Message to the Goodman Family from Steve Leibowitz, Josh Hasten and the community of American Football in Israel

 As soon as Mordechai first stepped on the field back in 1989 we knew that a real quarterback who played football in actual leagues in the US had arrived.  He actually knew how to call plays and patterns and he could throw the ball on the money.  On many occasions I heard him say that he attributed a successful absorption into Israeli society to his involvement in the football league.

One of the biggest highlights of Mordi’s career was the 12-0 undefeated championship season of 1993. As a result of that victory, he was named The Jerusalem Post’s 1993 “In- Jerusalem athlete of the year.”

The game ball and  trophy from that perfect season are proudly on display at Pizzeria Efrat along with many other football related photos and articles.

While winning the title was a highlight, it wasn’t the only one in Mordi’s 25-plus year career.

The most special moments of Mordi’s career began in the early 2000s, when Mordi started to play the game that he loves, in the country that he loves, alongside several of his sons, who were finally old enough to join the men’s league.

Mordi took great pride while standing back in the pocket and completing pass after pass to his sons Shimon and Yosef, who were gifted players from the second they stepped on the field.

Tragedy struck the Goodman family– in February 2006, when Yosef, a 21-year-old IDF soldier from the elite Maglan unit, was killed in a parachute training accident south of Ashdod. Yosef has been a player on the Israel National team and – and the entire AFI community mourned alongside Mordechai and his family.

One of the first things Mordi did after seven days of sitting shiva for Yosef was to return to Kraft Family Stadium on a cold Saturday night in order to serve as the honorary captain and throw out the first ball for that night’s playoff games.

Mordi delivered an emotional off the- cuff speech to the players and fans assembled at the stadium discussing how special his son Yosef was, and how much he loved playing football, especially teaching young children from his neighborhood the game.

That very night, AFI co-founders Steve Leibowitz and Danny Gewirtz appropriately decided to name the newly-formed AFI High School League in Yosef’s memory.

For over two decades, despite being by far the oldest player on the field, Mordi played with great skill, calling “hike” in his distinctive voice while zipping a bullet pass towards an open receiver.  While no statistics were kept, it’s clear to all involved that Mordi threw far   more touchdown passes than any other player in   league history.

 Mordechai was a beloved player, coach, team captain and sponsor, ever since the early days of our league. He was a champion, and an inductee in the AFI Hall of Fame. A spirited competitor, Mordechai also always cared for the welfare of the opposing team. And as a father, he brought his own family into the league, and created a generations-long Pizzeria Efrat dynasty – a team which turned into a family as well.  


  Message from Dan and Robert Kraft on the passing of MORDECHAI GOODMAN z”l


Thanks for sharing the sad news about Mordechai’s passing with me and my father.

We have both met him through the years at the many different events and celebrations at Kraft Stadium.

He had a magnetic personality and was the type of person that once you met him once…You NEVER forgot him!

We also know that he and his extended family have been passionate supporters, fans and players of The AFI organization.

Hopefully his family can find some strength and comfort during this time surrounded by the love and friendship of the AFI mishpocha.

Please know that we are mourning Mordechai’s loss along with you all.

May his memory be a blessing for us all.


Dan and Robert Kraft