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Is LeBron James Jewish?

labronjames.jpgLeBron James, basketball phenomenon…. and a Member of the Tribe? I often tease my people about our collective obsession with the question of whether this celebrity or that is Jewish. But this one is a real mystery, and a big name, to boot. A recent issue of Time magazine asked several celebrities who they would nominate for this year’s list of the Time 100, a compilation of the most influential people around. In response, James, an All-Star NBA player and himself a former member of the Time 100 list, named a relatively obscure businessman/philanthropist named Jay Schottenstein, explaining that Schottenstein:

… has supported the translation and elucidation of the Talmud Bavli into English, Hebrew and French. The Schottenstein Edition of the Talmud is now utilized by more than 2 million people worldwide.

If you didn’t catch the “Talmud Bavli” reference, you’re in good company. Outside of observant Jewish circles (and academia), it’s not the most common term, which makes James’ choice, and explanation, all the more suprising. The term refers to the Babylonian edition of the Talmud, the central text (after the Torah itself) of Jewish learning, which records the legal discussions of the early rabbis and forms the basis of Jewish law as we know it. (The other edition is the Jerusalem, or Palestinian, Talmud.)


The Talmud is a particularly difficult text for a lot of people, and many publishers have attempted in recent years to produce editions that engage novices and newcomers–with the Schottenstein edition one of the better and more influential. So LeBron knows from what he speaks.
James didn’t explain his choice of Schottenstein any further, and there is no obvious connection between the two, aside from the fact that both are Ohio based. (James grew up in Ohio and plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers.)
But this brief quote has not gone unnoticed by the Jewish blogosphere, which is wondering the same thing I am: Is LeBron Jewish? Studying to be a Jew? Or just a Talmud Bavli fan?
LeBron James at LocateTV.com

  • http://www.jewishjournal.com/thegodblog/item/lebron_james_king_of_basketball_student_of_talmud_20090330/ Brad A. Greenberg
  • Chona

    Maybe Lebron just really likes casual dressing & cheap shoes? Ever think of that, instead of over analyzing everything to death?

  • Steve Cohn

    If LeBron James has an interest in the Talmud, good for him. It doesn’t matter whether he is Jewish or not, but it does say that he is a seeker of wisdom, and the Talmud is a wonderful source of such wisdom.

  • Gil

    Is Madonna Jewish because she has studied Kabbala?- definitely not. Many of you who profess to be Jewish – how do you practice your religion? Please don’t tell me you identify with, or you are a cultural Jew. La de da. You have to work at being a Jew – “By your deeds shall ye be known.” According to legend when the Torah was offered many tribes and peoples turned it down “too many rules and regulations to abide by.” Other religions that sprang from the original Judaism was a watered down version with fewer rules and regulations. Stop obsessing about who is a Jew, and take stock in your own behavior.

  • Aunice

    What difference does it make?

  • http://espnnn.com ESPN -LeBron James Sports Flash

    ESPN -LeBron James Sports Flash http://espnnn.com

  • steve wilson

    he’s not a jew

  • http://www.needloanbadcreditcanada.com knicefeakejok

    I enjoyed reading your blog. Keep it that way. kfhkpqyaoftwqpgx

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