Shalom Life | October 24, 2014

Mario Balotelli: The Jewish Hero of Euro 2012?

Italian star adopted by Jewish parents

By: Sammy Hudes

Published: June 29th, 2012 in Culture » Society » News

Mario Balotelli: The Jewish Hero of Euro 2012?

Mario Balotelli’s two goals on Thursday didn’t just propel his Italian squad past Germany and into the Euro 2012 finals to face Spain while setting off a wild celebration of Italian supporters, but his performance was also a source of nachas for the worldwide Jewish population.

For a religion that never shies away from acknowledging its own prominent celebrities, the Italian soccer hero and Manchester City striker is no doubt an unlikely, but now very much appreciated and welcomed member of the Tribe.

Balotelli, in fact, wasn’t born Jewish. He was born to Ghanaian immigrants in Sicily in 1990, and as an infant suffered from life-threatening health complications.

With his family unable to provide him with the proper medical assistance, he was put up for adoption at two years old and entrusted to Francesco and Silvia Balotelli, his Jewish foster parents.

The Balotellis were a white family who lived in a villa in a small village near Brescia, in northern Italy. At first, he stayed at the Balotellis during the week and returned to his family on weekends. He eventually grew closer to his foster family and took their surname.

Two days before the start of Euro 2012, he and his Italian teammates paid a visit to Auschwitz. There, Balotelli sat by himself on the train tracks and appeared more struck than anyone else on his team by the surroundings, according to journalists.

Throughout the tournament, Balotelli has coped with being the victim of racist abuse, as Italian neo-Nazis have spread hateful messages on the internet claiming he should not be allowed to play for Italy due to his background.

“Balotelli’s black and Jewish. He should play for Israel not Italy,” wrote a US-based website called Stormfront, run by white supremacists. The website was closed down in Italy by Jewish authorities following complaints regarding racist posts about the Italian striker.

Italy’s coach Cesare Prandelli called the racism “a social problem” rather than “an Italian problem.”

After Balotelli vowed to walk off the pitch prior to the tournament if he suffers racist chanting, Prandelli declared that “if Mario gets any problem, I will give him a big hug on the pitch.”

During the tearful visit to Auschwitz, Balotelli told his teammates about a box of letters that his Jewish adoptive mother, Silvia, kept underneath her bed.

On Thursday, he dedicated his two-goal match against Germany to Silvia.

“At the end of the game when I went to my mother, that was the best moment. I told her these goals were for her,” he said. “I waited a long time for this moment, especially as my mother is not young anymore and can’t travel far, so I had to make her happy when she came all the way here.”

Who Was Sarah Michelle Gellar's Favorite On-Screen Kiss With? Who Was Sarah Michelle Gellar's Favorite On-Screen Kiss With? TrendingMaya Rudolph and Sarah Silverman Star in Animated Alpaca Film About Economic Inequality Maya Rudolph and Sarah Silverman Star in Animated Alpaca Film About Economic Inequality TrendingLizzy Caplan to Join 'Now You See Me' Sequel Lizzy Caplan to Join 'Now You See Me' Sequel Trending
 

‘Fury’ A Blistering Account of World War II—Sans the Holocaust

October 24, 2014 | By Jason Stack, JNS.org
‘Fury’ A Blistering Account of World War II—Sans the Holocaust

The Brad Pitt and Shia LaBeouf-starring film essentially omits the brunt of the Holocaust from World War II

Read More

Israeli Company Shows that Energy Does in Fact Grow on Trees

October 24, 2014 | By NoCamels Team
Israeli Company Shows that Energy Does in Fact Grow on Trees

The eTree is a solar-powered urban habitat that is constructed from metal pipes and topped with solar panels

Read More

For the First Time Ever, Women of the Wall Hold Torah Reading at the Kotel

October 24, 2014 | By Kobi Nachshoni
For the First Time Ever, Women of the Wall Hold Torah Reading at the Kotel

Western Wall rabbi says "This will never happen again" after the group managed to smuggle a tiny scroll into the women's section of the Western Wall

Read More

Startup Club: Hello Doctor

October 23, 2014 | By Caitlin Marceau
Startup Club: Hello Doctor

The revolutionary new app that allows patients to download their medical records has just received funding from companies that include Facebook and and Google

Read More

Breakthrough Jew - Nic Sheff

October 23, 2014 | By Sara Torvik
Breakthrough Jew - Nic Sheff

Sheff is a best-selling author who uses his experiences as an addict to help others struggling with similar battles.

Read More

Who Was Sarah Michelle Gellar's Favorite On-Screen Kiss With?

October 23, 2014 | By Ashley Ramnarain
Who Was Sarah Michelle Gellar's Favorite On-Screen Kiss With?

Hint: It's not her husband, Freddie Prinze Jr.

Read More

Paula Abdul Wants You To "Check Yourself" During Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October 23, 2014 | By Ashley Ramnarain
Paula Abdul Wants You To "Check Yourself" During Breast Cancer Awareness Month

The former 'American Idol' judge has joined forces with Avon for a new campaign.

Read More

Is This a Halloween Costume or Just James Franco?

October 23, 2014 | By Ashley Ramnarain
Is This a Halloween Costume or Just James Franco?

Seriously. We know Megan Fox is dressed up, but what is Franco doing?

Read More

More Headlines