Jewish News

“Jewish Jordan”: I Missed the Championship Ring but the Ring of Shabbat Lasts Forever

Tamir Goodman made history as first Jewish player to play Division 1 sports while wearing a yarmulke and not playing on Shabbos, reports Jew in the City. He was ranked among the top 25 drafted high school athletes in the year he graduated, averaging 35.4 points per game while remaining Shomer Shabbos. As a high school basketball player, he was dubbed the “Jewish Jordan” in 1999 by Sports Illustrated.
According to Tamir, his father was one of the first lawyers in the US to wear his kippah in court. Their house in Baltimore was a chesed house with Jewish pride and joy. “I grew up in the right environment to help me pursue my dreams because…there was no conflict between the physical and the spiritual.”
As a child Tamir remembers wanting to “…show the world that you can play Division 1 basketball and keep Shabbat. That was my goal, even from a very young age.” 

He passed up a scholarship to top-ranked University of Maryland, not flinching in his commitment to Judaism for even a moment.“I missed the championship ring but the ring of Shabbos lasts forever,” he explains. Tamir instead chose Towson University because they would accommodate his Shabbos schedule. “Only one time I had to sit out a game on a Friday night, and after the game was over, my entire team came to my hotel room and said ‘Tamir…we won the game for you. We won the game for Shabbat. We respect so much that you didn’t play in the game tonight.’”
“I did not… play one game or practice on Shabbos. And I was on a full athletic scholarship and everyone told me that that was going to be impossible… The greatest reality of the world is that nothing is impossible.” 

Tamir’s mitzvah observance on National Television inspired Jews around the world. “I still get letters from all sorts of people in all sorts of professions who say ‘I never wore my kippah when I went to work, but then I saw you in Sports Illustrated and started wearing my kippah.’ Throughout my whole journey, it’s never been about me. It’s always been about the Jewish people. I’ve always tried to fulfill my potential with what G-d expected from me. Judaism was always my blueprint, it was always my destination of how I need to react or where I need to go in any situation… We’re lucky to have that.”

After Towson, Tamir played with Maccabi Tel Aviv and other Israeli teams before joining the IDF. He eventually retired due to multiple injuries. Today, he is a successful entrepreneur, coach, educator and motivational speaker.

Tamir has since created Sports Strings, an athletic tzitzits brand, and has sent them to IDF soldiers. He also created a training aid, the Zone 190, to help basketball players enhance their training which is now being used in the NBA. 

Tamir’s advice to young Jews is what he followed his whole life: “Be very persistent and proud of who you are. Judaism is always there to help you reach your potential, not take away from [it]…Everything does come from G-d but on the other hand you have to take what G-d has given you and be proud of that and confident with it, and reach as far as you can with it.”

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