“Have we not all one father? Hath not one God created us? Why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, profaning the covenant of our fathers?” (Malachi 2:10)
Although soccer is the more popular sport in Israel, the Israel Football League has been growing in popularity since its inception seven years ago. The IFL and its parent body, the non-profit American Football in Israel, have a unique partnership with the Kraft family, owners of the New England Patriots. Now, the Ramat Hasharon Hammers are welcoming their newest teammate, American Avi Rosenblum. Initially recruited to the Tel Aviv/Jaffa Sabres, he transferred to the Hammers for “a better fit,” reported the Times of Israel.
Rosenblum is used to turning heads — he is 20 years old, 6’2”, black and Jewish. Adopted and raised by a white Jewish couple in Albany, California, Rosenblum says he has been drawing attention all his life. “I’m a black Jew and live with everything that goes along with it,” he told San Francisco’s Jewish Community Center website, 3200 Stories. “People are surprised when they’re expecting to meet Avi Rosenblum and it’s me. Sometimes when I go to a Jewish function, people look at me funny or ask, ‘Do you know this is a Jewish function?’ Yeah, I do; I’m Jewish.”
Rosenblum was adopted in the first trans-racial adoption in the state of Texas. Rosenblum’s adoptive parents, Rom Rosenblum and Debby Graudenz met in 1969 in Israel, while participating in a Young Judaea program. They served in the Israel Defense Forces during the Yom Kippur War in 1973, and were among the founding members of Kibbutz Ketura in the Arava Valley. They would be thrilled if Avi would “find a nice Israeli girl, settle down, and give us some Jewish grandchildren,” his father says.
That is not necessarily part of the plan, though, as Avi dreams of playing for the NFL one day. Besides, he says, “It’s too hot for me!” Although he does not plan to stay, Avi is happy to be playing football in Israel, a place he has loved and longed to return to visit since his first trip at the age of twelve. He has family here, too; his Uncle Jack, brother to Avi’s mother, lives in Israel, along with his own adopted son.
Football has been a part of Avi’s life since high school. He spent four years playing both offense and defense at Albany High School, followed by two years at the community college level. He also excels at baseball, winning a 2010 award from the Jewish Hall of Fame of Northern California, and has competed actively in the JCC Maccabi Games. “I like it when they put pressure and demands on me to perform. Even if coaches scream at me, I stay focused,” he shares. “I don’t crumble under pressure.”
Ehud Epstein, coach of the Tel Aviv/Jaffa Sabres, commented that Rosenblum’s skin color is not an issue in the game. “Once you have Muslims and Jews playing together, color doesn’t matter.”