Touchdown: From the NFL to Torah

Yosef and Emunah Murray: Why did the ex-NFL player and his wife convert to Judaism?

Judy Simon,

Yosef and Emunah Murray
Yosef and Emunah Murray
by Murray Family



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Football fans, do you remember Calvin Murray? He was Most Valuable Player for Ohio State Buckeyes, played for the Philadelphia Eagles with the legendary Woody Hayes, and even had a stint with the Chicago Bears. Did you ever wonder what happened to him?

Would you believe that Cal Murray is now Yosef Murray, an Orthodox Jew who was recently honored together with his wife Emunah in their Orthodox synagogue?

It was twelve years into their marriage that the couple was even exposed to Jewish customs and concepts. They had no intention to become Jewish; they were simply searching for the truth. The first thing they did was to remove Christmas from their family traditions, once they learned of its pagan roots. Little by little, as they learned more, they started to realize that the truth was in Torah.

Emunah shares, "The first time we walked in, the rabbi said, 'Let's play a game called Try to Stump the Rabbi. Ask anything you want.' It was such a breath of fresh air for us, because questions were not approved of or even tolerated in the Christian environment that we came from. To have an outlet to ask our questions and get satisfying and reasonable answers was all part of the picture."

When Yosef was a young boy, he set three goals for his future. One was to play for Ohio State. The second goal was to play for his dad's favorite team, the Philadelphia Eagles. The third goal was to work with kids. He worked hard to reach those goals, but with the help of Hashem, he reached every single one.

Yosef explains, "Hashem was training me from the path of football to where I am today. Think about this: we pray three times a day. You have to focus and concentrate. It's the same in football. We have many meetings, we study, we look at film, we do a lot of evaluations. We look at where we are and who we are and where we want to be. We do the same thing in Judaism. I show people that Hashem has been training me already how to be a Jew from being a professional athlete. We study body movements and hand movements, all the details and aspects of the game. I brought all that with me and I try to reach others and also to help myself be better."

Yosef worked with youth for many years (that's how he met his wife Emunah),and he still works with kids today. "When I talk to youth, I say that it's very important that you find out who you are and what your destiny in life is. The sooner you get on your track, the better your chance of not making a lot of mistakes. I ask kids, 'What's your passion? What's the first thing you really want to do when you wake up in the morning?' We, as Jews, our first thing we do is thank Hashem for that day, and that's our focus. That puts us on the right track. I wish I had that information when I was a child."

Tune in as Yosef and Emunah talk about the famous football career, about the movie his hometown almost made of him, of his doctor's surprise that he was able to play at all, and of blended families and how to make them work. They talk about their awesome moms and grandmas, their kids' reactions to their conversion, and of their successful "split Aliyah."

It's an incredible show. Don't miss it.


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