(March 14, 2019 / JNS) Israel’s average national height rose ever so slightly on Wednesday when former NBA star Amar’e Stoudemire officially received Israeli citizenship in a ceremony at the Interior Ministry.
The 6-foot-10-inch American-born basketball star’s identity card was presented to him by Interior Minister Aryeh Deri and Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion at a ceremony attended by Hapoel Jerusalem co-owner Eyal Chomsky and Hapoel Jerusalem general manager Guy Harel.
Stoudemire has been playing for Hapoel Jerusalem since 2016, and received residency rights in January, after completing a 14-year NBA career with the New York Knicks and Phoenix Suns.
“It’s a very exciting moment for me. My body is flooded with emotions now. My love for Israel has been with me for many years, and being part of Israel is something very special,” Stoudemire said at the celebratory event. “I would like to say thank you also to Hapoel Jerusalem for giving me the opportunity to play on the team and to help me in this process.”
“In a moving ceremony today, I granted Israeli citizenship to Hapoel Jerusalem player Amar’e Stoudemire, or Jehoshaphat, to use his Hebrew name,” Interior Minister Aryeh Deri announced on Twitter, calling him “a tremendous basketball player, a wonderful man, and a great ambassador of Israel and our capital Jerusalem, who has tied his fate to that of Israel’s.”
Last year, the former NBA star even heralded a new line of kosher-for-Passover wines, grown and produced in Israel, which includes two red-wine blends and one Cabernet Sauvignon, all limited-edition vintages produced in cooperation with the Tulip Winery in northern Israel.