By Rochelle Maruch Miller
If you want to give your child an unforgettable sports experience this chol ha’moed Sukkot in a safe, secure, and kosher environment, we highly recommend the Hapoel Jerusalem chol ha’moed Sukkot basketball camp. Here, Jewish boys and girls from Israel and all over the world will participate in a top-level camp directed by former professional basketball player and experienced coach Tamir Goodman. Campers will improve their basketball skills while developing leadership, self-reliance, and teamwork skills in a positive atmosphere.
Dubbed “the Jewish Michael Jordan” by Sports Illustrated in 1999, Tamir Goodman is a former professional basketball player who has become a successful entrepreneur, coach, educator, and motivational speaker. In high school, Tamir was ranked among the top 25 recruits in the country, and he gained national attention after averaging 35.4 points per game his junior year, all while remaining a shomer Torah u’mitzvos. He achieved additional celebrity after being named MVP of the prestigious Capital Classic All-Star Game, won by players like Shaquille O’Neal and Lebron James.
Tamir went on to make history as the first Jewish basketball player to play while wearing a yarmulke on the court and not playing on Shabbos.
Following the Sports Illustrated article, Tamir was featured on 60 Minutes, CNN, ESPN, and Fox, and was covered by the New York Times and the Washington Post, among many others.
Despite receiving a full scholarship to play at the University of Maryland, Tamir accepted a scholarship at nearby Towson University, whose scholarship could better accommodate his Shabbos observance.
In 2002, Tamir fulfilled his dream of moving to Israel, signed a three-year contract with Maccabi Tel Aviv, and served in the IDF, which is a requirement for all Israeli citizens. He played in Israel and again in the United States until injuries forced his retirement in 2009.
Since retiring, Tamir has established a reputation as a sought-after motivational speaker, coach, and educator. He has coached more than 3,000 basketball players the world over and has partnered with Houston Rockets small forward Omri Caspi in a series of basketball camps across the United States. He is also the founder of Coolanu Israel, which strengthens ties with Israel through innovative seminars, sports programs, and literature programs for athletes, college students, and coaches.
The author of The Jewish Jordan’s Triple Threat, which ESPN’s Mark Stein called “captivating,” Tamir is also the developer of Zone190, a revolutionary basketball training device. He holds a B.A. in communications and lives in Cleveland with his wife and their four children.
In this interview with the 5TJT, Tamir discusses his passion for basketball and how it has positively impacted his life. A true mensch who has always tried to make a Kiddush Hashem, on and off the court as well as in his daily life, Tamir also discusses the exciting and eagerly anticipated chol ha’moed Sukkot basketball camp that he will be directing in Israel.
Rochele M. Miller: What ignited your passion for basketball?
Tamir Goodman: My older brother Reuven played ball when I was a kid. One day he took me to the gym with him, and I never left.
RMM: How has basketball impacted your life?
TG: Basketball has been a key part of my life. Through basketball I found my life’s mission. Basketball has been a vehicle through which I serve Hashem; it improves me as a person, and helped me develop and refine skills that are essential for living a productive and meaningful life.
RMM: How do you use your talent for the greater good?
TG: Many people love basketball, so I try to use the universal language of the game to inspire people, to instill others with confidence, and to give them strength to overcome their own challenges.
RMM: What has been your greatest challenge, professionally?
TG: Sustaining career-ending injuries at a young age was my greatest challenge. I never anticipated that my playing career would essentially be over in my early twenties.
RMM: As a shomer Torah u’mitzvot, what reaction did you elicit from your coaches, teammates, and fans?
TG: Most people were supportive. I tried to make a kiddush Hashem and to inspire others to be proud of their Judaism wherever they were. Because I was playing for Hashem, even when I encountered negativity, I just kept trying to move forward and did not let it deter me from my mission.
RMM: What do you consider to be the most rewarding aspect of running basketball camps?
TG: Basketball camps allow me to teach young athletes basketball and life skills in a positive atmosphere. Empowering kids to reach their individual potential is very rewarding.
RMM: What feedback have you received regarding prior basketball camps that you have directed?
TG: I have worked with over 15,000 players of all levels and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. The best feedback I receive is that something we work on in camp has carried over to help a child succeed in his or her daily life.
RMM: Tamir, the chol ha’moed basketball camp has been generating a great deal of excitement. What motivated you to launch it?
TG: I was motivated to start the camp because it brings together some very special components: a love of basketball, the simcha of the chagim, and the holiness of Jerusalem. To me, the idea of being able to play ball at a top-level camp in Jerusalem on Sukkot seems like an amazing opportunity!
RMM: It certainly does sound amazing. What are some of the unique features of the camp?
TG: It is unique because kids from all over the world are coming together to play ball in our holy city of Jerusalem over the holiday. The simcha from the holiday will permeate the camp and will make for a great atmosphere. The camp is also special because it is being run by the Hapoel Jerusalem basketball team, which is a most talented team on the court and a leader in community initiatives off the court.
RMM: What advice would you give to Torah-observant athletes who are considering a career in professional sports?
TG: I would say to always stay proud of your Judaism and try to make a kiddush Hashem, rather than to play just for your own personal success.
RMM: What message would you like to convey to our readers?
TG: I hope that anyone who will be spending Sukkot in Israel will consider our camp for their kids. It promises to be an unforgettable and positive experience. v
Tamir Goodman’s Chol HaMoed Sukkot Basketball Camp will be held at Gan HaPaamon, 3 Jabotinsky Street, Jerusalem (adjacent to the Inbal Hotel), October 12 and October 13, 9:00 a.m.—12:00 p.m. The camp is for boys and girls, ages 9—17. Early registration is recommended. For registration information, please see the ad on page 7 of this week’s 5TJT.
By Rochelle Maruch Miller