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

More from Beliefnet and our partners
previous posts

Elvis Presley will again be memorialized in movie form when Luhrmann’s “Elvis” hits theatres. The American star, Austin Butler, plays the King and will guide viewers through the star’s life from relative unknown to the most prominent musician on the planet. While filming some scenes in Elvis’ early life, however, Butler was overcome with emotion after […]

Father’s Day is a great day for moving tributes to dads and Kate Hudson offered up one such acknowledgment to her “pa,” Kurt Russell. Russell is her mother, Goldie Hawn’s, longtime partner of nearly forty years and the star has long considered him her father after her estrangement from her biological father, musician Bill Hudson. […]

Pop star Justin Bieber has asked fans to pray for him as he battles Ramsay Hunt syndrome, which has caused the right side of his face to have paralysis, but he said he trusts God that “it’s all for a reason.” “Obviously, as you can probably see from my face, I have this syndrome called […]

Country music star Toby Keith announced Sunday that he has been diagnosed with stomach cancer and has sought aggressive treatment through chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery for the last six months. Keith, 60, announced in a brief statement shared on his social media accounts. “So far, so good,” he wrote. “I need time to breathe, recover […]

Close Ad