Julian Edelman makes a 23 yard catch in the fourth quarter of the Superbowl. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Julian Edelman made one of the craziest catches in Super Bowl history

“I don’t know how he caught it. I don’t think he does either.”

That’s New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady on Jewish teammate Julian Edelman’s physics-defying catch during the fourth quarter of Super Bowl LI on Sunday night won by the Pats in overtime, 34-28.

The catch, which Edelman somehow secured between multiple defenders after the ball was tipped in the air, was a crucial part of a historic comeback. New England trailed 28-3 in the third quarter before scoring 31 unanswered points on the way to its thrilling victory — the first overtime game in Super Bowl history.

In typical goofy form, Edelman said Brady exaggerated his praise for the catch because the two have a “bromance.”

Super Bowl 50: Denver, Charlotte rabbis each wager theirs is the chosen team

When the Denver Broncos face the Carolina Panthers in Sunday’s Super Bowl 50, only one team will emerge victorious. But two rabbis are giving the nation’s most-watched sporting event a win-win outcome.

Rabbi Judith Schindler of Temple Beth El in Charlotte and Rabbi Joe Black of Temple Emanuel in Denver have devised a wager that will see both their Reform communities donate to charity, ReformJudaism.org reported. Two-thirds of the money raised in a joint online fundraiser for the bet will go to a charity chosen by the synagogue in the winning city. The other third will go to the losing city.

If the Panthers win, the larger share will go to the Shalom Park Freedom School in Charlotte, which offers summer programs to low-income children. If the Broncos win, the larger share will go to Denver’s Jewish Family Service, which provides meals to families in need. As of Wednesday afternoon, the synagogues had raised more than $4,100.

Schindler makes a convincing case in a promotional video that the Panthers are God’s team. The team’s star quarterback Cam Newton recently named his son Chosen — bringing to mind the phrase the “chosen people,” she says. And Newton said at a press conference on Monday that his 1-month-old baby is already walking, which as Schindler notes, strongly suggests the child has superhuman powers.

Furthermore, Schindler says, if the Panthers win the Super Bowl, their overall record (including the regular and postseason) will be 18-1. Of course, 18 means life and good luck in the Jewish tradition (since the values of the two letters of the word “chai,” or “life” in Hebrew, add up to 18).

What Schindler doesn’t mention is that Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning’s wear the number 18 on his jersey.

So which team is really chosen? We’ll find out Sunday. Either way, though, Jews in need will have something to celebrate.


Watch: Scarlett Johansson’s SodaStream Super Bowl ad

Scarlett Johansson’s decision to act as spokesperson for the Israeli firm SodaStream has been controversial from the get-go. Forget the debate over whether or not it’s okay to represent a company with a factory in the West Bank, or whether or not Oxfam should ditch her, though. That’s all just fluff. The real controversy, it turns out, stems from four words the Jewish actress utters in the home soda maker’s upcoming Super Bowl ad.

“Sorry, Coke and Pepsi,” Johansson says at the end of the spot.

Fox, the network airing the big game on Feb. 2, was apparently worried this wouldn’t sit well with Big Soda and asked SodaStream to drop the line. The company grudgingly cooperated, but the uncensored version lives, of course, on YouTube.

More dramatic than the soda slam, in our opinion, is the line Johansson delivers prior to  shedding her lab coat, revealing a sexy dress. ”If only I could make this message go viral,” she says suggestively. That one will air on game day.

Bob Kraft: New England Patriots’ Jewish owner

When the National Football League lockout ended this past August, Indianapolis Colts center Jeff Saturday praised Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots stating, “Without him, this deal does not get done, he is a man who helped us save football.” Now just six short months later, it is Kraft’s New England Patriots who are at the top of the very game he saved and set to take on the New York Giants February 5th in Super Bowl XLVI (46).

In professional sports many things change from year to year. Coaches, players and front office personnel come and go. However, in New England since 1994 there has always been one constant, team owners Robert (Bob) and Myra Kraft. As the Patriots head to Indianapolis for their sixth Super Bowl during his ownership, Bob Kraft goes with a heavy heart. Prior to the season Kraft was not only battling the players in a labor dispute, he was also holding onto his wife of Myra Kraft who was battling cancer, a disease that eventually took her life in July.

The passing of Myra Kraft seems to have been a rallying call for the Patriots organization from top to bottom.  All of the players wear a patch with the initials MHK on their uniforms. After his second quarter touchdown scored in Sunday’s game against the Baltimore Ravens, BenJarvis Green-Ellis, Patriots running back, touched the MHK patch, then his face mask and then pointed upward, a tribute to Mrs. Kraft. “She was always around,” Green-Ellis said. “She was a nice lady. She built this foundation from the ground up. She taught me about giving back to the community. Anytime I get a chance now, I want to go and give back to the children in this area and helping in the community.”

After punching their ticket to the Super Bowl, the Patriots with a 23-20 win over the Ravens; Mr. Kraft took to the podium set up in Gillette Stadium to receive the Lamar Hunt Trophy that is presented to the American Football Conference (AFC) Champion.  Upon receiving the trophy, Kraft took a moment to kiss his fingers and point to the sky in tribute to Myra. He said, “It was so I wouldn’t have to speak and start crying on national television.” Later in a post-game interview, Kraft said, “[There were] forces at work that’s beyond anything we can understand.” He added, “There are so many little things that happen during the year, when you think about it, just the little things that can go the other way. I’m so excited that we’re going to the big game. I still pinch myself thinking about it and I think of my sweetheart.”

