Former Yankees pitcher visits Israel

Former New York Yankees relief pitcher Mariano Rivera, the all-time saves leader, travels to Israel as part of interfaith mission.

Arutz Sheva North America Staff,

Mariano Rivera with soldiers of the Michve Alon IDF base
Mariano Rivera with soldiers of the Michve Alon IDF base
Nir Buxenbaum Photography

Former New York Yankees relief pitcher Mariano Rivera traveled to Israel with a delegation from his church, JTA reported.

The Panamanian-American former baseball player arrived in Israel on Monday as part of an interfaith mission organized by the New York Board of Rabbis and the Consulate General of Israel in New York.

Rivera and the group toured the country, visiting Jewish and Christian sites, and met with President Reuven Rivlin and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.

This marked Rivera’s second visit to the Jewish state. He first went on a family trip in 2015. Rivera is Major League Baseball’s all-times saves leader with 652.

As part of the mission, the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) arranged a visit to a military base, where Rivera and mission participants learned about the FIDF programs carried out at the IDF Alon Educational and Instructional Center (Michve Alon base), where support is given to soldiers from at-risk populations to help them adapt to their army service and become successful and contributing citizens.

Among the FIDF courses for the about 6,000 soldiers stationed at Michve Alon are those which help new immigrants and soldiers from minority groups learn Hebrew.

“I’m privileged and honored to be here, and learn about the young men and women who are here in the IDF, being trained to be a better person, a better citizen, and a better human being,” Rivera said while meeting with the soldiers. “For me, it was something special that I will take with me through my life.”

The delegation met with soldiers who study and serve on the Michve Alon base, including Sgt. Emily, a Lone Soldier from Illinois, and Pvt. Sivan, a Lone Soldier from Colombia, who spoke in Rivera’s native language of Spanish. Lone soldiers are IDF soldiers with no immediate family in Israel, and are supported by the FIDF Lone Soldiers Program.

In 2013, the New York Board of Rabbis elected Rivera Man of the Year. The interdenominational group chose Rivera because of his philanthropic work and the extensive relief work he has done for Panama through his church.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)