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Jeremy Fine, contributing blogger

Jeremy Fine is currently the Associate Rabbi at Temple of Aaron in St. Paul Minnesota. He was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary. Even though Jeremy lives in Minnesota, he considers himself a Chicago guy. He loves deep dish pizza and The Chicago White Sox. Jeremy has a passion for Jews in sports and created his own company www.thegreatrabbino.com. He also writes Jewish sports content for several media outlets. He's really excited to be a part of the Oy! team. If you have any questions or comments email him at JeremyMFine@gmail.com. His wife Jessie is also from Chicago and they have two daughters Annie and Trudy (also White Sox fans!).

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For generations Jews celebrated the storied baseball careers of Sandy Koufax and Hank Greenberg. Since then Jews have longed for more Jewish athletes. And in 2009 we look around the MLB, NFL, and NBA and see several Jews atop their sports. In Boston, Kevin Youkilis trots the bases after each home run; Jordan Farmar of the Los Angeles Lakers hoisted the NBA Championship trophy; and Igor Olshansky makes bone-crushing sacks for the Dallas Cowboys.

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In 2005 when Maccabi Tel Aviv beat the Toronto Raptors the world took notice of Israeli basketball. While it might have only been an exhibition game and meaningless to the Raptors, it was enormous for Maccabi Tel Aviv and Israel. At the time Maccabi Tel Aviv was led by Anthony Parker, who got noticed during that game and eventually signed with the Raptors. Although Parker was not Israeli, or even Jewish, his ability to take an Israeli team to the next level has changed the game in our homeland forever.

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I was in eighth grade limping around on crutches when my family took me to an Ida Crown Jewish Academy vs. Fasman Yeshiva High School basketball game. It was a packed house. Literally, my broken ankle was hanging over the court because there was nowhere to sit. The Ida Crown Aces varsity team ran out onto the court and the atmosphere was electrifying.

My take on today's greatest Jewish athletes photo_th

Recently, Spike.com ran an article about the top 10 current professional Jewish athletes. I highly disagreed with their assessment. So, I moved around people and shuffled in a few of our own.

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If you are alive, Jewish, and into sports you should know about figure skater Tamar Katz and the Israeli Olympic Committee’s ruling not to send her to the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver. Her story has been covered by major news outlets including The New York Times and The Jewish Week. I am someone who is basically pro-Israel in every way, but I think Israel got it wrong on this one.

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I have had some fans write in asking about Jewish representation at the 2010 Winter Olympics. We know that Tamar Katz isn't going to be there, but who is? To my knowledge there are five participants in this year’s Olympic Games.

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So, it’s tournament time. Everyone is frantically filling out their brackets, hoping to gain pride and maybe some cash. Everyone has a different strategy for picking the Final Four. Some people pick underdogs, some pick according to mascots, and some pick by using what they think is knowledge yet always end up losing. Well, The Great Rabbino has decided to help you out.

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Oy!’s Jeremy Fine, a.k.a The Great Rabbino, caught up with Colt Cabana, Chicago native and Jewish wrestler, to get his picks for this year’s Wrestlemania. Colt has been traveling the country wrestling and performing his comedy.

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The Great Rabbino has had the pleasure of interviewing a variety of Jewish athletes— professional wrestlers, major league baseball players, and sports broadcasters. Today I bring you an interview with Tani Mintz, a speedskater who is trying to qualify for the Olympics. Tani is an old friend of mine from way back in the day.

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From the second day of Passover through Shavuot Jews count each day with a special prayer (49 days total). The time in between the holidays (Exodus from Egypt to receiving the Torah) is called the Omer. During the Omer people study pirkei avot, don't shave (notice some of your rabbis will have longer beards), and don't get haircuts.

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Ever meet a guy who just can't lose? Well, Sean Wallis is pretty close. He won an IHSA Basketball championship at Glen Brook North High School and two NCAA DIII championships at Wash U. Wallis seems to win wherever he goes. A recent graduate, the north shore native is now weighing his playing options.

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Think about it. Whatever happened to...Chris Shelton? Whatever happened to...Bob Hamelin? ...Dana Barros? ...Austin Croshere?


Today I bring to you a special exclusive interview with the greatest Jewish basketball player of all time... Dolph Schayes.

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A while back I posted the top 10 best Jews in sports. But today TGR takes a look at the most important Jews in sports. This includes more than just players. I searched owners, executives, players (current and retired), sportswriters, commissioners, and anyone else related to the sports world. See what you think about the list below.

