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Good afternoon, sports fans!
This Opening Day was the first since 1968 to feature every MLB team playing on the same date.
According to Jewish Baseball News, there were six Jewish players in the league in 1968 — how many can you name? Send your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org! (And hey, no cheating!)
A Jewish wrestling show heads to temple
Temple Beth Am in Los Angeles is a large Conservative synagogue with a full calendar of events — things like Shabbat dinners, text study and adult education programs.
This weekend, there’s something a little different on the docket: a Jewish wrestling show.
“Mitzvah Mania” — timed to coincide with WWE’s “WrestleMania,” which is also in L.A. this weekend — will feature Jewish professional wrestlers like Colt Cabana, Lisa Marie Varon, Chris Adonis and others.
It’s the passion project of Rabbi Jeremy Fine, a Chicago-area rabbi who puts on shows with his own wrestling company, 2econd Wrestling.
Fine says the overlap between Jews and wrestling extends beyond the ring, arguing that the connection is biblical — from Jacob wrestling with an angel in Genesis to rabbis intellectually wrestling in the Talmud.
“If we just take that and put it into the context of wrestling, we at our core, are storytellers,” Fine said.
RED CARD. Indonesia was removed as the host of the upcoming Under-20 FIFA World Cup after it objected to Israel’s participation in the tournament. Israel had qualified for the first time.
COMING SOON. A new HBO series will tell the story behind the new women’s soccer team in Los Angeles, Angel City FC. Academy Award-winning actress Natalie Portman played a crucial role in bringing the NWSL squad to L.A., and now she’s producing the docuseries on it, too.
STAND UP. You may have seen the viral post urging people to “Stand Up to Jewish Hate” with a blue square hashtag. The tweet has 6.5 million views and has been shared by celebrities, athletes and sports teams alike. It’s the work of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft’s organization, the Foundation to Combat Antisemitism.
CHAMPIONS. Valley Torah, the L.A. day school where Ryan Turell played, won the 2023 Sarachek Tournament at Yeshiva University, an annual basketball competition for Jewish schools. Valley Torah beat New York’s SAR. Turell served as a coach for his alma mater.
ICYMI. When a Tel Aviv-based rugby team was disinvited from an international tournament in South Africa, major U.S. Jewish groups urged the American team that replaced it to withdraw. Here’s the story.
Jews in sports to watch this weekend
⚾️ IN BASEBALL…
Atlanta Braves top prospect Jared Shuster will make his MLB debut Sunday at 1:35 p.m. ET against the Washington Nationals. His teammate Max Fried, who made his third consecutive Opening Day start Thursday, left the game early with a hamstring injury and may spend some time on the injured list. Team Israel pitcher Dean Kremer takes the mound for his Baltimore Orioles Saturday at 4:10 p.m. ET against the Boston Red Sox and Israel teammate Richard Bleier.
🏀 IN BASKETBALL…
It’s Final Four weekend in the men’s March Madness tournament, and the University of Connecticut features Israeli player Yarin Hasson, who hasn’t seen much playing time on the streaking Huskies. Over in the NBA, Deni Avdija and the Washington Wizards host the Orlando Magic tonight at 7 p.m. ET and face the New York Knicks Sunday at 6 p.m. ET.
🏒 IN HOCKEY…
Buffalo Sabres goalie Devon Levi makes his NHL debut tonight at 7 p.m. ET against Adam Fox and the New York Rangers. Tomorrow at 3 p.m. ET, Jason Zucker, Mark Friedman and the Pittsburgh Penguins host the league-leading Boston Bruins.
⚽️ IN SOCCER…
Rising Israeli star Manor Solomon and his Premier League club Fulham face Bournemouth Saturday at 10 a.m. ET. Solomon may be playing in Europe, but back home in Israel, he’s a superstar.
You have to watch this
The sweetest video of the week goes to Michael Rubin, the CEO of sports memorabilia giant Fanatics. When Rubin saw a young basketball fan with a stack of cards for her favorite NBA player, Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker, Rubin surprised her by FaceTiming Booker. Her reaction is worth watching.
The Jewish Sport Report is taking a break next week for the Passover holiday — have a great holiday and we’ll see you soon.