Sport and British Jewry

Integration, ethnicity and anti-Semitism, 1890-1970

By David Dee

Sport and British Jewry


  • Hardcover

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-9657-0
  • Pages: 240
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £20.99
  • Published Date: November 2014
  • BIC Category: Humanities / General & world history, Modern History, Religion, History, United Kingdom, Great Britain, General & world history, European history, SPORTS & RECREATION / Sociology of Sports, HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain, Sociology: Sport & Leisure, Society & social sciences / Jewish studies


Sport and British Jewry, available at last in paperback, provides the first wide-ranging examination of the importance of sport in the history of the British-Jewish community. Covering the period from 1890 through to 1970, it examines the peak era of Jewish involvement and interest in sport and physical recreation in Britain in recent times.

The book tackles three main themes. First, the author examines the relationship between sport and the integration of the Jewish migrant community of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Secondly, the study looks at how sport impacted on Jewish ethnicity. Thirdly, it addresses how sport became linked to expressions of anti-Semitism and Jewish responses to racial discrimination.

Sport and British Jewry not only demonstrates the significant impact that Jews had on British sport during this time frame, but also shows the considerable effect that sport had on the lives, experiences and identities of Jews within British society.


This is an important piece of social and cultural history and of interest to anyone interested in British identity, Jewish studies, sports studies and the role of ethnicity and racism in the modern world. The ground covered is impressive - it reflects both the world of immigrant and elite British Jewry and responses to the Jews from all layers of British society. The remarkable stories of Harold Abrahams and other Jewish sporting heroes are juxtaposed with ordinary experiences in the setting of a world of golf club and other prejudices.

David Dee's engaging Sport and British Jewry: Integration, ethnicity and anti-Semitism, 1890-1970 is the best and clearest account of one of the missing links in the history of British Jewry, the role that Jews, like other minorities, played in the history of sport. More than in any other nation Britain is the home of sport as a civilizing factor (from football to rugby to boxing to racing) and the importance of Jews in the sporting world from Victoria to Elizabeth II is explored in Dee's detailed and readable book.

David Dee has written a remarkable book about a fascinating subject. For too long scholars and the public alike have simply dismissed the notion of 'Jews and sport in the UK' as an oxymoron. Dee shows, with depth and insight, how significant and complicated this phenomenon was, and his study brilliantly illuminates Anglo-Jewry in a refreshing light.


PART I - Integration and 'Anglicisation'
I. 'Anglicisation' through sport: The Jewish youth movement, 1895-1914
II. Competitive sport and immigrant integration, 1899-1939
III. 'Too Semitic' or 'thoroughly Anglicised'? The life and career of Harold Abrahams
PART II - Religion and Ethnicity
I. 'All on the side of the more athletic form of Sabbatarianism' - Physical recreation and the Jewish Sabbath
II. The 'new' golden age of Jewish professional boxing
III. Creating a 'new Jew'? Sport and Maccabi Great Britain, 1934-1970
PART III - Anti-Semitism
I. The British Union of Fascists and the 'sporting Jew', 1935-1939
II. 'There is no discrimination here, but the committee never elects Jews': anti-Semitism and Golf
III. Kicking discrimination into touch? Sport as a response to anti-Semitism


David Dee is Lecturer in History at De Montfort University, Leicester

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