Super Bowl champ scores big as Jewish community role model
February 14, 2020
With the Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl win on Sunday, its Jewish lineman Mitchell Schwartz is shining as bright as the giant menorah he lights each Chanukah at Kansas City's Chabad House.
"He's very comfortable in his Judaism," Rabbi Mendy Wineberg, co-director with his wife, Devory, of Chabad of Leawood, just outside of Kansas City, told Chabad.org. "The first year he came to our menorah-lighting, I offered him a sheet with the blessings. He replied, 'I don't need that,' and proceeded to say them flawlessly"
Schwartz stays for the festive holiday party, talking to those present, taking pictures with fans, and enjoying traditional foods, like sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts).
Schwartz and his brother, Geoff, also an offensive lineman in the NFL, wrote a book in 2016 that addresses their Jewish identity, among other topics, titled "Eat My Schwartz: Our Story of NFL Football, Food, Family, and Faith."
"[W]e both thought it was important to share our story-for Jewish kids, and in general, about how we both wound up where we are," Mitchell said in an interview with JTA in 2016.
Mitchell's parents did not allow him to play football until the ninth grade, in part because it would interfere with bar mitzvah preparations.
At Kansas City's Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy, the lineman spoke to the students about Jewish pride and the uniqueness of being a Jewish football player. "It brings a lot of pride, especially to the children, to see that you can be at the top of your game and be proud of your Judaism, and comfortable in your Judaism," noted Wineberg.
Before the big game, the rabbi pledged that, should the Chiefs win, their "Purim [party] theme will be 'Purim at the Super Bowl." Now that the team succeeded, Wineberg said, "We would be honored if Mitchell would join us!"