For some, the connection between Jews and athletics might seem far-fetched. But in fact, as is highlighted by the fourteen chapters in this collection, Jews have been participating in-and thinking about-sports for more than two thousand years.
The articles in this volume scan a wide chronological range: from the Hellenistic period (first century BCE) to the most recent basketball season. The range of athletes covered is equally broad: from participants in Roman-style games to wrestlers, boxers, fencers, baseball players, and basketball stars.
The authors of these essays, many of whom actively participate in athletics themselves, raise a number of intriguing questions, such as: What differing attitudes toward sports have Jews exhibited across periods and cultures? Is it possible to be a "good Jew" and a "great athlete"? In what sports have Jews excelled, and why? How have Jews overcome prejudices on the part of the general populace against a Jewish presence on the field or in the ring? In what ways has Jewish participation in sports aided, or failed to aid, the perception of Jews as "good Germans," "good Hungarians," "good Americans," and so forth?
This volume, which features a number of illustrations (many of them quite rare), is not only accessible to the general reader, but also contains much information of interest to the scholar in Jewish studies, American studies, and sports history.