Jewish heritage bonanza: red-hot Warriors, Hanukkah, Casspi

Could the Golden State Warriors’ Jewish Heritage Night occur under more ideal circumstances than will occur this season? Highly unlikely.

The Dec. 22 game at the Oracle Arena will be on the seventh night of Hanukkah, so there will be a pregame menorah lighting; it’s against the Sacramento Kings, so fans will get to see Israeli Omri Casspi in action; and, oh by the way, the Warriors are one of the NBA’s top teams this season, with a league-best 18-2 record through early this week.

It’s no surprise that all 600 Jewish heritage tickets were snapped up, with only standing-room tickets remaining.

Israeli Omri Casspi is back with the Sacramento Kings. photo/wikipedia

“Demand is way, way high. Next year, we want to get it up to 1,000 tickets,” said Howard Sapper, an entertainment impresario, the executive director of the Marin-based nonprofit Everybody is a Star and one of the lead organizers of the event. “In the future, people need to buy bigger and buy earlier.”

The 10th annual Warriors Jewish heritage game will tip off at 7:30 p.m. in Oakland, and all heritage night ticket holders will receive a souvenir scarf. Inside the arena, the national anthem will be sung by a Jewish-led rock group from Los Angeles, the band Klezmania will play during breaks in the action and brisket sandwiches from Oakland Kosher Foods will be available for purchase.

But the lineup for a pregame party outside the arena — from 5:30 to 6:45 p.m. in the plaza between the arena and stadium — is equally impressive. The “mitzvah motorcycle” will be there, as will its owner, Rabbi Yosef Langer of Chabad of San Francisco, who will help lead a lighting of a 6-foot menorah.

The lighting is provided by the Bill Graham Menorah Project and the Norman Krug Family.

In addition, the pregame party will include music by Jewish hip-hop artist Kosha Dillz (who is flying in from New York just for this event, Sapper said),  Hanukkah-themed DJ music, and kosher latkes and sufganiyot from the Grand Bakery in Oakland.

“It’s an all-inclusive event for all Jews of all denominations,” Sapper said. “It’s an opportunity for the whole Jewish community to gather and celebrate Hanukkah and the Warriors, a real opportunity for Jewish pride.”

Some of the proceeds from ticket sales will go toward Everybody is a Star, a foundation that helps teens with special needs increase their self-esteem and confidence by recording music, making videos and performing in front of audiences.


This year’s giveaway item

“We are very grateful our kids are being supported by this,” Sapper said.

According to the Warriors, the biggest group of ticket buyers for this year’s game are congregations Beth Abraham (Oakland), Beth Torah (Fremont), Rodef Sholom (San Rafael), Emanu-El (San Francisco), Gan HaLev (West Marin) and Isaiah (Lafayette), along with Tehiyah Day School (El Cerrito), the Oshman Family JCC (Palo Alto) and Everybody is a Star.

The Warriors have won three straight Jewish heritage games, including a 28-point romp over the Utah Jazz last April, to boost their record to 6-3 in such games.

One of the wins in the series was 130-98 over Sacramento in 2010, when Casspi was a rookie with the Kings. The first Israeli to ever play in the NBA was subsequently traded in 2011, but he returned to the Kings before this season as a free agent. The 27-year-old, 6-foot-9 forward from Holon, Israel, is averaging 8.2 points and 3.4 rebounds per game, mostly coming off the bench; he did start twice last month in place of an injured teammate, scoring 22 points in one of those games.

Jewish Heritage Night tickets range from $45-$105 in different sections. For more information, visit, but the best bet for tickets at this point would be to contact Jewish groups that have already bought them.

Andy Altman-Ohr

Andy Altman-Ohr was J.’s managing editor and Hardly Strictly Bagels columnist until he retired in 2016 to travel and live abroad. He and his wife have a home base in Mexico, where he continues his dalliance with Jewish journalism.