Growing up in Massachusetts, my family went to temple every so often. I started going less and…
Jared Firestone, a 33-year-old former track athlete from Miami Beach, has traded his running shoes for a skeleton sled on a remarkable journey toward the 2026 Olympics. His passion for representing Israel ignited in his youth and rekindled by a Birthright Israel trip, now takes him down exhilarating and treacherous ice tracks head-first at 80 miles per hour!
Jared’s athletic talent shone early. He smashed high school records, dominated district championships, and even raced for Tulane University. But after college, priorities changed, and his childhood dream of competing for Team Israel faded. It wasn’t until 2012, during his Birthright Israel trip, the passion to compete for Israel was reignited.
“Birthright reignited the fire within me to represent Israel,” Jared shared. “I knew I had to find a way to be an ambassador for the Jewish homeland and our people, and that’s when I turned to sport.”
Fate intervened soon after. While recovering from a mini-stroke while attending law school at Cardozo in New York City, Jared stumbled upon the thrilling sport of skeleton while flipping through channels. Skeptical at first, if Israel even had a team, he discovered a surprising truth: Israel actually had a skeleton team! Research and intense training followed, turning his curiosity into a full-fledged Olympic aspiration.
Today, Jared is Israel’s 4-time national champion, carving his way toward the 2026 Olympic Games. This also comes with carrying the weight of being an ambassador to Israel and the Jewish people. Jared is often the first Jewish person communities around the globe encounter. He takes pride in building bridges through sport.
“My last race was in St. Moritz for the World Cup…Track volunteers were enthusiastically trying to learn Hebrew, and one German woman even cheered me on with a hearty ‘Kol HaKavod!’ I was expecting to encounter antisemitism, and it was a pleasant surprise to see the volunteers cheer me on…I’m an unofficial ambassador for Israel, showcasing its spirit and resilience through every race.”
One competition stands out – a race held mere miles from Hitler’s Eagle Nest, a symbol of hate and division. While initially nervous, Jared knew his presence, clad in Israel’s colors, held a deeper meaning. He finished the race to cheers and Hebrew words of encouragement, a testament to the enduring power of hope and human connection.
“It’s not just about me,” Jared emphasized. “I want to share a positive message about Israel, to bridge the gap between cultures. My Birthright trip opened my eyes, and now I want to share that experience with others.”
Jared Firestone glides toward his Olympic dream with unwavering determination, leaving a trail of inspiration and cultural understanding in his wake. His story is a testament to the power of second chances, the unwavering spirit of the human athlete, and the unifying force of sport across borders and beliefs.
Birthright Israel will definitely be rooting for 2012 alum Jared Firestone!