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Stoudemire’s Hebrew school? Distilling a New York rumor

Cameron Smith
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The New York Daily News gossip pages are a great place for any number of things. In particular, Frank Digiacomo's "Gatecrasher" feature is a great place to find out who Bryant Gumbel is having breakfast with, why actress Ellen Barkin has a Twitter potty mouth, where actress Blake Lively is looking at new condos and, of course, why Amar'e Stoudemire is planning on opening a Hebrew school.

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Knicks forward Amar'e Stoudemire

Knicks forward Amar'e Stoudemire

Wait, what?

Incredibly, that tidbit really did land in the Gatecrasher columnette on Monday, citing one of those classic New York blind "sources" in claiming Stoudemire has seriously discussed opening a school which would focus on teaching the Hebrew language and Jewish history. That's right, Stoudemire wants to open a Hebrew school, and developing a prep basketball program isn't even his primary motivation.

If the idea of the 29-year-old Knicks power forward starting a Hebrew school seems like a strange concept to you, don't worry, you're not alone. Yes, Stoudemire has reportedly shown genuine interest in Judaism and Jewish customs since learning that his mother's family included Jewish members.

Just how Jewish Stoudemire's heritage is has never been divulged, but the hoops star was moved enough by the revelation of his mother's Jewish connection that he traveled to Israel during the 2010 offseason, learned a handful of Hebrew words and had a star of David inked on his left hand (an ironic development, considering the fact that Judaism in its purest form prohibits tattoos altogether). More recently, Stoudemire told Bon Appetit magazine that he instructs his personal chef to cook him Kosher meals, though he occasionally still eats seafood and mixed dishes on occasions.

Still, does that interest in Jewish culture really mean that Stoudemire is a likely fit as the benefactor and figurehead behind a new Hebrew school in New York? Manhattan alone already hosts at least five different Jewish schools. No one would try to dissuade any athlete from pumping money into education, regardless of where and what he or she decides to invest.

Naturally, that doesn't mean it will necessarily happen, as even the Daily News' source made clear. Still, the mere mention of a potential Hebrew school basketball program being run out of a school started by Amare' Stoudemire is a pretty incredible notion considering the fact that nobody even knew that Stoudemire was remotely interested in Israel or any aspects of the Jewish faith as recently as 16 months ago.

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