Featured Photo

Crimson Tide rolls worldwide

The University of Alabama won the college football championship, and it's also No. 1 at this fan store in the heart of Jerusalem.


January 9, 2018 | Prev
Alumni from all over the world feel a taste of home here.Alumni from all over the world feel a taste of home here.Photo: Benyamin Cohen
January 9, 2018

It was a breathtaking overtime win for the University of Alabama as they defeated the University of Georgia for the 2018 championship. Moments later, From the Grapevine received a text from a Jerusalem shopkeeper. "Roll tide!" it simply said, invoking the school's famous cheer.

Why would a guy in Israel be up in the middle of the night watching a college football game back in the U.S.? Allow us to explain.

So you’re walking down the street in Jerusalem and you see lots of gift shops with trinkets and knickknacks from Israel. And then – bam! – almost out of nowhere you'll see an entire store dedicated to the University of Alabama, the top college football team in America.

The University of Alabama-themed shop sticks out among more traditional stores.The University of Alabama-themed shop sticks out among more traditional stores. (Photo: Benyamin Cohen)

The cognitive dissonance might stop any tourist in their tracks. Walk inside and you'll see Alabama magnets mixed in with more traditional gifts like fragments of Roman glass found in archaeological digs that have now been turned into jewelry.

T-shirts are one of the stores most popular items.T-shirts are one of the store's most popular items. (Photo: Benyamin Cohen)

Manager Dia Abdeen greets visitors with the warmth and southern hospitality that is familiar to those who hail from the heart of Dixie.

"Roll Tide!" he shouts with gusto as visitors stream into his shop.

So why did he decide to open an Alabama-themed outlet in the middle of the Mediterranean? Turns out, his brother was a student at the storied institution. "My brother watches all of the games, and he's really very crazy," Abdeen says with a hearty laugh.

This plaque reads "Roll Tide" in English on the top and in Hebrew on the bottom.This plaque reads "Roll Tide" in English on the top and in Hebrew on the bottom. (Photo: Benyamin Cohen)

University of Alabama alumni from around the world have flocked here. Coach Nick Saban's photo hangs on the wall near the front door. Southern Living magazine has profiled the shop. Even TV host Conan O'Brien, a Harvard alum, decided to visit during his trip to Israel. From The Grapevine also stopped by for a visit. We walked away with a few T-shirts, a baseball hat and loads of photos.

This jacket is on display, although not for sale, in the store. It belonged to the manager's brother who graduated from the University of Alabama in 1992.This jacket is on display, although not for sale, in the store. It belonged to the manager's brother who graduated from the University of Alabama in 1992. (Photo: Benyamin Cohen)

Plates and cups show the school's logo. On the bottom, "Alabama" is written in Hebrew.Plates and cups show the school's logo. On the bottom, 'Alabama' is written in Hebrew. (Photo: Benyamin Cohen)

Popular school cheers, like "I bleed Crimson Tide," can be seen throughout the shop.Popular school cheers, like 'I bleed Crimson Tide,' can be seen throughout the shop. (Photo: Benyamin Cohen)

A decorative framed tile lines one of the many shelves.A decorative framed tile lines one of the many shelves. (Photo: Benyamin Cohen)

Photos and SlideshowsPhotos and Slideshows

Related Topics: Sports, Travel

comments powered by Disqus