Sunday, December 30, 2012
Simple put, the “sweet science” is no longer a “haimische” (homey) activity.
There was a time when strong young men from quality families entered the ring—not so much for the fame and glory, but to show they could fight to help themselves and their families make it in the world. Those men had names like Leonard, Ross, Goldstein, and Rosenbloom, and in the 1920s they ruled boxing as few other groups of boxers from the same cultural group have.
Today more Jews are in management and promotion than in the ring itself, but there are a few exceptions like Yuri Foreman and Dmitry Salita (both of whom refuse to fight on Shabbat), former World Boxing Council (WBC) champ Dana Rosenblatt, and Ron Aurit (who went by the name “The Yid Kid” when he fought Sugar Ray Leonard).
James Ford Nussbaum is seeking to uphold the legacy of Jewish boxing not in the ring itself, but through the big screen. The award-winning film producer is about to release “Impact: Jewish Boxers in America”.
Nussbaum says his grandfather, Newton Ford, a candy salesman and avid boxing fan in Philadelphia, was the inspiration for the film. But while Nussbaum had an affinity for boxing in his Jewish blood, few others seemed to share that.
“The amazing thing about doing this film was that many people, when told about this project, would react in awe asking, ‘There were Jews who boxed?’” the director tells JNS.org. “It’s a part of our Jewish history that not many people recognize and accept.”
In fact, Nussbaum suggests, in some circles Jews boxing is considered to be “almost a taboo topic.” He says that, despite their good upbringings, many Jewish boxers historically fell in with organized crime and other less-kosher activities, as many of their gentile fellow sportsmen did.
“Most Jews got involved with this sport to make a name for themselves,” Nussbaum points out, “and the thing that they all share in common with Irish, black, and Italian boxers and other ethnicities is poverty. They all came up from nothing and used the sport to promote themselves in a way that would excel them to a new socioeconomic level.”
As such, the director/producer poses his piece not as a film about the dark side of a dimming sport, but rather as “an incredible American Dream story of being able to come up from nothing in this country and be able to become a success.”
Over the course of two years, Nussbaum delved into the worlds of some of the best Jewish boxers from today and yesterday, including Cletus Seldin, Ron Lipton and Ed Gersh, by making time with them at home, in the gym and in the ring.
“The Jewish aspect of the sport is something out of the ordinary,” Nussbaum says, noting how many Jewish boxers still display the Jewish star somewhere on their trunks or robes.
Even so, he says, there has been what he sees as “an impressive number of boxers in the sport as well… a real diverse group with names like Bummy Davis, Slapsie Maxie Rosenthal and Barney Ross.”
Some Jewish boxers changed their names to protect their families. Many Jewish parents still look down on the sport, even if they had participated in it themselves.
“Most Jewish boxers like Barney Ross and Benny Leonard didn’t want their kids involved in the sport,” Nussbaum explains. “There are very few if any boxers that have children that continued in the sport of boxing. Most of them went on to become lawyers and doctors.”
Nussbaum got so involved in the lives of his subjects while shooting that he even required medical attention.
“One year into shooting… I injured my eye,” he recalls, detailing that his detached retina became one of his “favorite” parts of shooting the film because it was a typical “boxer’s injury.”
“It seems that I not only produced the film and directed it, but also lived a firsthand account of what the boxers go through on a day to day basis,” he says.
As he regained his own sight, Nussbaum gained even more insight into what the professional fighters he was featuring need to do to make it in their brutal, but still at times beautiful, sport.
“I had become a boxer myself,” he says, “determined to make this film and living a life that was very similar to them. I regained my sight and lived through an injury that made me feel exactly how some of these fighters feel… struggling to make this film as real and poignant as possible.”
Such experiences also drew Nussbaum’s subjects closer to him and encouraged others to seek him out and participate in the film.
“Many of the boxers in the film came to me after hearing what I was attempting to do,” he says. “They loved the idea and were so happy to learn that someone was interested in telling their stories the right way… from their perspectives.”
The finished film is set to air in more than 300,000 homes through Cablevision Systems in Morris County, NJ, and will possibly be distributed through The Jewish Channel on pay-per-view cable, but Nussbaum is also working to get it into film festivals and theaters nationwide.
“It is our hope to show and use the Jewish boxer as an example for accomplishing the American dream,” Nussbaum explains, “and proving once again that anyone can succeed in our great nation.”
Nussbaum also hopes that the film will “put an end to so much of the hatred that exists right now towards Jews and other minorities.”
“This is a part of Jewish and national history that many people are unaware of, and it is our hope to give viewers a behind-the-lens, honest rendition of what it is like to be Jewish and box in the USA,” he says.
