Jewish baseball enthusiasts have a unique opportunity to indulge their passion this summer during an event that is being billed as a "first-ever, exciting and intriguing weekend exploring the spiritual, social, and historical connections between Judaism and baseball."
As announced by Jewish Major Leaguers cards publisher Martin Abramowitz in the Jewish Sports Collectibles group on Yahoo, and as reported by Jewish sports blogger Ron Kaplan on Kaplan's Korner on Jews & Sports, the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center in Connecticut will be hosting an in-depth discussion of Judaism & Baseball from June 29-July 1, 2012.
The event offers Jewish baseball aficionados the chance to build once-in-a-lifetime memories and numerous opportunities add to a Jewish baseball memorabilia collection.
The upcoming retreat is the most recent event of what Abramowitz told JewishSportsCollectibles.com in a 2010 interview has been a "recent renaissance of interest in Jews in baseball."
The 2001 publication of The Big Book of Jewish Baseball followed, as did the 2003 release of the original Jewish Major Leaguers baseball cards (subsequent series followed in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010).
Since then, numerous books on the subject of Jewsish contributions to baseball — including the two-volume Jews & Baseball set by Burton and Benita Boxerman (read JSC's review of Jews & Baseball: Volume 2 here) and others (see below) — have been published.
Since 2009, two documentary films on the subject, Holy Land Hardball (about the the short-lived Israel Baseball League) and Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story (read JSC's posting about the film's collectibles here) have been produced.
Previous events exploring Jewish baseball have included the August 29-30, 2004 "Celebration of Jews In Baseball" at the National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum and a June 29, 2008 session at the Hall of Fame group marking the 75th anniversary of Hank Greenberg's rookie season.
The 2004 event included appearances by eight former Jewish Major Leaguers and numerous authors. The 2008 event offered a day-long symposium and film screening and the introduction of two Greenberg-related collectibles to the Hall of Fame & Museum — including the 2008 JML Hank Greenberg tribute card set and a limited edition Greenberg commemorative bat.
Scheduled speakers and presenters for this summer's Judaism and Baseball retreat include:
Martin Abramowitz, president of Jewish Major Leaguers, the producer of the JML baseball cards and co-author of Jewish Major Leaguers in Their Own Words: Oral Histories of 23 Players.
Authors Rabbi Rebecca Alpert (Out of Left Field: Jews and Black Baseball– read my review of the book originally published in the Fall 2011 issue of Jewish Book World); Philadelphia Daily News sportswriter Stan Hochman (The Clown Prince of Baseball, the biography of "baseball clown" Max Patkin); Peter Levine (Ellis Island to Ebbets Field: Sport and the American Jewish Experience and The Rabbi of Swat); and, Howard Megdal (The Baseball Talmud: The Definitive Position-by-Position Ranking of Baseball's Chosen Players).
Former United States Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer, commissioner of the Israel Baseball League (read JSC.com's review of IBL collectibles here), and Bob Ruxin (An Athlete's Guide to Agents), an IBL consultant, sports attorney and project manager of the Hall of Fame's 2008 Greenberg celebration.
And, Justine Siegal, the first woman to coach professionally in independent leage baseball and to pitch major league batting practice, and executive director of Baseball for All, an organization devoted to promoting baseball to girls (read JewishSportsCollectibles.com's review of Justine Siegal's collectibles here).
The retreat will also include a mock draft of the All-Time Jewish All-Star Team (see The Baseball Talmud: The Definitive Position-by-Position Ranking of Baseball's Chosen Players for Megdal's picks), an exploration of the mystical connections between Judaism & Baseball by Rabbi Michael Paley, a concert of baseball songs with songwriter and musician Dan Bern, and a reading of the Yiddish version of the baseball poem, Casey at the Bat by poet Mikhail Horowitz (Big League Poets).
Are any JSC readers planning to attend this seminal event, which is will provide life-long memories and no doubt offers numerous opprortunities to add to a Jewish baseball memorabilia collection?