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The Jewish Sport Report: Israeli basketball team reunites in NYC after being torn apart by Oct. 7 – Jewish Telegraphic Agency

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(JTA) — Happy Friday, sports fans! 

Here at the Jewish Sport Report, we’re big fans of random Jewish sports occurrences. So when we noted in last week’s newsletter that Philadelphia Phillies catcher Garrett Stubbs had thrown out New York Mets outfielder Harrison Bader on a stolen base attempt, we got to wondering: Have there been any other fully Jewish caught-stealing plays in baseball history?

The answer, it turns out, is yes — there was at least one other, and Sunday just so happens to be its 25th anniversary: On May 26, 1999, Detroit Tigers catcher Brad Ausmus, a three-time Gold Glove winner, threw out Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Shawn Green as he attempted to steal second base in the top of the first inning. Green, who went 3-for-5 with a homer that day, helped the Jays win 9-5 and had an All-Star season, leading the American League in doubles and total bases. Ausmus went hitless in the contest, but his Jewish teammate Gabe Kapler drove in two runs.

A NYC reunion for a war-torn Israeli high school basketball team

A high school basketball team from Israel reunites in New York as part of an initiative by the nonprofit Project 24. (Courtesy Guy Moses Auerbac)

The New York Knicks were blown out at home last Sunday by the Indiana Pacers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, but for at least some of the game’s attendees, the score didn’t ruin the experience.

“It was amazing,” said Guy Moses Auerbac, an Israeli teen who had never been to an NBA game — or to New York City, much less Madison Square Garden. “It’s huge and a lot different than the experience when you watch games in Israel. It’s a big show and the culture and the history of the stadium is amazing.”

Moses Auerbac was visiting New York with his teammates on the HaPoel HaEshkol high school basketball team, from the Eshkol Regional Council in the Negev desert. The region was hit particularly hard by Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack: Many of Moses Auerbac’s teammates had friends or relatives who were killed, and some still have family in captivity. One of his teammates, Noam Or, was taken hostage and returned to Israel with his sister Alma as part of a ceasefire deal and hostage release in November.

Since Oct. 7, much of the team has been dispersed into temporary housing across Israel. The 10-day New York trip was the first time the teammates had been able to spend significant time together since the war began.

Click here for more on their trip — which, in addition to the Knicks game, included MLB and WNBA games, plus a Broadway show.

Halftime report

STEPPING UP TO THE PLATE. During his 10-year MLB career, Kevin Youkilis was known for his fielding chops as a corner infielder, winning a Gold Glove award in 2007. Now Youkilis is being heralded for a different kind of defense: The Team Israel coach and Red Sox broadcaster was honored by the Ruderman Family Foundation for his pro-Israel advocacy and for “championing the fight against antisemitism.”

DOUBLE-TRIPLE. The NBA unveiled its All-NBA teams on Wednesday, and Sacramento Kings star Domantas Sabonis, who is converting to Judaism, was named to the Third Team for the second consecutive season — a double-triple? Sabonis, as it happens, also led the NBA with 26 triple-doubles — one more than MVP Nikola Jokic — and was also the league leader with 13.7 rebounds per game.

STRENGTH TO STRENGTH. Náutico Hacoaj, the soccer club from Buenos Aires’s Hacoaj Jewish community center and sport club, whose name is Hebrew for “strength,” finished fifth out of 14 teams in the Amateur Promotional Tournament, a professional competition held by Argentina’s national football association. Hacoaj, which went 5-3-5 in the series, was the first Jewish club to play in the tournament since 1967.

FLAG ON THE PLAY. Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker has taken heat for his commencement address at Benedictine College earlier this month, during which the three-time Super Bowl champion voiced his opposition on a range of hot-button issues, from Pride Month to abortion. In one remark that went mostly under the radar, Butker also referenced the trope that Jews killed Jesus, which has been disavowed by a range of major Christian denominations but has sparked renewed controversy due to a congressional bill on antisemitism.

