Israeli baseball fans have something new to look forward to after the World Series: Yankee pitching great Mariano Rivera is on his way for a visit. The Major League all-star has plans to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, but only after “the two holy seasons” — the baseball season and the High Holidays — have wrapped up.
Rivera is no stranger to going to temple — though his is Pentecostal rather than Jewish. The star relief pitcher and usual Yankees closer is being recognized by the New York Board of Rabbis as its Man of the Year, and has been awarded the trip for the extensive charity work he does in his native Panama through his church.
Let’s just hope that the torn ACL that kept Rivera, 43, out of all but nine games last season will not threaten his performance this year, or his ability to enjoy a 10-day guided tour of Israel with Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, executive vice president of the rabbinical organization.
According to the New York Post, Rivera has a hearty appetite and seems intent on bulking up for spring training. At a Super Bowl party and charity auction for North Avenue Church in New Rochelle, NY, over the weekend, the pitcher reportedly sat down to a private dinner with friends first, then ate a second meal during the official event.
“Mariano ate seared tuna with salad, then crab cakes and lobster tortilla,” a source said about the first meal. He later dined on “Caesar salad, meatballs, flank steak and molten chocolate lava cake.”
It’s a safe bet that Rivera will struggle to find crab cakes and lobster tortillas during his Israeli tour. But the philanthropic athlete should have no trouble eating his way through the country, and should take the opportunity to indulge in falafel and hummus better than anything he could find in New York.