Slam Dunk Judaism

Hoop star Stoudemire said in Israel he is “going all the way” and keep Jewish holy days. He will fast on Yom Kippur—unless he has a game.

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu , | updated: 3:27 PM

NBA star Amare Stoudemire
NBA star Amare Stoudemire

Basketball star Amar’e Stoudemire said in an interview in Israel, "All of us are Jewish” because "this is where it all started.” He says he is going “all the way” to keep Jewish holy days, including fasting on Yom Kippur—unless he has a basketball game.

Courtesy of the Israeli Sports Channel

Although his self-exemption from fasting would not satisfy the Jewish law that one can break the fast on Yom Kippur only in a life-or-death circumstance, Stoudemire is undaunted. He told Sport5 he will not eat bread on Passover.

Sporting a large white Kippa at his Tel Aviv hotel, the forward for the New York Knicks said he came to Israel “to find my original culture...very spiritual. I want to learn the culture and apply it to my everyday lifestyle.”

Proudly sporting a Star of David that was tattooed—in violation of Torah law that prohibits breaking the skin for such purposes—Stoudemire rendered a unique opinion to the question of “who is a Jew.”

Asked by the interviewer if there is "any chance you are Jewish,” the basketball star replied, “I think through history that we all are. This is the original culture from a spirituality standpoint. There is where it all started." Under Jewish law, anyone born to a Jewish mother is Jewish. Traditional Jewish law does not recognize paternal and grandparent ancestry as proof of one’s being Jewish.

Stoudemire did not relate to the issue of his ancestry and instead explained "he did not grow up traditional Jewish” and did not have a Bar Mitzvah.

Things have changed, he added. “Now I think by reading the Scriptures it is very important to celebrate the holy days—Passover. These are very important. No bread [on Passover].”

Asked if he will fast on Yom Kippur, Stoudemire replied, “Absolutely.”

“You are going all the way?" the interviewer asked.

Stoudemire replied, “There may be some times that I may have a basketball game and I may have to eat—other than, I am totally into it."

He ended the interview by throwing in some Hebrew words, such as “Ani gar im New York [I live in New York].”