(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) Nineteen football Hall of Fame members arrived in Israel for a weeklong event dubbed “Touchdown in Israel: Mission of Excellence,” sponsored by Jewish billionaire Robert Kraft, owner of the current National Football League champion New England Patriots. Kraft led a festive ceremony launching the event on Sunday at Kraft Stadium, which he built in Jerusalem.
In 1994, Kraft purchased the Patriots, the football team he loved as a fan, despite its lackluster record. He has since won four Super Bowls.
“It reminds me of the story of Moses,” Kraft told Israel Hayom. “For 40 years, the team was in the desert, and the moment I bought it, it began winning titles.”
At the ceremony, Kraft sang the Israeli and the American national anthems, and had trouble concealing his excitement.
“I am very emotional,” he said.
Kraft expressed his joy at being in Jerusalem and his hope to one day see an Israeli player in the NFL.
“My first trip to Israel was in 1963, for my honeymoon, and I remember how angry I was when I looked out from the balcony at the King David Hotel and saw armed Jordanian soldiers keeping me from visiting the holy sites,” he said. “After the Six-Day War, we were all able to go and pray. I was in favor of building bridges between the peoples.”
Kraft said Israel is his “my favorite place to be” after the U.S.