As summer approaches, sports fans may worry about the progress of the Mets’ rookie first baseman Isaac Benjamin “Ike” Davis, of Lithuanian Jewish ancestry, and use Sandy Koufax’s recent White House visit to remind everyone that the “only Jewish left-hander not named Sandy Koufax to toss two no-hitters” was Ken Holtzman.
The overpowering passion for Yiddishe sports has also struck Europe in the form of a book from the Göttingen publisher Verlag Die Werkstatt: “Jewish Sports and Sporting Jews in Germany: An Annotated Bibliography.” The book astutely traces what happened to Jews in Germany’s sports world before, during, and after the Nazi period.
This is essential and timely subject matter. After all, the German Jewish high jumper Gretel Bergmann, now 96, only received the national record due her last year. The German Athletics Federation was reportedly swayed to do so by the release of “Berlin 36,” a German film that, as the London Times reported, “tells how Nazis replaced Jewish woman athlete for man in drag.”