NBA Star and Hebrew Israelite Amar’e Stoudemire Inspired to Learn Hebrew in Jerusalem

“And Hashem shall bring thee back into Egypt in ships, by the way whereof I said unto thee: ‘Thou shalt see it no more again’; and there ye shall sell yourselves unto your enemies for bondmen and for bondwoman, and no man shall buy you.” Deuteronomy 28:68 (The Israel Bible™)

Six-time NBA All-Star and now entrepreneur Amar’e Stoudemire has begun studying the holy language of Hebrew in order to grow closer to his “adopted homeland”, Israel. As a player and major shareholder of the Israeli basketball team Hapoel Jerusalem, Stoudemire has made the Holy Land his permanent residence for the time being and is studying Hebrew to truly acclimate to his surroundings.

Though Stoudemire is not Jewish, he identifies himself with the Hebrew Israelites and views the Land of Israel as part of his religious and ancestral heritage. “My mother instilled it in us, as youth, about us being Israelites, being from the ancient children of Israel,” he said during an interview with NoCamels. “So, as a family, we started to follow all the laws of Moses, and we just kept growing from there.”

Hebrew Israelites are usually African Americans who view the Biblical Israelites as their historic ancestors. They believe that the transatlantic slave trade was foretold in the Bible as represented by many verses including Deuteronomy 28:68.

And Hashem shall bring thee back into Egypt in ships, by the way whereof I said unto thee: ‘Thou shalt see it no more again’; and there ye shall sell yourselves unto your enemies for bondmen and for bondwoman, and no man shall buy you. Deuteronomy 28:68

This chapter also describes that the Israelites will be made to serve false gods and lose knowledge of their true identities.

“Between Hebrew Israelites, Black Hebrews, as some call themselves, and the return of Jewish Ethiopians to the Holy Land, we are clearly living in a time of Biblical prophecy coming alive,” shared Roni Segal, academic adviser for The Israel Institute of Biblical Studies, an online language academy, with Breaking Israel News.

“We have definitely seen a continuous rise in people seeking to study Hebrew as part of this phenomenon, whether to better understand scripture or for social and business reason with people from ‘the start-up nation’.”

Stoudemire’s love of the Land of Israel began in 2010 upon his first visit. He has continued to come to the Holy Land annually with his wife and children and considers himself an “unofficial ambassador for the country. He is reported to have bought a four-story stone house in Jerusalem’s Old City and plans to reside here at least for a few years.

Get close to Israel

Video clips show Stoudemire warmly socializing in Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda open-market shuk saying, “L’Chaim(Hebrew for “to life”) as he greets spectators and saying that he loves “Yerushalayim” (Hebrew for Jerusalem). In another clip, he is teaching young Israelis basketball and, as the team makes a huddle before playing they shout together, “L’Chaim.”

“It is inspiring to see this celebrity taking his Bible studies and life in Israel so seriously through increasing his knowledge of Hebrew,” continued Segal. “Stoudemire proudly posted a photo of himself on Twitter of himself studying Hebrew next to a Hanukkah menorah.”

The basketball legend has publicly stated that he has “never felt more at home, more tied to a place where I’m playing [than Israel].” The feeling is clearly mutual. As part of the re-branding of the Mahane Yehuda shuk, which until ten years ago was generally only used as a daytime open food market, a wall-sized illustration of the NBA star has joined the portraits of contemporary and historic figures gracing its metal shutters.

As the daytime stalls close for evening, a bustling nightlife begins and revelers enjoy the portraits of famous personalities including Moses, Albert Einstein and now Stoudemire. “The shuk has legends painted all over. I’m humble to be amongst the greats here,” Stoudemire wrote on Instagram alongside the image of himself standing with the artist Solomon Souza in front of his portrait.

In addition to his involvement with Hapoel Jerusalem, Stoudemire has many other projects. He is actively involved with Israeli entrepreneurs, created the Amar’e Stoudemire Basketball Peace Camp to bring together players from all of Israel’s diverse cultures, and is owner of “The Melech Collection”, an online platform that advises celebrities on purchasing art that is likely to appreciate in value.

Melech in Hebrew means king or chief magistrate,” noted Segal to Breaking Israel News. “I don’t know but I am assuming that Stoudemire chose this name due to his passion for Israel and the Hebrew language.”

“There are a lot of great people doing amazing things here in Israel,” Stoudemire told NoCamel. “Now that I live here, I’m learning more and more about it. People here are constantly trying to wrap their mind around a better way to improve.” With that, Stoudemire seems to be fitting in with the rest of Israeli society.

To learn more about Hebrew studies online, please visit here.

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