HALLANDALE, FLORIDA - JANUARY 23: Amare Stoudemire attends the 2021 Pegasus World Cup Championship Invitational Series at Gulfstream Park on January 23, 2021 in Hallandale Beach, Florida. (Photo by Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images for The Stronach Group)

By Larry Gordon

By now you may have come across the shidduch résumé of former NY Knicks forward and Brooklyn Nets coach Amar’e Stoudemire. Now that Amar’e’s formal conversion to Judaism is complete and he has been affirmed by many rabbanim to be a ger tzedek, Mr. Stoudemire, who divorced his non-Jewish wife, wants to get his life on track by finding a suitable match.

Amar’e Stoudemire had a very successful career in the NBA with both the NY Knicks and the Phoenix Suns, and for the last couple of years he served as an assistant coach for the Brooklyn Nets. As his conversion to Judaism advanced and he was committed to strict Shabbos observance, it became increasingly difficult for him to travel with the team and fulfill the demands of the job effectively.

Just last week he announced that he will not be returning to the Nets bench as a coach next year because, he said, the job imposed greatly on his Shabbos observance, and he felt that to be effective as a coach he had to give the job his full uninterrupted attention.

Last year, Amar’e was featured on the Meaningful People podcast, hosted by my son Nachi. They sat down in Amar’e’s Brooklyn Heights apartment to explore his journey to an Orthodox Jewish Torah life. Throughout the hour-long encounter, the former all-star sat with his wide-brimmed black hat atop his head the entire time.

In fact, in the picture that accompanies his shidduch résumé he is wearing that same large black hat. So, while he is not what we in our community casually refer to as a “black hatter,” he seems to be indicating that this is the direction toward which he aspires.

Here is his résumé:

Name: Amar’e Carsares Stoudemire – Yehoshafat Ben Avraham

Location: Brooklyn Heights, NY

Height: 6’ 10”

DOB: 11/16/82




Yeshiva: Ohr Somayach, Jerusalem, Israel

College: University of Miami (MBA)


CEO/Founder, The Amar’e Stoudemire Foundation

NBA Coach for the Brooklyn Nets

*Family Background*

My family is from Central Florida.

I converted in Bnei Brak, Israel, under the beit din of Rav Nissim Karelitz


Shul: Bnei Abraham in Brooklyn Heights

Rabbi: Rabbi Raskin

*About me*

I enjoy traveling, learning Torah, hiking, biking, snowboarding, etc.

I try to live my life with complete happiness, with Torah study as the main focus.

When I was younger my mother told me we descended from the Israelites and she wanted me to reconnect with the laws of Moshe. That led me on my path of learning and finding Judaism, and, ultimately, converting.

I’m shomer Shabbat.

I dress modestly but with swagger.

I’m divorced with beautiful children.

My lifestyle consists of Torah learning and entertainment.

I worked in the fashion industry, art, sports, and food and wine.

*My foundation*

The Amar’e Stoudemire Foundation’s mission is to cure poverty through education.

I am looking to continue to build a family and live a life of Torah.

Now, as you can see, while Amar’e had a strict frum conversion to Judaism in Bnei Brak, at some point at the beginning of the process he probably felt that he did not have to convert because he was told by his mother many years ago that he was born Jewish.

{IMG Shyne – Jamal Barrow – credit U.S. Embassy Belize.jpg

{Caption: Shyne —Jamal Barrow

{Credit: U.S. Embassy Belize

Several years ago, we encountered a young man known as Jamal Barrow at the time, who, in the world of rap music, was known as Shyne. We first met in the Knesset in the office of then-Shas MK Nissim Ze’ev.

In Israel, he took the name Levi and was campaigning with Israeli lawmakers to recognize him as a born Jew, giving him the right to citizenship in the Jewish State. In the year or two that we visited with Barrow, he had adapted the dress style of Belzer chassidim, as he felt largely accepted in the Jerusalem Belz community.

