Michael Neuman of Miami Beach, grandson of David & Celia Neuman of Baltimore and Florida, said he’s always been an athletic person who loves sports, but as an observant Orthodox Jew, he faced an obstacle to improve his skills as a child with leagues typically played on Saturdays during the Sabbath. However, a dream was fulfilled for Neuman, 26, when he competed on the CBS Show “Million Dollar Mile” wearing a yarmulke.
The show, produced by LeBron James and hosted by Tim Tebow, features amateur athletes who compete against professional athletes in a mile-long obstacle course for a chance to win $1 million dollars. Neuman’s segment, which has already been filmed, airs during the July 13 episode at 9 p.m. on CBS.
“I’m incredibly grateful for a once in a lifetime opportunity where I get get to make Kiddush Hashem [sanctification of God’s name] like this on a huge stage,” Neuman said.
Neuman is grateful to have been given the opportunity to compete against pro athletes.
"Sports is their life. It's their career. To be able to compete with them is a dream come true."
Neuman, a psychotherapist with his own private practice, has also competed in Spartan Race, a series of obstacle races of varying distance and difficulty. By competing wearing a yarmulke for a national audience on “Million Dollar Mile,” he feels he is inspiring the Orthodox Jewish community.
"There's a lot of barriers for Orthodox Jews to be athletes because of the Sabbath on Saturday, so I think it's very empowering for Jewish kids to see somebody strong and athletic competing against a pro athlete. It's very inspiring for Orthodox Jewish kids. I wish I had somebody like that to look up to."
Neuman hopes to encourage children to realize their dreams and go after them, even if there are obstacles.
Neuman also said regarding his competing wearing a yarmulke in front of a national audience, “I hope that this breaks down the stereotype of un-athletic Jews, especially with the rise of anti-Semitism.”
His father Gary Neuman said he and his wife are very proud of their son for taking on this opportunity with "Million Dollar Mile."
“For him to wear a yarmulke while working towards his athletic goals means that he puts himself in a group that doesn’t typically have a chance to talk and become friends with an Orthodox Jew. For him to be such a great representative of spirituality and what Judaism is about is very meaningful.”