Thursday, November 21, 2019

Former Yankee All-Star Mariano Rivera receives Key to the City of New Rochelle. (Credit: Mayor’s Office, New Rochelle)

Mariano Rivera waving Israel’s flag. (Credit: Marc J Berger)

Declaring July 27, 2019, “Mariano Rivera Day” in the City of New Rochelle, Mayor Noam Bramson and City Manager Chuck Strome presented its favorite son with the key to the city. City leaders were joined on the steps of City Hall by Congressman Eliot Engel and other elected officials. A “Pinstripe Parade” through New Rochelle followed the mayor’s presentation. Six days earlier, the retired Yankee pitcher was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, after he became the first player ever to receive 100% of the selection vote.

“Mariano has been a selfless, generous contributor to our community and, beyond being a remarkable athlete, he is also a remarkable human being,” said Mayor Bramson.

“Not only is he a baseball Hall of Famer, but a ‘Hall of Famer’ in New Rochelle for his generosity and the service he continually provides to our community,” said City Manager Strome.

In accepting the honor, Rivera exclaimed, “There’s no place like home to celebrate my career and a community that has meant so much to me from my early Yankee days to this special moment. New Rochelle’s slogan is ‘Ideally Yours,’ which is only fitting because New Rochelle has always ideally been mine. To this day, New Rochelle is in my soul and it’s why you always see me around here. This is a special place for me and my family.”

In addition to his Hall of Fame induction, Rivera’s strong pro-Israel activism has recently been highlighted. He addressed almost 5,000 attendees at the 14th annual Washington Summit of Christians United for Israel (CUFI) in Washington, D.C. The Summit’s theme was “Why Israel?” The session explained why Christians must support the Jewish nation and people, using biblical quotes and historical data. It included a video message from Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu, who said, “I consider CUFI a vital part of Israel’s national security.” As the church’s band played a closing song, the baseball all-star spontaneously grabbed the Israeli flag, which permanently stands on the church’s stage, and began waving it excitedly in salute of Israel.

In 2013, the New York Board of Rabbis honored him as “Man of the Year.” That fall, Rivera made his first trip to Israel with Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, NYBR’s executive vice president.

Jason Bloch, of Scarsdale, said, “It means the world to me that Mariano is a huge supporter of Israel. He is one of my idols and favorite players. Not only did I love the way he played on the field, I love the way he acted off the field. He always cared about everyone and treated everyone with respect.”

Matt Shatzkes, of New Rochelle, added, “As fans, especially as kids, we look up to and admire the players we cheer for. In most instances, we disregard their political, social and other opinions on things that truly matter. When there is, however, an overlap of an athlete’s off-the-field views and your own, it leads to greater admiration and appreciation for the athlete as a person. For a longtime Yankees fan, there were few greater pleasures in sports than watching Mariano Rivera pitch. The records he broke and championships he helped secure live on in Yankee allure. While these things ‘matter’ as a fan, knowing that Mariano supports Israel, something that is so important to all of us in our community, has led to greater admiration for him as a person and someone I feel prouder to have rooted for all those years.”

By Judy Berger 

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