Why Arsenal has a rabbi's son believing in Jesus

The Gunners' number 9 has prompted a theological debate in one rabbi's home

August 22, 2022 15:02

When my son Ben, now 11, was five years old and given the part of the inn-keeper in his primary school nativity I laughed at the other Jewish parent who was worried what influence this might have on their child’s religious identity. It was deemed that if the Rabbi’s son was in the show, it was probably ok for their son to be as well. 

Yet seven years later and this time my son’s religious identity is again going to be in the public eye. 

Since the £45M signing of Gabriel Jesus to Arsenal in July, a theological debate has raged in our home.   Can Ben have Jesus on the back of his new season’s shirt? 

Why couldn’t Arsenal have made my life easier by signing Victor Moses, Tammy Abraham, Jonathan David, or even Robert Lewandowski, who reminds me of wonderful liturgical music. 

Gabriel Jesus himself came up with the compromise, obviously feeling that his name on the back of a shirt borders on blasphemous and ensuring he always has G. Jesus on his back to make it clear he’s making no messianic protestations. 

Safeguarding against all possibilities I also threw in that he needed to avoid any comments about Jesus being the team’s saviour this season.

I thought I had covered everything, My son was thrilled when his auntie was allowed to buy his belated birthday present and I was happy (and relieved Jesus’ middle name isn’t David, the extra initial might have been a deal breaker).

As they kicked off at Bournemouth this weekend I realised those Arsenal fans were far more theologically aware than I gave them credit for.  "Mik(el) Arteta called him, said now's your time to shine. Cos I'm collecting Gabi's and Gunner make you mine. They say he walks on water and turns it into wine. Oh I believe in Jesus. The Arsenal number nine." 

Do I gag him? 

August 22, 2022 15:02

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