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Utah Jazz Statement on Sign Policy Following Rabbi Concerns about Arena Staff Treatment

Rabbi Avremi Zippel and three other rabbis held signs at a Utah Jazz game to express pride in being Jewish.

Rabbi Avremi Zippel, a devout Utah Jazz fan, recently attended a game with three other rabbis, not to cheer on the team, but to make a statement. They sat courtside, holding up signs proclaiming their pride in being Jewish, with the intention of ensuring that Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving would see them. Rabbi Zippel explained that their signs were not intended to provoke or disrespect Irving, but to express their pride and love for their faith. However, Irving was not pleased with the signs and made a comment about them. Arena staff then asked the rabbis to put the signs away, which Rabbi Zippel found both confusing and upsetting.

The Utah Jazz organization later issued a statement, explaining that the removal of the signs was due to the disruption they caused, rather than the content of the signs themselves. The team's code of conduct is in place to prevent distractions and disruptions during games, and they are required to remove any signs that interfere with the game, regardless of where they are located in the arena.

Rabbi Zippel and the other rabbis had intended to hold up the signs in front of Irving due to his history of making controversial statements about Judaism and the Holocaust. Over a year ago, Irving was suspended for sharing antisemitic material on social media and initially refusing to apologize or clarify his beliefs. Although he eventually issued an apology, he later deleted the post and criticized the media for labeling him as antisemitic. Rabbi Zippel expressed his disappointment with Irving's actions and felt that the signs' message of "I'm a Jew and I'm proud" was a fitting response to Irving's behavior.

Rabbi Zippel, a lifelong Jazz fan and season ticket holder, expressed his surprise and disappointment with the Jazz organization's response to the incident. He emphasized that the team has always been supportive of the Jewish community and has shown strong support for Israel in the past. However, he felt that the way the situation was handled was disappointing and not in line with his positive experiences with the team in the past. While he is not calling for the team to be "cancelled," he hopes for a better resolution to the situation.

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