Ellis Island to Ebbet's Field: sport and the American-Jewish experience

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Oxford University Press, Aug 27, 1992 - Biography & Autobiography - 328 pages
Jews have stereotypically been considered people of the book rather than people of the jump shot, right cross, or home run. Yet for many East European Jewish immigrants, and especially their children, participation in American sport during the first half of the twentieth century became an important part of their pursuit of the American dream and a pathway to assimilation.
In Ellis Island to Ebbets Field, Peter Levine explores the importance of sport in transforming Jewish immigrants into American Jews. Drawing on interviews with celebrities as well as lesser known neighborhood stars, Levine vividly recounts the stories of Red Auerbach, Hank Greenberg, Moe Berg, Sid Luckman, Andy Cohen, Nat Holman, Benny Leonard, Barney Ross, Marty Glickman, Jammy Moskowitz, and many others who became Jewish heroes and symbols of the difficult struggle for American success. From settlement houses and street corners to Madison Square Garden and Fenway Park, their experiences illuminate a time when Jewish males dominated sports like boxing and basketball, helping to smash stereotypes about Jewish weakness while instilling American Jews with a fierce pride in their strength and ability in the face of Nazi aggression, domestic anti-Semitism, and economic depression. And Levine brings the story up to date with sure comparisons to the experiences of more contemporary Jewish athletes such as Sandy Koufax, "SuperJew" Mike Epstein, Mark Spitz, and Amy Alcott.
Be it the stories of Jesse Owens's Olympic triumph at the expense of Marty Glickman's disappointment, the baseball heroics of Hank Greenberg and his status as preeminent Jewish hero, the incredible exploits of championship basketball teams like the Philadelphia SPHAs, the nimble football feet of the "Jewish hillbilly," Marshall Goldberg, or the pummeling fists of "Battling" Levinsky, Ellis Island to Ebbets Field reveals a Jewish community full of conflict and hope, where sport--both watching it and playing it--served as a middle ground between minority and majority cultures, between ethnic and racial minorities, and between generations of people who were actively determining for themselves what it meant to be American Jews. Recreating that world through marvelous stories, anecdotes, and personalities, Levine enhances our understanding of the Jewish-American experience as well as the struggles of other American minority groups.

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ELLIS ISLAND TO EBBETS FIELD: Sport and the American Jewish Experience

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A thoroughly researched but dull treatise showing the significant impact of sports on the great American-Jewish pastime of assimilation. As Levine (A.G. Spalding and the Rise of Baseball, 1985 ... Read full review

Ellis Island to Ebbets Field: sport and the American Jewish experience

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Sport has played an integral role in American Jewish identity. Levine examines three generations of 20th-century American Jewish life through numerous interviews and studies of Jews in both amateur ... Read full review


The Promise of Sport
Basketball and Community

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About the author (1992)

About the Author:
Peter Levine is Professor of History at Michigan State University. He is the author of A.G. Spalding and the Rise of Baseball, American Sport: A Documentary History, and the editor of Baseball History, 1986-91

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