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Darryl Strawberry Talks About His Love of Israel and Overcoming Hardship

In a time of rising antisemitism, he said Jews should know that God is on their side and to not be flummoxed by misrepresentations of Israel in the media.
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March 17, 2023
Darryl Strawberry with Stacey Braff, Eli Braff and Nelson Braff/ Photos Courtesy of Jewish National Fund-USA

Darryl Strawberry is a strong supporter of Israel. The slugging right fielder helped the Mets win the championship in 1986, won a World Series with Yankees in 1996,1998 and 1999, and also played for the Dodgers and Giants, made that statement at the March 9 Jewish National Fund-USA’s “Extending The Branches of Zionism” panel at the Ronald S. Lauder JNF House, adding when he visited Israel in 2018, it “was a miracle for me” and urged celebrities and athletes to go there.

In a time of rising antisemitism, he said Jews should know that God is on their side and to not be flummoxed by misrepresentations of Israel in the media.

“Don’t worry about what people think about you,” Strawberry said. “Had I worried about what people thought of me, I wouldn’t be who I am today … people that talk about the Jewish community and the news and people of that nature, they have never been to Israel, so they don’t really know the culture of the people and they don’t know the land…”

He said people should visit and will have a spiritual awakening. He loves the people of Israel and said that after tribulations in his life, he is set on helping people become better..

He said he loves the people of Israel and said that after tribulations in his life, he is set on helping people become better.

“My father was a raging alcoholic,” Strawberry said. “He used to beat the living crap out of me and my brother. He told me I wouldn’t amount to anything. He came from the last time when I was about 14 years old, (he) pulled out a shotgun, said he was gonna kill the whole family. Had it not been for my mother going into action and getting me and my brothers out of the house, we would have killed him.  It could have been a tragedy in my life before I ever put the uniform on…”

He said his connection to Israel was sparked by Jewish friends.

“They were the ones that never turned their back on me,” he said, adding that those who visited Israel would “come back a different person.”

The 60-year old eight-time All Star, who racked up 335 home and 1,000 runs batted in and was named the National League Rookie of the Year in 1983, well-publicized issues with drugs and alcohol, found a different path in retirement. “When I was a baseball player, I was about winning games,” he said. “But I’m an evangelical preacher now, now I’m about winning souls…”

Strawberry with Rabbi Avi Rosalimsky and Debbie Rosalimsky was presented with a baseball jersey.

On the panel with Strawberry were Pace University professor Tiffany Henley and Baruch College senior Manav Tilwani. It was moderated by Rabbi Avi Rosalimsky, who teaches at Yeshivat Noam in New Jersey. Henley said Israel was more diverse than she thought it would be and less conservative, while Tilwani said when friends saw pics he posted from Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, they asked how they could go. Through the Caravan for Democracy Student Leadership Mission to Israel and Faculty Fellowship Mission to Israel, about 1300 student leaderswho are not Jewish  went on fully subsidized trips to Israel.

The purpose, according to a statement by event chairs Stacey and Nelson Braff is to facilitate “constructive dialogue about Israel and the Middle East on college campuses across America. These programs offer student and academic leaders the opportunity to get to know Israel in its nuance and beauty while learning about vibrant democracy and commitment to peace in the region …”

Speaking to the Journal after the panel, Strawberry said that when people post antisemitic things online, or spread false things about Israel, it is a waste of time to argue with them.

“People hide behind screens and sometimes it is their own personal issues,” he said. . “There’s no debate when you know for yourself, and you educate yourself. I don’t debate with people.”

As Black and Jewish communities have both been persecuted, he hoped there would not be friction and said anyone hateful should be introspective.

“You have to really be able to look inside yourself and say ‘what is the purpose of this life, why am I really here?’ he said. “Am I looking at the color of skin or culture of people or am I looking to be all that God created me to be?  When people examine themselves and look at themselves, then they can be what they need to be.”

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