Since the day I was born, I’ve been a die-hard Detroit Lions fan. I fell in love with them, and it’s a binding relationship until the day I die. Every season that comes around, brings new hope. They are my team, and always will be. But tonight, I’m rooting for another team. I’m an Israel supporter more than anything else, and that directs me towards the New England Patriots tonight. The gesture that they will make, towards Israel and the greater Jewish community, should earn them all of our support, at least for one day. 68,000 fans will stand in complete silence in Gillette Stadium, to mourn and remember a young Patriots fan that would have loved to watch the game with them tonight.
When I think of the New England Patriots, a few names come to mind instantly. Bill Belicheck. Tom Brady. Bob Kraft. Deion Branch. This week, under devastating, heartbreaking circumstances, Ezra Schwartz was added to that list.
Ezra, 18, lived in Sharon, Massachusetts. He came to Israel for the year, to study in Ashreinu yeshiva. He was murdered by a Palestinian terrorist this past Thursday, for no other reason than him being Jewish. I never got to meet him, but after what I’ve read and heard about Ezra, I know I missed out on meeting an amazing kid. We would’ve been best friends if I had ever gotten to meet him. From what I’ve heard, we shared a lot in common. We were both counselors, loved sports and have younger siblings. We’re both big Harry Potter fans, played baseball whenever we could, and loved learning Pirkei Avot. We could’ve gone to have a catch in the park. We could’ve trash talked each other’s football teams, knowing very well that his Patriots would wipe the floor with my Lions. He sounds just like me, just like some of my close friends. He loved Israel; maybe we could’ve gone on hikes together. He would’ve fit right in as my friend, and now he never will.
At his funeral, the Patriots were mentioned countless times. He would’ve been happily waiting to wake up at 3 AM tonight, to watch them take on the Buffalo Bills on Monday Night Football.
Bob Kraft, the proud owner of the New England Patriots, has always shared a wonderful relationship with Israel. He built Kraft Stadium in Jerusalem, and has been a proud sponsor of football in Israel. He’s brought NFL players and Hall of Famers to see our beautiful country in person. But relationships are tested in the tough times, when one partner is going through a rough period. That’s exactly what Israel is going through now, a tough period. Bob Kraft is coming through for us in a clutch moment, when we need this boost.
No, this gesture won’t bring Ezra back. Nothing will. But as the Jewish body, we are wounded. Sometimes we need outside interaction in order to heal, and this moment is one of those. As his father said at the funeral, the condemnation calls make us feel like Ezra was important. This gesture, makes us all feel like Israel is important. Tonight we have a nationally televised moment, where the entire United States of America may begin to understand what terror we face here every day. This is where football becomes so much more than just a game. I know he’ll be watching his beloved team from above tonight. Go Patriots.