Right now, I’m sitting on my balcony in the city of Ashkelon, a year after fighting for and receiving Israeli citizenship, appreciative of the opportunity to live out my lifelong dream.
I recently landed back in the Holy Land, and it feels good to be back home and practicing with my new basketball team Elizur Ashkelon. We’re working towards two goals this year: winning the championship and moving to Israel’s top basketball divisions, the Premier League.
Personally, I feel this is a very big year for me, both on and off the court. On the court, my personal goal is to help lead my team to a championship. This would mean the world to me; it’s an opportunity that less than one percent of the world gets to achieve, and I have a strong belief I can do it.
But I hope it will be a big year for me off the court, too. Fighting for my Israeli citizenship — along with my basketball career — have earned me a lot of press, which has turned out to be a great platform for combating antisemitism and racism.
September 12, 2023 11:17 am
This past summer, I started a non-profit and hosted a one-day basketball skills clinic in Philadelphia called JAB Camp. JAB represents many things in my life right now. It stems from my initials, Jared Armstrong Basketball. Jab is also the name of a basketball move, where an offensive player challenges a defender.
Unfortunately, as someone who is both African-American and Jewish, I’ve seen both of these communities take a jab, recently.
We’re at a critical time in society where both communities need to come together. That’s why creating JAB was important and timely to me. The clinic brought together African-American and Jewish youth through the game of basketball, with the aim of teaching kids the importance of hard work, teamwork, and unity through diversity.
Sometimes fun is the best way to educate our youth on the importance of diversity. JAB was a success and heavily covered by the media, including ABC, CBS, The Jerusalem Post, JTA, Times of Israel, and others.
My goal is a big one — to make a nationwide impact by combating antisemitism and racism through sports. My program not only teaches basketball, but also offers components including: financial literacy, nutrition, and a course on antisemitism and racism. My nonprofit is new, and I hope to host a two-week basketball camp in Philadelphia in the summer 2024 to continue this work, and expand nationwide after that.
This is my Tikkum Olam. I am a firm believer that positive, self-affirming environments are necessary for youth to learn, which is what inspired me to make this camp happen. It’s a great opportunity for campers to create life-long friendships through sports regardless of religion and ethnic background.
So, the Hebrew year 5784 will be a full one for me. And I hope all of us can continue working to make a positive impact, and make this world a better place.
Jared Armstrong is a Jewish American professional basketball player, a business owner, and an active member of his community. You can reach Jared and find out more information about JAB Camps at www.jaredarmstrong.net