Rabbis asked to take down Jewish pride signs at Utah Jazz game
Jan 2, 2024, 11:46 PM | Updated: Jan 3, 2024, 10:44 am
SALT LAKE CITY — In a surprising turn of events during Monday night’s Utah Jazz game against the Dallas Mavericks, a group of Utah Jazz fans found themselves at the center of controversy after being asked to take down signs that read “I’m a Jew and I’m proud.”
Rabbi Avremi Zippel, one of the four rabbis holding the signs, shared his experience with KSL TV, “I’m just holding the sign up in my lap, seated, and as he dribbled the ball up the floor as he jogged past, he called over his shoulder, ‘don’t need to bring a sign like that to a game.'”
The signs were a response to a documentary released in 2022 in which Mavericks player Kyrie Irving made antisemitic remarks. The group of fans wanted to make a statement, expressing pride in their Jewish identity.
Shortly after displaying the signs, the arena staff approached the group during a timeout. According to Zippel, arena security asked to see their tickets and informed them that they couldn’t have the signage up at the game. The explanations for this decision varied, with one claiming that signs weren’t allowed courtside, and later, another member of the Jazz organization confirming that the request to take down the signs came from the Mavericks’ team security.
The Utah Jazz responded to the incident with a statement, explaining that its code of conduct aims to maintain an environment without distractions and disruptions. They clarified that the issue was not with the content of the signs but with the disruptive interaction they caused.
Zippel was disappointed in the team’s response, saying, “We did not engage with Kyrie (Irving); we didn’t yell at him. We didn’t call him out. He looked at our sign. And he commented on it. And the Jazz basically said, ‘No, if you have a sign that a player comments on, the player reserves the right anywhere you’re seated in the arena to have that sign taken down.'”
He says the incident is another lesson about the unintended consequences.
“In 2024, in a large American city, a Jew went to a sporting event with a sign that says, ‘I’m a Jew, and I’m proud,’ and was told, ‘I’m sorry, that’s got to come down.'”
Kyrie Irving issued an apology last year after the documentary aired.
Zippel, a lifelong Utah Jazz fan, expressed his disappointment with the team’s handling of the situation, maintaining his commitment to supporting the team despite the incident.