You could have easily missed this, but there was somewhat of a Kiddush Hashem on the football (soccer) field. Maccabi Tel Aviv, last year’s Israeli champions faced the English league winners Chelsea in London in a Champions League match.
What happened next was quite extraordinary.
See here the description from Rabbi Dov Lipman:
“I was excited to see an Israeli team playing in the Champions League for the first time in many years but was even more intrigued to see an Israeli team on the field in London with a few thousand Maccabi fans waving Israel flags sitting in the same stadium with England’s famed soccer fanatics.
I was not in any way prepared for what transpired seconds before the match began. The camera feed was not especially geared for Israeli consumption but was, rather, the primary feed provided by the football association. It zoomed in on Maccabi’s star player Eran Zahavi who placed his left hand on top of his head, his right hand over his eyes, and very clearly recited the “Shema” prayer.
That’s right. Standing at midfield in front of 26,000 British fans, 4,000 Maccabi fans, and hundreds of thousands more on television, the best Israeli player on the field said “Hear oh Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One.”
It shook me to the core and reminded me, once again, that despite the divisions that exist between the religious and secular populations in Israel, there is so much that unites us.”
Watch the amazing scene below: