Somehow, Jeff Horowitz, an Israeli Jewish basketball player from North Carolina is now living in Sweden and working for a global retailer of custom-tailored shirts. The Jewish Agency has helped Horowitz at every point of his journey, and recently – as a gesture of gratitude – Horowitz launched a promotional campaign, through NordicShirts, to support The Agency’s programs around the world.
In 2007, after finishing his NCAA basketball career at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, Horowitz made Aliyah through The Jewish Agency. He played basketball professionally for Hapoel Holon and Netanya, where he was successful enough to receive an offer to play for Uppsala in Sweden’s top basketball league. There, he met a young woman, now his wife, went back to Israel, played another season (this time for Kiryat Tivon) and then settled with his wife in Uppsala.
While American Jews, like Jordan Farmar and Jon Scheyer, have made Aliyah to play basketball before, most have done so not only to play in Israel’s highly-competitive professional league but also because of their strong Jewish identities. Horowitz was no different.
“I have had a lot of connections to Israel,” he says. “I first went when I was 13 and had my Bar Mitzvah at the Western Wall. That was an unforgettable experience. My fascination and love for the land continued after college when I made Aliyah. My wife and I go back every couple of years to see my friends.”
Uppsala is a city about one hour’s drive from Stockholm. And, in Uppsala – of all places – The Jewish Agency continues to have a major impact on his life. Not long after settling there indefinitely and finding a job with NordicShirts, he became involved in a Jewish Agency-supported group for Jewish professionals.
“I got involved with the group because I’m a Jew living in Sweden,” Horowitz says. “It can be tough to be Jewish here as there is a lot of anti-Israeli sentiment and more and more anti-Semitism. I wanted to have a place that I could feel a part of and the group is that place for me.”
With an outlet for Horowitz to feel comfortable in his Jewish Zionist skin, he feels more at ease to focus on building NordicShirts, which now sells more than 30,000 shirts globally, each year.
“I had no experience in men’s fashion before I began my job at NordicShirts,” Horowitz says. “It was tiny company with a couple thousand customers and two guys from Uppsala. I have taught myself fashion, just by reading magazines and newspapers and following social media. I never thought I’d be a fashion guy. In college it was sweats and a t-shirt every day. Now it’s dress shirt, a tie or bow-tie and suits most days. And I love it!”
Looking for a hand-crafted, custom dress shirt at a fair price? Visit NordicShirts. Remember to use the promotional code JEWISHAGENCY and 25 percent of your purchase payment will go to The Jewish Agency.