Jewish Sports Hall of Fame of Western Pennsylvania Photographs

What's online?

The Jewish Sports Hall of Fame of Western Pennsylvania Photographs contains team photographs from the Irene Kaufmann Settlement, Young Men and Women’s Hebrew Association, Pittsburgh Jewish Community Center, and various organized clubs. The team photographs are primarily basketball teams, but also include baseball, track, swimming, tennis, softball, and fencing. This collection contains photographs ranging from 1911 to 1989, but is heavily weighted on the first half of the twentieth century.

What's in the entire collection?

The collection, held by the Rauh Jewish Archives of the Senator John Heinz History Center, contains more than 250 photographs, including photographs of athletes inducted into the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame of Western Pennsylvania, special events, and team photographs.

About the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame of Western Pennsylvania

The Jewish Sports Hall of Fame of Western Pennsylvania was founded in 1982 with a dual mission to provide financial support for Jewish sports programs in Western Pennsylvania and Israel and to honor Jewish men and women with connections to Western Pennsylvania who achieved a high level in athletic competition or with prestigious careers in sports related fields.

The collection contains photographs of individual athletes, special events, and team photographs. Most of the photographs of individual athletes were used in programs for the annual induction ceremonies. Photographs of special events include the Maccabi Games, organizational meetings, and a handball tournament. The team photographs in the collection are primarily from the Irene Kaufmann Settlement, Young Men and Women’s Hebrew Association, and the Jewish Community Center.

The Irene Kaufmann Settlement was endowed in 1909 by Mr. and Mrs. Henry Kaufmann, in memory of their daughter. The IKS was originally founded as the Columbian Council School and Settlement in 1895. The IKS was nonsectarian and provided a wide variety of services to the immigrant community in the Hill District including basic education for children, English classes, home nursing and health services, as well as art and music lessons, and athletic activities. The Irene Kaufmann Settlement merged with the YM&WHA and evolved into the present-day Jewish Community Center (JCC) in Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill neighborhood. The JCC continues the tradition of the IKS in providing programs and services to the nonsectarian local community.

Pictured in many team photographs from the IKS are Ziggy Kahn and Sidney Teller. Joseph “Ziggy” Kahn had been an outstanding athlete in his youth playing for Central High School, Schenley High School, and the Coffey Club. He spent much of his professional life encouraging the development of youths through athletics and was athletic director of the IKS for thirty-eight years. Sidney Teller was the first director of the IKS and served that position from 1916-1942.

The Young Men’s Hebrew Association (YMHA) was founded in 1910 by a group of teenage boys under the leadership of Harry Applestein to provide cultural, social, and educational opportunities to Jewish youth. The YMHA merged in 1919 with the Young Women’s Hebrew Association, which had been founded in 1911, to form the YM&WHA. Although the YM&WHA emphasized the ideals of Jewish culture, the institution imposed no sectarian restrictions and thus enriched the entire Pittsburgh community.

The Jewish Community Center (JCC) evolved from the Irene Kaufmann Settlement, YM&WHA, and the Emma Kaufmann Camp. The organizations merged in 1960 and adopted the JCC name in 1974. The JCC is nonsectarian and offers social and cultural services including athletic facilities and activities. The JCC Maccabi Games were founded in 1982 to promote community involvement, teamwork, sportsmanship, and a deeper identification with and appreciation of Jewish values among Jewish teens ages 13-16. Lenny Silberman, who is frequently pictured in the JCC team photographs, played an important role in the Pittsburgh JCC’s Maccabi Program and the JSHFWP. He held various positions at the Pittsburgh JCC, including that of Athletic Director, and served as assistant vice president of program services for the JCC Association, headquartered in New York City.

In the first half of the twentieth century many clubs were formed at the IKS to promote social activities, athletic competition, and philanthropic goals in the community. For instance, the Coffey Club, founded in 1910 to promote "clean living and clean thinking," sponsored basketball and baseball teams for young Jewish men. The Coffey Club basketball team drew large crowds to their competitions and events and was a leading independent team in Pittsburgh’s basketball scene. Other such clubs included in this collection are the Enoch Rauh Club, Judge Cohen Club, Jewish Big Brother Club, Harry Levine Club, and Monroe Junior Club.

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