Jewish Journal: America’s Top Sports Rabbis

About a month ago we decided to launch our own version  of Top Rabbis. Now that Newsweek is not publishing a list, we hope that this article will fill the void. We got many applicants for the two categories; Rabbis who are/were actual athletes and Rabbis who are sports enthusiasts. We thank everyone for submitting the names of some great rabbis (also thank you to the many of you, mostly my friends and family, who nominated me). Oddly enough most of the rabbis nominated were Conservative rabbis, this is not a bias. I actually have no real personal relationship with any of them. Also, surprisingly there were no female nominations. Narrowing down the choices was tough but we looked at a few criteria including actual sports connection, number of nominations, and ability to inspire through sport. Unfortunately, like in sports not everyone can make the cut. We decided to choose 2 rabbis in each category and hope to do this project again. So without further ado, this year’s TGR Sports Rabbis of the Year:

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Photo by Pixabay on

Rabbis: The Athletes

Rabbi Daniel Greyber

A gold medalist and Captain of the U.S. Swimming Team at the 1993 World Maccabiah Games, he also served as the USA Team Rabbi at 19th World Maccabiah Games in the Summer of 2013. He is a former director Camp Ramah California who began each morning with 6am laps and countless Shabbat Basketball games. Rabbi Greyber is now the rabbi at Beth El Synagogue in Durham North Carolina.

Rabbi Adam Naftalin-Kelman

He was in the Maccabbi games in track and field as a teenager, but since then has run marathons, triathlons and everything in between! He loves sports of all kinds, but especially basketball – loves watching with our three boys and during march  madness will watch all basketball all day long! He currently serves as the Hillel Director at UC Berkeley.


Rabbis: The Enthusiasts

Rabbi Charles Sherman

Since moving to Syracuse close to 40 years ago, Rabbi Sherman has been active in the Syracuse sports community, both at the professional level and at the collegiate level. He had a wonderful relationship with Tex Simone, the general manager of the AAA Syracuse Skychiefs.

He has delivered many invocations and benedictions at the annual Syracuse University Basketball dinner, before the team headed to the Big East Tournament in NYC.  Rabbi Sherman is known as “The Syracuse Orange Rabbi.” Additionally, Coach Jim Boeheim and his wife Juli have been recipients of the Citizen of The Year Award, a prestigious award in Central New York tho those who give back to the community, hosted by Temple Adath yeshurun. Rabbi Sherman and Coach Jim Boeheim have a close relationship. Coach Boeheim has recently endorsed Rabbi Sherman’s book, “The Broken And The Whole: Discovering Joy After Heartbreak”.

Rabbi Mark Bloom

He is a sports enthusiast, serious lifelong Giants fan who can still name the 1971 starting lineup. He is such a sports guy that he officiated over the funeral of Oakland Raiders’ owner and manager Al Davis, back in 2011. Al’s brother was a member of the synagogue, and I can’t imagine any Rabbi other than Mark who could truly appreciate the significance of the moment. It was as it should be…The Rabbi is also a stats wiz, both present and historical, and well, I think he is just a genius! Rabbi Bloom plays sports, has kids who are athletes and sports fans and it’s just a family affair. He is also a wonderful Rabbi, one of those fine examples of a spiritual human being who can cross the divide into so many worlds, including the world of loyal team fan and athlete! Rabbi Bloom is currently the rabbi at Temple Beth Abraham in Oakland, California.

Again thank you to everyone who sent in nominations. What a fun project. Looking forward to next year!

And Let Us Say…Amen.

– Jeremy Fine


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