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October 10, 2016 8:15 am

Basketball Star Amar’e Stoudemire on Living in Israel: I Feel Like I Can Be Myself, Live Holy Life

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Amar’e Stoudemire studying Hebrew while in Israel. Photo: Instagram.

Former NBA all-star Amar’e Stoudemire raved about his new life in Israel in an interview with the New York Post on Sunday, a day after he made his home-court debut as Hapoel Jerusalem’s newest player.

The American pro, who moved with his family to Jerusalem after signing a two-year deal with the Israeli basketball team, told the Post, “I feel like I can be myself here in Israel. I don’t have to feel like an outcast because I want to live a holy life…I wanted to be in Jerusalem because it’s a holy place.”

The former New York Knicks forward added, “I love my new team, I love my new city. This is the most fun I’ve ever had in my career. Being in Israel is the ultimate new beginning. I feel like I’m a rookie all over again.”

Stoudemire, 33, lived with his wife and four children in South Florida before moving, along with his mother-in-law and their personal chef, to Israel. They now live in Jerusalem’s Talbiya neighborhood, close to the home of Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.

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The athlete told the Post that being in the Jewish state has allowed him to “disconnect from vanity” and stop worrying about trivial things in life, such as what other people are doing. Speaking of differences between Israel and the US, he noted that though his new home isn’t lacking in paparazzi and “celebrity culture,” it is “nothing like back in the States.” He also noted differences between basketball fans in the two countries.

“Fans here [in Israel]  are very intense,” he said. “They yell, they scream, they chant throughout the entire game — not just when we score, like in the US.”

As they adjust to life in Israel, Stoudemire and his wife participate in biweekly Hebrew lessons, the Post said. The couple has also visited biblical sites, such as Jericho and the Negev Desert, in an effort to familiarize themselves with Jewish history.

Stoudemire, the son of “Hebraic” parents, said his family mostly keeps kosher and gathers for weekly Sabbath meals. The former Miami Heat star celebrated Rosh Hashanah earlier this month and said he will fast this week for Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement that begins Tuesday night. He added that he and his wife “may even begin talking about a bat mitzvah” for their 11-year-old daughter, Ar’e.

Despite near daily terrorist attacks in the Jewish state, Stoudemire said, he feels safe. He explained, “People have this misconception of Israel as dangerous and I hope I can help change it.”

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