Edelman speaks about Judaism on 'Late Show with Stephen Colbert'

He began discussing his Christian upbringing, and then curtailed the discussion into his attempts to rekindle his Jewish heritage within himself over the past few years.

By JTA
July 7, 2019 04:39
2 minute read.
Julian Edelman at NFL: Super Bowl LIII-New England Patriots Press Conference

Julian Edelman at NFL: Super Bowl LIII-New England Patriots Press Conference. (photo credit: USA TODAY)

Julian Edelman joined Stephen Colbert on his late night talk show to talk about the New England Patriots star wide receiver's Showtime documentary called 100% Julian Edelman early last week.

For the uninitiated, Edelman is a member of three Super Bowl winning teams and is the only Jew ever named the big game’s MVP.

Raised Christian – only his paternal great-grandfather was Jewish – Edelman has strongly identified as a member of the Jewish community in recent years.

He voiced support for victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, and wore the hashtag #strongerthanhate on his cleats in a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers last December. He has visited Israel with Patriots owner Robert Kraft and pointed to his Jewish heritage on social media.

Edelman spoke about his Jewish heritage on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. He began discussing his Christian upbringing, and curtailed the discussion into his attempts to rekindle his Jewish heritage within himself over the past few years.

"I wasn't raised Jewish, I kind of went back and tried to see where my heritage and where my family was from – and I discovered Judaism probably [around] 14 or 15," Edelman said. "I Had to see where my grandfather came from, you know? I learned the stories of the Jews, the adversity they have always had to overcome, the underdogs that they were and it related to my story, my whole life up until that point and continuing – it connected with me a little bit, and I kind of like to practice it a little bit now." 



Colbert asked, "Do you think God makes choices on who wins football games?" Edelman replied, "I don't know," which Colbert quickly responded by saying, "He seems to like the Patriots."

Edelman replied by saying, "I mean, I always fast for Yom Kippur."

For much of the time Edelman appears on screen in the Showtime documentary, he wears a visible Star of David necklace, and the narrator refers to him at one point as a “short Jewish guy.” But the film doesn’t delve into Edelman’s Jewish identity.

100% Julian Edelman, which debuted last Friday at 9 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, instead focuses mostly on the potentially career-ending ACL tear Edelman suffered in 2017, his fight to return to the field and his subsequent suspension for a few games in 2018 for using performance-enhancing drugs.

It also offers a window into Edelman’s family life. His Svengali-like father, Frank, took him outside every day after coming home from work and forced Edelman to practice.

“He’d get so mad, and we’d fight,” Frank said. “It was abusive.”

Frank comes off as still a little too involved in his son’s story.

“We worked so hard to achieve, [coming back] from the ACL tear to our suspension,” he says.

We?

Curt Schleier contributed to this report.


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