CSJL Logo Center for Sport and Jewish Life
Home About Us Articles Health & Fitness Teens Youth Sports Auction Donate Links Contact
Page Font Size:

Welcome to the Center for Sport and Jewish Life
"Where Theo Epstein meets Theodor Herzl"

The Center for Sport and Jewish Life is a donor-supported 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to promoting Jewish identity, Jewish community, and Jewish values through sports.

Bruchim Ha-Ba’im! Welcome to the website of the Center for Sport and Jewish Life. We are pleased to have visitors from all over the world, and hope that you will enjoy the articles posted here.


We want to hear from you! Please write us at JewishSports@gmail.com, with your ideas for stories, to let us know of Jewish athletes competing at the high school or collegiate level, if you are interested in writing for us, or to let us know you stopped by. We hope to see you back here soon!

Maccabi Tel Aviv launches another NBA career:  Dragan Bender

Maccabi Tel Aviv, the perennial powerhouse of Israeli basketball, is considered one of Europe’s best teams and a mainstay of Euroleague competition.  No surprise that the club has been a way station for several players who have gone on to play in the NBA, among them Anthony Parker (who played with Toronto and more recently Cleveland, and is currently a scout for the Orlando Magic, Šarūnas (Šaras) Jasikevičius of Lithuania and the Pacers, and of course Israeli native Omri Casspi. All were more-or-less seasoned players upon entering the NBA. Read more



The inimitable tennis figure Bud Collins recently died at age 86. What few tennis fans may know is that Collins was the first tennis coach at Brandeis University. JewishSport.org had a chance to sit down with Collins a couple of years ago. Here is that interview...

[February 19. 2016] Israeli tennis player Dudi Sela returned to Florida this February to play his 6th Delray Beach Open. Afterwards he spoke to JewishSport.org.    Click here for full story.



[February 17. 2015]  It wasn’t so much a case of “whether” as a matter of “weather” when Israeli tennis player Dudi (David) Sela made his annual return in mid-February to south Florida and the Delray Beach Open by the Venetian Las Vegas.

Sela, Israel’s highest ranking male tennis player at the moment (currently at number 90) 

Click here for full story.

Jake Cohen signs with Maccabi Tel Aviv

Congratulations to Philadelphia area native Jake Cohen, a member of the Davidson College basketball team, who signed a four-year contract with Maccabi Tel Aviv. Jake previously became an Israeli citizen when he was invited to take part in the Israeli team competing in the 2011 European U20 Men's Basketball Championships. The Center for Sport and Jewish Life wishes Jake all the best!


Click here for story:  http://www.davidsonwildcats.com/news/2013/7/9/MBB_0709134102.aspx

Jewish Roots and the Quest for an NBA Championship

Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals was, by all accounts, one tough game. After the Heat managed a 103-100 overtime win after being down 5 with under 30 seconds to go, LeBron James called it “by far the best game I've ever been a part of.”


In the San Antonio locker room, third year Spurs member Tiago Splitter agreed.   Click here for full story.

