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The Jewish Sport Report: All the Jews to watch in the NFL this season

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Hello and happy September! It’s been a solid season for Orthodox pitching prospect Jacob Steinmetz, who notched the first win of his professional career this week with the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Single-A affiliate, the Visalia Rawhides.

A Washington Post story details how the 20-year-old is navigating minor league life as an Orthodox Jew — from flying in kosher food from Los Angeles to walking to the ballpark on Shabbat.

Your Jewish guide to the new NFL season

From left: Michael Dunn, Jake Curhan, Greg Joseph and A.J. Dillon. (Getty Images/Design by Mollie Suss)

Football fans rejoice: Week 1 of the NFL season kicks off Thursday night.

As the season gets underway, there are four Jewish players to watch, plus a few free agents and other Jewish storylines to keep an eye on, too.

Here are the Jewish players starting the season on NFL rosters:

Jake Curhan, Seattle Seahawks offensive tackle
A.J. Dillon, Green Bay Packers running back
Michael Dunn, Cleveland Browns offensive lineman
Greg Joseph, Minnesota Vikings kicker

Read our full NFL season preview right here.

Halftime report

GOLDEN. Israel won two gold medals at the Rhythmic Gymnastics World Championships in Spain last weekend, including in the all-around group category — the country’s first-ever gold medal at the tournament. “We are really happy that we managed to get this medal and that we got the chance to scream out the anthem from the podium,” said team captain Romi Paritzki.

BANNED. Iran banned one of its weightlifters for life after he shook hands with an Israeli athlete at the 2023 World Master Weightlifting Championships in Poland.

MORE THAN A GAME. In 1983, campers from a Canadian Jewish summer camp played a basketball game against a group of kids who had been students of a notorious Holocaust denier. Forty years later, the experience remains formative for Hart Snider, who created a short film and comic book memoir about it. Snider recently returned to the camp to mark the anniversary of the game.

THANKS? Jewish golfer Max Homa is set to participate in his first Ryder Cup later this month, the biennial competition featuring teams from the United States and Europe. When the U.S. team was announced this week, Zach Johnson also jokingly named Homa the “prom king” of the squad — an honor that was met with confused excitement from the No. 7-ranked PGA golfer.

ENOUGH ALREADY. Israeli UFC fighter Natan Levy told TMZ he is constantly fending off antisemitic messages online, including a lot of Holocaust denial. (Levy recently challenged one online troll to a fight.)

YUM. The iconic Katz’s Deli announced that it is partnering with WNBA superstar Sabrina Ionescu on a new “Triple Double Stacker Sandwich” featuring corned beef, brisket and pastrami, in honor of Ionescu’s three triple-doubles in one season and her new Nike shoe — the company’s first-ever unisex signature shoe collection. (Ionescu is not Jewish.)

Is the pen mightier than the bat?

Veteran catcher Ryan Lavarnway wrote a children’s book about his experience playing for Team Israel. (Getty; book page courtesy of Ryan Lavarnway)

Ryan Lavarnway, a journeyman catcher who played for eight teams across 10 MLB seasons, officially retired from professional baseball earlier this year. In addition to his new role as a Colorado Rockies TV analyst, Lavarnway just released a children’s book about how playing for Team Israel brought him closer to Judaism.

The book follows Lavarnway’s baseball journey from childhood to the pros, and it explores how an offer to play for Israel changed both his career and his life.

“When I played for the World Baseball Classic team in 2017, that was a really life changing experience for me,” Lavarnway told me. “I didn’t feel a huge connection to my Judaism, to any religion, to the community at all. Through playing for Team Israel, I felt that for the first time.”

Read more about the new book here.

Jews in sports to watch this weekend


The U.S. Open is underway in New York, and a few Jewish (or Jewish-adjacent) players are still in the fight. Aslan Karatsev, who was born in Russia but moved to Israel at 3 years old, faces Ben Shelton today at 12:15 p.m. ET in the third round of men’s singles. Ukrainian star Elina Svitolina, who had a Jewish grandmother, faces Jessica Pegula in the third round tomorrow, tentatively scheduled for 11 a.m. ET. Madison Brengle, Camila Giorgi and Diego Schwartzman — who has been in a rough stretch lately — all lost in the first round.


Max Fried takes the mound for his Atlanta Braves tonight at 10:10 p.m. ET against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Harrison Bader, who was cut by the Yankees and then picked up by the Cincinnati Reds this week, could debut for his new team in their series against the Chicago Cubs. Garrett Stubbs and the Philadelphia Phillies take on Rowdy Tellez and the Milwaukee Brewers, while Zack Gelof and the Oakland Athletics face the Los Angeles Angels and reliever Kenny Rosenberg.


