Wednesday, June 1st, 2016...2:05 pm

Rabbi combines passions

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Sports and Judaism share spotlight in Jewish Sports Speakers Bureau

By JOEL RIPPEL

Temple of Aaron Rabbi Jeremy Fine began writing a blog to combine his passions for sports and Judaism.

“I started it in 2008 or 2009,” Fine told the AJW, “because my friends and I were always telling Jewish sports stories. The blog kind of took on a life of its own.”

From left, Rabbi Jeremy Fine, Sue Bird of the Seattle Storm, Annie Fine and Jessica Fine. (Photo: Courtesy of Rabbi Jeremy Fine).

The blog, called “The Great Rabbino,” got noticed while Fine was living in Israel.

“I was writing from Israel, blogging every day,” said Fine. “The New England Patriots had a player named Julian Edelman. I was in Israel, live-posting his stats during a Super Bowl or AFC championship game. The next morning I woke up and the blog had 11,000 views. Anyone who had searched for ‘is Edelman Jewish’ had seen my blog.”

The blog has sparked a new passion for Fine, who grew up in Chicago and played high school basketball.

“About a year ago, I love the blog, but I really wasn’t as passionate about it anymore,” Fine said. “I’m still passionate about sports. I started reaching out to people across all spectrums of sports. They have great stories to tell.”

Fine launched the Jewish Sports Speakers Bureau.

“It’s a resource for Jewish or non-Jewish organizations who are looking for speakers,” said Fine. “We have (current and former) Jewish athletes who can prove to be positive examples for Jewish youth.”

Among the nearly 40 speakers available are Ron Blomberg, Jay Fiedler, Shawn Green, Adam Greenberg, Nancy Lieberman, Brent Novoselsky, Sage Rosenfels and Steve Stone.

“When you’re an athlete, you’re so focused on your job,” said Fine. “When they finish their career, they’re looking for other things. The Jewish community embraces them. The players themselves are excited about the bureau. They are very proud of Judaism.  Even if they’re not religious, they are still proud of the heritage.”

The bureau continues to add speakers. Justine Siegal, the first woman to work as a coach for a major-league baseball team, recently joined the bureau.

“She’s fantastic,” Fine said. “It’s really interesting. These athletes have had so many unique moments. Like Jay Fiedler replacing Dan Marino as the Miami Dolphins quarterback. Ron Blomberg was the New York Yankees first-round draft choice (in 1967) and the first designated hitter in major-league history (in 1973). So many Jewish athletes were so close to being great.”

The bureau has gotten off to a good start.

“We’ve had about 15 events in the last year,” said Fine. “My goal was 10. We’ve had events all around the country — California, Florida, Maryland, New York.”

Fine manages to fit the blogging and the bureau into his busy schedule.

“It’s a fun thing,” Fine said. “I work on at it late at night, after the kids have gone to sleep. My wife and shul have been so supportive.”

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For more information about the Jewish Sports Speakers Bureau, visit: thegreatrabbino.com.

(American Jewish World, 6.3.16)

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