The 48-year marriage between Robert and Myra Kraft has been one of philanthropy and tzedakah that crosses continents and has touched the lives of many on and off the football field.  The Krafts, who are Jewish and belong to Temple Emanuel in Newton, Mass., started the Passport to Israel Program with the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Boston. The program began as a unique savings plan to help parents send their children on an Israel experience during their teens. In addition, Bob Kraft has donated millions of dollars to start the Israel Football League and build Kraft Family Stadium in Jerusalem. At the same time, Myra Kraft helped to support and fund the Israeli Women’s National Flag Football Team. Together the couple donated more than $100 million dollars to a variety of charities focusing on education, athletics, women’s issues and Israel. In 2007 Bob Kraft donated $5 million to his alma mater Columbia University in support of their athletics programs, the playing field at Columbia’s Lawrence A. Wien Stadium at the Baker Field Athletics Complex was named “Robert K. Kraft Field.”

While Kraft has a stadium in his name at Columbia University and in Israel, it will be in Indianapolis and Lucas Oil Stadium that he will find out how the next chapter of the New England Patriots and the Kraft ownership will be written.  Win or lose, Bob Kraft is certain to handle the results with class and with Myra on his mind and in his heart.

Pittsburgh Steelers on the ‘fringe’ of dynasty as fans embrace the ‘Terrible Tallis’

This article has been reposted with permission from The Jewish Chronicle.

If you’ve left your house or turned on the television in the last two weeks, you know: Pittsburgh’s going to the Super Bowl. But while huge portions of Pittsburghers — and, surely, much of the country — will be cheering for a Steeler victory, some members of the city’s Jewish community are celebrating in creative, and even educational ways.

At Tree of Life/Or L’Simcha Congregation Sunday school in Squirrel Hill, students will actually feel some unity with Green Bay, Wis. This Sunday morning, the school’s 90 students will connect with the 20 students of Congregation Cnesses Israel, a small Conservative synagogue in Green Bay, through Skype. Students at both schools spent the last few weeks learning football-related vocabulary in Hebrew, which they’ll swap with each other and answer sports trivia.

“When Pittsburgh was entering the AFC championship, I challenged the kids: on Sunday you come in with any Hebrew words pertaining to football, and anybody who does gets a prize,” said Shelly Schapiro, director of education. “Sure enough, some students they had their lists. But now, for the Super Bowl, those papers are piling up on my desk.”

Schapiro knew she could put that enthusiasm to work, and thought, “It’d be cool for the kids to connect with a congregation in Green Bay,” she said. “It was truly one of those moments when a light went off.”

Schapiro connected with Congregation Cnesses Israel because, “It’s exciting for our students to connect with other Jewish kids,” she said. “They know New York and Miami, but to think there are the kids the same age in somewhere like Green Bay learning about Judaism is special.”

Both congregations will donate the weekend’s tzedaka to the local charity of the winning team’s school — a Steelers victory means Green Bay money will go to the Squirrel Hill Community Food Pantry.

“It’s a way of showing we’re not just having fun,” said Schapiro. “We’re also helping out.”

At Community Day School an end-of-day pep rally will have students cheering to win a pajama day.

“We have a friendly wager with the Milwaukee Jewish Day School,” said CDS Principal Avi Baran Munro. “The head of school there and I have agreed to wear the winning team’s T-shirt and be ready to shame ourselves.”

While local students lived through just a few Steelers Super Bowls, it’s likely many residents of the Jewish Association on Aging remember quite a few more.

This Friday, patients and residents of JAA will celebrate the Super Bowl with a pep rally, waving their homemade, stenciled Terrible Towels. The entire Squirrel Hill building is decorated with Steelers posters and pictures of Art Rooney and Myron Cope, said JAA Director of Marketing Kathy Fuller.

“We’ve got an 8-foot tall blow-up Steeler,” said Fuller. “We’re all about it here.”

The excitement of a Steelers victory carries an important weight at JAA.

“When you work in a nursing home, you need things, especially during flu season, to encourage everyone to feel like there’s a reason to go on with the winter,” said Fuller. “The Steelers are doing that for us.”

At Beth El Congregation of the South Hills, congregants are finding a craftier way to support the Steelers — by making the, ahem, Terrible Tallis. Transforming the Steelers symbol into a symbol of Judaism is many years in the making.

“Back at Camp Ramah when I was 13, we’d make anything into a tallis,” said Rabbi Alex Greenbaum. “What makes it holy is not the material, but the fringes.”

When Greenbaum saw a beach towel version of the classic hand towel about 3 years ago, “It seemed like a good idea, though it’s not for everyone,” he said.

He created his Terrible Tallis and this year “used it as a teaching moment for my congregation,” he said. “I explained the laws of tallit and tzitzit.”

On Feb. 3, Greenbaum said he’ll hold a workshop for congregants to make their own Terrible Tallit. The excitement has even brought out congregants who rarely come to services, said Greenbaum.

“I find it fascinating — some people will show up to services just because they can wear their jersey,” he said. But praying in a Terrible Towel and actually praying for a Steeler victory are different things.

“My congregation asked if we could do a prayer. I said we really don’t want to go down that path — the Jets probably have more rabbis than the Steelers, and I don’t want a holy war,” said Greenbaum. “I don’t think God loves the Steelers more, but time has shown that the Steelers know what they’re doing. Luck, coincidence or God — someone is on the Steelers’ side.”

Justin Jacobs can be reached at {encode=”justinj@thejewishchronicle.net” title=”justinj@thejewishchronicle.net”}.