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Aug 6, 2010

Sorry, Ama're - not a Jew

According to the Wall Street Journal, despite the fact that Ama're Stoudamire's mom loved and appreciated the Old Testament, he is not Jewish. If that is all he meant when he said he has Jewish roots, I guess it is more than Chelsea Clinton (actually, probably not, as they are from the South with also makes them big fans of the Old Testament), he might be able to "Like" the "Jew" Facebook fan page, but it doesn't make him Jewish...

From the moment he arrived, there was a swirl of speculation about whether Mr. Stoudemire might be Jewish. Israel's daily Haaretz English online news service picked up a report on July 28 from Army Radio that the power forward's mother, Carrie, has Jewish roots. Mr. Stoudemire has helped stoke some of that mystery by updating his "Amareisreal" Twitter account, which he started a year ago, with messages like: "I think I might have some Hebrew Roots & i'm researching it," and, "I found my tru culture."

It appears that Mr. Stoudemire isn't Jewish under religious law. Mr. Stoudemire said his mother's links are solely from her study and appreciation of the Old Testament.

Mr. Stoudemire, a Florida native who attended a Baptist church, had a volatile childhood. His father, whom he describes as "spiritual," died of a heart attack when he was 12. His mother has struggled with substance abuse and has been in and out of jail. In 2006, she was sentenced to three years in prison for drunken driving.

Mr. Stoudemire said it was his family's dedication to biblical scripture and his attendance at Sunday school that planted the seeds of an affinity to Judaism that he says has grown over the past decade. While he doesn't consider himself religiously Jewish, he said he feels spiritually and culturally Jewish.


In a country where basketball runs a close second to soccer in popularity and where many people have ties to New York, Mr. Stoudemire cut a familiar visage. As he strolled through produce stalls in Jerusalem's Mahane Yehuda market, American tourists shouted "MVP! MVP!" At the InterContinental hotel pool, he posed for pictures with fans.

Mr. Stoudemire isn't the first American celebrity to come to Israel on a spiritual journey—Madonna and Demi Moore are two—but such a quest is unusual for an NBA player. He acknowledged that he's a little unsure how his newfound embrace of Judaism comes across. During an interview he asked a reporter, "When you hear this, do you think, 'This guy is crazy?' "

Mr. Stoudemire's interest in Judaism coincides with a stepped up relationship over the past three months with Idan Ravin, a private trainer who works with NBA players. Mr. Ravin says Mr. Stoudemire's Hebrew comes from lessons in recent weeks with Mr. Ravin's Israeli mother, a teacher in a Jewish school in Washington, D.C. Mr. Ravin, who accompanied Mr. Stoudemire on the trip, said Mr. Stoudemire is a quick read on foreign languages, and he speculates the skill is linked to his ability to decipher an opposing defense.

While in Israel, Mr. Ravin has been holding his client to a regimen of daily workouts of up to 90 minutes. He has also become a part-time spokesman. Mr. Ravin said there is no financial motive or "hustle" in Mr. Stoudemire's decision to explore Judaism. "He's found something that is meaningful to him."

Mr. Stoudemire's Israeli entourage included tour guide Doobie Sabbo, who said the basketball star enjoyed sampling Mediterranean street food like pita bread dipped in olive oil and Za'atar condiment. Bodyguard Akivah Malkovitch, an ex-Israeli SWAT officer who resides in a West Bank settlement, doubled as a photographer and showed off a picture of Mr. Stoudemire with his Star-of-David-tattooed hand touching the Western Wall.

As he prepared to leave Israel Tuesday night, Mr. Stoudemire said he felt "more connected to Eloheem." He said he planned to keep wearing the yarmulke and to observe Jewish holidays.

Mr. Ravin, who said he and Mr. Stoudemire "lost track of time" during the trip, said he thinks the NBA star will make a follow-up visit. "He's like, 'I'm going to come back again 100%.' He's going to be a regular."


  1. Yes, but it's beautiful to see a non-Jew talking about serving the Eloheem. He's a B'nei Noach, a righteous among the Gentiles, a monotheist who recognizes the truth and beauty of yahadut. Ken yirbu!

  2. Garnel IronheartAugust 06, 2010 3:14 PM

    Actually from the info this article gives, he's pretty much a Reform Jew by their conversion standards.

  3. He's not a Jew unless he converts to Judaism. But Jews have never demanded non-Jews become Jews; just that they acknowledge the G-d Of Israel is the True G-d of the entire world.


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