Bucks sign Meyers Leonard to 10-day contract, Jewish community reacts
Meyers Leonard, former Miami Heat player, was let go two seasons ago after using an anti-Semitic slur. He said it while playing an online game.
We spoke to Jewish leaders, including the rabbi Meyers Leonard sought guidance from in the wake of the controversy. That rabbi says Leonard deserves a second chance.
Local Rabbi Levi Stein, with Friendship Circle Wisconsin, says when he heard that Meyers Leonard would be playing for the Bucks, he connected with another rabbi, with Chabad Lubavitch, the largest Jewish organization in the world.
"And I had a conversation with him about it just to kind of get the facts or the story behind the story," said Rabbi Stein.
Rabbi Pinny Andrusier says Leonard came to him after what happened and learned about Jewish history and culture.
"He owned up to his mistake. He never denied it," said Rabbi Andrusier.
Rabbi Andrusier says they spent countless hours together.
"I sincerely believe that he didn't even realize that the word he used was a derogatory word towards the Jewish people," said Rabbi Andrusier.
Leonard met with Holocaust survivors and worked with teens alongside Rabbi Pinny.
He says he didn't even want his picture taken, but Rabbi Pinny insisted. Rabbi Pinny says the Jewish faith is about forgiveness.
"The question is how do we respond, and I think Meyer's responded in a very, very appropriate manner," he said.
Rabbi Pinny hopes Leonard does well with the Bucks and hopes he can educate others on the subject.
Something he says is especially important with figures like Kyire Irving being prominent in the media.
Rabbi Stein says he hopes Leonard's positive relationship with the Jewish community can continue.
"Educating people on what the Jewish people are about is the best response, and he's definitely taken the time to educate himself," said Rabbi Stein.
We reached out to the Milwaukee Bucks, however they have not yet responded.