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April 20, 2014 / 20 Nisan, 5774
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Foster Son of Jewish Mom Leads Italy to Final


Italy's striker Mario Balotelli hugging his Jewish mother after bringing Germany to its knees last week.

Italy's striker Mario Balotelli hugging his Jewish mother after bringing Germany to its knees last week.

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Mario Balotelli, who scored two amazing goals against Germany June 28, to take Italy into the Euro 12 soccer championship final against Spain on Sunday (which they lost 4-0, and were totally outclassed by the world champion) – grew up as the foster son of a Jewish mother.

Balotelli talked about his adoptive Jewish mother when the Italian national squad visited Auschwitz ahead of the start of the games (Many teams did it this year, possibly because the games were held this year in both Poland and the Ukraine. It’s probably a good thing to let the players know what their hosts are capable of.)

JTA reported that “a white supremacist website called Stormfront attacked Balotelli, who is black, with vicious racist and anti-Semitic insults.”

He's black and Jewish -- I wish he played for Israel...

He’s black and Jewish — I wish he played for Israel…

“He’s black and Jewish he should play for Israel not Italy,” wrote one commenter on Stormfront, as reported by JTA.

I searched the Stormfront site, a huge message board system, really, for the comment, which, frankly, didn’t register as so vicious and racist on my scale. But all I found there was another picture of Balotelli and his mom, with the statement: “Filthy disgusting nation wreckers.”

There was another message, celebrating the fact that JTA gave Stormfront a plug…

Oh, those Nazis and Jews, when will they ever learn to get along…

I’ve been a fan of the Italian team since 2006, when they made millions of Germans cry at the semifinals, scoring two consecutive goals in the last two minutes of an overtime period. This year, thanks to Mamma Silvia Balotelli’s kid, they did it again to the Germans, and made my day.

“At the final whistle, the Italy striker embraced Silvia Balotelli, who brought him up from the age of two after he was born in Italy to Ghanaian immigrants,” reported the website Footballcracy.

“After the game, when I went to my mum I said ‘these goals are for you‘,”Balotelli told reporters. “I waited for this moment for so long and I wanted to make my mamma happy. Tonight was the most beautiful of my life – but I hope that this Sunday is even better.”

Well, it wasn’t, Italy lost to Spain, 4-0 in Kiev, Ukraine, to my chagrin, too.

An article on Moked, the website of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, called the embrace “an emotion for all Italians and a special emotion for Italian Jews.”

JTA reported that Balotelli, who plays for Manchester City, was born Mario Barwuah to Ghanaian immigrant parents in Palermo. He suffered from health problems as a small child and eventually his financially strapped parents placed him in the care of Francesco and Silvia Balotelli.

A writer in the Italian Jewish monthly Pagine Ebraiche called Balotelli “the symbol of the commitment that brings together the experience of immigration, of acceptance and of success. But [he is] also a tribute to his adoptive mother, the Italian Jew who welcomed the child and whose family suffered during the dark years of the Shoah.”

See? It all comes together in the end. Wish they’d have beaten Spain, though, payback for 1492.

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About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.


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3 Responses to “Foster Son of Jewish Mom Leads Italy to Final”

  1. He is black and Jewish just like me.

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