What sports legend, known more for his high living ways, championed the Jewish people when they most needed a friend? You might be surprised.   Read more...
CSJL Seeks Coordinator in Israel
The Center for Sport and Jewish Life (www.JewishSport.org) is looking to hire a coordinator in Israel for (at present) a 1/3-time position. Duties include coordinating efforts at life skills education through sports, occasional stories/interviews, and creating ties with like-minded individuals and organizations. Please pass the word along. Anyone interested should contact JewishSports@yahoo.com for details.
The International Olympic Committee has fallen short of the ideals it represents by not yet finding a fitting way to honor the memory of the 11 Israeli Olympians who were murdered during the Olympic Games 40 years ago. Let us never forget them. Click here to check out the video clip recalling those events.
Zack Rosen Update
All-American guard and Ivy League Player of the Year Zack Rosen (Penn '12) helped the Philadelphia 76ers summer league squad to a victory in Orlando. Rosen is playing for a chance to make it to some team's training camp this September.     Click here for story.
Young Israeli Arabs and Jews find common ground in the boxing ring
Budding athletes learn more than "bob and weave" en route to success in sport and in life.
Heat's Victory Points to Life Lessons Learned
If America is the land of second chances, LeBron James and the Miami Heat certainly offer a prime example. It was only one season ago that King James talked about “taking his talents to South Beach,” and well before the first tip-off of the season, the celebrations were already underway. True, the Heat made it to the 2011 NBA Finals, but by the time the team was struggling in game after game of sub-par fourth-quarter play, more people were cheering against LeBron and the Heat than for them.                            Entire Article »
There are many reasons to be proud of Israel … and one thing we know is that the safety and well-being of Israelis has always depended on the soldiers who serve in the Israeli Defense Forces. The majority of Israeli’s soldiers have the support of their family, including fathers and other family members who served in the past and can help guide them through the process. But there are over 5,000 so-called “lone soldiers” (hayalim bodedim), i.e., soldiers who have no family in Israel (such as those who immigrated alone from places like Ethiopia, Russia, the USA and Canada) – as well as individuals who come from dysfunctional families (perhaps the father is in prison and the mother unable to care for the family) – and for whom the army represents a second chance to succeed in life. These soldiers have no family to support them during their time in the Army.

The CENTER FOR SPORT AND JEWISH LIFE has mounted the ALL IN THE FAMILY CAMPAIGN CAMPAIGN with the aim of supporting the following two organizations that serve lone soldiers:

1. Beit Kobi (Kobi’s House), established in memory of Sergeant Kobi Ichelbom, a combat officer who fell during combat in 2002. Beit Kobi runs three apartments outside of Tel Aviv for lone soldiers who serve in the elite Givati Brigade and who otherwise would have no place to go. (See www.Kobi.org.il or www.Kobi.idus.co.il/page_Projects). Beit Kobi volunteers also fill in as “surrogate family members” to attend soldiers’ swearing-in ceremonies during basic training, and their beret ceremonies at the end of basic training.

2. The Lone Soldier Center (www.lonesoldiercenter.org), established in memory of Michael Levin, who made aliya from Philadelphia as a lone soldier, serving as a paratrooper and falling in the same Hizbollah stronghold where Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev had been taken captive just two weeks earlier in the summer of 2006. The Lone Soldier Center provides programs for lone soldiers, including pre-induction mental and physical training, adoptive families, Shabbat and holiday dinners, hikes and other social events – and also makes sure there is someone to be with each lone soldier at such events as their swearing-in ceremony at the start of basic training and their beret ceremony at the conclusion of basic training.

Our plan is to split the funds we are able to raise equally among the two organizations. We are asking you to donate $18 (chai) – more if you can. Our campaign will run from Passover (which begins on Friday night April 6) until Israel Independence Day (Thursday, April 26).

You can send your donation payable to the Center for Sport and Jewish Life to the Center at 255 NE 3rd Avenue, Suite 408, Delray Beach, FL 33444 – or make a donation via PayPal to JewishSports@Yahoo.com.

Thanks, and best wishes for a Happy Pesach!!!
Amit Inbar, UCLA Men’s Tennis
Benny Delgado, Grand Valley State University Men’s Tennis
Rabbi Mitch Smith, Director, Center for Sport and Jewish Life


Let's all show some love for Penn senior guard Zack Rosen... who is up for the Lowe's Senior Class award. A great team leader and a great guy! Go to http://www.seniorclassaward.com/vote/   You can vote once a day on each of the Lowe's site and the Facebook site from now till March 18. No disrespect to the other worthy candidates but Zack is surely the most deserving!!!

In the spirit of Hanukkah – a time of bringing light to the a sometimes dark world – and remember those who fought (and fighht) for our freedom – the Center for Sport and Jewish Life is appealing to Jewish athletes and others to make a donation to support any or all of the following:

1. ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES LONE SOLDIERS PROGRAM which provides financial aid and holiday packages to soldiers serving in the Israeli army who are without family in Israel. Of the 5000 lone soldiers, about half come from outside of Israel, and about 1/3 serve in combat units.

