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Rabbi's Blog

rabbi 05 smallsf badge lgRabbi Joel Landau  ( has been the Rabbi of Adath Israel since May 2013. He was ordained by the Chief Rabbinate in Jerusalem and has served previously as a congregational Rabbi in Charleston, South Carolina and Irvine, California. A full biography of Rabbi Landau is available here.

After the relatively intense spiritual period that led up to and included Shavuot, I’d like to share with you an internal conflict I’m having regarding a rather mundane upcoming event – the NBA Finals.

At the moment (Wed. afternoon) it is most likely the Bay Area's Golden State Warriors will win the Western Conference title and will face the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Championship Finals. Hurray! Great! Wonderful! Go Warriors!

Some of you I’m sure are wondering what on earth could be bothering me about a matchup between the Warriors and the Cavs. Obviously it’s a no-brainer - Go Warriors! After all when it came to the Giants vs. the Royals, I fully supported the Giants and even challenged the local orthodox community in KC to a friendly wager over the series. By the way, thank you again to KC’s Congregation BIAV for a delicious baseball themed Kiddush we enjoyed when they made good on the wager.

So what’s my problem?

Well, if the Warriors were playing any other team, I’d have no second thoughts about throwing my support behind them. However, the Cleveland Cavilers have become a surrogate Israeli team by virtue of their coach David Blatt who is an Israeli American (just like me).

The Israeli media has been following Blatt all year long and has made him into somewhat of a celebrity. Even before coming to the NBA, he was a highly respected coach. Blatt is recognized as the most successful Israeli American coach in European basketball history. He has seventeen championship rings from nine different leagues. He also has been the Israeli League Coach of the Year four times, the Russian Super League Coach of the Year, and the Euro-league Coach of the Year. Pretty impressive.

From the Israeli perspective David Blatt represents an amazing Israeli success story and as a result the State of Israel has been backing the Cleveland Cavilers all year long. Their games are even broadcast live on Israeli sports channels. After winning the Eastern Conference title Prime Minister Netanyahu called Blatt to congratulate him on and to wish him good luck against the Warriors. He even invited the whole team to come to Israel if they are victorious!

Hopefully, now you understand my dilemma. Where should my sympathies lie? With the Warriors, our home team (with a Jewish owner)? Or with the Cavaliers, the team led by an Israeli-American success story?   Whadaya think?