NFL Patriots Owner Robert Kraft Recalls Religious Upbringing; Highlights Importance of Jewish Values (VIDEO)
Leading a life filled with Jewish values teaches a person to be humble and appreciate what they have, the owner of the NFL’s New England Patriots said on Wednesday.
While delivering the keynote address at Yeshiva University’s 85th Commencement Ceremony at Madison Square Garden in New York City, Robert Kraft spoke about his childhood and how his father served as the inspiration in how he, as a Jew, should live his life.
“I have a lot in common with Yeshiva, what I call the ‘Four F’s,’ that are the guiding principles of my life: family, faith, football and philanthropy, phonetically speaking that is,” he said. “I can’t tell you how much this means to me.”
Speaking emotionally of his father, Kraft said, “My father Harry, of blessed memory, was the greatest man I have ever known. I believe he is smiling today, watching his son deliver this address at Yeshiva, [which] would be far more rewarding to him…than all our Superbowl success combined,”
Kraft explained that his father was “a deeply religious man” and recalled how he would accompany his father to Shabbat services each week growing up. “After services we would study the parsha [weekly bible portion] together with Chumash, Rashi and even Onkelos,” he said, referencing popular biblical commentaries. “We would go home and have a traditional Shabbat lunch. We would go back to shul for mincha and maariv [prayers] and there we would study Pirkei Avot [Ethics of the Fathers].” When his father would lead services in prayer, he said, “the place was always packed. It was standing room only. Eight hundred to 1,000 people were drawn to daven [pray] with him.”
The successful Jewish businessman and philanthropist said that since he was a little boy, “I’ve spent the rest of my life trying to perpetuate his legacy and shem-tov [good name]. I’ve tried to live my personal and professional life according to the book of Pirkei Avot, which I constantly studied with my father.”
However, the most “enduring lesson” of all — which Kraft said he learned while watching his father run his business and help those less fortunate — was that “a life of Jewish values should create a mensch, somebody committed to the highest ethical standards. To him, this commitment was priceless and infinitely more important than material wealth.”
Watch Kraft’s full address below: