New Book on Jewish Athletes Something Kids Can Root For
by Yossi Goldstein
Looking for the neatest holiday gift for your sports-loving young one? How about the perfect Bar Mitzvah present that surely will delight?
A spectacular new book has recently hit the bookshelves. To say author Andrew Gershman’s book, “Modern Day Maccabees” is the first of its kind, would be doing an injustice to the author and his stellar compilation of Jewish athletes in an accessible, easy-to-read format for kids and adults alike.
“Most of the Jewish athletes’ books out on the market are either geared strictly for adults, or they are very childish cartoon caricatures,” noted Gershman.
How many times have you tried procuring a readable sports book for your child, or even for yourself, and found the task to be quite tall? If I asked the same question in reference to a Jewish athletes’ sports book, would your predicament become more glaring?
Inspired by his youngest son to write what would become “Modern Day Maccabees,” Gershman not only succeeded in putting out a ground-breaking children’s sports book but a manuscript for adults to likewise enjoy.
“The format for the book is geared towards kids,” admitted Gershman. “It’s a pick-up and put-down type, with an easy readable flow to it. However, the book itself is really uncapped; geared for ages eight and up.
The content of “Modern Day Maccabees” is uniquely geared towards all age groups, not just the young sports fan.
Aside from crossword puzzles, there are also factoids and succinct biographies for each selected athlete, some you may not have been previously aware of. Furthermore, some Jewish athletes featured in the book may surprise you as, well, being Jewish.
Ever the intrepid reporter, Gershman’s only ‘bottom line’ was that all the noted ball players and athletes were to be halachically Jewish. “I wanted all kids to be able to identify who is Jewish on the playing field,” explained Gershman. “A guy like Cincinnati’s [Bengals] Taylor Mays is one such person you wouldn’t think of at first being Jewish. I got a call from someone who took his son to a Bengals game because his son only wanted to see Mays play.”
When an author sets out to write a book, there’s usually a goal in mind before pen is put to paper. Herein was no different. The goal was to instill Jewish pride into those reading his book.
“We hear a lot in the general media about the good and bad of athletes off the field,” said Gershman, “and rarely is a Jewish athlete mentioned in this context. In the ‘Mitzvah Moments’ section for each player, I describe some of the positive off-field work in which the athlete is currently engaged. I wanted to highlight for the readers what happens off the field for these Jewish athletes in a positive setting.”
Living in Israel for a couple of years certainly had its affect on Gershman.
“My time in Israel, and working at Israel Sports Radio certainly had its affect on which athletes I would feature in this book,” confided Gershman. “Through my work in Israeli radio I was able to meet and interview many players and athletes. Thus, as opposed to only having American players listed in the book, I also included some Israeli athletes and other Jewish internationals.”
However, that’s not to say there weren’t any trials and tribulations along the way. The laborious effort that went into publishing this first-of-its-kind book felt, at times, tantamount to splitting the Red Sea.
“There were a lot of obstacles and challenges I faced along the way,” allowed Gershman. “These ranged from identifying who would be in the book, to raising enough capital for making this dream become a reality, and everything else in between.”
The book itself is quite a delightful and enjoyable read. It touches on the players as people, as well as giving life lessons to all ages through player quotes, notes, and letters.
Fear your child’s inquiry no more. “Modern Day Maccabees” is now near you in a store!
You can get hold of a copy of “Modern Day Maccabees” through BN.com and Amazon.com in soft cover, and the book is also available online for your Kindle.