KING TO SENATOR? Speaking of political sports news, former NBA player Royce White has earned the Minnesota Republican Party’s endorsement in his run for Senate. White, who appeared briefly with the Sacramento Kings in the 2013-2014 season, once described himself as an “antisemite” on his own Twitter profile. He claims he was being ironic.

WELCOME BACK. Former Team Israel manager Eric Holtz, who led the squad at the Tokyo Olympics, has been named coach of the Maccabi USA women’s softball team ahead of the 2025 Maccabiah Games in Israel. Holtz coached two gold-medal winning teams at the 2013 and 2017 Games.

MAZELS. The annual Sports Emmys were awarded this week, and a number of Jewish sports media personalities were honored. Tracy Wolfson won the award for outstanding personality/sideline reporter and Noah Eagle won outstanding personality/emerging on-air talent. Soccer broadcasting legend Andres Cantor won outstanding on-air personality in Spanish, and his Telemundo team won outstanding studio show in Spanish for its 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup coverage.

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

🏒 IN HOCKEY…

Adam Fox and the New York Rangers host the Florida Panthers tonight at 8 p.m. in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals, which Florida leads 1-0; Game 3 is Sunday at 3 p.m. Zach Hyman and the Edmonton Oilers face the Dallas Stars in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals Saturday at 8 p.m. Edmonton took a 1-0 series lead with a thrilling double-overtime win last night. In the PWHL Walter Cup, Boston — featuring Aerin Frankel, Kaleigh Fratkin and Cami Kronish — takes on Minnesota tonight at 7 p.m. in Game 3, with Game 4 Sunday at 6 p.m. The best-of-five series is currently tied 1-1.

⚾️ IN BASEBALL…

Dean Kremer starts for the Baltimore Orioles Saturday at 2:10 p.m. against reliever Jared Shuster and the Chicago White Sox. Shuster has posted a 3.10 ERA in eight appearances since joining the Sox bullpen. Zack Gelof and the Oakland Athletics host Alex Bregman and the Houston Astros in a three-game series this weekend. In the National League, Joc Pederson and the Arizona Diamondbacks host the Miami Marlins in a three-game set. Pederson is hitting .313 with an on-base-plus-slugging percentage (OPS) of .965.

⚽️ IN SOCCER…

DeAndre Yedlin’s F.C. Cincinnati faces Toronto F.C. Saturday at 7:30 p.m. At the same time, Steve Birnbaum and D.C. United host the Chicago Fire. ZacMacMath and Real Salt Lake take on F.C. Dallas Saturday at 8:30 p.m.

⛳️ IN GOLF…

Max Homa, David Lipsky, Daniel Berger, Ben Silverman and Max Greyserman are all competing in the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas, this weekend. Berger won the tournament in 2020.

🏎️ IN RACING…

The famous Formula One Monaco Grand Prix is Sunday at 9 a.m. Lance Stroll, who currently sits eleventh in the F1 standings with 11 points on the season, finished a career-best eighth in Monaco in 2021.

Let the Maccabiah Games begin (next year)

Ceremony

Maccabi World Union CEO Amir Gissin, at the podium, with family members of Oct. 7 victims. From left: Amit Zander, Ron Peretz, Nirit Raz and Efraim Aton. (Ronen Topelberg)

The Maccabi World Union, the organization that runs the Maccabiah Games, is holding its annual leadership conference this week in Kfar Maccabiah, Israel, with delegations from 31 countries gathering to plan the 2025 Games and honor the victims of Oct. 7. Participants will also hear from released hostages and visit sites of the attack, including the grounds of the Nova Music Festival.

“The congress is an opportunity to expose the international leadership of the Maccabi movement to the scope of civic and military heroism that we experienced on and after Oct. 7,” Amir Gissin, CEO of Maccabi World Union, said in a press release.

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