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During all the Blackhawk craziness in Chicago I searched and searched for a Jewish connection. Recently, I tracked down former Jewish Blackhawk Steve Dubinsky, who is still involved in the game through his sons and youth hockey. He was a really nice guy to talk to and still a big Hawks fan. Check out my interview with Dubinsky and celebrate the Hawks big win all over again.

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While we’re all still on a high from the big Bears’ win this weekend, let’s talk rugby. Recently, The Great Rabbino caught up with Shawn Lipman, arguably the greatest Jewish rugby player of all time. That's right rugby. If you haven't played or seen rugby you should. It is brutal.

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There are few movies that defined the era of my childhood like the Mighty Ducks. Every kid at the time got on their skates or blades and tried the triple deke. Sometimes we pretended to be Banks, sometimes we were Conway, and sometimes to spice it up, we were the goalie Goldberg!!!

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With superstars Jon Scheyer and Slyven Landesberg on to bigger and better things, this year we look to some unknowns in NCAA basketball. Last year's senior class was impressive. So who is going to step up and be our next hope at a Jewish NBA star? Well, this year’s All-TGR team does not have a pro prospect for next year. But, it has plenty of talent and is led by a budding star.

Interview with Former MLBer Norm Miller photo_th

Recently, TGR caught up with former Jewish MLBer Norm Miller. Miller played mainly for the Astros and finished his career in 1974 with the Atlanta Braves. He played with Hank Aaron and was there when he hit the home run to break Babe Ruth's record. Miller was nice enough to grant us an interview. Check it out below.

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I am clearly out of my NFL playoff bracket. My NFC pick, Da Bears, are still alive and well, but I’m 1-3 in the opening round, and the Patriots losing did me in. However, I did pick the Steelers at the beginning of the season...so that kind of counts. Nevertheless, The Great Rabbino goes on. Today we look at the Top 10 Jewish connections left in the NFL playoffs.

The Jewish picks for the 2011 MLB season photo_th

I can feel the excitement in the air…baseball season is almost upon us. The North Siders, might be up for another disappointing year (especially with the news of Ryne Sandberg being betrayed), but my beloved White Sox look solid— just waiting for Jake Peavy to return and for Adam Dunn to hit 50 homers.

Interview: Author and Baller Aaron Pribble photo_th

Baseball player and author Aaron Pribble took time out of his busy schedule to speak about his new book "Pitching in the Promised Land."

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Chicago has had its share of great athletes—Michael Jordan, Frank Thomas, and Stan Mikita to name a few. The Bears have probably been the richest of the Chicago teams, with players like Walter Payton, Gayle Sayers, and Dick Butkus.

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Growing up in the northern suburbs of Chicago there was one athlete everyone knew, his name was Ryan Hogan. Hogan played basketball at Deerfield and was a stud. I still recall stories of Rick Pitino arriving in a limo to Deerfield High School to get Hogan to commit.

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It is early, but I’m already excited about 2013 World Baseball Classic that will feature Israel. Baseball is rapidly growing in Israel. The now defunct Israeli Baseball League still carries momentum with all the books being written about the experience.

Washington State’s Alex Hoffman-Ellis photo_th

From time to time I miss a player. Last year I missed this guy, Alex Hoffman-Ellis. Good size, competitive edge. The Great Rabbino likes this linebacker. He has gone up against some of college football's best.

Ten most compelling Jewish NFL stories for 2011 season photo_th

Before the NFL Season starts, The Great Rabbino wants to look at the most compelling Jewish NFL stories for fans to follow over the season.

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With the Phillies' Joe Blanton headed to the 60 day DL and Placido Polanco going to the 15 day DL they called up Michael Schwimer (no relationship to David or so we think). Schwimer was 9-1 in AAA with 10 Saves and a 1.88 ERA. He had 86 strikeouts in 67 innings.

Best (theoretical) NBA stories for the Holy Land photo_th

With the NBA lockout looking more likely, The Great Rabbino decided to look at who we would want to see in Israel (besides Jordan Farmar). Which NBA players would be the most intriguing stories and where should they go play.

Interview with (almost) lingerie football photo_th

Recently, I was flipping through my channels and saw a Lingerie Football League game on MTV2 (don't worry I don't frequently watch that channel). Yes, the women are dressed in less than modest attire, but once the whistle is blown they hit hard and bruise just like the men. It dawned on me that I had heard rumors that a former campmate of mine was on the Chicago team.

