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January 15, 2018 12:21 pm

New York Times Places Patriots’ Jewish Owner in Christian ‘Holy Trinity’

avatar by Ira Stoll

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A group of NFL Hall of Famers who visited Israel with Patriots owner Robert Kraft. Photo: New England Patriots Twitter page.

The New York Times is greeting the National Football League playoffs season with a column using blatantly Christian imagery to describe the Jewish owner of the New England Patriots, Robert Kraft.

“The thorough destruction of the Titans ended a week of turmoil for New England in the wake of an ESPN report that suggested there were rifts among the Patriots’ holy trinity — Belichick, quarterback Tom Brady and the owner Robert Kraft,” Times football columnist Bill Pennington wrote in an article that appeared on the front of the sports section of Monday’s Times.

In fact, the ESPN report did not use the phrase “holy trinity.” The clunker of a phrase did appear in a January 6, 2018 column by the Boston Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy, who used it to refer to Patriots quarterback Brady, head coach Bill Belichick, and owner Kraft.

As apt as the phrase might appear to reporters, columnists, editors, or newspaper owners from Christian backgrounds, it grates on at least this Jewish reader and writer, who doesn’t personally regard the Christian trinity — father, son, and holy spirit — as particularly holy. Jews believe in one god, not a three-part or triune God. It’s a pretty fundamental difference between Judaism and Christianity. If Christians want to worship or believe that way, fine, but contemporary Jews might prefer to be left out of it.

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There are plenty of other less-cringe-inducing metaphors that the Times could have used to talk about Brady, Kraft, and Belichick. It could have compared them to the musicians in a jazz trio, or to the components of the nuclear triad (air, land, and sea), or the three legs of a tripod.

Instead it awkwardly tries to shoehorn the three of them into this Christian framework. It’s especially weird because Kraft himself is a synagogue-going Jew and a prominent supporter of Jewish causes in Massachusetts, New York, Florida, and Israel.

The Times doesn’t say which of the three elements of the “holy trinity” — father, son, or holy spirit — is Kraft. I hesitate to hazard a guess. It is worth mentioning, too, that as recently as November the Times was praising another famous and successful Jew, Bob Dylan, for looking “like Jesus.” It’s almost as if the New York Times is telling us that the highest praise the newspaper can possibly imagine for an American Jew is to declare that he fits the Christian concept of God.

More of Ira Stoll’s media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here.

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