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Wednesday, January 19, 2022
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A couple of weeks back I had the privilege of attending an extraordinary “paint-signing” ceremony at my sister, Libby Klein’s art gallery in Lakewood, New Jersey. The painting was commissioned by former NBA superstar Amar’e Stoudemire for his new residence in Downtown Brooklyn. Stoudemire has recently moved back to Brooklyn, at the request of his former co-star Steve Nash, to join the Nets coaching staff.

I had of course heard about how Stoudemire, former power-forward for the New York Knicks and six-time NBA All-Star, had culminated his decade-long obsession with Judaism and Israel (including purchasing a controlling ownership in the Hapoel Jerusalem team) with a halachic conversion in B’nei Brak this past summer. However, seeing him in person was still an interesting experience: The large kippah and dangling tzitzis were a stark contrast to his towering 6’ 10” physique.

Amar’e—who now likes to go by his Jewish name, Yehoshafat—had reached out to Libby to create a painting that would depict the diversity, inclusion and unity he is experiencing, as well as influence in the Jewish world. Libby crafted a beautiful painting and even brought Amar’e into the process by asking him to complete the painting along with her, a feature she offers to her clients as a way to make the painting a “part of yourself.” The final masterpiece was a scene of a synagogue filled with tallis-clad men during the Megilla reading on Purim. Towering all the way in the back of the synagogue is a tall, dark figure. “That’s me, Yehoshafat,” Amar’e said. “I like standing in the back so I don’t block anyone’s view.”

Libby Klein, originally from Jerusalem, currently resides in Lakewood, where she also has her gallery. She can be contacted at: [email protected]


 

Zvi Lamm is a resident of Teaneck and works as a software engineer in the financial services industry.

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