Amar’e Stoudemire, an American-Israeli professional basketball player for Maccabi Tel Aviv of the Israeli Premier League and the EuroLeague, announced on Wednesday on his Instagram account that he has officially converted to Judaism.
“It’s official,” wrote Stoudemire. ” I finalized my final meeting with the Beth Din and went to the Mikva, Graduation complete. Hebrew name is Yahoshafat Ben Avraham.”
Stoudemire has been learning b’chavrusah for an extended period of time with an avreich from Yeshivas Orchos Yosher in Bnei Brak, the kollel headed by Hagaon Harav Chaim’s Kanievsky’s oldest son, HaRav Avraham Yishayahu, Kikar H’Shabbos reported.
Stoudemire’s geirus was carried out at a Beis Din in Bnei Brak on Wednesday and immediately afterward, he returned to Orchos Yosher for a “l’chayim” in honor of the happy event, during which the avreichim greeted the beaming Stoudemire with great simcha [in adherence with social distancing regulations].
Several of the kollel’s Rabbanim spoke words of chizuk and bracha in honor of the event, including HaRav Avraham Yeshayahu Kanievsky and Hagaon Rav Bunin Zilberberg. Stoudemire’s chavrusah translated the Rabbanim’s words into English for him.
Stoudemire also spoke, expressing his great joy in joining the Am Yehudi and his hope that Moshiach will come quickly, expressing his desire to greet Moshiach as part of the Jewish nation.
Stoudemire played for the Suns, the New York Knicks, the Dallas Mavericks, and the Miami Heat before retiring from the NBA in 2016.
In a 2010 interview, Stoudemire, who was raised Baptist, was asked if there was a chance he was Jewish and he responded: “I think through history, I think we all are.”
However, he was not able to confirm if he had any Jewish roots although he also said during the interview: “I have been aware since my youth that I am a Hebrew through my mother, and that is something that has played a subtle but important role in my development.”
Later that year he visited Israel “to get a better understanding of [his] heritage.” In July 2013, Stoudemire met with Israeli president Shimon Peres, who urged him to join the Israel national basketball team.
Despite his retirement from the NBA, Stoudemire didn’t retire from basketball and he signed with Hapoel Jerusalem in 2016, later that year helping the team win the Israeli Basketball League Cup. In June 2017, he helped Hapoel Jerusalem win the Israeli League championship and he now owns a significant share of Hapoel Jerusalem.
On January 22, 2020, Stoudemire signed with Maccabi Tel Aviv, and helped the team win the championship while earning Israeli League Finals MVP honors.
In January 2019, Stoudemire was granted residency in Israel and received Israeli citizenship in March 2019.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)