Monday, February 02, 2009

Steelers Diaspora: Tel Aviv

I collected a bunch of articles about the Steelers Diaspora and the Super Bowl experience, but I decided not to post all of them. However, I can't resist sharing this tale from Israel:

Ashley Kushner and Ben Orbach were introduced to each other by a mutual friend at the State Department and married last June in Seven Springs. They were introduced because each had Super Bowl tickets.

Each is fluent in Hebrew and Arabic. Each works toward peace in the Middle East. And each makes Pittsburgh proud.

Ben said, "We're having a Super Bowl party at our apartment in Tel Aviv. We invited about 25 American, Israeli and Palestinian friends, but to be honest, I'm not sure how many people will end up coming. The thing is, the game starts at a little past 1 a.m. here and probably won't finish until after 5. So, if you aren't a die-hard fan or you really don't even understand American football, it might not be the biggest draw on a work night. We'll have the terrible towels out, though, and we'll be cheering on the team."

"Cheering on the Steelers from overseas makes you feel closer to home," Ashley said.

"Every Monday, I try to squeeze the Steelers into my work meetings,” Ben said. “ That might be ok if I worked in the Athlete's Foot at Monroeville Mall. But I work in the West Bank, with Palestinians, in villages. No one has ever asked me about why Jerome Bettis was nicknamed "the Bus" or when the lob to Weegie Thompson ever actually worked. Usually, the best I can do on this front is when I'm asked where I'm from; I always answer (in Arabic) "Pittsburgh -- we have the best American football team in the country, the Steelers." People nod sagely, sometimes confused. Other times they smile at the mention of football. Palestinians love soccer."

Ashley and Ben are not unusual. Pittsburghers, who live all over Israel, are having Super Bowl parties. Varda Epstein, a graduate of Hillel Academy, is Myron Cope's niece. Now living in Efrat, she will be taking her terrible towel to a Super Bowl party at one in the morning. It will be too late to bring along her 12 children and six grandchildren.

"My family has season tickets and I grew up going to Steeler games,” Ashley said. “I have a lot of great memories sitting at the game with my Dad drinking hot chocolate from our big silver thermos while listening to Myron Cope on our little transistor radio. The best, though, was going to Detroit in 2006 with my Dad, brothers, and other Pittsburgh friends."

1 comment:

Ben said...

Thanks, Jim. We invited more than 100 people to that party, but only three showed up! 1AM start time on a school night isn't the biggest draw if you are not a Steeler fan! Who cares, though? What a great win.