The Jewish Sport Report: This Israeli baseball player is blazing a new trail


This article was sent as a newsletter. Sign up for our weekly Jewish sports newsletter here.

(JTA) — Hello Jewish sports fans and happy Super Bowl weekend!

There won’t be any Jewish players on the field when the San Francisco 49ers face the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, but you can still add some Jewish flair to your Super Bowl party with these snack recipes from our partners at The Nosher.

And if you have children at home — or are a child at heart, we won’t judge — you can check out Nickelodeon’s Super Bowl broadcast, which will be led by Jewish announcer Noah Eagle (son of legendary broadcaster Ian Eagle).

If you’re uneasy about the sport’s violence and other moral quandaries, you’re not alone. Many Jewish fans have struggled with how to square their values with their football fandom, while one rabbi turned to the Talmud for answers in a JTA essay.

Enjoy the game! We’ll be rooting for the red team 😉

Israeli baseball player Assaf Lowengart is making history

Assaf Lowengart

Assaf Lowengart batting for Team Israel. (Courtesy Assaf Lowengart)

If you believe in signs from the universe, you’d be surprised to know that Assaf Lowengart is still playing baseball.

When Lowengart attended his first MLB game, a fellow spectator poured beer on him, bringing the first grader to tears. When Lowengart first tried out for Israel’s national team, the coach told his father, “Don’t bring him back. There’s no reason.” And when Lowengart made his debut for the College of William and Mary last year as a graduate student, he broke his ankle in the first game of the season.

And yet, Lowengart keeps on playing. And this spring, he is making history as the first Israeli-born position player to sign a professional baseball contract in the U.S., as he’s set to join the New York Boulders in the independent, MLB-affiliated Frontier League.

“I’m trying to break as many ceilings as I can for Israeli players,” Lowengart told me.

Read his story here.

Halftime report

SHAKE IT OFF. Israel’s national women’s basketball team beat their Irish counterparts by 30 points this week, but the reason the game made headlines had nothing to do with the score. The contest also featured accusations of antisemitism and the Irish team refusing to shake the Israeli players’ hands after the game. The Forward explains.

TEAMWORK. Former NFL player and current Fox Sports analyst Emmanuel Acho is teaming up with Noa Tishby, Israel’s former antisemitism envoy and a prominent pro-Israel influencer, on a new book called “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Jew.” Acho told Jewish Insider that “marginalized communities are much more powerful when they fight together as opposed to fighting in silos — or worse, fighting against one another.”

HISTORIC. Jewish Paralympian Ezra Frech, who holds the world record in the T63 high jump, has committed to the University of Southern California track and field team. According to Team USA, that makes Frech the first above-the-knee amputee in history to join a Division I track program.

WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS … STAYS IN OAKLAND? While all eyes will be on Las Vegas this weekend for the Super Bowl, Sin City has been at the center of another massive sports story in recent months: the planned relocation of the Oakland Athletics (who boast star second baseman Zack Gelof.) Las Vegas’ Jewish mayor, Carolyn Goodman, made headlines this week when she said the in-motion plans “don’t make sense” and that the team should stay in Oakland.

Jews in sports to watch this weekend (all times ET)


Jake Walman and the Detroit Red Wings host Quinn Hughes and the Vancouver Canucks Saturday at 1 p.m. Quinn’s brother Jack, who has been out for over a month with an upper-body injury, returned to action last night. Jack, youngest brother Luke Hughes and the New Jersey Devils face the Carolina Hurricanes Saturday at 7 p.m.


Deni Avdija and the Washington Wizards, who are 9-41 on the season, have a tall order this weekend: they face the 39-12 Boston Celtics tonight at 7:30 p.m. and host the 30-20 Philadelphia 76ers Saturday at 8 p.m. Domantas Sabonis, who is converting to Judaism, and the Sacramento Kings host the Denver Nuggets tonight at 10 p.m. and face the Oklahoma City Thunder Sunday at 3 p.m. In the G League, Ryan Turell and the Motor City Cruise play the Maine Celtics Saturday at 1 p.m, while Amari Bailey and the Greensboro Swarm host the Long Island Nets Friday and Saturday, both at 7 p.m.


Max Homa, David Lipsky and Daniel Berger are all competing at the Phoenix Open in Scottsdale this weekend.


Goalkeeper Matt Turner and Nottingham Forest play Newcastle Saturday at 12:30 p.m.

Just keep writing

Legendary Jewish sportswriter Jerry Izenberg — believed to be one of only two newspaper columnists to cover the first 53 Super Bowls — is still at it at 93 years old. You can check out his latest about the big game here.

Recommended from JTA