May 30, 2011

Bears First-Round jewish Draft Pick Gabe Carimi Takes Jewish Chicago By Storm

Jewish Chicago is becoming familiar with the Chicago Bears 2011 first-round draft pick, Gabe Carimi a.k.a. The Jewish Hammer, a.k.a. The Bear Jew.

Gabe Carimi is taking Jewish Chicago by storm. While growing up Reform, Carimi remains a Jew with a strong identity and is willing and seemingly happy to get involved in Jewish events and with Jewish organizations of all denominations.

The Chicago Tribune has the story:
The prospect of meeting Chicago Bears rookie tackle Gabe Carimi at the Great Jewish Family Festival on Sunday was a mixed blessing for Dovid Weingrow, 11. He is a boy of divided faiths: a Chicago-area Jew, a New York Jets fan.

Still, the anticipation that Carimi could be the best Jewish Bears player since quarterback Sid Luckman is a source of pride for Dovid.

"It shows that Jews are not just scrawny little people," he said. "Jews can go far (in sports)."

Carimi was the featured leader of the festival's kickoff parade. His pick by the Bears has been big news in the Jewish community and the subject of rapturous blog posts. Sunday, in the parking lot of Westfield Old Orchard shopping center in Skokie, local fans had their first chance to take in, in person, the 6-foot-7 player whose latest nickname was inspired by the Nazi-clubbing character in Quentin Tarantino's WWII adventure "Inglourious Basterds."

Chicagoland, meet "Bear Jew." "Bear Jew," meet Chicagoland.

The Great Jewish Family Festival, sponsored by Lubavitch Chabad of Illinois to mark the observance of Lag B'Omer, a Jewish day of celebration, also marked Carimi's first public event since the Bears drafted him in the first round last month. It was something of a coup for the festival, said Rabbi Daniel Moscowitz, the organization's regional director.

"I think it's wonderful when any (Jewish) celebrity comes and participates with the community," Moscowitz said. "It's always important for people to have pride, and this is a way to do it."

Is the rabbi a football fan?

"I am today," he said, laughing.

"It has been a while since any Chicago team has had a great Jewish athlete," Jeremy Fine, a blogger for, recently noted.

Outreach to the Jewish community is important, Carimi said in an interview before the parade, which just beat out a sudden downpour that scattered participants.

"I've been in the same community in Madison, Wis. (where he was raised and attended the University of Wisconsin), and am looking forward to branching out to a new Jewish community and setting up friendships here," he said.

Carimi, winner of the 2010 Outland Trophy, awarded to college football's best interior lineman, represents the Great Jewish Hope, especially for older Jewish sports fans who remember rallying around the Bears' Luckman, the Cubs' Ken Holtzman and Steve Stone, and the Detroit Tigers' Hank Greenberg.
Jewish Chicago is looking forward to following Gabe Carimi's career from so close, and we expect Carimi will make us proud, both on the field and off.


  1. Although his father is Jewish, I understand that his mother is a reform convert.

    Sorry for ruining a good story.

  2. your niece met him a week ago and he took a photo with her. Of course, she was immediately photoshopped out of it :) She said he was very nice and very proud of his "jewishness".

  3. shaya - send me the pic..

    anon - hadnt heard that. am going to look for more info on it


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