Robert Kraft’s Super Bowl ad to combat antisemitism and Jewish background

CEO of the New England Patriots Robert Kraft attends the Super Bowl LIII Pregame at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on February 3, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Robert Kraft’s Foundation to Combat Antisemitism bought a 30-second ad that aired during the Super Bowl (watch it below). Throughout his career, Kraft has been a strong advocate against antisemitism, launching a campaign called “Stand up to Jewish Hate.” This raises the question: is Robert Kraft Jewish?

Kraft is in fact Jewish and has dedicated a great deal of his philanthropic career to supporting Jewish and Israeli causes. Let’s unpack his Jewish background. 

The basics

Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots celebrates with owner Robert Kraft after winning the AFC Championship Game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Gillette Stadium on January 21, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Kraft was born June 5, 1941, and raised in a Modern Orthodox household in Brookline Massachusetts. His father, Henry Kraft, worked as a dress manufacturer in Chinatown. His mother, Sara Bryna, and father were leaders at their local synagogue and reportedly wanted Kraft to become a rabbi. 

Kraft has been a key figure in the NFL, turning the Patriots into one of the league’s premiere franchises. Kraft was “a lifelong football fan and 23-year New England Patriots season ticket holder before buying the team,” according to the Patriots website. He also owns the New England Revolution, a Major League Soccer club.

Kraft attended Brookline High School, a public school, and attended Hebrew school weekly.

Even though Kraft was an avid athlete in high school, he did not participate in most sports because the games and practices were often held on Shabbat and his family was Orthodox. However, he went on to play football and tennis at Columbia University.

Kraft recalled his upbringing fondly in a 1993 interview with The Boston Globe: “I was blessed to have a strongly spiritual and loving family, and a lot of kids aren’t blessed with that. That gave me an edge starting out in the world way beyond what anyone can hope for. Money can’t buy it, nothing can buy that sense of family love, and also discipline.”

Kraft’s philanthropy focuses on combating antisemitism

Amid the surge in antisemitism in recent years, Kraft has focused on combating anti-Jewish hate. He founded the Foundation to Combat Antisemitism in 2019 in response to several incidents, including the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, and the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting in 2018.

In October 2022, in response to Kanye West and Kyrie Irving’s antisemitic comments, the foundation bought an ad titled, “Stand Up to Jewish Hate,” which aired during NFL games. 

In March 2023, the foundation launched a dedicated campaign to raise awareness about online antisemitism. Here’s a video they posted after Oct. 7:

The #bluesquare movement to fight antisemitism

Kraft’s foundation launched the #bluesquare movement on social media and in person to raise awareness about and combat antisemitism. 

The blue square — which is featured in Kraft’s football commercials — signifies a person’s stance against antisemitism and solidarity with Jews in the battle against hate crimes and hateful rhetoric. 

In the commercials, a small blue square representing the percentage of the U.S. Jewish population grows larger to reflect the disproportionate number of religious hate crimes…Blue squares either tacked onto lapels or on social media have become a prevalent symbol of fighting antisemitism,” The Wall Street Journal reported.

Kraft has visited Israel many times

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft greets players at the Kraft Family Stadium in Jerusalem, March 11, 2011. Governor Deval Patrick visited the stadium and made the ceremonial coin toss. (Photo by Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Israel has long been a part of Kraft’s life, and he said he has visited the country over 100 times. In a 2022 interview with The Times of Israel, he recalled, “My first visit to Israel was on my honeymoon in 1963, and I fell in love with it.”

“I’ve been taking people on mission trips to the Holy Land to share its spirituality and splendor ever since. I have sponsored more than 100 mission trips, giving first-time visitors a cultural and spiritual experience of a lifetime,” the sports executive added 

Kraft has also shared his passion for Israel with the NFL and has regularly taken Patriot players and football Hall of Famers, including Tom Brady, on trips to the Jewish state.

“I have brought many different entertainers here, different missions of Christian people and athletes. Primarily, I wanted them to come and experience the country in a way that Israel doesn’t always get portrayed in the media,” Kraft explained to The Jerusalem Post.

In an effort to promote athletics, bring Israelis of various backgrounds together, and improve the quality of life in Israel, Kraft contributed $6 million to build the country’s first American football stadium.

Kraft supports Jewish life and interfaith dialogue on college campuses

Another key focus of his philanthropy is supporting Jewish life on college campuses. His family foundation created the Kraft Center at Columbia and Barnard, home to the Hillel and all aspects of Jewish life for the two universities.

His foundation also supports an academic position at Brandeis University that is dedicated “to foster[ing] interfaith relations and dialogue.”

“As I’ve grown older, the ability to impact my community… has become more important to me,” Kraft explained to The Jerusalem Post. “Now, when I wake up each morning, my focus has moved from what it’s going to do with my businesses to how I can use the platform and resources available to me to fight the inequities and injustices I see in the world.”

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