The Jewish Sport Report: Israel is having a thrilling run at the FIFA U-20 World Cup


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Good afternoon, Jewish Sport Report readers!

It’s officially June, which means we are one-third of the way through the MLB season — and it’s time for All-Star voting.

There are four Jewish players on the ballot: Rowdy Tellez (first base), Alex Bregman (third base), Harrison Bader (outfield) and Joc Pederson (designated hitter). Pitchers and All-Star reserves are selected via player ballots and by the commissioner’s office.

Voting runs through June 22, and you can vote up to five times per day. What are you waiting for?

“This is incredible!”: Israel advances to the U-20 World Cup quarterfinals

soccer match

Bekhruzbek Askarov, left, of Uzbekistan battles for the ball with Tay Abed of Israel during the FIFA U-20 World Cup, May 30, 2023 in Mendoza, Argentina. (Marcio Machado/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images)

Israel’s men’s soccer team has made a statement in its first-ever appearance in the FIFA U-20 World Cup.

After back-to-back thrilling victories this week, the team is headed to the quarterfinals, in which they will face powerhouse Brazil.

Israeli-Arab forward Anan Khalaili scored the winning goal over Uzbekistan in the penultimate 97th minute on Tuesday. The 1-0 victory followed Israel’s similarly dramatic win over Japan last weekend — which they pulled off despite being a man down after an ejection. Israel manager Ofir Haim called the Japan game “the biggest win in the history of Israeli soccer.” An English announcer called it “incredible.”

“It’s a dream for us to be here,” midfielder El Yam Kancepolsky told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency prior to the tournament. “I’m very proud to represent Israel in a World Cup, it is a huge dream.”

Israel and Brazil play tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. ET.

Halftime report

PITCH PERFECT. Holocaust survivor Leo Ullman threw out the first pitch at yesterday’s New York Mets game. At 83, Ullman is one of the youngest survivors, and he’s got quite a story — including 145 triathlons and a Nolan Ryan collection of 15,000 pieces.

ON OFFENSE. New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and his “Stand Up to Jewish Hate” campaign were featured on ESPN’s “Outside The Lines” program this week. Kraft launched the initiative with a $25 million commitment earlier this year, through his Foundation to Combat Antisemitism.

FAMILY TREE. Speaking of Boston sports executives, the Boston Globe did a deep-dive on Chaim Bloom’s ancestry, tracing his Boston roots, starting with his great-grandparents Harry and Sadie, who fled persecution in Odessa.

MAKING MOVES. A pair of Team Israel alumni are excelling in the minor leagues this season. Orthodox prospect Jacob Steinmetz, who was recently promoted to Single-A and added to the Arizona Diamondbacks top 30 prospects list, has been pitching well for the Visalia Rawhide. Over in Double-A, St. Louis Cardinals prospect Noah Mendlinger was named the Texas Player of the Week after hitting .444 with 5 RBIs and an impressive 1.246 OPS.

CRUISING ALONG. The NBA Finals began last night, with the Denver Nuggets beating the Miami Heat in Game 1. Heat owner Micky Arison was born in Tel Aviv and has been a longtime executive at Carnival Corporation, the largest cruise operator in the world, which his father founded. The Heat have won three titles since Arison bought the team in 1995. More on the Israeli-American billionaire here.

Checking in on the French Open

Elina Svitolina

Elina Svitolina in action in her first round match of the French Open on May 29, 2023 in Paris, France (Robert Prange/Getty Images)

With the French Open progressing into the third round, let’s check in on how the Jewish (and Jewish-adjacent) players are faring.

  • Madison Brengle lost in the first round.
  • Camila Giorgi lost in an injury-shortened second round match on Wednesday.
  • Aslan Karatsev lost in the second round on Thursday to No. 12 Frances Tiafoe.
  • *Diego Schwartzman will face No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas in the third round today.
  • *Denis Shapovalov advanced to the third round, where he will face No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz today.
  • Elina Svitolina plays Daria Kasatkina in the fourth round Sunday.

(*matches in progress at time of publication)

Jews in sports to watch this weekend


Israel faces Brazil in the U-20 World Cup quarterfinals Saturday at 1:30 p.m. ET. Jewish midfielder Daniel Edelman and the U.S. team take on Uruguay Sunday at 5 p.m. ET. The Premier League season is over — we’ll miss you, AFC Richmond — and Fulham F.C.’s Manor Solomon (a rising Israeli star who is over 20) could be on the move to Tottenham.


Dean Kremer is on the mound for his resurgent Baltimore Orioles tonight at 10:15 p.m. against manager Gabe Kapler and the San Francisco Giants (Joc Pederson is injured). Alex Bregman and the Houston Astros host the Los Angeles Angels in an AL West showdown.


The Formula One Spanish Grand Prix is this Sunday at 9 a.m. ET. Lance Stroll will aim for a better result after not completing last weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix.


Deni Avdija joined fellow NBA player Thanasis Antetokounmpo’s podcast, where he spoke about what it means to represent Israel, and Jews in general, in the league. Take a listen.

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