Ryan Braun, the slugging outfielder for the Milwaukee Brewers, became the first Jewish Most Valuable Player in nearly five decades.
More than 60 athletes from Westside JCC's Team Westside and The New JCC at Milken's Team L.A. represented the greater Los Angeles area this month during the 25th annual Maccabi Games, scoring numerous gold, silver and bronze wins in such sports as baseball, basketball, swimming, soccer and table tennis.
Woody Allen's oft-told joke about the paucity of Jewish sports heroes reinforces stereotypes going back centuries. A noteworthy example comes from sociologist Edward Ross, a Protestant, who about 100 years ago had this to say about Jews: "On the physical side, the Hebrews are the polar opposite of our pioneer breed. Not only are they undersized and weak-muscled, but they shun bodily activity and are exceedingly sensitive to pain."
Let the games begin -- in Israel.
The 17th World Maccabiah Games, an intense, world-class Olympic-style competition, will begin July 10 in Israel. The quadrennial games will bring together more than 7,000 Jewish athletes from 60 countries in 30 sports and four age divisions: youth, juniors, open and masters. More than 80 of those athletes hail from the greater Los Angeles area.
Joe Jacobi's pain as he prepares for the Olympics is more emotional than physical.
The canoeist/kayaker, 34, told JTA by e-mail that as he prepares for the Olympics in Athens, he misses his 3-year-old daughter, Seu Jane -- named for the Spanish village that hosted some rowing competitions in the 1992 Summer Games -- who is at home with his wife in Tennessee.
The pursuit of an Olympic medal usually conjures up a youthful single-mindedness, but like Jacobi, many of the 15 Jewish athletes competing for the U.S. team at the Athens Games are veteran athletes who competed in previous Olympics.
From the fanfare of the banner-waving opening ceremonies to the pride of hearing the U.S. national anthem played during their medal ceremonies, Southern California athletes made the most of their experience at the 10th Pan American Maccabi Games. They joined over 2,000 Jewish athletes from 19 countries for the eight-day competition in Santiago, Chile.
Although Salt Lake City hosted several Jewish Olympians this year, including figure skater Sasha Cohen, the Olympic games haven't always been so welcoming to Jewish athletes.
Millions of immigrants have flocked to the United States looking for streets paved with gold. Lenny Krayzelburg, who came to Los Angeles from Odessa, Ukraine, in 1988 is searching for gold as well - but in a pool at Sydney's Olympic Games.