Legendary New York Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera toured the Israel Defense Forces base Michve Alon in the Galilee this week as part of a spiritual interfaith mission led by The New York Board of Rabbis and coordinated by Galore Travel from New York City.

The New York Board of Rabbis is the largest interdenominational rabbinic body in the world, comprised of all branches of Jewish life and working closely with the interfaith community.

As part of this mission, Friends of the Israel Defense Forces arranged a base visit, where Rivera and mission participants learned about the FIDF programs carried out at the IDF Alon Educational and Instructional Center, where support is given to soldiers from at-risk populations to help them adapt to their army service and become successful and contributing citizens. Among the FIDF courses for the about 6,000 soldiers stationed at Michve Alon are those which help new immigrants and soldiers from minority groups learn Hebrew.

“I’m privileged and honored to be here, and learn about the young men and women who are here in the IDF, being trained to be a better person, a better citizen, and a better human being,” said Rivera while meeting with the soldiers. “For me, it was something special that I will take with me through my life.”

“We were thrilled to host Mr. Mariano Rivera at Michve Alon to witness FIDF’s important programs in action,” said FIDF National Director and CEO, Maj. Gen. (Res.) Meir Klifi-Amir. “Considering Rivera’s own remarkable philanthropic endeavors, including his foundation’s work helping impoverished communities and providing education assistance, we believed that he’d recognize and appreciate how valuable FIDF’s programs are for IDF soldiers of all backgrounds.”

Rivera, 48, is a Panamanian-American who played 19 seasons for the New York Yankees and is widely regarded as the greatest closer in modern baseball, and a true humanitarian. Rivera is involved in several philanthropic initiatives, primarily through the Mariano Rivera Foundation and the global Christian community.

A thirteen-time All-Star and five-time World Series champion, he is MLB’s career leader in saves (652) and games finished (952). Rivera won five American League Rolaids Relief Man Awards and three Delivery Man of the Year Awards, and he finished in the top three in voting for the AL Cy Young Award four times.