The Shmooze

6 Jewish Things About the World Cup

By Diego Melamed

  • Print
  • Share Share

Colombia’s Coach Jose Pekerman is among the Jewish participants in the World Cup/Getty Images

(JTA) — Israel’s not in the World Cup, and none of the star players is Jewish. But never fear: We still managed to compile a list of six Jewish things about Brazil 2014.

The coach: Jose Pekerman, the coach of Colombia’s team, is an Argentine Jew. Pekerman, 64, was born in Villa Dominguez, one of the main centers of Jewish immigration in Argentina; his grandparents emigrated from Ukraine.

The adoptive mother: Mario Balotelli, a key player in Italy’s victory over England last Saturday, was adopted and raised by a Jewish family. His adoptive mother is the daughter of a Holocaust survivor. At the Eurochampionship 2012, Balotelli dedicated the two goals he scored in Italy’s 2-1 semifinals victory over Germany to his Jewish mother.

The shmoozing: Argentine husband-and-wife team Mariano Schlez and Paola Salem have coordinated 14 Jewish gatherings for fans attending the World Cup, including Shabbat evening prayers, beach soccer games leading into Saturday-night Havdalah services and Jewish heritage tours.

The philo-Semite: Argentine Lionel Messi traveled to Israel in 2013 with the Spanish Football Club Barcelona as part of the team’s “peace tour.” In 2011, he participated in a campaign for justice and memory of the victims of the 1994 AMIA Jewish center bombing.

The Nigeria-Israel connection: Austin Ejide, a Nigerian goalkeeper, currently plays for the Hapoel Beer Sheva soccer team in Israel and played three years for Hapoel Petah Tikva, another Israeli team. Juwon Oshaniwa , another member of the Nigerian national team, also plays in Israel.

The Israeli fans: Israelis have purchased more tickets per capita than citizens of any other country without a team in the games. The number of tickets sold to Israelis through FIFA’s website – 11,222 (tickets were limited to 17 per individual, and allocated via a raffle system) puts Israel second after Canada in ticket sales among countries without a team to root for.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: world cup, jewish, brazil

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.