Hazan in front of the Western Wall, Smith shared, “I’m am [sic] one of the tribe” with his 55,000 followers.

I’m am one of the tribe… #Jewish #Judaism #Torah ??✡️ @hazansportsmgmt

A post shared by Chris Smith (@chrissmith500) on

In October, Smith posted several photos while sporting a Chai necklace. He was also spotted at a high school Yeshiva league game in New York.

Smith appeared in two games for the Knicks during the 2013-14 season. After he was cut, J.R. Smith called the move a “betrayal.” He joined another Israeli club —Hapoel Galil Elyon — in 2016, but played just one game.


Jeffrey Boxer

Jeffrey Boxer

Jeffrey Boxer is the Deputy Digital at the Forward. Contact him at boxer@forward.com, or follow him on Twitter @jeffboxer.

Ex-New York Knick Converts To Judaism, Moves To Israel

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Ex-New York Knicks Player Converts To Judaism — Joins Israeli Team

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