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.
Maccabi Haifa was in town to play the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday, October 16th, at 7:00p.m. They came from the West Coast having just lost an exhibition game to the Golden State Warriors 108-100. Leading up to the game, Coach Greenberg and the Maccabi Haifa team participated in community wide events, promoting Israel and their charity Haifa Hoops for Kids (helping underprivileged children in Israel have access to basketball and athletics).
Greenberg’s sermon was a big success. He got everyone talking and excited about the upcoming game. Greenberg himself has an interesting story on both the professional and collegiate basketball levels. Most recently Coach Greenberg was leading the Radford University Highlanders. Before that he was the General Manager of the Philadelphia 76ers and was responsible for drafting Allen Iverson.
Greenberg shared a moving story about when he got let go by the 76ers and how it was a tough time in his life. As a member of Har Zion synagogue in Philadelphia, he deeply regretted not reaching out to then Rabbi Gerald Wolpe. He had fond memories of Rabbi Wolpe, specifically a sermon he gave about Kobe Bryant’s decision to forgo college and head to the NBA.
Greenberg also talked about his time in Israel, and his decision to move there in the first place. He has been grateful for the opportunity and the eye opening experience. He spoke about Israel’s tremendous strength and resilience day-to-day, and how his American friends are learning, through him, the incredible pride and happiness Israelis display for their country.
Temple of Aaron thanked Coach Greenberg with some parting gifts and told the coach that they would be bringing a nice constituency to the game Tuesday night. Unfortunately, after only being down three points at half time the Timberwolves went on to destroy Maccabi 114-81.
Maccabi stayed and signed autographs for kids and Cory Carr even threw his jersey into the crowd. It was a great event and a nice showing by the Minnesota community.
And Let Us Say…Amen.