Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Jews, Sports and Aly Raisman

This just in:
Aly Raisman, who won the first all-time U.S. gold medal on floor exercise at an Olympics and who also earned the bronze on the balance beam at the 2012 Olympics, will be inducted into The National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame & Museum, 74 Hauppage Road, Commack, N.Y., on April 21, 2013. Aly, Captain of ‘The Fierce Five’ USA Women’s Gymnastics Team, also earned a gold medal in the Team All-Around, making her the most decorated U.S. gymnast at the 2012 Olympics.

“This is a great honor,” Raisman said when notified of her induction. “Just last year I was given the Pearl D. Mazor Award and now I am being inducted.” The Pearl D Mazor Award is presented annually by The National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame & Museum to the outstanding Jewish female high school scholar-athlete of the year in the United States.

“It was a tremendous thrill to see one of our Hall of Fame family competing at the London Olympics,” said Hall of Fame Chairman Lynne Kramer. “And even greater to see Aly won three medals is absolutely amazing.” Raisman joins gymnasts Kerri Strug and Mitch Gaylord who have already been inducted into the Hall of Fame.
I found it interesting that individuals from the "People of the Book" decided to set up a separate "Sports Hall of Fame". Here is the apparent raison d'etre for this hall of fame, taken from the front page of its web site:
The National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and Museum is dedicated to honoring Jewish individuals that have distinguished themselves in the field of sports. The objective is to foster Jewish identity through athletics.

In a world where stereotype and prejudice have not yet been eradicated, the Hall of Fame reminds us of heroes of the courts and playing fields, who have emerged from a people not commonly associated with sports.
I doubt that Jewish identity can be fostered through athletics. Jewish identity is best fostered the old-fashioned way: Torah! Torah! Torah! When young Jews know what being Jewish is really about, they will want to remain Jewish.

1 comment:

SoMeHoW Frum said...

Of course Torah is of upper most importance. But to take the flip side of this, imagine a young child who can't relate to Torah as being important to him. Yet youngsters easily relate to sports heroes. Imagine his pride when he can point to a professional football or baseball or basketball player who is Jewish. That might foster a proud Jewish identity, which might spur him to visit Israel as a teenager which might spur him to visit a Yeshiva...

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