Jewish Basketball Stars to Offer Youth Camps in Cleveland - The Jewish Voice
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Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Jewish Basketball Stars to Offer Youth Camps in Cleveland

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Omri Casspi playing in Israel in 2010.Omri Casspi, an NBA player for the Cleveland Cavaliers squad, and Tamir Goodman, the Orthodox Jew who was dubbed “Jewish Jordan” by Sports Illustrated during his high school years, have partnered to offer three youth basketball camps to first- to eighth -graders in suburban Cleveland.

The three camps will run on consecutive Sundays from June 10 through June 24, and will be held at the Beachwood Middle School, Fuchs Mizrachi School, and Agnon School campuses, respectively. Each camp will run from 10 AM to 3 PM, and will give boys and girls the opportunity to refine their basketball skills “in a positive and Jewishly spirited environment,” according to a news release cited by JTA.

Casspi is the first Israeli to play in the NBA. He was drafted 23rd overall in the 2009 NBA draft by the Sacramento Kings, and even started a few times during his first season. In June 2011, the Holon, Israel, native was traded to Cleveland.

Goodman was a teenage phenom who averaged 35 points as a high school junior while playing for the Talmudical Academy of Baltimore, an Orthodox Jewish school. Ranked as one of the most elite college prospects in the country in 2000, Goodman eventually turned down an offer from the University of Maryland because his athletic obligations would have conflicted with the Sabbath. He later moved to Israel, served in the IDF, and played professionally for a Maccabi team, among others.

In an interview with the Cleveland Jewish News, Goodman explained his excitement when he learned of Casspi’s impending arrival in Cleveland last offseason.

“I felt like he was going to be in a good place, that the community here would embrace and this would be a great place for him to play as a Jewish athlete,” Goodman said. “The more I got to know him, the more I got impressed by him as an athlete.”

Goodman said Casspi and him share a lot in common.

“It’s something that’s just part of his nature,” Goodman said, when speaking of Casspi’s humility. “That’s who he is. He wants to work with kids. … He wants to give back. We share the same vision. We understand each other very well.”

“We want to unite the community and we want to do as much good as we can through basketball,” he added.

Goodman said that despite his move to the NBA, Casspi still holds Israel and his Jewish roots close to heart.

“He’s proud to be Israeli and Jewish,” Goodman said. “He doesn’t shy away from that. He’s proud of who he is. Up until this point in my camps, these are things that we’re trying to teach: Jewish pride, Jewish values. Because he’s currently in the NBA, I just think it makes the message of the camp that much more alive for the kids.”

“Jewish Jordan” further expressed sympathy with his comrade; Casspi struggled this season in his first year with the Cavs.

“I can relate so much to what he’s going through,” Goodman explained, while the season was still ongoing. “I appreciate him as a person and as a player and I value what he’s trying to accomplish. Any part that I can be in it, helping him reach his potential on and off the court in any way, just being there for him is just great.

“I’m grateful we’re here together in Cleveland,” Goodman concluded.

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