Helps returning U.S. veterans who struggle with Post Combat Stress though a 1-3 day rehabilitative outdoor retreat in which group activities and discussions help point the way to further healing opportunities.

Provides recreation, adaptive sports and fitness programs to help wounded American soldiers adjust to life after injury, helping veterans to gain confidence and independence, while adapting to life after injury.


Please send your donation to "Center for Sport and Jewish Life, 255 NE 3rd Avenue, #408, Delray Beach, FL 33444. Specify preference for any particular recipient.

“You say Kugel, we say Kigel”
Congratulations to Avi Kigel, head coach of the Division 2 Barry University women’s tennis team, who led his squad to their first ever NCAA National Championship. After a rain delay which sidelined play for a day, the Barry women defeated Sunshine State Conference rival Lynn University, winning one doubles match and four singles matches to claim the school’s ninth national championship since 1989.

Kigel, a native of Rehovot, Israel, told JewishSport.org, “We are on cloud nine!” Kigel, who is in his third year at the helm, spent four years previously as the team’s assistant coach and four years as an assistant coach at Davidson University in North Carolina. In 2010 the Barry women had a perfect 8-0 record in conference play, a 24-4 overall record, and made it to the national tournament, and Kigel was named South Region Coach of the Year.
It may be “a small, small world” at Disneyworld, but many of the nations represented at another Disney park – EPCOT – suggest otherwise. Both the United States and Israel are among the ten fattest nations, as reported in a recent study by the World Health Organization.

With this in mind, the Center for Sport and Jewish Life announces a new feature – the Health and Fitness Corner. With the help of our advisory panel and others, we will feature articles dealing with nutrition, fitness, and personal/spiritual well-being.

Stay tuned … (By the way, the Hebrew word for “fitness” is… kosher – most large hotels in the country have a “hadar kosher” – a fitness room.)  See article...

The Center for Sport and Jewish Life is now on
Receive updates regarding Jewish and Israeli athletes competing in the U.S., Israel, and around the world... Go to the "Center for Sport and Jewish Life" page on Facebook and sign up as a fan. Updates weekly!
Ani V'Ata - An Athlete-led Initiative Reaching out to Ourselves and Others - CLICK HERE
Across the country, hundreds and thousands of people are stepping up in a new spirit of volunteerism, a kind of re-incarnation of President Kennedy’s inaugural exhortation that we ask not what our country can do for us, but what we can do for others.  The Center for Sport and Jewish Life is issuing the call to athletes and others to join our initiative!
 Would YOU like to write for the Center for Sport and Jewish Life?
The Center for Sport and Jewish Life is looking for writers interested in writing for us (interviews, etc.) and younger writers (ages 12-17) to write for our teen page. If you are interested, please write us at info@csjl.org.
Last year, Sacramento Kings rookie Omri Casspi was celebrating Yom HaAtzma’ut with friends and family in Israel. One year later, Omri has completed a whirlwind year having realized his dream of playing in the NBA. But just as surely as we recite at the Passover seder, (recalling Egyptian bondage and holding out promise for the future) “This year we are slaves. Next year may we be free people,” Casspi must be reciting his own wishes that “This year I played in the NBA; next year hopefully in the playoffs!”).    Entire Article »
Remembering Israel's Defenders - The Fallen Striker    by Uzi Dann
Each year on the eve of Israel’s Independence Day, the country observes Yom HaZikkaron, the Memorial Day for Israel’s fallen soldiers. This observance, immediately – and intentionally – followed by Yom HaAtzma’ut, Israel’s Independence Day, is a similarly solemn day, given over to remembering those who gave their lives during Israel’s battles and military campaigns to achieve statehood and vigilantly maintain secure borders. In 2010, Israel observes Yom HaZikkaron on April 19, and Yom HaAtzma’ut on April 20. Writing in the daily Ha’Aretz, Uzi Dann recalled a fallen Israeli sportsman.     Entire Article »
Some readers may recall the movie Friendly Persuasion, starring Gary Cooper, about the Quaker who wouldn’t fight during the Civil War. Philadelphia being a town where some of your best Jews are Friends (as the saying goes), one modern day Quaker is the embodiment of the fighting spirit. Well… Quaker by team affiliation, Jew by personal commitment.  Click for article
 If you saw NBC Nightly News on Tuesday night you couldn’t help but feel a great deal of pride to see the report of how Israel dispatched two jumbo jets to Haiti immediately after last week’s disaster – one full of medical supplies and equipment, the other with medical personnel. The Israeli presence represents not only best example of Jewish sensitivity to the suffering of others, but also the most advanced high tech medical equipment, enabling the Israel medical team to see and treat a vast number of individuals in an efficient way and be able to share diagnoses with experts around the world in cases where consultation is needed.      THIS CALL IS FOR ALL VISITORS TO THIS WEBSITE who want to respond as a group to make a combined contribution...
Olympic record restored to 95 year old Jewish woman after 73 years