Have you been Tebowed lately? photo_th

While it would be easy to ignore the craze, Tim Tebow-mania is everywhere. As I like to say, he is the "best, worst player I have ever seen." While he throws a horrible deep ball, he misses receivers like no one else ever has, and his reckless style will eventually get him hurt, the kid is a winner. Tebow wins.

The Great Rabbino’s Jewish NFL player of the year photo_th

Often we ask people to vote on the awards and sometimes we decide them ourselves. This year it seems to be a clear cut decision that the The Great Rabbino 2011/12 NFL Player of the Year is our very own Chicago Bear, Adam Podlesh.

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The NBA is up and running. Omri Casspi is starting, but without very impressive numbers and Jordan Farmar remains a solid backup on the verge of leading a team. Since everything is status quo with our current star NBA players, The Great Rabbino begs to ask the question, “who is next?” (Not a Goldberg reference).

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Over the last three years The Great Rabbino has been giving you the Jewish NCAA Bracket. In the first year I brought you a winner—Duke and Cornell helped produce those results. Last year I was in the middle of the pack. I used various methods from Jewish numbering, players, and Hillel sizes.

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Yes, it’s Spring Training. Yes, the NCAA tournament has started. Yes, the NBA trade deadline just happened. But The Great Rabbino wants to give you something totally different. Meet Matt Baum and the American Ultimate Disc League. Enjoy!

Meet Ian Goldberg, Haverford basketball player photo_th

Miss college basketball already? The Great Rabbino is bringing you a college basketball player— meet Ian Goldberg a senior at Haverford who happens to be a big fan.

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Mazel Tov to the newest Jew in the NFL, Mitchell Schwartz. Schwartz was drafted early in the second round with pick #37 by the Cleveland Browns. The Browns believe Schwartz can play opposite Joe Thomas and block for both first round picks Trent Richardson and Brandon Weeden. Read more about Mitchell here.

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It’s not just the Jewish athletes making news these days (at least good news), the Jewish owners have emerged into the spotlight. The Great Rabbino takes a look at the top Jewish owners in sports.

A look at the Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball team photo_th

Let’s look at some former Maccabi Tel Aviv players, who are not Jewish, but who played in Israel. As Maccabi Tel Aviv continues to be a European powerhouse, these players have kept them at the top of the league.

Interview: Nationals Draft Pick Max Ungar photo_th

He is young, humble, and most importantly, good. While the Jewish world was sparked by the Padres 7th pick in the draft Max Fried, it is Max Ungar who might be the most important Jewish pick in the entire draft. Ungar went in the 36th round (not quite the 7th pick) to his hometown Washington Nationals.

Interview with White Sox’s draft Mitch Glasser photo_th

Mitch Glasser is not just living out his dream, he is living out mine. Born and raised in Chicago, he moved to Minnesota and then got drafted by his favorite team, the Chicago White Sox. Seriously, I could not have scripted it any better. Mitch is a great guy and motivated by his dream of playing for the Sox (or running them someday).

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On Saturday, October 13th around 10:45a.m., congregants at the Temple of Aaron in St. Paul, Minnesota might have noticed something a little different about their pulpit. Their rabbis passed the sermon this week to Maccabi Haifa head basketball coach Brad Greenberg.

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Normally we tackle the top 10 college and top 10 pro basketball stories to watch this season. Due to time and numbers we have decided to combine them. Ball is back and The Great Rabbino is excited.

Green, Bonds, and Clemens on the Hall of Fame Ballot photo_th

This year's Baseball Hall of Fame ballot has been released and it's headlined by Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. Both will be a true test to the steroid era as Bonds and Clemens are arguably the best hitter and pitcher respectively who ever lived (please note that I wrote arguably).

The Great Rabbino’s Jewish NFL player of the year photo_th

There are not too many great Jewish NFL moments to write about, the highlight being Adam Podlesh's two-point conversion. Most of our great Jewish NFLers are Offensive Linemen (we are not complaining). Here is how everyone checked out.

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My grandmother, Row Row, called me the other day and began our conversation with, "I am mad at you." Now there are few things in this world that I am sure about and one of those is that my Row Row could never be mad at me. I responded, "Row Row what did I do?"

The Great Rabbino’s Jewish NFL player of the year photo_th

Over the last few years the NFL draft has brought us some great stories— starting with Taylor Mays and Gabe Carimi. Last year, Mitchell Schwartz got all the press, while Alex Hoffman-Ellis and Alex Gottlieb drew some attention, as well. This year, we have Sam Schwartzstein out of Standford.

