What Jews Brought to Super Bowl LIII
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What Jews Brought to Super Bowl LIII

Atlanta welcomed the biggest sporting event of the year, and the Jewish community played a large role in ensuring the event was a smashing success.

Clad in Super Bowl graphics, Atlanta's Mercedes Benz-Stadium will host the Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots.
Clad in Super Bowl graphics, Atlanta's Mercedes Benz-Stadium will host the Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots.

Atlanta welcomed the biggest sporting event of the year this week, and the Jewish community played a large role in ensuring the event was a smashing success. Here are a few of the biggest Jewish highlights from the game.

The Stadium and the Trophy

Arthur Blank’s new Mercedes-Benz Stadium was a big hit. Having hosted two championship games in the past three months, the stadium is developing quite a pedigree, something that bodes well for the future of Atlanta sports.

Another Jewish owner walked away with the Lombardi Trophy, as Robert Kraft’s New England Patriots put the finishing touches on the game, winning 13-3 over the Los Angeles Rams.

Kraft celebrated with his team in the locker room postgame, breaking out 50-year-old cigars for his players as he hoisted the trophy.

Julian Edelman wins MVP (Mensch & Valuable Player)

If there was ever any competition to choose Tom Brady’s favorite target, Julian Edelman put that to rest on Sunday. The wide receiver left his mark on the game, hauling in 10 of 12 targets for 141 yards, and netting himself the Super Bowl’s Most Valuable Player award, becoming the first Jewish player to ever win the title.

In a postgame interview, he was asked what winning MVP meant to him, and he responded, clearly struggling to find the right words.

“It sounds crazy, it sounds crazy. 2018. L’Chaim!” he said.

The son of a Jewish father, Edelman was not raised religious, but he has embraced more and more of his Jewish identity on the field over time. He was first selected near the end of the 2009 NFL draft. In 2014, he donned a pin featuring the Israeli flag during the game, and later went on a trip to Israel.

Most recently, however, he drew headlines following the shooting in Pittsburgh by wearing cleats bearing “The Tree of Life,” in Hebrew with the synagogue’s logo.

In true Super Bowl tradition, Edelman and Brady were seen celebrating at Disney World following the big win—Brady’s sixth Super Bowl ring.

With Sunday’s performance, Edelman is etching his name into NFL history as one of the most dominant post-season receivers, and one of few Jewish players with a shot at enshrinement at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

Adam Levine

While the teams were slow to get on the scoreboard in the first half,  Adam Levine and Maroon 5 brought some energy to the stadium with their halftime show. They were joined by Travis Scott and Atlanta icon Big Boi, from legendary hip-hop duo OutKast.

Maroon 5 played a mixture of their classic hits and their newer work, regaling the crowd with “She Will be Loved,” (2002) and “Moves Like Jagger,” (2010), among others. Scott joined in, rapping his song, “Sicko Mode,” (2018), and Big Boi jammed to OutKast’s “The Way You Move,” (2003) with Levine singing by his side.

While there was some antipathy going into the halftime show this year because of the headliner, there’s no doubt that Maroon 5 put on a stellar performance.

Big Game Big Give

A star-studded affair, the Big Game Big Give fundraiser hosted some of the world’s biggest celebrities in Carrla and Jeff Goldstein’s home on Feb. 2.

Now in its 10th year, the fundraising affair was as big a hit as ever, raising money for The Giving Back Fund, which creates and manages charitable ventures for the rich and famous.

With dozens of celebrities in attendance, it’d be hard to pick out just a few, but Atlanta icons turned out. Jaime Foxx, Ludacris, CeeLo Green and former mayor and U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young were among the many stars who came together for a good cause.

With a performance from the Black Eyed Peas, there was no doubt that the night was “gonna be a good night.”

Chabad Tailgate

With thousands of Jews coming to town for Super Bowl weekend, one need that is significantly lacking near the stadium itself is kosher food options, but Chabad of Georgia was ready to fill that void.

Those who arrived in town before Shabbat on Friday were greeted at the airport by Rabbi Yossi Lew of Chabad of Peachtree City and chaplain at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Then, on game day, Chabad hosted a free kosher tailgate party just 400 feet from the stadium. For only a few hours, over 250 Jewish Rams and Patriots fans broke bread together, sharing kosher hot dogs, wrapping tefillin and participating in afternoon services.

“As lifelong Rams fans, my father and I traveled from New York to fulfill a dream of going to see our team in the Super Bowl.  While we didn’t see our team win, the experience was amazing, no better highlighted than by the team at Chabad of Georgia, who threw the perfect Jewish tailgate for all visitors from across the country,” Avi Radzik said.

Kosher Halftime Show

For those looking for a little more Jewish entertainment to go alongside the big game, Nachum Segal’s Kosher Halftime Show did not disappoint. The game day show itself featured Daniel Ahaviel, the acclaimed Israeli violinist, and Jewish rapper Sammy K, in addition to pranks and mischief throughout Atlanta’s Super Bowl week.

In the week leading up to the game Segal sat down with some of Jewish Atlanta’s most notable leaders, including Eric Robbins, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta; Ambassador Judith Varnai Shorer, Israel Consul General to the Southeast;  Rabbi Ilan Feldman of Beth Jacob Atlanta; Rabbi Adam Starr of Young Israel of Toco Hills; and AJT Owner and Publisher Michael Morris, to name a few.

One of the most common topics of conversation was the importance of education in shaping the future of Jewish Atlanta.

“As we emerge out of a year of planning and envisioning our future, education has sort of risen to the top,” Robbins said.

Hanging with the Guys

The Super Bowl Five wore matching jackets that sported their group name and logo while touring the Georgia Aquarium and having lunch with AJT Publisher Michael Morris. “They liked the notoriety,” Morris said.

One of the men, Lew Rappaport, was especially impressed with the stadium, its short lines and affordable concession prices. “We have been to every stadium in the NFL and this is the best one we’ve seen.”

The food prices were also a standout among stadiums, he said. “Paying $2 a hotdog while others are $10 for a hotdog makes it so reasonable to go to a stadium for a Super Bowl or regular season.”

While the men were seated “way up on top” of the stadium, they had a great view and enjoyed themselves despite the slow activity on the field. “The game wasn’t great; it was the lowest-scoring Super Bowl in history.” And he should know, having been to every one.

What Traffic?

Stop-and-go traffic is never a shock to Atlanta natives, and yet talk of slowdowns and delays was absent around the biggest even

t of the year, in part thanks to an Israeli and his revolutionary startup.

“The best testament to our work is that nobody notices it,” said Dov Ganor, Mobi’s CEO.

Ganor and Mobi were on hand to ensure that things went smoothly in Atlanta. Mobi has provided Atlanta with traffic analytics since August 2016.

Although the Super Bowl drew more than 100,000 downtown around game time, traffic flow was significantly decreased, even when compared with the smaller Major League Soccer Cup crowds here recently, Ganor said.

“As we continue to analyze data from Super Bowl week, we’ll be able to make the next one, and all major events, perform even better.”

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