CONTRIBUTED BY AU ATHLETICS
Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl was recently named one of the Top 100 people positively influencing Jewish Life this past year by The Algemeiner, a newspaper based in New York City that covers American and international Jewish and Israel-related news.
Pearl was recognized on the ninth annual “J100” list of the top 100 individuals who have “the most positive impact on Jewish life and Israel — men and women, Jew or non-Jew, who have lifted the quality of Jewish life (in 2022).”
Some individuals were honored for personal contributions, others for their work at the organizations or nations they lead as well as positively contributing and helping shape the Jewish future.
Pearl and Charles Barkley, who starred at Auburn from 1981-84 and is an 11-time NBA All-Star and current television analyst on TNT, were among the list of honorees which also included musician Barry Manilow, actor Ben Foster, influencer Kim Kardashian, film maker Tyler Perry, NBA player Enes Kanter Freedom, U.S. President Joe Biden, Ukraine President Volodymr Zelenaskyy and Prime Minister-Elect of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu.
Originally from the Boston area, Pearl carries the Hebrew name “Mordechai,” in honor of the uncle of Queen Esther from the story of Purim. During the NCAA Tournament in March 2022, Pearl invoked the survival of the Jewish people in Persia — which is celebrated on Purim — to back a fellow college coach’s (Stanford women’s basketball head coach Tara VanDerveer) call for donations to Ukraine each time a team scored a 3-pointer.
“We say, ‘never again,’” Pearl said in a NCAA Tournament press conference. “I was born in 1960, 15 years after they opened up the gates, and they saw 6 million Jews were murdered and 3 million more people … so I’m all in to help the Ukrainian people survive that.”
Pearl also took his team on a 10-day preseason foreign tour to Israel in August, where the Tigers toured Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, among other historical sites.