Jews. Blacks. Baseball.

To many, these three words seem very disconnected and unrelated.

A crowd of curious spectators filled the Dolan School of Business last Thursday to listen to author Rebecca T. Alpert discuss her book Out of Left Field: Jews and Black Baseball.

Jews played a major role in helping to break color barriers during the 20th century, Alpert explained. During this time when racism was on the rise, the Jewish community stepped up to support the blacks, especially in baseball, by getting involved in the Negro Leagues and becoming the first group to approve the integration of the sport.

Alpert believes Jews and blacks had felt a common “sense of shared victimization,” as the Jewish community had also experienced their own freedom struggles leading up to World War II.

Post-World War II, Alpert explained that anti-Semitism was just beginning to fade as racial discrimination came to the forefront. Jews were able to relate to the blacks yearning for equality and righteousness, and they felt they were simply following their religious beliefs by supporting moral and social justice.

Dr. Yohuru Williams, a history professor at Fairfield, commented that Alpert’s book is a “story of both the familiar and unfamiliar.” It forces readers to think of “how far we have come and how far we still have to go.”

The event served as the opening of Fairfield’s Carl and Dorothy Bennett Center for Judaic Studies 2013 spring semester season. “This lecture was a great opportunity for the Fairfield University community to be exposed to a world-class scholar who is helping to transform our understanding of the civil rights movement through baseball,” Williams said.

Alpert is a graduate of Barnard College. She received a Ph.D. in religion from Temple University, where she currently works as an Associate Professor of Religion and Women’s Studies. Albert specializes in religion in America, with a focus on sexuality and sport. She was also ordained a rabbi at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in 1976.

In addition to Out of Left Field: Jews and Black Baseball, Alpert authored Like Bread on the Seder Plate: Jewish Lesbians and the Transformation of Tradition and Whose Torah? A Concise Guide to Progressive Judaism. She also co-authored Exploring Judaism: A Reconstructionist Approach, and she has written numerous articles on contemporary Jewish life.

Many members of the audience were pleased with the event and found it fascinating and educational.

Sophomore Nicole Davidow said that the event was very interesting. Though she did not have much background knowledge in baseball, she was amazed that the sport provided such a connection between Jews and blacks.

Freshman Jeannette Eckelman found the lecture to be an informative and creative way “to incorporate the fight against anti-Semitism and civil rights in a post-World War II era.”

About The Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.