Intermountain Jewish News

Banner
Tuesday,
Jun 30th
Home Leisure Sports Brazilian Jews see World Cup as a great Jewish opportunity

Brazilian Jews see World Cup as a great Jewish opportunity

E-mail Print PDF

L-r: Mariano Schlez and Paola Salem, with Damian Beker and Maxi Klein, organized efforts to bring together Jewish soccer fans at the World Cup's seven sites in Brazil.RIO DE JANIERO — When Argentina plays its opening-round matches in the World Cup, Mariano Schlez of Buenos Aires will be screaming his support from the stands.

But taking in his home country’s matches in Brazil isn’t all that will be occupying Schlez for the first fortnight of the month-long soccer spectacle.

Also filling his calendar are 14 “Jewish” events that he and his wife have organized in seven of the host cities.

They include Shabbat evening prayers, beach soccer games leading into Saturday night Havdalah services, pickup games and Jewish heritage tours.

For Schlez, 38, and his wife, Paola Salem, 37, the World Cup being played in the region prompted them last winter to mull opportunities to fashion Jewish experiences for fellow soccer fans.

They figured on organizing two or three activities.

Now, though, “the project is bigger than we’d thought at first,” Salem said.

Their goal was to bring together international Jewish visitors already united by a passion for soccer — known throughout the world, but not in America, as football.

“It’s great to connect Jewish football fans,” Schlez said last week after arriving in Rio de Janeiro.

Read Rocky Mountain Jew's "World Cup 2014 Jewish Round-Up"

“I love football, I’ve played it all my life and I’m a teacher of lots of kids in this lovely sport, so it was an opportunity to make a connection between my love for football and my Jewish life.”

His friends Maxi Klein and Damian Beker joined him on the 1,800-mile, three-day drive from Argentina. They’re helping out in the Jewish programming, too.

All three work for the Maccabi youth sports organization in Buenos Aires.

While remaining at home with the couple’s two children, Salem is serving as a one-woman command center.

She responds to inquiries posted on the project’s two Facebook pages — Jewish Soccer Fanatics Traveling to Brazil in 2014 and Jewish Connect at the World Cup Football 2014 — along with maintaining communication with Brazilian Jewish organizations helping to organize the events in the seven cities: Belo Horizonte, Fortaleza, Manaus, Porto Alegre, Recife, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.

Fans from approximately 20 countries have exchanged information on the Facebook pages about the events and such key matters as procuring World Cup tickets and places to stay, she said.

THOSE wishing to attend any of the Jewish events — all are free — must register, with Salem passing along the information to security officials at the venues. Volunteers are offering their services through Facebook.

Salem said she budgeted for $9,000.

Large and small businesses donated funds and products, while others provided discounts for printing promotional flyers and embroidering the 400 kippahs that Schlez brought along to give away at the Shabbat events.

At the Havdalah services, soccer-themed note paper will be distributed for participants to write messages heralding the coming week.

The messages will be collected and displayed, Salem said.

The gatherings promise to be a multicultural cholent that thrills Salem.

“Connecting Jewish people from all over the world is what I love,” Salem said. “It’s like a dream.”

The dream began taking shape at a family dinner when Schlez, a longtime fan of the Boca Juniors team — Diego Maradonna, who led Argentina to the 1986 World Cup title, was his favorite player — expressed a desire to attend the Brazil tournament.

The World Cup programming dovetails with the aim of Turismo Judaico, a company Salem launched to provide Jewish travelers with information such as Shabbat candle-lighting times, kosher dining options, and sites of cultural and religious interest.

The foundation, which encourages Jewishly focused initiatives for young people under the theme “Make It Happen,” deemed the World Cup programming a creative way to build community, said Seth Cohen, Schusterman’s director of network initiatives.

“We think that young adults are the levers of change in the Jewish world and in the world Jewishly,” Cohen said, and the Brazil events bring “a Jewish lens to an experience the entire world is watching.”

“The eyes of the world are on Brazil.

“Let’s shine a light on the Jewish community there as well.”

Last Updated ( Thursday, 19 June 2014 13:25 )  

IJN e-Edition

This is only a taste! Get full access to the IJN via our e-Edition, only $14.04 for IJN Print subscribers.

E-Edition subscribers get access to a complete digital replica of the IJN, which includes all special sections.

Get the IJN's free newsletter!

Shabbat Times

JTA News

Are you a mensch? You can be featured in a film

Gabe Friedman Award-winning filmmaker Tiffany Shlain calls for video submissions for her latest project, “The Making of a Mensch.” ... [Link]

In Paris, planned Jewish center touted as proof community is here to stay

Cnaan Liphshiz The $11 million center, which is slated to open in 2017, will house a large synagogue, two exhibition halls, a gymnasium, offices, and a large terrace to accommodate a sukkah. ... [Link]

Will Israelis pay the price for a natural gas ‘monopoly’?

Uriel Heilman At stake in the development of the offshore natural gas deposits may be nothing less than the health of the Israeli economy. ... [Link]

Belgium to provide $4 million in security funding to Jewish institutions

Marcy Oster Upgraded security could spur the government to reduce the number of soldiers protecting the buildings. ... [Link]

Dutch Supreme Court allows extradition of wanted Israeli rabbi 

Marcy Oster Eliezer Berland, a Breslov Hasid who founded an Israeli yeshiva, is accused of sexually assaulting several of his female followers, including one minor. ... [Link]

Orthodox Jewish groups brace for consequences of gay-marriage ruling

Ron Kampeas Groups opposed to same-sex marriage worry that they could lose their tax-exempt status or become subject to discrimination lawsuits. ... [Link]

Jewish resort that inspired ‘Dirty Dancing’ to become $250-million yoga retreat

Gabe Friedman The iconic Catskills resort — the inspiration for “Dirty Dancing” — will be turned into a health & wellness center. ... [Link]

Arab-Jewish school in Jerusalem vandalized for second time

Marcy Oster Swastikas and anti-Arab graffiti were spray-painted on the walls of the school, which was set on fire in a November arson attack. ... [Link]

Intermountain Jewish News • 1177 Grant Street • Denver, CO 80203 • 303 861 2234 • FAX 303 832 6942
email@ijn.com • larry@ijn.com • lori@ijn.com