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Jewish masculine identity and the NBA

February 20, 2010

Israelis are crazy for basketball, but my husband as an individual is particularly obsessed. He knows the stats and life history of every player and the results of every game back decades before he was alive enough to be a spectator.

He also seems to get a special satisfaction from pointing out who is Jewish in basketball, sports, and life in general. He’s not alone — many of his friends do it too. Where I come from, this isn’t polite or PC, but within the Jewish community it’s a way to feel connection to and pride in the success of your kin. To explain this better, my husband made me read this article by ESPN blogger Kevin Arnovitz. It’s a very candid, thoughtful exploration of this phenomenon as embodied by Ompri Casspi, the first Israeli NBA player, and definitely worth reading.

This week seems to be revolving around issues of a nation’s perception of masculinity as defined by cultural outsiders. I wonder how this theme could be applied to American men, or has the Hollywood-ization of the world too long painted them as the ideal to strive for?

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