As millions of Americans prepare to watch the Carolina Panthers face off against the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50 on Sunday night, thousands of Israelis are doing the same. Football fans in Israel, unwilling to miss out on the game of the year, will gather at parties all over the country to watch kickoff at 1:30 AM Israel time.
Mike’s Place, a chain of American-style restaurant-bars, will host viewing parties at each of its locations, including Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Herzliya and Eilat. The Dancing Camel, a Tel Aviv restaurant, is throwing a special event offering three different “meal plans” to “keep you going till 5:30 AM”, when the game is estimated to end. Another Tel Aviv bar will supply all-you-can-eat wings to its football spectators.
Even politicians are getting in on the trend. Yesh Atid, a centrist Israeli party, will host its second annual Super Bowl party, attended by current Knesset member Ofer Shelah and former MK Dov Lipman, at a Tel Aviv club.
Super Bowl parties help Americans in Israel get a taste of home, which can often feel very far away, said the MKs. “Many of the participants in last year’s party remarked that it helped them feel more at home in Israel,” Lipman told Haaretz. Michal Slawny Cabibia, the head of Yesh Atid’s English-speaking branch and a Virginia native, said that last year’s event had been “packed” with football fans.
Hundreds of other fans will host parties in their homes. Baruch Hughes, a resident of Ramat Beit Shemesh, has rented a large screen on which to project the game for his 15 guests. The Super Bowl party is an annual family tradition, with his wife planning the menu months in advance. Hughes’ brother-in-law, Eli Tryfus, who hosts his own annual Super Bowl party for a small group of friends, told Breaking Israel News, “It’s all about the football.”
Of course, the game itself is only half the fun. Viewers will be tuning in for the halftime show and, naturally, the commercials. This year, a 30-second spot during the Super Bowl costs $5 million. Israeli fans will be on the lookout for a Bud Light commercial featuring several famous Jewish comedians parodying a political campaign. Seth Rogan, Amy Schumer, and Paul Rudd star in the spot, in which Rogan and Schumer attempt to stir up a national fervor from the political pulpit, positing from that there are some things on which all Americans can agree – like beer.
It will not be the first time a Super Bowl commercial has made Israel proud. In 2014, Israeli manufacturer SodaStream ran an ad featuring Hollywood star Scarlett Johansson, who is Jewish. The commercial unleashed a torrent of criticism upon Israel and SodaStream, whose factory was then located in a city in the West Bank, employing hundreds of Jews and Palestinians side-by-side. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement attacked SodaStream and Johansson, who stood up for the brand.