Levi Barrow’s father, Dean Barrow, was prime minister of Belize until 2020. I was always curious about whether Barrow was drawn to Belz because the word was so similar to Belize. The last time I saw Shyne, who received a lot of press and attention because of his personal history and apparent religious transformation, it was without the sartorial chassidic look.

Shyne’s life changed after a nightclub incident in New York in 1999 with hip hop star Puff Daddy (who later changed his moniker to P Diddy) and his girlfriend at the time, Jennifer Lopez. In brief, a shooting erupted that injured three people. Shyne took the fall and was convicted of attempted murder. He was sentenced to ten years and served eight years of that sentence, most of it at the medium security prison in Woodbourne, New York.

After being released, he was deported to Belize but then made his way to Israel where he embraced what he felt was his Jewishness.

The last time I saw him, Levi Jamal Barrow was on King George Street in Jerusalem, probably five years ago. He told me he was going to live in Germany where he hoped to get his music career back on track. I lost touch with him after that except for a few e-mail exchanges on occasion.

An internet search the other day revealed that he is now back in Belize and serving in the government—as head of the opposition party—that his father once led. I wrote to him again but have not received a response so far.

Rabbi Aaron Raskin is the rabbi of Congregation B’nai Avraham, the shul Amar’e attends in Brooklyn Heights. The former Knicks star moved to the neighborhood at about the same time that he signed a contract to become an assistant coach on the Nets.

Amar’e has attended Pesach Sedarim at the rabbi’s home, and when he is in town he attends the shul regularly. The rabbi says that Amar’e, who goes by the Hebrew name Yehoshaphat, studies Gemara and halachah with one of the rabbi’s sons who work with him in Brooklyn Heights.

When Amar’e accepted the job with the Nets, he first consulted with Rabbi Raskin about how to deal with being a coach in the NBA on Friday night and Shabbos. The original arrangement with the Nets gave Stoudemire off on Friday nights and Shabbos, but he realized as time went on that the demands of the job necessitated his full-time involvement.

Rabbi Raskin advised him that he is allowed to be on the bench in the Barclay Center, but that the issue was mostly travel on Shabbos. To that end, Brooklyn Heights was the perfect place for the former NBA star because it was only a 20-minute walk to the basketball arena on Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues.

The sticking point became what to do about out-of-town games and Ama’re’s insistence on not traveling on Shabbos with the team. Even if he traveled to the out-of-town cities before Shabbos, the arena where the team was playing was not always within walking distance from the hotel where the team was staying.

During the first year of his tenure, the Nets management did not bother him about being with the team on Shabbos. In this just-concluded season it became more of an issue, and so Amar’e chose not to go forward with the Nets next season because of his concern about properly observing Shabbos.

Rabbi Raskin is also involved with vetting potential shidduchim for Amar’e. He says that he and his sons have set up the basketball star with a couple of potential matches but so far nothing serious has developed. As far as requirements in a shidduch, Rabbi Raskin says that the most important quality to Stoudemire is tzniyus, or modesty.

Amar’e has four children—two boys and two girls—who live with their mother in Florida, though they visit with their father often. Two years ago they attended the Pesach Seder at the rabbi’s house with their father.

Rabbi Raskin says that now that Amar’e is no longer under contract with the Nets, he may move out of Brooklyn to be geographically closer to his children. Amar’e has made it known to the rabbi that his intent in a shidduch is to have children whom he can raise as Jewish. Stoudemire has previously lived in Israel after his career as a player ended, and he has an ownership stake in one of Israel’s premier basketball teams.

According to the rabbi, Amar’e is learning new things every day, and his thirst for knowing more and performing mitzvos is almost unquenchable.

Unlike Levi Barrow, who was ready to fight to be recognized as a born Jew, to Amar’e, being accepted and living as a Jew was more important than the politics of the process. When the rabbis here and in Israel hear the name Yehoshaphat Ben Avraham, the reaction is the same—he is the real thing.

Read more of Larry Gordon’s articles at 5TJT.com. Follow 5 Towns Jewish Times on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for updates and live videos. Comments, questions, and suggestions are welcome at 5TJT.com and on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.


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