web analytics
April 25, 2015 / 6 Iyar, 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.

Current Top Story
"Killing Jews is worship that draws us closer to Allah." That's his Jihad. What's yours? - An ad campaign sponsored by  the American Freedom Defense Initiative.
MTA Hopes to Change Rule, Ban ‘Killing Jews’ Anti-Jihad Ad
Latest Indepth Stories
israeli-american flags

All GOP candidates will continue seeking – and praying – for Jewish money with greater success.

New immigrants from USA and Canada arriving at Ben Gurion Airport.

The one reason to make Aliyah outweighs all the arguments not to move to Israel.

Keeping-Jerusalem

“We returned to this Land not in order to be murdered, or uprooted. We came here to be replanted!”

Ambassador Danny Ayalon

I don’t fear for the future of our people because I believe Yeshiva University has created an “Iron Dome” of Jewish leadership

Poland’s great Jewish cities where Jewish life had once flourished and thrived, were now desolate

Chief rabbi, Rav Dovid Lau, stated that the Torah community’s turnout in the WZO election is vital.

Iran has at its core the same ideology as that of ISIS but, inaccurately, is thought a lesser threat

An early Yom Ha’atzmaut gathering for Israel’s 67th birthday with Pres. Rivlin of Israel and guests

Israel’s Memorial Day shouldn’t be a day of mourning, it’s a day to honor, not another Holocaust Day

God’s 3 part promise for Israel: to the Avot; a plentiful land; the eventual return home by all Jews

A committed Religious Zionist, he was a sought-after adviser on Zionist affairs around the world.

More important, Mr. Obama is simply acceding to Iran’s position on the timing of the lifting of sanctions.

“Texans share a lot of the same attitude as Israelis, that we say what we think and we think what we say, and that makes it much easier to communicate,” he says.

The fight against terror is a case in point…. The establishment of a collective forum for dialogue in the Persian Gulf region…is long overdue….

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: