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The Jewish Sport Report: Israel shoots for World Cup history in Argentina

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Hi there! Summer is around the corner, and the weather is heating up.

Temperatures were also flaring in Denver earlier this week, when Philadelphia Phillies superstar Bryce Harper got into it with Colorado Rockies Jewish reliever Jake Bird, who had taunted the Phillies dugout.

Benches cleared, and both Harper and Bird were ejected. Bird, who had planned to pitch for Team Israel this year before dropping out due to an injury, acknowledged that his emotions got the best of him.

“I think I got to keep it within and to myself,” he said. “There’s nothing personal. I just got a little fired up.”

Israel aims for history in Argentina

A view of Israel’s team at the 2022 UEFA U-21 championship in Dublin, Ireland, Sept. 23, 2022. (Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

The Israeli under-20 men’s national soccer team is in Argentina this weekend for the FIFA U-20 World Cup, marking Israel’s first-ever appearance in the tournament. Israel has only appeared in one main World Cup, back in 1970.

“I’m 48, and coming to Argentina to play soccer was my dream since I was 10 years old,” said manager Ofir Haim, a former professional player.

The team will be eager to prove the surprise success that got them to the World Cup — a run to the finals of the UEFA under-19 European championship last year — was not a fluke. They face Colombia on Sunday, May 21; Senegal on Wednesday, May 24; and Japan next Saturday, May 27.

“We came here to win the trophy,” midfielder El Yam Kancepolsky told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Read more about the U-20 team here as they seek to score Israel’s second-ever World Cup goal.

Halftime report

2 DANIELS 2 WATCH. JTA’s partner site the New York Jewish Week announced its annual “36 to Watch” list this week, which honors 36 New York innovators and leaders for their contributions in the arts, culture, religion and more. This year’s group includes Daniel Edelman, the New York Red Bulls midfielder, and Daniel Posner, who founded Athletes for Israel, a nonprofit that brings high-profile athletes on educational trips to Israel. Check out the full list here.

WINGS CLIPPED. Former Maryland star Abby Meyers, who was drafted 11th overall by the WNBA’s Dallas Wings last month, was cut by the team this week. Meyers was one of many high draft picks who were waived as a result of limited roster spots across the league, which tips off its new season today.

MAY HIS MEMORY BE A BLESSING. Chicago real estate magnate Sam Zell, the son of Holocaust survivors and briefly the owner of the Chicago Cubs, died Thursday at 81. In 2007, Zell purchased the Tribune Co., which included TV stations, the Cubs and major newspapers like the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times. The company filed for bankruptcy a year later and the Ricketts family took over the team.

DOWN THE PIKE. MLB’s official historian John Thorn, who is the son of Holocaust survivors, took a deep dive into the story of Lipman Pike, the first Jewish professional ballplayer.

GO TEAM. The Premier League club Arsenal celebrated the official launch of its new Jewish fan group, which was announced last month. Arsenal held a launch party before its match on Sunday and unveiled a new Jewish Gooners banner inside Emirates Stadium.

KILLING IT. Props to Jewish Sport Report reader Victor for pointing out that the UCLA men’s volleyball team, which won its 20th NCAA championship earlier this month, was led by Israeli sophomore Ido David, who had a season-high 23 kills in the championship game over two-time defending national champion Hawaii.

BALL IS LIFE. Pickleball has quickly become the fastest-growing sport in America (I have become an avid pickleballer myself), and Milwaukee Bucks owner Marc Lasry is in on the action. Lasry, who is selling his 25% stake in the Bucks this year, said a Major League Pickleball team he bought for $100,000 in 2021 is now worth $10 million — and that he doubts an NBA team could match that growth.

Jews in sports to watch this weekend


Team Israel veteran Dean Kremer takes the mound for the Baltimore Orioles Sunday at 1:37 p.m. ET against the Toronto Blue Jays. Matt Mervis — who mashed his first career homer this week — and the Chicago Cubs take on Garrett Stubbs, Dalton Guthrie and the Philadelphia Phillies in a three-game set this weekend. Cleveland Guardians reliever Eli Morgan is off to a fantastic start this season — he’s sporting a 1.50 ERA with 18 strikeouts in 15 appearances. The Guardians face the New York Mets this weekend.


The Israeli U-20 team faces Colombia Sunday at 2 p.m. ET. Manor Solomon and 10th-place Fulham F.C. play Crystal Palace Saturday at 10 a.m. ET. The game will stream on Peacock. On Tuesday night, (not the weekend, I know) Daniel Edelman and the NY Red Bulls face Cincinnati in the Round of 16 in the 2023 U.S. Open Cup.


Max Homa, who is No. 6 in the PGA World Golf Ranking, is in Rochester, New York, this weekend for the PGA Championship.


The F1 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix this weekend has been canceled due to severe flooding in Italy, so Jewish driver Lance Stroll will have to wait until next week to continue his strong season. With this amount of water, Stroll would have needed Noah’s Ark to navigate the track.

From one commish to another

National Women’s Soccer League Commissioner Jessica Berman holds the David J. Stern Leadership Award with her children, Noah, left, and Andrew, right. (Michael Priest Photography)

UJA-Federation of New York honored Jessica Berman, the commissioner of the National Women’s Soccer League, at their annual Sports For Youth luncheon yesterday. Berman received the David J. Stern Leadership Award, named for the longtime Jewish NBA commissioner, who died in 2020.

The post The Jewish Sport Report: Israel shoots for World Cup history in Argentina appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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