Lipshits, right, teaching defense last month to participants at Camp Judea in North Carolina
Lipshits, right, teaching defense last month to participants at Camp Judea in North Carolina.
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Israeli point guard Lior Lipshits held Hebrew-language basketball clinics for more than 1,000 Jewish campers in the southeast United States last week.

In his first clinics at American Jewish summer camps, Lipshits, who plays for Netanya in the Super League, focused on using basketball to teach boys and girls Hebrew and connect them to Israel.

He said he was amazed at the energy and spirit at each camp, from the prayer after eating to the raucous song sessions.

"The campers showed passion for Israel, learning Hebrew, and the game of basketball," Lipshits said after the visit. "The children were hungry to learn and to improve."

According to Arielle Katz from Camp Barney in Georgia, "It was awesome training with a real Israeli professional basketball player and learning new basketball drills and Hebrew words."

The sites he visited on his tour included Camp Judaea in Hendersonville, North Carolina; URJ Camp Coleman in Cleveland, Georgia; Camp Barney Medintz, also in Cleveland; and Ramah Darom in Clayton, Georgia.

"The basketball clinics served as an organic way for campers to learn Hebrew and engage with Israel," Camp Judaea director Tom Rosenberg commented.

Omer boy makes good

Lipshits has been playing professional basketball for 10 years since he was 17. Born in the town of Omer near Be'er Sheva, he moved to Rishon Letzion in high school without his parents to pursue his basketball career. Lipshits has played on the Israeli national team and for Super League teams Rishon Letzion, Hapoel Holon, Ashkelon and Gilboa/Galil, before joining Netanya.

Lipshits averaged more than 25 minutes a game as the starting point guard for Netanya last season. He averaged 5.3 points and 4.7 assists per game. In 2009, he helped lead Hapoel Holon to beat Maccabi Tel Aiv for the Israeli State Cup. In addition to playing professional basketball, Lipshits is studying for an MA in sports psychology.

In addition to his success on the court, Lipshits volunteers with the Netanya basketball team's community program Netanya Hoops For Kids, a venture where professional athletes serve as role models and coaches for at risk children living in the coastal city.