Ramy Youssef interviews Amar’e Stoudemire about Judaism and basketball

Amar’e Stoudemire, left, talked about his Jewish spirituality in an interview with Ramy Youssef. (Ed Zurga/BIG3/Getty Images; Jim Spellman/WireImage/Getty Images) 

Gabe Friedman

(JTA) — Former NBA All-Star Amar’e Stoudemire opened up about his Jewish spiritual practice in an interview with Ramy Youssef, the co-creator and star of Hulu’s “Ramy.”

Stoudemire, who played for the Phoenix Suns and New York Knicks, among others, has long identified with the African Hebrew Israelite movement, and said in 2018 that he was converting to Judaism. He’s a part owner of the Israeli basketball team Hapoel Jerusalem and now plays for Maccabi Tel Aviv.

Youssef’s show portrays a millennial Muslim character trying to reconcile his religious observance with the modern world in a way that has resonated with many Jewish viewers. The first season of the show also included several Jewish characters and themes.

The interview is part of a magazine published by A24, the film and TV company that produces “Ramy.” Youssef guest edited the latest edition, which is called “Keeping the Faith.”

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Here are some of the highlights from their chat:

* Stoudemire says he wears tzitzit, the traditional fringed prayer shawl worn by Orthodox Jews, every day.

* Stoudemire, who was originally slated to appear in the movie “Uncut Gems” (instead of Kevin Garnett), refused to shave his head for the role because he was in the middle of a year-and-a-half-long “Nazarite vow.”

“You can’t shave your head until [you have] your hair locks. You can’t drink from the vine, you can’t have any wine or whiskey, no ketchup, no vinegar,” he said.

* Stoudemire attempts to pray three times every day, in the Orthodox tradition.

* Youssef has a funny story involving his Jewish agents:

There’s this story in Islam about that brotherhood. When the prophet Muhammad was speaking with God, he was also speaking with Moses. He spoke with God about Muslims doing 50 prayers a day, and then the Prophet Muhammad speaks to the prophet Moses, and Moses is like, dude, you should go back and try and get a lower number. It’s going to be hard for your people to do that many a day. [laughs] So I always say this to my Jewish agents, I’m like, you guys have been negotiating with us forever. It’s really interesting to see the way the stories influence each other, though.

Read the full interview here.