web analytics
February 1, 2015 / 12 Shevat, 5775
 
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Israeli Basketball Star Doron Sheffer Tells Of Return To Judaism


JERUSALEM – Doron Sheffer, 37, one of Israel’s greatest basketball players, shared his story of return to religious observance with a group of Jewish educators.

Speaking in Jerusalem Sunday night, Sheffer recounted his years as a star, the frustrations of losing, the joy of winning, his cancer, divorce, remarriage – and his long search for meaning that brought him to observant Judaism.

He spoke at the offices of Maayanei HaYeshuah, a proactive Jewish outreach organization that features street stands, classes and Sabbath programs.

Sheffer made his name in Israeli basketball history when he led the Upper Galilee HaPoel team to the national championship and the European Cup semifinals, and he was chosen Player of the Year.

In 1993 he began playing for the University of Connecticut which won the Big East championship three years running. In 1996, he became the first Israeli player to be chosen by an NBA team (the Los Angeles Clippers), but he opted to play instead for Maccabi Tel Aviv, which he helped lead to four consecutive championships.

In 2000, after he was diagnosed with cancer, Sheffer left basketball – the first of three announced retirements from the sport. After regaining his health he traveled to India, remarried, moved to Jerusalem, studied in yeshivot – and now coaches young people in both basketball and Judaism.

“My return to Judaism began 15 years ago,” he told his audience in a quiet, calm voice, “when I read a book called Heavenly Prophecy. It was written by a non-Jew, and I don’t remember much about it, and it didn’t change my life – but it filled me with a sense of peace, serenity, completeness, and unity. I wanted to touch that point. Little by little, I began my journey – a journey with no end – via my trip to India, dealing with cancer, basketball, and ultimately, returning to myself, to Judaism and to Torah.”

Sheffer, who grew up on a secular kibbutz, likened basketball to music – “it can unite and bridge between different people with different ideas.”

One of his unforgettable memories, he said, is “when we were playing in the Upper Galilee, and at one point, the entire crowd – chassidim of Chabad, kibbutznikim, non-Jews, everyone – all broke out into the song ‘Moshiach, Moshiach, Moshiach.’ I’ll never forget that.”

When a cancerous growth was discovered in his body, Sheffer said, “it enlightened me. God doesn’t give something to someone that he can’t deal with. Little by little, I learned what I can correct in my life. I got down to the root of the matters; I looked to see what my part in life is. After a number of months, they operated and removed the growth. I realized the extent to which pressure and fear are cancers in our lives, and how joy and patience can make us healthy.”

He began taking practical steps toward Judaism about five years ago while on a spiritual quest in India: “A few of us were sitting around with guitars, singing Chanukah songs, and for the first time, something inside woke up; I realized that there was more to it than just songs, and I really began to connect to the meaning of the holiday. That was the point at which the Jewish spark arose in me.”

He returned to Israel, met his future wife, Talia, and moved to Jerusalem in order to play with Hapoel Jerusalem.

“The ‘pshat’ [simple explanation] for our move to Jerusalem was basketball,” he explained on a different occasion, “but the ‘sod’ [deeper meaning] was that it largely channeled us to a life of Torah. We felt that something big was happening, despite various crises.”

Though Sheffer sees himself as a disciple of the late Rabbi Avraham Kook, he does not wish to catalogue himself in any specific group. He regrets the divisiveness that he sometimes sees within religious Judaism: “The Torah is complete. It’s like a tree that can branch off in different ways, but we must not forget the trunk, the tree itself from which we all are nourished.”

(INN)

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Israeli Basketball Star Doron Sheffer Tells Of Return To Judaism”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Arab attackers smashed these windows on an Egged bus in Jerusalem's Old City.
Egged Bus Attacked Traveling to Western Wall in Jerusalem
Latest Indepth Stories
Eli Weiss

Shepherding in the Shomron isn’t your usual kind of shepherding – despite his business-minded beginnings, Eli has discovered that a strong ideological impetus powers the job.

Resnick-013015-Pilot

I said to myself, “This story has got to be told. We’re losing this generation of World War II and if we don’t listen to them now, we’ve lost it.”

Eller-013015

His entire existence was about spreading simcha and glorifying G-d’s name on a daily basis.

IRAN-US-POLITICS-MILITARY

An Israeli strike could theoretically damage Iran’s nuclear program; only US can terminate program

At some point we need to stop simply defending and promoting Israel and start living in Israel

“We Jews are the only people who when we drop a book on the floor pick it up and kiss it.”

Though Zaide was the publisher of The Jewish Press, a big newspaper,I always remember him learning

Speaker Silver has been an extraordinary public servant since his election to the Assembly in 1975 and has been an exemplary leader of that body since 1994.

He spent the first leg of his daylong visit to the French capital at Hyper Cacher.

Drawing Congress into the Iran nuclear debate is the last thing the White House wants.

Great leaders like Miriam and like Sarah Schenirer possess the capacity to challenge the status quo that confronts them.

Obama’s foreign policy is viewed by both liberals and conservatives as deeply flawed

Many journalists are covertly blaming the Charlie Hebdo writers themselves through self-censorship.

Why does the Times relay different motivations and narratives for jihadists in Europe and Israel?

More Articles from Hillel Fendel
Rabbi Ephraim Laniado of Sao Paulo in the Jordan Valley

The secular town of Ro’i in the Jordan Valley has chosen a unique way to mark its 37th birthday: by building its first synagogue!

Nadia Matar (l) and Yehudit Katzover

While the UN had designated it for an Arab state, the Arabs did not accept the idea, choosing instead to make war on the newborn state of Israel.

Now that he’s free, it’s time to counteract Ostrovsky’s many inaccuracies and innuendos.

plans for a major coal-energy plant to be built in Ashkelon have basically been shelved.

Can Shoah studies actually help neutralize Arab hatred for Israelis?

Talk of a two-state solution, while widely prevalent, is largely irrelevant.

Hannah and her seven sons; Judith and the Greek commander she beheaded; the outnumbered but fearless Maccabees; the Jews who refused to give in to the decrees of the wicked Antiochus – Chanukah is a time for recounting historic deeds of self-sacrifice in the name of the God of Israel. The most recent one occurred in Israel on Dec. 1, a Shabbat.

How long does it take to write and publish a book? One recently released work took some eighty-four years to see the light of day in Jerusalem. But with its publication the Torah world has been blessed with a new, vowelized edition of the Torah Temimah, complete with the supra-commentary Meshivat Nefesh – a work begun in the 1920s by a prolific rabbi among whose works was a weekly column several decades later in The Jewish Press.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/interviews-and-profiles/israeli-basketball-star-doron-sheffer-tells-of-return-to-judaism/2010/08/04/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: