Weekly Kibbitz: Joel Embiid Goes Viral; Joc Pederson to Play for Team Israel

Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers (Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images via JTA.org)

By Gabe Friedman

NBA star Joel Embiid is an enormous man — around 7 feet tall and 280 pounds, to give an idea. But that didn’t stop him from joining in a hora dance and getting lifted in a chair at a Jewish friend’s recent wedding.

Embiid went viral over the weekend as videos of the Philadelphia 76ers center joining in the Jewish nuptial fun — with a huge smile, to boot — circulated around social media.

The wedding took place in Napa, California, for Michael Ratner — a filmmaker who made a documentary about Embiid’s life, from his native Cameroon to the University of Kansas — and Lauren Rothberg, the head of brand for Rhode, Hailey Bieber’s new skincare line.

Both Ratner and Rothberg shared videos of Embiid in the action on their Instagram accounts, the New York Post reported. In one, he is seen joining in the hora circle; in others, he is shown holding a woman on a chair at the center of the circle. (Both parts of the folk dance are common tradition at Jewish weddings.)

Embiid, a five-time All-Star by the age of 28 known for his sense of humor, is also close with Sixers owner, Josh Harris, who is Jewish.

By Jacob Gurvis
The San Francisco Giants All-Star outfielder Joc Pederson will officially rejoin Team Israel for the 2023 World Baseball Classic.
Team Israel’s new manager, former major league All-Star Ian Kinsler, confirmed the news.
At a press conference in Israel, Kinsler added that Pederson will help with player recruitment.
“We have been in contact with all of the available players, and Joc is going to talk to them as well,” Kinsler said, according to The Jerusalem Post.
Any player who is eligible for Israeli citizenship is allowed to participate. In past years, the team has been composed mostly of American Jewish ballplayers and a handful of Israelis.
That means players such as Atlanta Braves ace Max Fried, Baltimore Orioles Israeli-American pitcher Dean Kremer (who played for Israel in the 2017 WBC) and other Jewish MLB players are eligible. New York Yankees draftee Eric Reyzelman has also expressed interest in playing for Team Israel.
Pederson, who has a Jewish mother, played for the Israeli squad during the qualifiers for the 2013 WBC. The team lost a winner-take-all game in extra innings and failed to enter the main tournament.
A decade later, Pederson will return, no longer the youngest player on the team, but rather one of the sport’s most established Jewish players. Now with the San Francisco Giants, Pederson has clubbed 17 home runs and tallied 43 runs batted in over the first half of this season, earning the two-time World Series champion a starting spot for the National League in Tuesday’s All-Star game.
Team Israel enjoyed a Cinderella run in the 2017 WBC, defeating several highly-ranked teams and putting the country’s baseball program on the map. The squad came up empty in the 2020 Olympics, but it is automatically qualified for the 2023 WBC.
Israel will be part of Pool D, which plays in Miami from March 11-15 and includes Puerto Rico, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic and a to-be-determined team that advances from this fall’s qualifiers.


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