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The Brooklyn Nets came to town to play the Minnesota Timberwolves on January 23. We were in the middle of a below-zero cold snap that did not deter Nets assistant coach Amar’e Stoudemire from seeking out morning services at the Orthodox synagogue in St. Louis Park. Having to leave his downtown hotel to attend morning services at an Orthodox synagogue in St. Louis Park, he wasn’t just going through the motions.
Catching sight of the tall guy at services, my teacher Rabbi Joshua Borenstein wondered if the Nets were in town, as they were. Amar’e graciously posed for a photo with JB (on the right, to Amar’e’s immediate left) and others after services.
After long exploration and study, Amar’e converted to Judaism in 2020. Amar’e’s departure from the Nets on religious grounds — he observes Shabbat, from Friday through Saturday night — has him in the news. JB tells me the news has been going around his world since last week.
JB observed to me this afternoon that Amar’e is avoiding lashon hara on his way out the door. I’m grateful for anyone who publicly identifies with the Jewish people in a time of enmity and peril. Amar’e seems to me to go well beyond that as an ambassador of Judaism in his own exemplary style.