Kraft Discusses Love for Israel, YU Honorary Doctorate

Robert Kraft, founder, chairman and CEO of The Kraft Group and owner of the New England Patriots, says it’s been a “thrill” to be able to expose groups, friends and players to Israel during an interview with Nachum Segal on “JM in the AM” radio program on Monday.

“It is one of the greatest days of their life being in the Holy Land,” Kraft said about the educational trips he’s been funding for students and players of his team. “It has been a thrill for me to be able to expose people that I like and respect to this wonderful part of the world.”

Last year June, Kraft brought nineteen Hall of Famers for a “Touchdown In Israel: Mission of Excellence” mission to Israel. Kraft said that the NFL players were moved by the life-changing experience. “To be frank, a number of them were a little scared because of the way it gets covered in the media,” he said. “I think the fact that I was going and not making a big deal out of anything, and now they are all going back and bringing their whole family, I am glad that I exposed them to something really special.”

Kraft, who is Jewish, will deliver the keynote address and receive an honorary doctorate at the Yeshiva University’s 85th commencement ceremony on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden in New York. “I am doing this, in large part, out of ‘derech eretz’ (respect) for my [late] father, Harry, who I think would’ve viewed me being the recipient of this wonderful ‘kavod’ (honor) that it would’ve been greater to him than winning a Super Bowl.,” he remarked.

In his interview with Segal, Kraft recalled his 2005 trip to Israel where he carried the Vince Lombardi Trophy to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s office in Jerusalem, the first time the trophy has ever been outside the United States.

He also discussed the events leading up to the moment of silence held for slain American teen Ezra Schwartz in November 2015 at the Gillette Stadium. “I didn’t know the Schwartz family until that happened and I read about it,” he said. “And then I found out that they are neighbors in Sharon, Massachusetts. We were all devastated because he was just a fine young man. I made a shiva call and I learned more about the family from the family. I didn’t realize he was as much of a Patriots fan.. And I said, you know, what’s going on around the world with Boko Haram, with ISIS, and even here in the U.S. – that to me he became the face of terror [victims] everywhere, but especially what has happened to our people.. He was such a mentch and he represented — all victims of terror from all nationalities, I think he became the face of it that moment.”

Listen to the full interview here

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