Beitar Jerusalem, one of Israel’s most prestigious soccer clubs is launching the Beitar Jerusalem Soccer Academy in Miami, Florida and will become the first blue-and-white team to do so outside of the Holy Land. By expanding outside of Israel, Beitar Jerusalem will be able to provide a strong international outreach as it will cater to fans in South Florida, which is home to over 700,000 Jews including 100,000 Israelis.
In addition, the Beitar Jerusalem Soccer Academy will also observe the Sabbath and will not have any games or activities from sundown Friday night through Saturday evening, making them the only such institution to do so in the United States. This will also allow for Orthodox Jews to join the academy as it strives for inclusion to all within the Jewish community.
The idea behind the Beitar Jerusalem’s soccer academy in Florida was initiated by Daniel and Menajem Benchimol following the tragic death of their younger brother, a rising soccer player, Sholem Benchimol.
When Sholem was 17 years old he was struck by a vehicle while riding his bike through Miami. He was set to become the captain of Hillel High School and Palau FC and like many Orthodox Jews, Sholem was limited in his club playing time because he observed the Sabbath.
Sholem always proudly wore a Kipa with a smile on the field and in order for his family to keep his legacy alive by spreading his values and combining his passion for soccer and Judaism they started a non-profit called Sholem Corazon Valiente.
Beitar Jerusalem owner Moshe Hogeg was excited about the brand new project, “We are happy and excited to be part of such an important and large commemorative project. Beitar opens its gates and reaches as far as Miami, in order to convey our values and pride to diaspora Jews as well. This is a project that arouses great interest in Miami and will contribute to strengthening our connection to Jews and various populations overseas as well.”
The South Florida community hopes to benefit tremendously from The Beitar Jerusalem Soccer Academy beitarmiami.com and the yellow-and-black will be the first soccer academy to formally organize games and tournaments to avoid conflicts with the Sabbath. The soccer academy will be managed by brothers Menajem and Daniel Benchimol, Ivo Facianof and professional soccer player Steven Cohen who featured for Beitar Jerusalem in Israel this past decade.
“We chose to partner with Beitar because they are the only professional soccer team in the world that doesn’t play on Shabbat,” explained Daniel Benchimol. “Together we will create opportunities for kids to play sports and practice Judaism at the same time.”
Menajem Benchimol also expressed his feelings about partnering with Beitar Jerusalem and the desire to keep his brother Sholem’s dream alive, “It was one of our brother Sholem’s dream to play professional soccer while staying strong with his Jewish values. Now we will take that dream and make it more accessible to kids with similar goals. This will also create stronger ties between the greater Miami community and Israel as the academy will be open to everyone.”