As per tradition during the early hours of the first Monday in February, several hundred die-hard American football fans congregated for Super Bowl LII at perhaps the unofficial US Embassy in Jerusalem – Mike’s Place – in the heart of the capital.
The upstairs and downstairs of the bar screened the big game on just enough TVs to give everyone in the packed venue a chance to fully engage in the contest that began at 1:30 in the morning. Both Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots fans were donning the jerseys of their respective teams, many enjoying cold beers and a pile of chicken wings.As the game and morning progressed, friendships were forming and the rival fans sat side-by-side in a show of true camaraderie, with the common bond of a love of football and of sharing this unique experience in Israel.Most of the spectators had a particular loyalty to one of the teams, but a sizable amount of people simply felt the desire to be a part of the unique experience of spending the early morning in the basement of a bar watching the Super Bowl surrounded by a ragtag group of insomniacs.Olim and tourists, as well as Israelis and yeshiva students, could be found glued to the screen.When halftime rolled around at around 3:30 in the morning, nearly everyone cleared out of the bar to congregate outside to enjoy friendly banter with their newly made friends.Derrick from Levittown, Pennsylvania – wearing an Eagles’ jersey and visiting his mother in Israel for a week – had very strong feelings towards his team: “They’re a bunch of great guys. They are pure players and Philly deserves this,” he told The Jerusalem Post during the break.The Patriots fans maintained a level of confidence, considering their team’s long history of winning, with Ofir from Boston telling the Post at the start of the second half that “The Pats are going to crush the Eagles.”Ofir – sitting with two other Patriots fans, Yitzchak and Rochel, at a corner table – noted that the three did not know each other before the game and that their mutual love of the Patriots and Israel was more than enough for them to share an intense early-morning sports moment together.The second half brought an increased amount of rowdiness and passion, and as the game progressed the Eagles fans became more vocal as it became apparent that Philadelphia would be the next Super Bowl champion.Banging on tables and chants of “Holy s***! Holy s***!” bellowed through the nearly packed downstairs section of the bar as the game clock ticked down to zero.And, as the game ended a little after 5:30 a.m. – with Philadelphia prevailing 41-33 – the Eagles fans cheered wildly, hugged their new friends and FaceTimed relatives back home.Patriots fans quietly climbed the stairs and returned home to grab some precious moments of sleep before embarking on what would surely be a weary day.
Eagles fans in Jerusalem scream in excitement after Super Bowl win, February 5, 2018. (Sarah Levi)