Sports

With Amar’e Stoudemire’s help, Jerusalem looks to overtake Tel Aviv as Israel’s basketball capital

Amar'e Stoudemire is surrounded by young fans at his youth basketball camp in Jerusalem, Aug. 8, 2016. (Andrew Tobin)

JERUSALEM (JTA) – Jerusalem basketball fans know that when the owner of their team tweets a smiley face, the signing of a new player is about to be announced. The day before Amar’e Stoudemire made the surprise announcement that he would be leaving the NBA to play for Hapoel… Read more »

From LA to Israel: One swimmer’s journey to the Rio Olympics

Andrea Murez recalls Israelis telling her at the 2013 Maccabiah Games that she should swim for Israel -- and now she is. (Hillel Kuttler)

NETANYA, Israel (JTA) – Andrea Murez steps on the diving board, adjusts her goggles, swings her long arms and propels herself into the water at the Wingate Institute athletic complex here. Murez is training with a dozen other swimmers. She is the one preparing for the Summer Olympics a… Read more »

2016 Olympics: 7 Jewish American Olympians to watch in Rio

Aly Raisman competes in the floor exercise at the 2016 U.S. Women's Gymnastics Olympic Trials in San Jose, Calif., July 10, 2016. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

(JTA) — There are athletes, and then there are Olympic athletes. And then there are Jewish Olympic athletes. When the 2016 Summer Olympics open Friday, we’ll of course be cheering the American athletes — all 555 of them — and we’ll be rooting for Israel, too, which this year is… Read more »

2016 Olympics: Israel’s largest-ever delegation is ready for Rio

Israeli gymast Neta Rivkin competes in the women's rhythmic gymnastics all-around individual final at the Baku 2015 European Games in Baku, Azerbaijan, June 19, 2015, is one of Israel's best hopes to medal. (David Ramos/Getty Images for BEGOC)

  RIO DE JANEIRO (JTA) – When the 2016 Olympic Games open here on Friday evening, Israel will proudly show off its largest delegation ever, with 47 athletes competing in 17 sports. Among them are golfer Laetitia Beck, the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor; Lonah Chemtai, a Kenyan-born marathoner, and Ron Darmon, the first triathlete to represent… Read more »

A 12-year-old hurler always walks on Shabbat, so his teammates pitch in

Jacob Steinmetz, back row, second from right, and his Brooklyn Bluestorm teammates are headed to the Elite World Series in Florida after going 24-0 this season. (Hillel Kuttler)

NEW YORK (JTA) – Jacob Steinmetz delivers the game’s final pitch on a heavenly Tuesday night, producing a neatly turned double play to wrap up a 10-0 victory for the Brooklyn Bluestorm team of 12-year-olds. His teammates surround Jacob in congratulations in a scene familiar for the Bluestorm, which… Read more »

Jewish ex-major leaguer trying to get back to baseball’s big show

Nate Freiman at bat for the Portland Sea Dogs in a game against the Harrisburg Senators in Pennsylvania, May 2016. (Hillel Kuttler)

  HARRISBURG, Pa. (JTA) – Taking a seat on the dugout bench of the Portland Sea Dogs, Nate Freiman politely dismisses the premise that he pines to return to the major leagues. Maybe it’s a defense mechanism now that he’s two seasons and three organizations removed from his last… Read more »

Meet the Orthodox ‘American Ninja Warrior’ training to be a rabbi

Akiva Neuman, an Orthodox Jew who is studying to be a rabbi, competes in the Philadelphia qualifying round of “American Ninja Warrior.” (Mitchell Leff/NBC)

NEW YORK (JTA) — Like his fellow competitors on “American Ninja Warrior,” 25-year-old Akiva Neuman pushed himself to his physical limits — climbing, jumping and running through an intense obstacle course — in the hopes of making it to the national finals in Las Vegas. But unlike the dozens… Read more »

Kids’ soccer leagues aim to bridge Israel’s religious divide

Members of the Tzav Pius 13-year-olds' team in the Israeli city of Pardes Hanna participating before practice in an educational exercise meant to teach teamwork.

