The Story of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the Rabbi-Truth! & Fiction!
Summary of eRumor:
This is a forwarded story about Lakers basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and a Rabbi named Yisrael Mir Lau. It says that Jabbar is flying to Israel, on the dying wish of his father, to meet the man he rescued from a Nazi concentration camp in World War II.
According to a June 20, 2011 ESPN article about a talk that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar gave to high school students attending an NBA Basketball Camp on the campus of University of Virginia in Charlottesville, someone in the press got the facts of this story “mixed up” with a book that Jabbar wrote about an all Black tank battalion in World War II.
Rabbi Yisrael Mir Lau met with Jabbar when the basketball star visited Israel in 1997. Lau, in his youth, was a prisoner in Buchenwald concentration camp, which was the first camp to be liberated by U.S. forces. One of the units involved in the liberation was the U.S. Army’s 183rd Combat Engineers, an all Black unit.
Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor, Sr, Jabbar’s father, was not among the group that delivered the young future Rabbi to freedom. Alcindor, was a Lieutenant in the New York City Transit Police where he worked with his friend named Smitty. It was Smitty who served in the 761st Tank Battalion and the person who inspired Jabbar to write a book called “Brothers In Arms: The Epic Story of the 761St Tank Battalion, WWII’s Forgotten Heroes.”