Special to the JTA Aulcie Perry Completes Conversion

Aulcie Perry, the star of the Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball team, has completed his conversion to Judaism and is on his way back to Israel to start a new life. The Black basketball wiz finalized his conversion by going through the customary Brith Milah, and visited a Mikva in New York City and assumed the name Elisha Ben Abraham.

Perry is on the way to his new apartment in the northern part of Tel Aviv. His intention is to apply immediately for Israeli citizenship which, of course, will include serving in the Israeli armed forces. The six-foot, 10-inch basketball star explained, "I was too tall for the U.S. army but in Israel everyone has to do his part and I’m happy to become a member of the Zahal."

Perry found that it was easier to become a basketball star in Israel than converting to Judaism. He recalls that when the Maccabi team returned to Israel last year, after beating the Russians in Belgrade for the European Championship, 175,000 people greeted him and his teammates at Ben Gurion Airport. According to Perry it was the high point in his life and possibly had considerable influence in turning him towards the Jewish faith. When he finally decided to make his move, his teammates gave him considerable encouragement, but the rabbis didn’t.

"I understand the rabbis’ position in trying to turn me down. We Jews are very proud of our heritage and tradition and do not take being a Jew lightly. The rabbis turned me back dozens of times before accepting me," Perry said.

His first game as a Jew in Israel, on the Maccabi Five, will come during the first week of September when his team opposes the Washington Bullets, National Basketball Association champions, in a charity game in the Tel Aviv Sport Arena. With Perry in the lineup regularly, now that he is qualified as a Jew, the Maccabi Five figures to run away with the Israel National Basketball League title once loop play commences late in September.

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