PARDES HANNA, Israel (JTA) — When Yoel decided, at age 8, to begin observing Shabbat, there was one problem: It meant he couldn’t join most of Israel’s youth soccer teams, which played games on Saturday. Yoel, now 12, has always lived in the increasingly large gray area between Israel’s… Read more »

Baseball’s back: Here’s a look at 8 Jewish major leaguers and a manager

Joc Pederson taking a swing against the Washington Nationals, Aug. 12, 2015. (Hillel Kuttler)

(JTA) – Will Joc Pederson rebound from his second-half struggles of last season? Can Kevin Pillar build on his strong 2015 campaign? Will injuries derail one-time MVP Ryan Braun? These are some of the questions to be answered as these Jewish players and others get set for the Major… Read more »

At Utah’s on-slope Shabbat service, ski boots required

An Israeli flag is posted at Deer Valley's Sunset Cabin every Friday afternoon to alert skiers to the weekly Kabbalat Shabbat service. (Uriel Heilman)

PARK CITY, Utah (JTA) – It may be the most elevated Shabbat service in the country, and not just because of the spirited singing. Held in a rustic cabin in the woods off a ski slope at Deer Valley resort, the service is situated at about 8,800 feet above sea level,… Read more »

For ex-baseball players, Israel a place to learn and teach

Nate Fish, director of the Israel Association of Baseball, demonstrating pitching to Israeli kids. (Margo Sugarman/IAB)

  (JTA) – Out of baseball after four years playing in the minor leagues, Brent Powers, a Christian from Texas, took a tour of Israel last year with his wife. He was smitten with the country and considered how to return. The Masa Israel Journey will provide his path.… Read more »

Did a Jewish woman blaze a new path for women in pro baseball?

Justine Siegal, prior to coaching for the Oakland Athletics, had already made baseball history by throwing batting practice for the Cleveland Indians in 2011. (Norm Hall/Getty Images)

(JTA) – For Justine Siegal, attending Opening Day games of the Cleveland Indians with her grandfather led to a lifelong passion for baseball – and dreams of one day playing for the Tribe. “Heaven,” she called the outings, where she sat in the best seats in the house —… Read more »

For Jewish boxer ‘The White Tiger,’ toughness is a birthright

Boxer Dustin Fleischer hopes to be the first world champion who is the descendant of a Holocaust survivor. (Rich Kane/Roc Nation Sports)

Editor’s note: this article was written before Dustin Fleischer’s bout on Sept. 26, which he won with a first round knockout.  (JTA) – When welterweight Dustin Fleischer enters the ring on Saturday evening, he’ll will be wearing his late grandfather’s gold Star of David necklace with a red jewel… Read more »

Meet Joc Pederson, the Jewish rookie powering L.A. Dodgers’ run to playoffs

Joc Pederson taking a swing against the Washington Nationals, Aug. 12, 2015. (Hillel Kuttler)

WASHINGTON (JTA) – Ask Los Angeles Dodgers’ rookie outfielder Joc Pederson how his season is going, and he’ll talk about the team. “We’re playing great baseball, and that’s something we’re looking to continue to do,” a shy and wary Pederson told JTA recently following a spirited game of dice with… Read more »

NHL lawyer excels for league and family – can she make history?

(JTA) – Several years ago, Jessica Berman and her husband, Brad, bumped into her high school boyfriend. “If you aren’t working as a lawyer in hockey, I’d be amazed,” Berman recalled him saying. The ex had her pegged. Berman, 37, has been employed by the National Hockey League for… Read more »

Hebrew in the huddle: American-style football gains ground in Israel

Alex Swieca, a former quarterback at the University of Michigan, throws a pass in a scrimmage at Jerusalem's Kraft Stadium, June 21, 2015. (Ben Sales)

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The scent of hamburgers and beer wafted over the field. The fans were bathed in barbecue smoke.The bleachers were cut out of Jerusalem stone, the field was made of artificial turf. The spectators who had come to greet a tour of Pro Football Hall of Famers… Read more »

As Lightning vies for Stanley Cup, the team’s Jewish owner chats with JTA

Jeffrey Vinik says his Lightning has "really resonated" in the Tampa-area community, noting "great fans" and soaring television ratings. (Scott Iskowitz/TBL)

  (JTA) — Jeffrey Vinik, the owner of the National Hockey League’s Tampa Bay Lightning, is experiencing a first: his team playing in the Stanley Cup Finals, which opened June 3 in Florida against the Chicago Blackhawks. (Under previous owners, the Lightning won the Stanley Cup in 2004.) Tampa… Read more »