By Laura Seymour
I’ll admit to not being much of a sports fan, although I do watch the Cowboys (after years of being in Dallas). I just couldn’t get into baseball until World Series fever hit Dallas. So, when the American Jewish Historical Society offered a great deck of collector cards, I couldn’t resist and it was a great Chanukah present. I now know who is Jewish in baseball today — not just Sandy Koufax and Hank Greenberg.
You can’t always tell who is Jewish by last names although it is a good starting point. Here are a few Jewish players with Jewish names to look for (some have gone up and down from the majors to minors as is not uncommon in baseball — look up their history): Adam Greenberg (Cubs); Jason Hirsh (Yankees); Brian Horwitz (Giants); Al Levine (Giants); Keith Glauber (Reds). There are more, of course, and here are a few interesting facts: At the beginning of the ninth inning at Fenway Park on Aug. 8, 2005, Gabe Kapler, Adam Stern and Kevin Youkilis celebrated the occasion of three Jews on the field at the same time. The record of four Jews on the field was set by the Giants on Sept. 21, 1941 (the day before Rosh Hashanah): Harry Feldman, Harry Danning, Sid Gordon and Morrie Arnovich. And, I must mention our two Texas Rangers Ian Kinsler and Scott Feldman.
All of this is interesting and fun — but what is our fascination with finding Jewish sports figures and Jewish celebrities and Jewish politicians? Does it allow us to dream that we can be anything? An important question for “famous” people, and for all of us, is really about how we live our lives in our jobs and how we live as Jews. Is it the same? Is being Jewish part of everything we do, or do we just take it out on Shabbat and holidays? What does that mean? We must answer these questions for ourselves. Parents, start the discussion now with your kids!
Laura Seymour is director of camping services and Jewish life and learning at the Jewish Community Center of Dallas.