Magazine article Tablet Magazine

Hapoelim of the World, Unite!

Magazine article Tablet Magazine

Hapoelim of the World, Unite!

Article excerpt

In the seaside suburb of Tel Aviv where I grew up, there were few insults more devastating to a young man's pride than being called a fan of Hapoel. My friends and family all rooted for Maccabi Tel Aviv, Hapoel's chief rival. Maccabi is the soccer team of champions: With gold-and-azure jerseys, a Star of David for an emblem, and a name that evoked the proud warriors of Jewish antiquity, we had no doubt that the Maccabis were the ones to follow. Hapoel, by contrast, literally means "the worker"; add to that the red shirts and the socialist ties (check out its logo), and you have a young, zealous Zionist sports fan's worst nightmare.

But last week, as I heard of Hapoel Tel Aviv's advancement to the prestigious group stage of the UEFA Champions Leaguethe annual tournament that pits Europe's 32 greatest clubs against each otherI was delighted to discover that the silly prejudices of my youth have faded away. I was thrilled for Hapoel, and proud to see an Israeli soccer club enjoy such a sensational achievement. …

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