Jewish player from L.A. Lakers visits Israel, takes part in clinic

jerusalem | Los Angeles Lakers guard Jordan Farmar, the NBA’s only Jewish player, showed his dribbling, shooting and slam-dunking skills at a clinic in southern Israel on Aug. 5 for Jewish and Arab kids.

The 21-year-old Farmar is the guest of the Peres Center for Peace, founded by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shimon Peres, now Israel’s president, to encourage cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians.

Farmar is the first Jewish player in the NBA since Danny Schayes — son of Hall of Famer Dolph Schayes — retired in 1999.

“I’ve gotten a warm welcome from the whole country,” he told the Associated Press in a telephone interview during the clinic in Kiryat Gat, a desert town. “People seem to recognize me everywhere, and it’s been great.”

Farmar was a key member of a Lakers team that reached the NBA Finals in June, losing to the Boston Celtics. In only his second pro season, the Los Angeles native and UCLA standout backed up veteran point guard Derek Fisher.

According to, Farmar was born in 1986 in Los Angeles to Damon Farmar, a minor league baseball player and his Jewish wife Mindy. After the couple divorced in 1988, Jordan remained with his mother, who married an Israeli immigrant, Yehuda Kolani, who adopted Jordan.

Farmar visited Israel twice before with his family, but said this time has been different.

He said his heritage (his father is black) helped him relate to both the Jewish and Arab basketball hopefuls he met in Israel.

“When I go to the black neighborhoods, people relate to me, and when I go the Jewish neighborhood they relate to me, too,” he said.