When waves of Jewish immigrants fled persecution in Eastern Europe and arrived in Britain at the turn of the century, they needed to blend in. Sport – particularly football – provided the perfect vehicle for social integration. ‘Four Four Jew’, a new exhibition at the Jewish Museum, hopes to reveal how Jewishness became a part of football in the late nineteenth century and, in turn, how football is now a part of Jewish identity.
Along with striking photographs – such as the one of the England national team giving the Nazi salute in Berlin in 1938 – taken from the Jewish Museum’s archive, the exhibition is made up of objects loaned by former football players, writers and fans. The display includes the childhood diary of Arsenal’s former vice-chairman David Dein, and an Irish International velvet cap from 1910 which belonged to one of the first known Jewish footballers, Louis Bookman. There’s also a football table to play at and a season of related events including family football fun days, film screenings and panel debates.
The show promises a rich display of artefacts which not only recounts the history of Judaism in football, but helps document the evolution of a community over the past century. Danielle Goldstein