Senda Berenson, Mother of Women’s Basketball

Senda Berenson (Valvrojenski), the first woman inaugurated into the Basketball Hall of Fame, died on this date in 1954. Known as “The Mother of Women’s Basketball,” she was the first physical education instructor at Smith College, and in 1893 she conducted the first women’s basketball game — sophomores against freshmen. Six years later, she modified […]

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Of Hoops and Hebrews

HOW JEWS CHANGED BASKETBALL by Mikhail Horowitz   Discussed in This Essay: The Chosen Game: A Jewish Basketball History, by Charley Rosen. University of Nebraska Press, 2017, 208 pages.  Seven-foot Jews in the NBA, slam-dunking! My alarm clock rings.     —Anonymous haiku on the Internet   FOR THE MOST PART the Jewish hoopers chronicled by Charley Rosen […]

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Marty Reisman, Table Tennis Champ

Table tennis champion Marty Reisman was born in New York City on this date in 1930. Reisman, known as “The Needle” due to his slim build, learned to play the game in New York settlement houses, starting his career during his teen years as a ping pong “hustler” (as he referred to himself in the […]

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The Dodgers’ Jewish Battery

Larry Sherry, relief pitcher with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Detroit Tigers, died at 71 on this date in 2006. Sherry and his brother, catcher Norm Sherry, were the first Jewish battery (pitcher-catcher team) in major league baseball history, and the two of them helped lead the Dodgers to a World Series victory in six games over the […]

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Orthodox Point Guard Naama Shafir

Naama Shafir scored a career high forty points on this date in 2011 to lead her basketball team, the University of Toledo Rockets, to a National Invitational Tournament title. A native of Hoshaya, Israel, Shafir was the first female Orthodox Jew to earn an NCAA Division I scholarship. Her school and team accommodated her needs […]

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March 3: Surfing for Peace

Dorian “Doc” Paskowitz, a Stanford-trained physician who gave up medicine to become a full-time surfer and spent twenty-five years living in camper vans with his wife and as many as nine children, was born in Galveston, Texas on this date in 1921. Paskowitz became a doctor in 1946, served in the Navy, then quit his […]

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February 3: The Tormented Umpire

Dolly (Albert) Stark became the first Jewish umpire in Major League Baseball when he was added to the National League roster on this date in 1928. Stark was born poor and lost his father at a young age; his mother then went blind, and he ended up on an orphans’ home. He became a semi-pro […]

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December 7: A 5’1″ Champion

Allen Rosenberg, who coached the United States Olympic rowing team that won the gold medal in Tokyo in 1964, as well as teams that won the Lucerne world championship in 1974 and the Pan American Games in 1975, died at 82 on this date in 2013. Rosenberg was an attorney and a pharmacist who used […]

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July 18: The Cyclist Who Saved Jews

Gino Bartali, a champion Italian cyclist who during World War II saved a family of Jews in his cellar and carried messages and documents by bicycle to the Italian Resistance, was born in Florence on this date in 1914. He began racing at age 13, was the Italian national champion by 22, and won the […]

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