Mikaela Shiffrin’s name has caused many fans to wonder if the skier may be Jewish. According to The New York Jewish Week, Shiffrin has distant ties to Judaism, but it not currently connected to the Jewish community. A U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association spokesman told Jewish Week Shiffrin had “some very distant heritage [but] is not connected to the Jewish community.” The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported Shiffrin’s name could have Jewish roots.
Shifre is a Yiddish female name that means beautiful, and Shiffrin — with the Slavic -in ending — means “ancestor of Shifre.
According to The Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Mikaela’s grandfather on her father Jeff Shiffrin’s side of the family was Jewish, but the faith was not passed down to the skier’s dad. While Shiffrin may not have strong Jewish ties, there are Olympic athletes who do. According to The Times of Israel, the country is sending its largest team ever to the 2018 Winter Olympics. Israel has 10 participants, which doubles their previous record of five athletes.
American Paige Connors missed qualification with an illness, but was able to compete on the Israeli ice skating team since her mother has Israeli citizenship. Former NHL hockey player Jonathon Blum, who is Jewish, is competing on the United States team. According to The Times of Israel, American ice skater Jason Brown and Canadian Dylan Moscovitch are two other Jewish athletes competing in the 2018 games.
A.J. Edelman is making history as Israel’s first ever Olympian to compete in skeleton. Edelman spoke about the importance of his faith in an interview with Forward.com.
I was playing hockey throughout my youth, and achieved a level of proficiency to the point where I played at MIT. One of the things that I realized while playing at a higher level was that very few other Jews — or people that identified proudly as Jews — were at that same level.
It was disappointing to think that many Jews thought of sports not as an outlet at which they could go far, but as a recreational thing to do with friends. Everyone knows the stereotype that Jews don’t do sports. We are overrepresented everywhere but in sports. So I really wanted to change that and if I moved forward, do something that had a major impact.
The biggest platform is the Olympic Games, and as a proud Zionist, there’s no greater honor than representing Israel at the Olympics.
While Edelman wants to perform well at his events, he noted to Forward that his biggest goal is proving Israel belongs at the Winter Olympics. Given its warm weather climate, Israel has not sent a lot of athletes to the Winter Olympics in years past.
There’s so much pride in representing Israel as a Jew, it’s hard to describe the feelings…My goal is to be the best ambassador of Israel that I can be, and to change the perception of Israelis as athletes.
I want to challenge the perception of what Jews and Israelis can do in sports, and I’m very excited to have the opportunity to do that.