How Texas A&M’s Beloved Jewish Wide Receiver Balances Faith and Football

Five-and-a-half-feet tall, weighing 160 pounds, and never having played the sport on a varsity team, Sam Salz in no way fits the mold of a college football player—especially at a NCAA football powerhouse like Texas A&M University. Even more unusually, Salz is an Orthodox Jew, who, because of the Sabbath, must sit out the majority of games. He was nonetheless able to convince the school’s coaches to let him on the team, having won them over with his enthusiasm and sense of commitment. Ari Wasserman writes:

Salz never hid his faith, proudly wearing his yarmulke and tzitzit, the head covering and the knotted fringes or tassels on the Jewish prayer shawl that serve as reminders of the 613 commandments in the Torah. But he was initially worried that the coaching staff wouldn’t be understanding of the time constraints of his religion and his need to eat only kosher food.

Texas A&M, though, accommodated Salz. He isn’t expected to participate in team activities on Jewish holidays. The first practice after he was invited onto the team fell on Yom Kippur, and he didn’t attend. The team nutritionist Tiffany Ilten makes sure Salz has access to kosher meals, which they get from a distributor in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. A microwave in the team facility reads “kosher food only.”

Added the former A&M wide receiver Ainias Smith, a fifth-round pick of the Eagles in the 2024 NFL draft: “We needed somebody like that on the team. Once people get here, it seems like everybody feels like they made it. His story motivates us to keep going.” Salz believes he is the only Orthodox Jewish player in college football. It’s not something that is tracked by the NCAA.

With so many ugly stories coming out about Jews’ experience on college campuses, it’s nice to have a good one.

Read more at The Athletic

More about: American Jewry, Football, Sports, University

Despite the Toll of War at Home and Rising Hostility Abroad, Investors Are Still Choosing Israel

When I first saw news that Google wasn’t going through with its acquisition of the tech startup Wiz, I was afraid hesitancy over its Israeli founders and close ties with the Jewish state might have something to do with it. I couldn’t have been more wrong: the deal is off not because of Google’s hesitancy, but because Wiz feared the FTC would slow down the process with uncertain results. The company is instead planning an initial public offering. In the wake of the CrowdStrike debacle, companies like Wiz have every reason to be optimistic, as Sophie Shulman explains:

For the Israeli cyber sector, CrowdStrike’s troubles are an opportunity. CrowdStrike is a major competitor to Palo Alto Networks, and both companies aim to provide comprehensive cyber defense platforms. The specific issue that caused the global Windows computer shutdown is related to their endpoint protection product, an area where they compete with Palo Alto’s Cortex products developed in Israel and the SentinelOne platform.

Friday’s drop in CrowdStrike shares reflects investor frustration and the expectation that potential customers will now turn to competitors, strengthening the position of Israeli companies. This situation may renew interest in smaller startups and local procurement in Israel, given how many institutions were affected by the CrowdStrike debacle.

Indeed, it seems that votes of confidence in Israeli technology are coming from many directions, despite the drop in the Tel Aviv stock exchange following the attack from Yemen, and despite the fact that some 46,000 Israeli businesses have closed their doors since October 7. Tel Aviv-based Cyabra, which creates software that identifies fake news, plans a $70 million IPO on Nasdaq. The American firm Applied Systems announced that it will be buying a different Israeli tech startup and opening a research-and-development center in Israel. And yet another cybersecurity startup, founded by veterans of the IDF’s elite 8200 unit, came on the scene with $33 million in funding. And those are the stories from this week alone.

But it’s not only the high-tech sector that’s attracting foreign investment. The UK-based firm Energean plans to put approximately $1.2 billion into developing a so-far untapped natural-gas field in Israel’s coastal waters. Money speaks much louder than words, and it seems Western businesses don’t expect Israel to become a global pariah, or to collapse in the face of its enemies, anytime soon.

Read more at Calcalist

More about: cybersecurity, Israeli economy, Israeli gas, Israeli technology, Start-up nation