Jews in the News: Jordan Dangerfield, Julian Edelman and Jorma Kaukonen

Gridiron Hebrews; Various Musical Notes

Here are the Jewish players on an NFL team roster as of Sept. 28 (main source: my friends at “Jewish Sports Review” magazine): JORDAN DANGERFIELD, 30, Pittsburgh, plays (back-up) strong safety. This five-year veteran is of Ethiopian Jewish background; NATE EBNER, 32, New York Giants, plays (reserve) strong safety and on special teams. For his first eight seasons he played for New England, often contributing to the Patriots many Super Bowl wins. He signed a one-year contract with NY in the off-season; JULIAN EDELMAN, 34, New England. This future Hall of Fame wide receiver doesn’t seem to be slowing down. On Sept. 23, he had 8 receptions and a career-high yardage total in a game against Seattle. As I’ve noted before, Edelman had only one Jewish great-grandparent. It’s unclear if he has formally converted to Judaism, but he identifies as Jew in a religious sense and in a “community solidarity” way. Recent examples:  raising money for Tree of Life synagogue shooting victims and publicly reaching out last July to a player who posted something anti-Semitic. “The Christian Science Monitor” called Edelman’s response: “A master class on how to handle hate.”; ANTHONY FIRKSER, 25, Tennessee, plays (back-up) tight end and fullback. This Harvard grad had a good 2019 season; ALEXANDER “Ali” MARPET, 27, Tampa Bay, plays offensive guard. He has started 75 consecutive games since 2015, earns almost 11M per season, and was team captain in 2018 and 2019; MITCHELL SCHWARTZ, 31, Los Angeles, plays offensive tackle. Like Marpet, he is highly paid and has a great streak going (over 130 consecutive starts); SAM SLOMAN, 23, Los Angeles, is a kicker. He’s a rookie who earned a starting spot. His college teammates nicknamed him “the kosher cannon.” I like the image of ‘the kosher cannon’ kicking the pigskin.

The popular pop rock group, Haim, is made-up of the three Haim sisters: ALANA HAIM, 28, DANIELLE HAIM, 31, and ESTE HAIM, 34. Eight-time Oscar nominee Paul Thomas Anderson loves Haim’s music and he’s directed four music videos for the band. It was recently announced that Anderson has cast Alana Haim in her first acting role. She’ll co-star in a yet-untitled coming-of-age film set in the 1970s. Anderson wrote the film and will direct. This film has multiple storylines and several big name actors, including Bradley Cooper, have agreed to play small parts. Alana’s co-star is Cooper Hoffman, 17, the son of the late Philip Seymour Hoffman. He’ll play a child actor. Cooper, too, is making his acting debut in this film.

The 2019 documentary, “Once We Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and the Band,” is now streaming on Hulu and all video-on-demand services. It is the story of “The Band”, the great rock band that seemed to come out of nowhere with their amazing 1968 album, “Music from Big Pink.” After several great follow-up LPs, the group disbanded in 1976. The Band’s story is largely told by ROBBIE ROBERTSON, 77, the group’s principal songwriter and virtuoso guitarist (his best known song is “The Weight”). In a short segment Robertson lays out his parentage. His mother was of Cayuga and Mohawk background and she grew up on a reservation in Ontario, Canada. James Robertson, who Robbie thought was his father, was abusive to Robbie and his mother and she left him when Robbie was about 12. Right after she left her husband, she told Robbie his real father was ALEXANDER KLEGMAN, a professional gambler connected to organized crime. He died in a suspicious hit-and-run accident before Robbie was born. Robbie met his father’s brothers not long after learning about his father.  He says that they were warm and embracing. Most interesting, I think, is Robertson’s comment that he finally understood, after meeting them, where the burning musical ambition in him came from—he implies that his ambition and vision was a genetic gift from his father’s Jewish family. By the way, Robbie looks better than any man of his age I’ve ever seen. Could that be the product of being the member of several tribes?

Also looking healthy is JORMA KAUKONEN, 78. He’s most famous as the great lead guitarist for The Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna. Since April, he has been live-streaming free concerts on Youtube from his home in rural Ohio. Recently, he was given a commendation by the New Jersey legislature for providing “a wonderful respite and entertainment during difficult times.” Jorma, the son of leftist parents, was raised secular. However, about 15 years ago, he embraced his mother’s Jewish faith and his wife converted to Judaism.


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