The Schmooze

Jewish Sports Is Not an Oxymoron

Crossposted From Under the Fig Tree

I try to follow and keep abreast of a lot of things: the news, for starters, as well as fashion and film and arts and culture. But I give baseball and basketball, much less soccer, a pass. You will rarely, if ever, catch me reading the sports section of the New York Times.

This week, though, I found myself riveted by an article about a contemporary British 10th level soccer team, the London Maccabi Lions, which appeared in Sunday’s paper. Their jerseys festooned with a Star of David, all of the players, it turns out, are Jewish. It’s a team requirement.

Jewish sports organizations are nothing new, of course. Prewar Poland, for instance, abounded in Jewish gymnastic groups and clubs that sported the name Maccabee in homage to the physical bravura of the ancient Hasmoneans. One branch of the Maccabees took to skiing, another to motorcycle racing, while the young men of Bialystok, resplendent and confident in white shorts and boldly striped jerseys, struck an insouciant pose in a 1926 photograph that can be found in the illustrated book, “Image Before My Eyes.”

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Jewish Sports Is Not an Oxymoron

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