(JTA) — British soccer icon David Beckham is known globally for his bevy of championships as well as the “bend” he could put on the ball during 20 seasons of play.
But on Sunday, approximately 600 people in a London synagogue saw him exhibit a different talent: saying “Hamotzi,” the Jewish blessing over bread.
That moment of Hebrew came during an interview Beckham gave at St John’s Wood Synagogue about his Jewish heritage as well as his career. According to accounts in British Jewish publications, the event was a fundraiser hosted by JW3, a Jewish community center, for a Jewish education fellowship. It cost nearly $100 a ticket and sold out in under an hour.
Beckham says his grandfather made sure he kept up with traditions
“I am part of the Jewish community and I am proud to say it,” said Beckham, whose grandfather was Jewish.
“My grandfather always made sure we would keep up with certain traditions,” he said. “We went to bar mitzvahs and weddings and I would wear a kippah. Every Saturday morning, I used to go to see my grandfather – you’d walk in the house to my grandmother preparing chicken soup and matzah balls and latkes. We always kept to those traditions; it was always about the family coming together and spending time together.”
Beckham was interviewed by television producer Ben Winston, son of the late Lira Winston, a Jewish nonprofit leader and educator for whom the fellowship is named.
Winston, a TV producer who is friends with Beckham — and with Harry Styles — remarked, ”I’ve never felt less good-looking on a stage.” (Beckham is also known as a model and the star of advertisements around the world.)
Winston also quizzed Beckham on his Jewish knowledge, reciting the first half of the “Hamotzi.” Beckham completed the blessing perfectly.
Beckham also spoke about the triumphs and regrets he had over the course of his two decades as a professional soccer player beginning in the early 1990s, much of which was spent with the powerhouse Manchester United club. Beckham also played for Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain, both also elite teams, as well as the L.A. Galaxy. He is regarded as one of the best players of his generation and as a cultural icon.View this post on Instagram
This is not the first time Beckham has spoken openly about his Jewish heritage. He has a Hebrew tattoo reading “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine,” a quotation from the Hebrew Bible’s “Song of Songs.” His wife Victoria Beckham, a fashion designer and former member of the Spice Girls, had a matching tattoo that she reportedly had removed in 2015.
In 2008, the couple sent their son Cruz to a Jewish preschool in Los Angeles. And in front of a JW3 audience in 2016, Beckham spoke about his grandfather, and how he was sad that only his oldest son, Brooklyn, had gotten to know him.
In 2022, Brooklyn married Jewish American heiress and actress Nicola Peltz in a Jewish ceremony, which included a huppah, the breaking of a glass and the signing of a ketubah, or Jewish marriage contract.