There has been plenty of speculation about basketball player Amar’e Stoudemire’s next career move. The former NBA star played for Hapoel Jerusalem last season, but he bowed out of returning this year and has ostensibly retired from the sport.I’m not sure anyone imagined that his next role would be college professor. But Stoudemire, 35, is a man of many interests, who likes to surprise. And now students around the globe can take an online course hosted by Stoudemire on “The Lost Tribes of Israel.”The former basketball player announced the launch of the course on Instagram earlier this week, “on my favorite and today’s most relevant topic, the ‘Lost Tribes of Israel’ – understand what’s about to happen when hundreds of millions of people across the globe lock arms and unite.”According to the course’s website, Stoudemire’s STAT Academy is accredited by the National College Credit Recommendation Services. The 10-course class, therefore, can get you three college credits at participating institutes of higher learning – for $300. Eager students who are merely interested in what Stoudemire has to offer can register for free.
“Israel was a nation of 12 tribes,” Stoudemire pronounces in the promo video for the course. “Until foreign invasions drove the tribes of Israel into exile. These tribes became known as the lost tribes of Israel. Ethiopia, India, Afghanistan, Japan – the lost tribes have left their footprints all across the globe, where they’ve lived in exile... until now.”The course is administered by the colorful Rabbi Harry Rozenberg, who co-founded the New York-based Lost Tribes beer company in 2012, and has lectured and taught on this topic in the past. Each of the 10 classes includes readings, embedded videos from a variety of sources and quiz questions that are required to advance. There are also links to further readings, including Wikipedia pages. In an introductory video, Rozenberg said, “Amar’e and I have been studying Torah for many years right now. Most people know Amar’e for being an excellent basketball player, but I know him to be an excellent high-level scholar. This gave birth to STAT Academy.”The institute got its name from Stoudemire’s nickname, STAT, which stands for “standing tall and talented.”The athlete, who retains a part ownership of Hapoel Jerusalem, has often spoken of his heritage and roots. In a 2016 interview with The Jerusalem Post, Stoudemire said that “Jerusalem is probably my favorite city in the world, because of its history.” Though his home base in now Miami, he was back in Israel for a visit last month.The first few classes in the course follow the biblical stories of the Jewish people, before moving into historical accounts of Jewish communities around the globe and speculation on their links, and their future.“Everyone always asks me, ‘Hey Amar’e, are you Jewish, you live in Israel now!” Stoudemire recounts in one video. “I’ll tell you one thing, I’m an Israelite from the ancient tribes of Israel, the biblical tribes of Israel.”