Monday, February 4, 2013

Bagels and Boxing

This Sunday morning, February 10th, at 9:30 AM, Congregation Adas Emuno will feature a special adult education (and confirmation class) event in our social hall:  Bagels and Boxing. The breakfast nosh will not be accompanied by actual bouts of pugilism, we hasten to reassure you, but rather will feature the screening of a documentary entitled Impact: Jewish Boxers in America.

You can read about it on the film's official website,  

And we are pleased to add that the filmmaker, James Ford Nussbaum, shown below left with boxer Dmitriy Salita, and below right with Rabbi Bekhor, will be present to answer questions and join in the discussion that will follow the screening of his half-hour documentary.

The story of Jewish boxers in America begins early in the 20th century, and includes boxing champions such as Benny Leonard,  Barney Ross, and Maxie Rosenbloom, as well as Ed Gersh, shown on the left, the oldest living Jewish Golden Gloves champion, who is interviewed in the film.

And the story continues to this day. with contemporary Jewish boxers such as Cletis Seldin, shown on the right. 

An article about the film by Matt Robinson can be found on the news service website, entitled Film Tries to Make Jewish Boxing a Hit Again.  You can click on the title to read the article in its entirety, which includes an interview with the filmmaker. Here's an excerpt:

“The amazing thing about doing this film was that many people, when told about this project, would react in awe asking, ‘There were Jews who boxed?’” the director tells “It’s a part of our Jewish history that not many people recognize and accept.” 
In fact, Nussbaum suggests, in some circles Jews boxing  is considered to be “almost a taboo topic.” He says that, despite their good upbringings, many Jewish boxers historically fell in with organized crime and other less-kosher activities, as many of their gentile fellow sportsmen did.

“Most Jews got involved with this sport to make a name for themselves,” Nussbaum points out, “and the thing that they all share in common with Irish, black, and Italian boxers and other ethnicities is poverty. They all came up from nothing and used the sport to promote themselves in a way that would excel them to a new socioeconomic level.”
As such, the director/producer poses his piece not as a film about the dark side of a dimming sport, but rather as “an incredible American Dream story of being able to come up from nothing in this country and be able to become a success.”

So join us as we explore this often overlooked aspect of Jewish history in America, and learn how the "people of the book" participated in the sport known as the "sweet science" in the past, and how Jewish fighters are still fighting in the ring to this day!


  1. Many thanks to all of the congregates of the temple for allowing me to speak and present IMPACT: Jewish Boxers in America at your house of worship. Hope you'll tune in on Cablevision channel 21 on Sunday's at 12:30.


    James Ford Nussbaum