Alan Stuart Shlomo Veingrad (b. 1963) was born in Brooklyn and grew up in New Jersey and Miami. He went to Hebrew school as a child, then to Miami Sunset High School where he was captain of the football team. Veingrad was also an All-American track and field athlete. He went to what is now Texas A&M University on a sports scholarship. In 1984, he was voted the Lone Star Offensive Lineman of the Year. Despite working out round-the-clock and gaining over 100 pounds he was still considered too small for the NFL and went undrafted in 1985. Still, he was able to sign with the Tampa Buy Buccaneers as an undrafted free agent. The following year he signed with the Green Bay Packers and played on the starting line up as a right offensive tackle. In 1991 he signed with the Dallas Cowboys and was instrumental in helping the team win Super Bowl XXVII in 1993. After earning his championship, Veingrad retired from professional football. Since then, he has worked in real estate and finance, as a motivational speaker, and an AIPAC advocate for Israel. One Friday, his cousin invited him for Shabbat dinner, which lit a spark inside him. Veingrad then went to a Torah class to learn more, and soon found new meaning in life. He eventually became fully Torah-observant, and has since been called the “only Orthodox Jew to wear a Super Bowl ring”. He has traveled around the world to share his story, and also made an excellent series of 1-minute Jewish motivational videos, called Shlomo’s Playbook. Veingrad was inducted into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 2010 and was the NYPD’s Person of the Year in 2012.
Words of the Week
The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct Palestinian people to oppose Zionism…
– Zuheir Muhsin, member of the PLO Executive Council, in a March 31, 1977 interview with Dutch newspaper “Trouw”.
Curt Randy Grossman (b. 1952) was born in Philadelphia to a traditional Jewish family. He dreamed of becoming a professional football player from childhood. He started playing in fourth grade. When a high school guidance counselor gave him a questionnaire with three blanks to fill in which careers he would be interested in, he wrote “professional football player” for all three. Grossman was the star of his school’s football and wrestling teams. He continued to impress in college, leading the Temple University Owls to a 9-1-0 record one year. In 1974, Grossman joined the Pittsburgh Steelers of the NFL. That same year, the Steelers won the Superbowl. The following year, the team was back in the Superbowl, and Grossman caught the crucial touchdown pass which led the Steelers to another championship. By this point, Grossman’s nickname was “the Rabbi”. Three years later, he had a career-high 37 receptions in 10 games, and helped the team win another Superbowl. Grossman played for the Steelers for several more years before retiring. All in all, he has 4 Superbowl rings. A Steelers Director of Personnel once said that Grossman had “the best” hands and could catch “whatever was near him”. Today, Grossman runs his financial firm, Wealth Management Strategies, and likes to shoot clay targets with his local Jewish “Clays and Knishes Club”.
Words of the Week
…the Qur’an specifies that the Land of Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people, that God Himself gave that Land to them as heritage and ordered them to live therein. It also announces that – before the end of the time – the Jewish people will come from many different countries to retake possession of that heritage of theirs. Whoever denies this actually denies the Qur’an itself. If he is not a scholar, and in good faith believes what other people say about this issue, he is an ignorant Muslim. If, on the contrary, he is informed about what the Qur’an and openly opposes it, he ceases to be a Muslim. – Imam Abdul Hadi Palazzi
Ebner at the Rio Olympics (Credit: Pascal Guyot/AFP/Getty Images)
Nate Ebner (b. 1988) was born and raised in Ohio, where his father was the principal of Springfield’s Temple Sholom Hebrew Sunday school. Ebner’s father was a fan of rugby, and introduced his son to the sport at an early age. At 17, Ebner became the youngest player ever to make the US national team. He was also the MVP of the under-19 and under-20 teams. During his third year of studies at Ohio State University, Ebner decided to try out for the football team, and soon became one of their best players. He was named “most inspirational player”, won several awards, and was given a football scholarship for his final, senior year. In 2012, Ebner was drafted by the NFL’s New England Patriots and signed a four-year contract, which he recently extended for another two years. In 2014, he won his first Super Bowl with the team. That year, Patriot’s coach Bill Belichik described him as being in the “top-five percent all time of players that I’ve coached.” Meanwhile, rugby has returned to the Olympics after some 90 years, and Ebner got permission from the Patriots to try out for the team. Having not played rugby professionally for a long time, his odds for making it were put at just 10 to 20 percent. Surprising everyone, Ebner made the team and is now in Rio. That makes him the only NFL player (and Super Bowl champion) to participate in the Olympics. Ebner has been described as a “heat-seeking missile” on the field, and having a “passion for being great”. His main inspiration is his father, who was tragically murdered in a robbery eight years ago. Ebner said of his father: “He taught me the importance of being Jewish… and conduct myself always in a proper manner… My dad was my only role model… There wasn’t anyone else I wanted to be like more than him.”