After California native Max Steinberg was killed July 20 while fighting for the Israel Defense Forces against Hamas, news reports showed a photo from his Facebook account of him wearing a New England Patriots hat.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who has funded the growth of American football in Israel, saw the picture, which prompted him to reach out to Steinberg's parents.
Kraft wrote the following letter, which was first reported via Twitter by Jared Sichel of the Jewish Journal:
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Steinberg,
It is with a heavy heart that I write to you after having learned about your dear son and distinguished member of the Israel Defense Forces, Max. Although I didn't have the privilege of knowing your son Max personally, I have taken the liberty of reaching out to you since I noticed him wearing a New England Patriots cap in one of the broadcasted photos. He represents the consummate patriot and I am forever grateful for the sacrifices he made to keep our beloved Israel safe. His dedication and loyalty to Israel have not gone unnoticed and I am sure he has left behind a legacy of which you and your family can be proud.
On behalf of the entire New England Patriots team, please accept our most sincere condolences as we are all profoundly saddened by his untimely passing.
Robert K. Kraft
Then Kraft wrote some additional lines by hand: "We are all Patriots” and "With love of our tradition and the people of Eretz Israel."
Steinberg, 24, and 12 other Israeli soliders were killed in the Gaza Strip.
A native of Woodland Hills, Calif., Steinberg joined Israel Defense Forces in late 2012 after being inspired on his first visit to the country earlier that year. Steinberg had initially resisted taking the trip with his siblings through a foundation called Birthright Israel.
"It was a free trip to Israel, relatives told him, so why not go?," the Washington Post reported. "Eventually, he changed his mind -- and his life would never be the same.
"By the fall of 2012, Steinberg would move to Israel and become a sharpshooter in one of the Israel Defense Forces' most elite units, the Golani Brigade."
In the Jewish Journal, Sichel wrote of Steinberg: "And at just five feet and three inches, he took on nicknames like 'Mighty Max' and 'Little Dynamo.'"