The Green Bay Packers' Super Bowl victory Sunday night must have brought a bit of nostalgia to Alan Veingrad – now known as Shlomo, a bearded orthodox Jew who uses his past glory as a former NFL lineman to help children with the Judaism he has discovered.
Veingrad, who once was interviewed by Israel National Radio, was a starting lineman for the Packers before moving onto the Dallas Cowboys and helping them win the Super Bowl.
When he played college football in Texas, Veingrad found he was unable to answer even basic questions from curious non-Jews, some of whom never met a Jew.
Now that he has more answers, he tries to help others discovered what he has found. “The people I’m speaking to,” he said, “I believe I grew up like most of them as it relates to Judaism. My message to them is just grow a little bit. Just look into [Judaism] a little more. It gives you more in life.”
The former lineman often speaks to Jews – young and old –about his transformation, which began after he signed up with the Packers and was invited by local Jewish businessman Lou Weinstein to meet with him for a meal. Veingrad was impressed by the Jewish atmosphere – as well as the Jewish food – and began going with Weinstein to synagogue
He took off his uniform and hung up his helmet 19 years ago and spent four years living a life of recreation while searching for something that was “missing.” He found the key through his cousin, who insisted that he visit his house, where he sat down for a Torah study session for the first time in his life.
When the rabbi teaching the lesson started saying that “materialism in your life can lead you to a very shallow existence," Veingrad suddenly realized, “That's exactly where I was.”
The rest is history. He continued learning and becoming more observant, while still sporting his Super Bowl ring.
“I think people happen to raise their eyebrow a little bit as they may not [when speaking] to a Rabbi and say, ‘This guy played in the NFL and won a Super Bowl and he’s telling me that a Jewish life and a Jewish education can give me a better life? Maybe I’ll look into it a little bit.”