First Buddy Myer and now this…

Posted on: May 3rd, 2016 by Ron Kaplan

(Actually, where’s Andre? As in Burakovsky, the Washington Capitals left-winger.)

http://www.jewishsports.net/BioImages/bookA_Page_016_Image_0002.jpgBuddy Myer was a major leaguer for almost 20 years, mostly with the Washington Senators. People assumed he was Jewish because of his name (and you know what happens when you ass-u-me). Sportswriters identified him thus. He’s included in several books about Jews and the national pastime and was even inducted in the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.

Myer, who is interred in a Christian cemetery, never thought to deny it, thinking it would make him look bad or some such thing. In fact, at one point the family did have Jewish roots, but they converted out of the faith either before he was born or when he was just a lad.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve received several emails suggesting I remove Andre Burakovsky from the Jice roles because of his emphatic Tweets in which he claims he’s not now or has he or his parents ever been Jewish.

http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/andre-burakovsky-first-nhl-goal-smile.jpegBurakovsky had been identified by JSR as a MOT. They pitch a wide tent, as we say in the office, meaning there’s a more liberal POV when it comes to inclusion than what you might expect from other sources (not the least of which is halachic tradition of matrilineal descent). In fact, they make no bones about it when they state “The Jewish Sports Review is NOT a religious journal.”

According to their mission statement, JSR “[V]erifies and ‘fact checks’ the Jewish background of every athlete listed…” Further explanation of their methods:

When an athlete’s name appears in all capital letters, it means that he/she has been identified to us as a Jew. For JSR‘s purposes, an athlete is Jewish if they have at least one Jewish parent [my emphasis], do not practice another faith and identify ethnically as a Jew. An athlete with at least one Jewish parent is excluded only if they were raised in or converted to another faith or express a disinclination to be included in JSR.

That’s always been good enough for me.

But somewhere along the way there was miscommunication. In several email exchanges, the editors of JSR and others whom I consider my “sports rabbis” on such issues have maintained their opinio in the face of these new revelations.

So what do we do about this? All the research that might point to the contrary notwithstanding, do we continue to hold Burakovsky “hostage,” regardless of his importunings? After all, it’s his life. Shouldn’t he be free to make that determination? Or, as gruesome history has claimed, does one drop of Jewish blood makes one a Jew, regardless of level of observation?

Are Jewish sports fans so desperate that we can’t conceive of giving up “one of our own?”

Thoughts? Please feel free to leave a comment on the site.

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  1. Bruce Gelber says:

    it’s one thing : “never thought to deny it” quite another thing to ” emphatic Tweets in which he claims he’s not now or has he or his parents ever been Jewish”…. Keep Buddy, but let Andre go!

    • Ron Kaplan says:

      Sorry, but Buddy “never was” so it’s not a keep situation, all references to him in Jewish baseball books notwithstanding. Just as we’ll have to accept that this story was wrong all along.


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