Interview with former Michigan Basketball player Ron Garber photo_th

On the day of another end to March Madness, The Great Rabbino wanted to do something special. So we caught up with former Michigan basketball player Ron Garber. Ron is a great guy and plays in my Sunday night basketball game in St. Paul. Besides throwing down two massive dunks last night, he had several blocked shots including one on my buddy Dan which was for all intents and purposes a volleyball spike.

The Fall of ‘JewBall’ photo_th

Around the country, Jewish basketball is growing rapidly with tournaments, the Maccabiah Games and even websites such as Jewish Hoops America and Jewish Coaches. But while high school and even the college ranks continue to grow, the last few years in the NBA that brought us hope for sustained Jewish basketball on a professional level have quickly evaporated.

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A few years back I interviewed then-NCAA basketball newbie Jake Cohen. As the NCAA tournament came around and Davidson University was about to shock the world (which they unfortunately didn't), my phone blew up with friends texting about Cohen's heritage. Cohen played great for the second year in a row and gained major attention. So the obvious question is, will he go in this year's NBA draft?

Interview with pro wrestler AJ Kirsch photo 2_th

AJ Kirsch is on the upward swing of his career. You might remember him from WWE's Tough Enough with Stone Cold Steve Austin. He was also a candidate for TNA's Gut Check. Kirsch is an independent wrestler and promotes Hoodslam Wrestling. Although he did not grow up strictly Jewish per se, his father's whole family is Jewish and he was just interviewed by Larry King (so that's cool).

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At Dodgers Stadium, which is in Los Angeles – the second-largest Jewish community in the United States—we could not find kosher food. Although I’m told the stadium does offer kosher alternatives, how is it possible that the Minnesota Twins can have a kosher cart but not the Dodgers?

Interview with Michigan QB Alex Swieca photo_th

We heard about this story a while back. “Jewish kid makes Michigan football team.” But Alex Swieca’s story is much more than being a great athlete. He was in Israel playing flag football before making it onto the Wolverine squad and no less as a quarterback.

An Interview with MMA Fighter Marina Shafir photo_th

I’ve written plenty of stories on wrestling, usually pro wrestling. In fact, I expand to boxing from time to time with stories on various boxers like Yuri Foreman and Dmitry Salita. But meet Marina Shafir – one of the toughest women I know – well – sort of know. She is a MMA fighter looking to make an impact. Below is her story. Pay attention because she is going places.

Top 10 Jewish NBA Storylines this Season photo_th

Last year, honestly, we struggled to find Jewish stories in the NBA as Omri Casspi declined and Jordan Farmar left for Turkey. Not this year! With both players back, one literally and the other mentally, it’s time to look at the top 10 stories going into this (Jewish) NBA season.

Mazel Tov to Jewish Athletes Everywhere! photo_th

Former Jewish Major League Baseball player Brad Ausmus was tagged to replace Jim Leyland as the new manager of the Detroit Tigers. Ausmus inherits a mega lineup featuring Miguel Cabrera, Torii Hunter and ace pitchers in Justin Verlander and 2013 American League Cy Young winner Max Scherzer.

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For the last five years, The Great Rabbino has tried to bring to you the best in Jewish-related sports content. Now, we are turning the tables a bit to bring you the best in sports-related Jewish content – specifically rabbis.

Interview with former MLBer Justin Wayne photo_th

As my congregants know I have a wall full of Jewish MLB rookie cards hanging in my office. A congregant walks into my office, looks at the hanging cards and says "hey, that's Justin." Of course, I immediately asked for his contact information and Justin was gracious enough to answer some questions.

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A few years ago we were talking about Poreda as the next in line in terms of solid Jewish MLB starters. He emerged quickly with the White Sox and was a major piece of the Jake Peavy trade.

Interview with Dodger Legend Norm Sherry photo_th

You may have seen this amazing piece of artwork. Greg Harris has really drawn up some amazing interest and excitement through his project, Jewish Baseball Player.com. Connected to this achievement has been his ability to help non-profits raise money.

Summer Jewish Sports Headlines photo_th

The biggest Jewish sports news of the summer is a huge “mazel tov” to Maccabi Tel Aviv for winning the Euroleague Basketball Championship. This is an incredible accomplishment; Israel went crazy after the historic victory.

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The latest in Jewish sports headlines.


Jewish Athletes on the Move photo_th

It’s been a busy summer of trades and signings for Jewish athletes. Here is an update of the comings and goings around the sports world.