Manor Solomon and Tottenham face Burnley Saturday at 10 a.m. ET, while Matt Turner and Nottingham Forest take on Chelsea at the same time. Solomon hasn’t seen much playing time in Tottengam’s Premier Leagues matches, but the Israeli forward played 81 minutes during Tuesday’s EFL Cup game against his old squad, Fulham. Turner, meanwhile, has started all three games for Nottingham, saving 73.7% of shots so far.


Lance Stroll is on the grid for this weekend’s Formula One Italian Grand Prix, Sunday at 9 a.m. ET. The Aston Martin driver has been confirmed to keep his seat for next season.

Hoops for a cause

Children participate in a basketball clinic in Philadelphia, Aug. 27, 2023. (Courtesy of Jared Armstrong)

Last weekend, Jewish basketball player Jared Armstrong, who plays professionally in Israel, ran a free clinic in Philadelphia to promote Black-Jewish relations. Here’s a photo from Armstrong’s camp. For more, check out this interview Armstrong did with Philly’s local ABC News affiliate during the event.

The post The Jewish Sport Report: All the Jews to watch in the NFL this season appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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‘A Time for Vigilance’: FBI Director Says Agency on Alert for Threats Against Jewish Community During Passover

FBI Director Christopher Wray testifies before the House Approbations Subcommittee on Capitol Hill in Washington, US, April 11, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Michael A. McCoy

The director of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on Wednesday said his agency was on alert for threats posed to the Jewish community during Passover, which begins on Monday night.

Christopher Wray told a group of Jewish community security officials about the FBI’s state of alertness during an event titled, “Passover Without Fear: Preparedness and Security Considerations in Today’s World.”

Wray said the FBI was “particularly concerned” that lone-wolf attackers may target Passover gatherings, high-profile events, and/or religious locations. 

At the same time, he said that while “I’m not providing these updates in any way to alarm you, because this is not a time for panic,” it was “a time for continued vigilance.” 

The Jewish holiday of Passover, which celebrates the Biblical story of the Israelites’ escape from slavery in Egypt, will begin next Monday evening and end the following Tuesday.

The national director and CEO of the Secure Community Network — the organization Wray was speaking to and that describes itself as “the official safety and security organization of the Jewish community in North America” — said he was not aware of any specific threats at this time.

Taking a step back, Wray said that even before the Hamas terror group’s Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel, “the threat to Jewish Americans had already elevated.” However, he continued, “in the six months since then, we’ve seen those threats elevated” even further.

In December, the FBI said there had been a 60 percent spike in antisemitic hate crime investigations since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas war. Then on Wednesday, Wray said the probes into antisemitic crimes tripled in the months following Oct. 7.

“Between Oct. 7 and Jan. 30 of this year, we opened over three times more anti-Jewish hate crime investigations than in the four months before Oct. 7,” he explained.

Last year, the FBI found that 63 percent of all religiously motivated hate crimes were directed against Jews.

There have been a number of mass shooting, bomb, and other threats against synagogues across the US since Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, when the Palestinian terror group killed 1,200 people and took more than 250 hostages to Gaza.

Wray’s latest comments came one day after the the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) released its annual audit of hate incidents that targeted the Jewish community.

The ADL recorded 8,873 antisemitic incidents in 2023 — an average of 24 every day — across the US, amounting to a surge of 140 percent compared to the prior year and the most such outrages since the organization began tracking such data in 1979.

The vast majority of the antisemitic incidents — 5,204 — occurred after the Hamas atrocities of Oct. 7.

“Since Oct. 7, anti-Zionism is impossible to separate from the Hamas attacks,” the ADL said. “These rallies have a dramatically different impact on the Jewish communities that have felt demonized and harassed because of this sustained level of intense anti-Zionist street activism.”

Beyond outrages such as assault, vandalism, and harassment, the ADL included in its tally “rallies that include support for Hamas or justify its attacks, calls to ‘globalize the intifada’ or ‘by all means necessary,’ and expressions of anti-Zionism such as the phrases ‘Zionism is terrorism,’ or ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.’”

The post ‘A Time for Vigilance’: FBI Director Says Agency on Alert for Threats Against Jewish Community During Passover first appeared on

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US to Oppose Palestinian Bid for Full UN Membership

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks to members of the Security Council during a meeting to address the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, at UN headquarters in New York City, New York, US, April 18, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

The United States on Thursday will vote against a Palestinian request for full United Nations membership, a US official told Reuters, blocking the world body from effectively recognizing a Palestinian state.

