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Julian Edelman, right, wearing a Star of David necklace, with his dad Frank in the Showtime documentary “100%.” (Showtime)

(JTA) – Showtime has produced a documentary on New England Patriots star Julian Edelman that’s so good that New York Giants fans might even enjoy it.
For the uninitiated, Edelman is a member of three Super Bowl winning teams and apparently the only Jew ever named the big game’s MVP.
Raised Christian – only his paternal great-grandfather was Jewish – he has strongly identified as a member of the tribe in recent years.

 

 


He voiced support for victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, and wore the hashtag #strongerthanhate on his cleats in a game against the Steelers last December. He has visited Israel with Patriots owner Robert Kraft and pointed to his Jewish heritage on social media.

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.
In an interview with the NFL Network in 2014, Edelman asserted more clearly that he is in fact Jewish. When asked for some “good Christmas answers” to questions from one broadcaster, Edelman said, “Well, I’m Jewish, but I’ll try to keep it to Hanukkah presents even though Hanukkah’s over.”
His father (not exactly your stereotypical American Jewish dad) became an auto mechanic at age 14 but pushed him to succeed.
“My dad was just a little trailer trash white dude that worked his tail off, didn’t have a dad,” Edleman said. “He started working at 14, didn’t get to play sports. He dedicated his life to his kids to let us live our dreams. I love my dad.”
For much of the time he is interviewed on screen in the Showtime documentary, he wears a visible Star of David necklace, and the narrator refers to him at one point as a “short Jewish guy.” But the film doesn’t get into Edelman’s Jewish identity.

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