For the three champions, celebrating with their Jewish family was a natural choice and an opportunity to show their teammates, a few of whom they invited, what a supportive community they were part of.
“We wanted to show them how much love everyone gives to each other,” said Ariel. “Right now, at this moment, when there is so much anti-semitism, it’s nice to be proud of being Jewish” he added.
Around 75 students showed up for the dinner, and as they sat at a table strewn with shiny plastic medals and soccer-themed paperware, Rabbi Chaim and Rivkie Lipskier, the co-directors of Chabad at UCF, congratulated the players and applauded them for bringing Jewish pride to the field.
“It was important for other students to see how they’re at the top of their game, and yet they never shy away from being proud Jews,” said Rivkie.
After Shabbat, Chaim and Rivkie presented each of the three players with a hand-made mezuzah case inscribed with their names and the UCF logo as a visible reminder of their Jewish pride.