Florida Jews in Sports. From Jul 1st through Nov 23rd, 2008.The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat! Mostly victories – and the lessons learned from competition, will be explored in this broad-scoped exhibit that includes nearly 150 athletes in two dozen sports, presented on miniature playing fields and courts, and including sports teams owners, coaches and journalists.
After two years of research and collecting, the Jewish Museum is confident that visitors will be amazed to learn that eight of the nine professional sports teams in Florida have Jewish owners, that many Floridian Jews have been All-American players and Super Bowl participants, that Jewish former NBA players meet weekly in South Florida, including Ossie Schectman, who lives in Delray, who scored the first NBA basket in 1946. Nearly 180 American Jews have played major league baseball since the 1870s and many have been from Florida. Some Floridian Jews have excelled in sports with disabilities. For example, Neal Walk of Miami Beach, the first AP All-American basketball player at the University of Florida (1967-69) and the only player in the school's history to have his number retired, later became paralyzed. In 1990 Walk was honored at the White House as the "Wheelchair Athlete of the Year."
Some interesting exhibit highlights include Morgan Pressel of Boca Raton became the youngest woman in history to win a Ladies Professional Golf Association (PGA) major championship; Skip Bertman, a Miami Beach High School baseball coach who led his team to its first Florida State championship, went to become the head coach at Lousiana State University and National Coach of the Year three times. In 1956 two outsiders: a Jewish girl, Angela Buxton and a black girl, Althea Gibson, made sports history when they won the Wimbledon Women's Doubles; Buxton, who lives in Pompano Beach, also reached the singles finals and was the first Jewish champion at Wimbledon; Roberto Strauss from Mexico, who now lives in Florida, was a swimmer in the 1972 Munich Olympics; NFL Miami Dolphin player Ed Newman played in three Super Bowls and is now a Miami-Dade County judge. In 1916, the year the Brooklyn Robins (later the Dodgers) won the pennant, they trained in Daytona Beach where Michael Sholtz built them a winter camp. Sholtz was the father of Florida's only Jewish governor, David Sholtz. The Miami Herald, on the other hand, has two Jewish female sportswriters: Susan Miller Degnan and Michelle Kaufman who made their marks in a field dominated by men.
These examples represent only a small sample of the variety of sports that will be featured; all provide inspiration and pride for visitors. These sports legacies are in the minds and hearts of their fans, young and old. Loyalty to sports teams and heroes brings together a true melting pot of peoples united in a common cause. From playing fields to pool halls, sports fans have learned lessons that cross all cultural lines – integrity and fairness, respect for boundaries, rules and authority and working together to reach a common goal.
For more information, please call: 305.672.5044