(photo courtesy of Reuters)
After his team defeated The Baltimore Ravens and while accepting the Lamar Hunt Trophy given to the winner of the American Football Conference (AFC), Robert Kraft kissed his finger, looked skyward and pointed to heaven.
Mr. Kraft is the owner of the New England Patriots football team and he was gesturing to his wife Myra Kraft, who died of cancer last July.
In fact, look closely and you may even notice, while watching this Sunday’s Super Bowl, donned on all of the Patriots’ uniforms are the initials MHK—a tribute to Mrs. Kraft.
Admittedly, amidst so many advertisements, team logos and league symbols, trying to find the MHK, can be just about as hard as locating the handful of Jewish NFL players. Though there are more than you might think (Antonio Garay Gabe Carimi, Kyle Kosier, to name a few!)
Interestingly too, while the Kraft name may conjure up images of pure Americana and mac & cheese, this surname has nothing to do with the famous fare. You see, these Krafts are Jewish. They belonged to Temple Emanuel in Newton, Massachusetts. Yet, while their home is in the Boston suburbs, their philanthropic generosity and commitment to tzedakah extends worldwide.
Indeed, the same man who helped end the NFL lockout last August, is also the same mensch who began the Passport to Israel Program with the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Boston. In fact Mr. Kraft has donated millions of dollars to start the Israel Football League and build Kraft Family Stadium in Jerusalem. His wife Myra also supported the Israeli Women’s National Flag Football Team and over the years they donated over $100 million to causes related to education, athletics, women’s issues and Israel.
But what’s more, their inspiration was contagious.
After his second quarter touchdown in the playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens, running back BenJarvis Green-Ellis, touched the MHK patch on his jersey and pointed upward to Mrs. Kraft. Afterwards he recounted, “She taught me about giving back to the community. Anytime I get a chance now, I want to go and give back to the children in this area and helping in the community.”
While millions around the world will be watching the Super Bowl on February 5th, few will realize that it’s largely due to the man perched up above in a private owners box and further above him, now deceased, his wife Myra.