“It remains the US view that the most expeditious path toward statehood for the Palestinian people is through direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority with the support of the United States and other partners,” the US official said.

The 15-member council is scheduled to vote on a draft resolution that recommends to the 193-member UN General Assembly that “the State of Palestine be admitted to membership of the United Nations.”

A council resolution needs at least nine votes in favor and no vetoes by the US, Britain, France, Russia, or China to pass. Diplomats say the measure could have the support of up to 13 council members, which would force the US to use its veto.

“We have long been clear that premature actions in New York, even with the best intentions, will not achieve statehood for the Palestinian people,” the US official said.

The Palestinians are currently a non-member observer state, a recognition that was granted by the UN General Assembly in 2012. But an application to become a full UN member needs to be approved by the Security Council and then at least two-thirds of the General Assembly.

The Palestinian push for full UN membership comes six months into a war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, and as Israel is expanding settlements in the West Bank.

“Recent escalations make it even more important to support good-faith efforts to find lasting peace between Israel and a fully independent, viable, and sovereign Palestinian state,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the Security Council.

“Failure to make progress towards a two-state solution will only increase volatility and risk for hundreds of millions of people across the region, who will continue to live under the constant threat of violence,” he said.

Israel‘s UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan said Palestinians failed to meet the criteria to become a full UN member, which he outlined as: a permanent population, defined territory, government, and capacity to enter into relations with other states.

“Who is the council voting to ‘recognize’ and give full membership status to? Hamas in Gaza? The Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Nablus? Who?” Erdan asked the Security Council.

He said granting full UN membership to the Palestinians “will have zero positive impact for any party, that will cause only destruction for years to come, and harm any chance for future dialogue.”

The Palestinian Authority, headed by President Mahmoud Abbas, exercises limited self-rule in the West Bank. Hamas, a terrorist organization, ousted the Palestinian Authority from power in Gaza in 2007.

Ziad Abu Amr, special envoy of Abbas, asked the United States: “How could this damage the prospects of peace between Palestinians and Israelis? How could this recognition and this membership harm international peace and security?”

“Those who are trying to disrupt and hinder the adoption of such a resolution … are not helping the prospects of peace between Palestinians and Israelis and the prospects for peace in the Middle East in general,” he told the Security Council.

Abu Amr said full Palestinian UN membership was not an alternative for serious political negotiations to implement a two-state solution and resolve pending issues, adding: “However, this resolution will grant hope to the Palestinian people hope for a decent life within an independent state.”

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New Haggadah Released for Israeli Soldiers in Gaza Ahead of Passover

Israeli soldiers respond to an alert of an apparent security incident, in Ashkelon, southern Israel, Oct. 10, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Amir Cohen

A new Haggadah designed specifically for Israeli soldiers is heading into the Gaza Strip as the Jewish holiday of Passover is set to begin new week.

The book, composed by Rabbi Gamaliel HaCohen Rabinowitz of Rehovot, came after he researched the various Jewish laws and customs regarding how to conduct a Passover Seder in a war zone.

Titled “The Seder in Gaza,” the new Haggadah answers questions such as what to do if there is only a small period of time to conduct the Seder, the traditional Passover feast, which can typically last hours. The text also addresses if soldiers need to return to combat, the order of conducting a quick Seder, and what to do about the issue of chametz within a house that is used as a temporary home to soldiers — technically it is forbidden to have chametz, or leavened products, in one’s home during Passover

The Haggadah tells the story of the Passover Seder, which celebrates the Biblical story of the Israelites’ escape from slavery in Egypt. Passover is a week-long celebration by Jews around the world who read the Haggadah to commemorate the exodus from Egypt.

Many Israeli soldiers will remain in Gaza during this year’s Passover — which will begin next Monday evening and end the following Tuesday — due to the ongoing war with Hamas. The Palestinian terrorist group launched the conflict with its brutal invasion of southern Israel on Oct. 7, when the terrorists murdered 1,200 people and kidnapped 253 others as hostages.

Most enlisted and reserve soldiers have been released from duty, though some remain and there is a growing number who are returning amid the anticipated operation in Rafah, the southernmost part of the Gaza Strip and where it is believed the last remaining Hamas battalions are camped out.

There are about 130 hostages remaining in Gaza who will not be celebrating the holiday with their families.

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