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184 SHOFAR Spring 2000 Vol. 18, No.3 events, Spewack demonstrates a narrative skill that allows readers a fresh experience ofthe traumas of immigrant life. Despite her notable lack ofsentimentality, she reveals better than most the emotional pain faced by immigrant women, especially those who had to struggle alone. Her depiction of the bittersweet relations between Fanny and herselfis unusually poignant, though the full extent ofthe tensions between this mother and daughter lies below the surface. Despite its brevity and omissions, Spewack's rendering of her turn-of-the-century childhood on the Lower East Side helps to illuminate the varied dimensions of Jewish family life in the New World as well as the inexorable process of Americanization. Joyce Antler American Studies Department Brandeis University Sports and the American Jew, edited by Steven Riess. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1998. 337 pp. $19.95. My father, an American-born son ofan immigrant tailor and seamstress, ran with a gang oftough Jewish kids in the streets ofHarlem where he and his cronies frequently fought with their fists and broomsticks against their Irish neighbors. An outsider-surely not my grandparents who knew little about the values of organized sports-reasoned that my father might be better offand stay out oftrouble ifhis energies could be effectively channeled as a member ofthe wrestling team at the 92nd Street YMHA. He heeded that advice and under the tutelage of Nat ask, a coach whom he revered and about whom he spoke more than he did his own father, learned how to fight according to the rules and ultimately won a number of championships. His greatest souvenir from his pugilistic days was a purloined towel that he took away from the New York Athletic Club. In the 1930s, that was as close as a Jew could get to be a member ofthat restricted WASP preserve. Interestingly enough, a historian-or a descendant-intent on verifying the facts of this very minor sports legend would find no record of Jack Gurock's exploits in the Yorkville center's archive. He fought under an assumed name, Jack Austin, because he did not want his immigrant mother to know that he was engaged in such an un-Jewish form of activity. It seems that Anna Gurock was the toughest Gurock on the block. Though wiseacres may claim that volumes on Jewish sports heroes are among "the shortest books in the world," it seems that so many American Jews have stories to tell, like mine, about how, when, and why Jewish immigrant boys-or for that matter girlsdiscovered organized sports and what their idolization oftheir coaches-as opposed to their parents-meant to their self-image as sons and daughters and as Jewish men and women. Other American Jews-from the immigrant generation until today-have sagas Book Reviews 185 to relate of the religious conflicts they and their ancestors faced when they embraced sports, a secular, assimilatory activity that is governed by clocks and calendars that were often inimical to Judaism. These individual sports sources might also talk of their awareness of, or myopia to, the efforts of proponents of Judaism, throughout the twentieth century, to somehow reconcile Jewish practices with team practices. Still other Jews in America can recall ruefully their own symbolic or actual "purloined towels," emblematic oftheir personal marginality as they aspired, through the aegis of sports, to be so much like other Americans only to encounter imposed limits on their full integration. What the serious sports historian has to do is to plow through these sources and to set them in their deserved historical context. In other words, if studied properly and interpreted appropriately-without excessive concern with lionizing the Jewish group's small legion of mega-stars-the story of Jewish sports activity in the United States can not only fill volumes but can contribute important dimensions to the social history ofthat group's experience in the United States. For, as suggested above, the multiple and momentous issues of Jewish acculturation, adaptation, intergenerational conflict, and attempted integration are all played out in the realm of American sports. In Sports and the American Jew, Steven A. Riess and his colleagues address most ofthese scholarly concerns...


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