Germany has restored the 1936 high jump record to a 95-year-old New York

woman who was kicked off the Nazi Olympic team because she was Jewish.

Read more here.

Holding “court” with Bruce Pearl
University of Tennessee head men’s basketball coach Bruce Pearl is finally going to fulfill his dream of visiting Israel, when Pearl will coach the U.S. men’s team in the upcoming Maccabiah Games, which will take place in mid-July.

“I had always planned after high school to go to Israel,” Pearl told JewishSport.org...     Entire Article »

Seth Davis: The Rashi of College Basketball
Rashi (aka Rabbi Shlomo Yitzhaki, 1040-1105) was the foremost Biblical commentator of medieval times. Known for his commentating on the college hoop scene, Seth Davis is similarly adept at exploring and explaining the nuances of the annual quest for that “one magic moment” known as the Final Four. Fresh from his TV duties, and having recently completed his book, When March Went Mad: The Game That Transformed Basketball, about the 1979 pairing of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, Seth took time to talk with JewishSport.org. Here is what he had to say...
Gail Brodsky: Tennis Up-and-Comer
While most 17-year-olds are busy making spring plans for their prom, Gail Brodsky was pursuing a spot in the upcoming French Open. By mutual agreement with the United States Tennis Association and the U.S. Open, one wildcard spot for an American player who otherwise does not qualify for the main men’s and women’s draw was made available through a playoff, which was held at the end of April in Boca Raton, Florida. Brodsky was one of 11 young women seeking the wildcard spot.   Entire Article »
Israeli Tennis Players Take Center Court in California
March 21, 2009. Indian Wells, CA - Israel was represented at the championship finals in both men’s and women’s doubles play at the Indian Wells BNP Paribas Open, which was winding up as March Madness was just getting underway elsewhere around the country.        Entire Article »
Derek Glasser's Spectacular Play Helps Arizona State Past NCAA 1st Round Play

It was his first time at the Big Dance, and he stepped up with a huge performance. Junior guard Derek Glasser’s 22 points went a big way toward helping Arizona State


advance to beat Temple and advance to second round play in the 2009 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

More »


Photos by Bruce Yeung, Yeung Photography

Israel-Sweden Davis Cup Play: Down to the Wire
Malmo, Sweden --- It was March Madness – after a fashion. After the second day of Davis Cup play, Israel trailed host Sweden 2 matches to 3. On the last day of play (3/8/09) Israel’s big gun, Dudi Sela, won his second match of the series, but it took him five sets to do it, after two of the three previous matches also went down to the fifth set. Now Israel was tied, and Har’el Levy, who had lost on Friday, faced Andreas Vinciguerra. Whoever won would present their team with a ticket to Davis Cup quarter-final play.    More »
This Andy Went to Dubai, That Andy Stayed Home
Israeli tennis player Andy Ram got to Dubai after all. Following all the fuss with Shahar Pe’er, who was barred from entering the country and thus kept out of the women’s draw one week earlier, (and having been denied entrance along with his regular doubles partner and fellow Israeli Yoni Erlich in 2008), the UAE authorities granted Ram a visa at the last minute.

