Playing the Game: Manchester Jewish Museum looks at Sporting Life in Jewish Manchester

By Ruth Hazard | 01 August 2012
A black and white photo of two small boys boxing under the watch of an official in 1908
The Jewish Lads' Brigade - boxers from 1908
Exhibition: Playing the Game: Sporting Life in Jewish Manchester, Manchester Jewish Museum, Manchester, until 21 December 2012

It’s hard to believe that when Angela Buxton won the Wimbledon doubles title little more than 50 years ago, a newspaper carried the headline “minorities win”, owing to the fact that she was Jewish and her partner, Althea Gibson, was black.

Charting the struggle Jewish athletes have faced to be recognised as serious competitors at sport, this new exhibition focuses on the pioneers who have managed to combat derogatory stereotypes and reach the top of their game.

Buxton is just one of the stars featured; international table tennis player Jeff Ingber, sprinter Harold Abrahams and boxing legend Daniel Mendoza, also share the stories and photographs that map out the challenges they faced over the course of their sporting careers.

The display also looks at how sport has changed life for Manchester’s Jewish community. Many early immigrants to the city were encouraged to get involved in sport in order to fit in with traditional English life, but this often went against their religious values.

Not being able to play or watch sport on the Jewish Sabbath (Saturday) created conflicts with training schedules and match days, so Jewish sports clubs, teams and organisations, such as Manchester Maccabi, were set up to ensure aspiring athletes could compete without compromising their beliefs.

“From football to tennis, weightlifting to boxing and table tennis to bowls, sport has always played an important part of life in Manchester’s Jewish community,” says the museum's Max Dunbar.

“This is the first ever exhibition to celebrate sport in Jewish Manchester and with the start of the Olympics it couldn’t come at a more appropriate time”.

A programme of sporting events accompany the show, as well as talks by Angela Buxton, football writer David Conn and athletics correspondent for the Jewish Chronicle, Brian Sacks.
  • Open Sunday-Thursday 10am-4pm (10am-1pm Friday, closed on Jewish festivals). Admission £3.95/£2.95.
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