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Grief will soon turn to anger in the aftermath's of what occurred in Newtown this past week with the shootings of innocent children in a small quaint community school in Connecticut. As families and communities begin to try and pick up the pieces of their shattered lives let us remember that we must not be afraid to face the fire...our fears...and try to educate ourselves on viable solutions so that this kind of tragedy doesn't repeat itself. Adam Lanza was a very ill and demented child that somehow obtained a gun and destroyed not just his own life but the lives of other family members within his community. I'm reminded of the Bob Geldoff song "I Don't Like Mondays" regarding the Texas shootings that took place in the 70's when a demented young girl decided to bring a shot gun to the local university and begin shooting. When they finally apprehended her after the killings had stopped they asked her why. Her response was simple. "I Don't Like Monday's", she replied. In the aftermath of Newtown we do not have answers to why from Adam Lanza and this must be extremely frustrating to the community and the families in order to bring some type of closure.
Mentally ill patients, psychiatrists and social workers have been given another blow by this event establishing greater stigma's towards themselves and the freedom's they might already have worked hard to achieve within their own personal struggles but we must not forget that this is the time to act and not sit silent as victim's of a senseless shooting. Now is the time to educate ourselves on mental health issues and learn more about what offers up the trigger factor for a young man who had "The silicon chip inside his head...switched to overload", as Geldoff poetically reveals in his song. It is time to look for answers amoungst the mentally ill, practitioners of psychotherapy circles and social workers as they scammer to do better jobs of identifying children who are mentally disturbed. Detection must come early and it seems only natural now to direct better testing methods early on in hopes that another senseless shooting will not place guns into the hands of those who can easily use them on innocent lives as well as themselves.
What now will happen to the rights of the mentally ill now that Adam Lanza has taken us back 10 steps in order to mover 20 more forward? Are we destined to become another 4th Reich isolating those who are mentally ill back into prisons and taking away their right to vote, their right to speak, their right to advocate. Now is the time for educating communities about mental health issues and finding answers that will bring us into a new era of mental health awareness...the advent of taking off from work to have a mental health day may not be a bad idea but it is imperative that we try and funnel our communal anger towards the shooter and ask ourselves what have I done to educate myself about mental health, the dangers in stress and anxiety holding our lawmakers, politicians and police enforcers more accountable to take part in keeping guns away from those who are mentally ill? Placing a gun into the hands of anyone who is not mentally stable is like placing a suicide bomber into a crowded town square. We must be relentless in understanding the problem early either in schools or at home and keep the weapons of mass destruction away from those who are able to obtain them without any kind of background check. The system of checking handgun applicants must be reevaluated and streamlined to prevent another gun from getting into the hands of another mentally ill person. The NRA will say guns are not the problem, people that use them are. Then why not take the gun factor out of the equation by doing better background checks on potential owners. That's the first answer. Secondly, it's time to allocate more funding towards identification of potential mental health patients through the eyes and ears of mental health practitioners. Now is not the time to cut back on mental health programs like state run PACT programs and social workers along with psychotherapists expenses for office hours. Now is the time to allocate funding into the schools and help teachers better identify signs of a mental health emergencies so that the teachers are able to make some kind of sense out of strange and unusual behavior. We must not start turning completely towards a state of placing "I'm Mentally Ill" stickers on every mental health patient that is out there. It's a balancing act that must not violate the rights of the mentally ill community either. It's time to bring about better training for mental health professionals and find ways to bring about awareness WITHOUT exploitation.
Adam Lanza was a victim of a community that turned their back on his mental health needs and in turn he destroyed a community and himself. We must not turn our backs on the many other children who suffer from an identifiable mental health disorder. Now is the time to take action and begin steps towards early detection and testing of our children and their mental health condition and make sure we can nip an ongoing problem in the butt early before we jump to conclusions and begin taking away the rights of the mentally ill as well. The Patients Bill of Rights should be evaluated once again and the problems of not knowing how to answer the cries of Adam Lanza must be taken into account by community members, police and politicians. Careful monitoring and supervision are needed to protect the rights of the mentally ill and the rights of community members along with families. Gun control must be enforced better so that no child get's their lives senselessly taken away without the chance to make a difference.
Peace and safe surfing,
Sunday, December 9, 2012
Hippies to Hacktivists:
The Wave of Hackers,
Hacktivists and Anonymous
James Ford Nussbaum
Understanding New Media
Fairleigh Dickinson University
Professor Lance Strate
GALILEO PRODUCTIONS, LLC
“We are Anonymous.
We are Legion.
We do not forgive.
We do not forget.
The Anonymous Mantra