Meanwhile, another Andy made history of his own by NOT showing up in Dubai.  More »

Israeli Davis Cup Team Faces Sweden in Empty Arena

March 4, 2009 – Superman had his Fortress of Solitude. The Israeli Davis Cup team may have their own version in frigid Sweden when they meet the Swedes this weekend in the southern Swedish town of Malmo which is hosting the matches.    More »
Israeli Tennis Star Dudi Sela: Making A Racquet

Dudi Sela is currently ranked no. 65 in the world on the ATP tour. He was in south Florida recently to compete in the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships, and took time out to talk with the Center for Sport and Jewish Life.

                                                                                                             More »

With apologies to the Village People... here's your chance to ask the experts. The Center for Sport and Jewish Life invites you to ask your sports-related questions, and we will do our best to obtain a knowledgeable response from selected athletes, coaches, sportswriters, sports physicians, trainers, nutritionists and others. Submit your question to info@jewishsport.org, and include your name (questions will be published using first names only), location, and if you play or are a fan of any particular sport(s).
Toledo's Kosher Point Guard
Israeli Naama Shafir, starting point guard for the University of Toledo women's basketball team, is presumed to be the first orthodox Jewish woman to play Division 1 basketball, and is helping her team to surpass this season's expectations.    More...
Shahar Pe’er denied participation in Dubai Tennis Championships
Responding to the denial by the United Arab Emirates to grant a visa to Israeli tennis player Shahar Pe’er to participate in this week’s Dubai Tennis Championships, Jewish leaders and Israeli officials have called upon the Women’s Tennis Association, under whose auspices the event takes place, to remove it from its 2010 calendar.                                              Entire Article »
Garrett Weber-Gale: Swimming to Olympic History

    Garrett  Weber-Gale, Michael Phelps celebrate

Thrilling – amazing – a dream come true. That is how Olympic swimmer Garrett Weber-Gale described his summer at the Beijing Olympics. As it happened, he won a couple of gold medals in the process – and helped Michael Phelps win his history-making eight gold medals. Weber-Gale spoke with the Center for Sport and Jewish Life recently; this is what he had to say...                                                 
"SPORT and JEWISH LIFE” Winning Essay
Earlier this year, the Center for Sport and Jewish Life held its 4th “Sport and Jewish Life” essay contest. This year’s theme – “What does it take to succeed in sports?” - was timed with the Summer Olympic Games. Click here to read one of the winning essays: The Attribute that Most Guarantees Success in Sports and in Life, by Adina Erdfarb. Check back soon for details of the next essay contest.
Blue (and White) Devil Jon Scheyer
Some years ago, St. Joseph’s University’s men’s basketball team was scheduled to play Lute Olson’s Wildcats in Tucson. A snowstorm prevented the St. Joe’s team from getting to Arizona, and as a result they had to forfeit the game. To gain sympathy, St. Joe’s coach Phil Martelli (this was in the pre-Jameer Nelson glory days) commented that whereas Arizona had players that were McDonald’s All-Americans, St. Joe’s had players that ate at McDonalds. The point being, of course, that McDonald’s All-Americans signed to play at top programs.

With 14 Final Four appearances (3rd behind UCLA and North Carolina) and three NCAA championships, Duke basketball is certainly one of those top teams, with its fair share of high school McDonald’s All-Americans. One member of the current Duke team holds the record as the only Jewish McDonald’s All-American to date. Sophomore guard Jon Scheyer recently spoke with our reporter. Here is what he had to say:   Entire Article »

Jon Scheyer

In Memoriam: Legendary Israeli Coach Ralph Klein, 1931-2008

It is with great sadness that the Center for Sport and Jewish Life shares with our readers the news that legendary Israeli basketball coach Ralph Klein has passed away at the age of 77. Klein served as one of two Honorary Presidents of the Center, along with MLB Commissioner Bud Selig.

Klein had spent the past week in the hospital with health complications. Three years ago he battled cancer, and had subsequently been in remission.