A Guide to Kosher Ballpark Food photo_th

Recently, I went to Atlanta to see Turner Field and the Braves and I was disappointed that they lacked a kosher hot dog. So below is an updated list of kosher stands (some unconfirmed) at various baseball stadiums, their supervision, and products.

Interview with new Auburn assistant coach Todd Golden photo_th

Bruce Pearl has certainly made headlines by jumping back into the college basketball coaching ranks. But he is not going in alone. He has brought aboard some excellent assistants to make sure the Auburn Tigers are a team to be feared.

An Interview with the Commissioner of the Israeli Football League photo_th

It’s not fantasy football, but it is a football fantasy made real. Israel is going to the gridiron. Meet Betzalel Friedman, the commissioner of the Israeli Football League. Some of you, myself included, played flag football while studying in Israel on the beautiful Kraft Field in Jerusalem. Well, things are taking off.

Jewish Baseball Players on the Move photo_th

The baseball season might be long over, but the excitement is just beginning. While the White Sox and Cubs have made some really solid moves so far (Zack Duke and Adam LaRoche are coming to the South Side, while manager Joe Madden heads to the Cubs), Jewish ballplayers have been on the move as well.

Winter 2015 Jewish Sports News photo_th

Congratulations to Super Bowl champions the New England Patriots, whose owner Robert Kraft and star receiver Julian Edelman (who went for over 100 yards receiving in the Super Bowl) have shown considerable passion for Israel.

An interview with former NFL QB Jay Fiedler photo_th

Since Sid Luckman, the NFL has not seen its share of great Jewish players. Julian Edelman, Taylor Mays and a slew of offensive linemen have recently sparked our interest, but not too long ago, there was a man under center who was all the craze. His name was Jay Fiedler.

Jewish Sports Headlines – April 2015 photo_th

Every year at the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, Jewish basketball coaches get together to give out the Red Auerbach Best Coach Award.

The Scout Life photo_th

After seeing Josh Gershon pop up on Twitter, I knew we had to be in touch. The man is living a dream -- his dream and I am sure many of your dreams: scouting the future of basketball.

Interview with former MLBer and pitching expert Jason Hirsh photo_th

There are a lot of guys who’ve made it to the Bigs -- that is an accomplishment in its own right -- but only a small percentage of those players have been Jewish. Meet Jason Hirsh. He might not have had the longest MLB career but he played against the likes of Albert Pujols and Barry Bonds. Not the easiest guys to pitch against.

Interview with Indians President Mark Shapiro photo_th

There are owners and there are players, but general managers assemble teams and staffs. Who better to speak with than the president (former general manager) of the Cleveland Indians, Mark Shapiro.

Interview with Jewish baseball legend Shawn Green photo_th

After Sandy Koufax and Hank Greenberg, the debate over the third greatest Jewish baseball player begins, and that conversation often starts with Shawn Green. For a stretch, Green showed elite power, which led him to all-star status, but his story is far deeper than his home runs.

Interview with Jewish boxer Cletus Seldin photo_th

Meet the newest Jewish boxing sensation, Cletus Seldin. He isn't just hard-hitting, he is repping the Jewish people hard too. Take notice!

Interview with Chicagoan and former Royal Tony Cogan photo_th

It’s World Series time, so it’s time for Jews everywhere to find a connection to the Series. Well, Kevin Pillar is done. Theo Epstein didn't come through. How about we go back in time a little?

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Dustin Fleischer, a.k.a. “The White Tiger” is a welterweight professional boxer and the grandson of a Holocaust survivor. Since his professional debut at Madison Square Garden back in January, Fleischer has gone undefeated in five matches.

Jewish Off-Season Baseball Stories to Watch 2015-16 photo_th

A lot of the big free-agent splashes have been made already, dominating baseball headlines, but here are the Jewish story lines to follow this baseball offseason.

Top Jewish Sports Jerseys for 2016 photo_th

As a child I was a big fan of sports jerseys. I would buy the jerseys of all sorts of athletes. The problem was once that player got traded, it took years before some of them became retro and “acceptable” to wear. (I am still waiting on my Rex Grossman jersey to be cool again.)

Interview with swimming gold medalist Jason Lezak photo_th

We have all seen him swim. Glued to our televisions over the past few Olympics, Jason Lezak has become one of the most decorated swimmers, Olympians, and Jewish athletes of all time. His participation in the Maccabiah Games over the World Championships was a historic Jewish sports moment.

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I have been surprised to find out how many of my camp friends have not visited camp since their final days as campers or on staff, or how many day-schoolers are reluctant to credit their success to their day school education.



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