Published On: Fri, Nov 29th, 2013

Omri Casspi, Israel’s First NBA Star, On His Way To The White House To Light a Hannuka Candle

Casspi has been invited by the Obamas  to light a candle on the White House menorah- and he will be bringing his mother.

New Orleans Pelicans v Houston Rockets

 Omri Casspi #18 of the Houston Rockets dribbles againstt Lance Thomas #42 of the New Orleans Pelicans in a preseason NBA game on October 5, 2013 / Getty

Omri Casspi is the first Israeli basketball player ever to feature in the NBA,   a distinction that can never be taken away from him. Next week he will be represented with  even as big an honor when he will fulfill an invitation from President Barack Obama and his family to perform the  traditional Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony, during the holiday season.

Omri is due to make the long journey from Houston Texas, where he is currently starring with the Houston Rockets to Washington DC to be honored with lighting a candle on the last night of Hanukkah.

To make the occasion even more special Omri won’t be traveling alone, instead he will be bringing  along Ilana, his mother who just happened to have scheduled a trip to visit her son in the States before the invitation came in from the White House.

When in use of the invitation broke, Omri Casspi admitted that he always dreamed  of visiting the White House, but as part of an NBA championship winning team.

“This is even better, because not only do  I get to represent the Houston Rockets, but also the state of Israel and the Jewish community of the United States” Omri went  on to add that when he does get to visit the White House again as a member of the championship winning team he will already know his way around very well.

After a number of attempts to make the draft , Omri was eventually signed by the Sacramento Kings in 2009, where he was to remain for  two seasons, before being traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers where he was to remain till the close season of 2013, signing then for the Houston Rockets. This season  Casspi has been joined by his fellow Israeli in the NBA, Gal Mekel who has signed up this season for the Dallas Mavericks.

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Omri Casspi was born in Holon, Israel, although his family moved to the nearby town of Yavne when he was a child.

Always a tall and imposing figure, even when very young  Casspi played for the local Elitzur Yavne boys club later moving to play for Maccabi  Tel Aviv youth team, we help to win the State Youth Championship in 2005.

Casspi made his professional debut at the age of just 17 with Maccabi Tel Aviv during the 2005–06 season, later being farmed out to Hapoel Galil Elyon on-loan during the 2006–07 season to gain playing experience, returning to  Maccabi  Tel Aviv for the following season.

During that season Caspi became a regular feature in the championship winning the Maccabi  Tel Aviv side as well as making his debut  for the Israel national basketball team, taking part in some important international competitions for his country.

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