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Philosopher-novelist Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, writing in Jewish Jocks: An Unorthodox Hall of Fame, describes Barney "Tiny" Sedran, born Bernard Sedransky on the Lower East Side of New York, as a quintessential Jewish basketball player: "manically energetic, compulsively alert, upending expectations, and compensating for short—really short—comings" (17). Sedransky was the "shortest player ever inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame," she writes, who excelled at a time "when Jews ruled basketball — and lest you think those last three words are a misprint, let me repeat: Jews ruled basketball" (17). Indeed, in the modern era it is easy to forget who the great boxers and basketball players were, for these "city" sports have changed, just like the neighborhoods that stimulated their growth. Previous books have explored the topic of Jewish exceptionalism in sport from a broad historical-sociological perspective. Peter Levine's Ellis Island to Ebbets Field: Sport and the American Jewish Experience (1993) chronicles how sport helped transform Jewish immigrants into citizens in full. Allen Bodner's When Boxing Was a Jewish Sport (1997) focuses on boxing's golden era in the 1920s and 1930s, when Jewish fighters vied for ring dominance against Italian- and Irish-American opponents. Each of these writers provide a specific historic context for their subjects. The header of Goldstein's essay, for instance, contains the title, the subject, and dates: "Tiny Baller," "Barney Sedran, (1891-1964)" (17). [excerpt]


Review of Douglas Stark's When Basketball was Jewish: Voices of Those Who Played the Game. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2017.


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