Klein has been recognized on numerous occasions for his many accomplishments. In 1998, he was chosen as Israeli Coach of the Half-Century. In 2006 he received the prestigious Israel Prize (something like the Congressional Medal of Honor), which is awarded each year on Yom HaAtzma’ut (Israeli Independence Day) to a dozen or so individuals from the arts, education, industry and other realms.  Entire Article »

The Jewish Boys of Springtime

On the Jewish calendar, March means Purim, and recalling the time that lots were cast to determine the fate of Persian Jews. For aspiring minor league baseball players, March means spring training, at the end of which ones fate is determined – as far as season assignments in the hierarchy of the clubs farm teams.

Two Jewish minor leaguers, both pitchers, both in their third season of professional play, spoke recently to the Center for Sport and Jewish Life. Here’s what Avi Rasowsky and Josh Appell had to say about life in the minor leagues.

  Avi Rasowsky                                                                                                                                             Josh Appell

Jewish Sports Center, HaKo'Ach, Re-opens in Vienna

On March 11, 2008, the Associated Press reported that the Jewish sports club,  HaKo’akh of Vienna was being re-dedicated in its new home in the city’s Prater Park.

 Almost 70 years to the day, on March 12, 1938, one million Austrians had gathered in Heroes’ Square to cheer on the arrival of the Nazis.      

 Entire Article »

HaKo'Ach's soccer team won the Austrian National Championship in 1924-25.  

Duke soph Jon Scheyer scores career high 27 points in 96-95 loss to Miami

Trailing Miami by 20 points nearly 3/4 of the way through the game, Duke mounted a late second-half rally, only to see victory elude them in the final seconds of play.

Leading the comeback effort was Jon Scheyer, who played like a man on a mission. After shooting 2-for-6 in the first half, Scheyer connected on 5 of his 7 second-half shots, including 4-for-5 from behind the arc. He sank 8 of his 9 foul shots to finish the night as the game’s high scorer.

Jon Scheyer                                                                                                                              Entire Article »


Announcing the publication of a unique book: Baseballs, Basketballs and Matzah Balls”!
Called “compelling and entertaining” by CBS Sports Final Four guru Seth Davis, and “insightful and inspirational” by former NFL player and Fox TV analyst Tim Green, Baseballs, Basketballs and Matzah Balls: What Sports Can Teach Us About the Jewish Holidays … and Vice Versa
explores the world of sports – of contests and heroes, of triumph and adversity – and examines how they relate to the festivals that Jews have celebrated for thousands of years. Baseballs, Basketballs and Matzah Balls was written by Rabbi Mitch Smith, the founder of the Center for Sport and Jewish Life, who is the Director of Sport Psychology Services at Florida Atlantic University.

In the pages of Baseballs, Basketballs and Matzah Balls, you will hear from Moses, Michael Jordan and Mordecai Kaplan, Phil Jackson and Philo Judaeus, Hammerin’ Hank Greenberg and Theodor Herzl, Rabbi Moses Maimonides and Reggie Miller. You will hear, too, from Bill Bradley and Boris Becker, Gary Player and Grant Hill, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Abraham Joshua Heschel, Rafael Nidal, Red Auerbach and Rabbi Akiba.

For more description and info on how to order your copy, click here.

Featured Articles
[Star of David]The Attribute that Most Guarantees Success in Sports and in Life

More Articles »

In Other News



Tell a Friend About CSJL
Your Name:
Your E-Mail:
Friend's Name:
Friend's E-mail:
Backstroker Krayzelburg Giving Back          

Four-time Olympic gold medalist and Center for Sport and Jewish Life Advisory Board member Lenny Krayzelburg has never lost sight of his journey to the top of his sport. As a recently arrived teen from the Ukraine who spoke a faltering English, Krayzelburg found a home of sorts at the Los Angeles JCC, before achieving fame at USC and the Sydney and Athens Olympics. In recent times, the pool at the JCC has fallen into a state of disrepair. Krayzelburg, a one-time JCC lifeguard, tossed the JCC a life preserver in the form of a $100,000 donation.

Krayzelburg served as head judge for the Center for Sport and Jewish Life's last essay contest, and continues to actively support the Center's work.

Copyright 2004-2014 by The Center for Sport and Jewish Life.  All rights reserved.