“You’re gonna let him hold that thing?” shouted Jeremy Kamlet over a plate of gefilte fish at Alan Veingrad, who had just handed the Rabbi his Super Bowl XXVII ring he won as an offensive lineman for the Dallas Cowboys.
Rabbi Yerachmeil Gorelik held the ring up to introduce Veingrad, who came from Fort Lauderdale, Fla. to speak to Jewish and non-Jewish students alike at Friday night’s Shabbat dinner in the Lory Student Center.
It was the first Jewish meal prepared in the kitchen of the Lory Student Center after Gorelik battled LSC Dining Services for months to kosher the kitchen.
The dinner happened after Joyce Durol, assistant director of LSC Dining Services, and Gorelik spent nearly two months hammering out the details that required a portion of the LSC kitchen to be cordoned off from Wednesday night because of a myriad of health and logistical issues.
Kamlet, a CSU graduate, said the night means a lot to the Jewish community in Fort Collins because they don’t see a lot of support from the area.
“You don’t hear a lot about the Jewish community except all the negative stuff about the Menorah,” he said, referring to a controversy sparked during the holidays about equal religious representation when northern Colorado’s Chabad, a national Jewish organization, tried to get Jewish symbols placed downtown alongside Christian decor.
Derek Boggs, a non-Jewish junior construction management major, attended the event to experience Jewish tradition and food.
“(I) thought it would be a good chance to walk around meet girls,” he said, jokingly. “There are a lot more girls here than there are at a lot ofparties. But really (I) wanted to experience the culture.”
Veingrad, the retired NFL star and former All American for East Texas State University, shared his life philosophy through a 10-inch beard.
About to graduate from high school in Miami, Fla., Veingrad knew that he would never get a college scholarship for football with his 5.3-second 40-yard dash. He brought his time to his mother one day, upset about the prospect of not being able to afford college. She grabbed a bottle of Wite Out and said, “What time do you need for the scholarship.”
“At least a 4.9,” he said.
So with a fake time on his application, Veingrad showed up to try out for then ETSU’s football team only to discover that his first tryout would be the 40-yard dash. So at the starting line he waited until the coach turned the other way and took a giant step over the line.
“So I got a full college scholarship to East Texas State University by running a 4.9-second 39-yard dash,” he said.
Admitted to ETSU, he went on to be featured in the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame as the only Jewish player on the football team and then to wear a Super Bowl XXVII victory ring. But after the Super Bowl, Veingrad had a spiritual transformation, and started following his faith more closely. He told students he realized that Jewish culture is focused on progression and improving one’s relationship with God.
“(In college) on a Friday night, if I wasn’t at a football game, I was probably at a party, having some drinks,” Veingrad said. “And there’s nothing wrong with that.” Now Veingrad travels the country giving spiritual pep talks to college students, reminding them of the Jewish commitment to God and community.
“It’s all about Jews helping Jews,” he said.
News Editor Aaron Hedge can be reached at email@example.com.