SMALL TOUGH JEWS
The small tough Jews in my high school were wrestlers, except for the one who was a gymnast.
I saw the gymnast — and his wife — years later at a Yiddishe Cup concert. I said to the wife, “Your husband was a star!” She didn’t seem to know that.
The great Reed Klein. He went on to the Ohio State gymnastics team. Reed was the only gymnast in our high school. There was no team. Reed was an iron man and one small tough Jew. Five-foot-five, max.
The other small tough Jews were Harry Kramer and Steve Gold. They wrestled in very low weight classes, like 93 pounds and 103 pounds in junior high.
Small Jewish wrestlers — as a classification — are still with us. The Cleveland Jewish News ran an article titled “Gross, Jacober, Harris place in state mat meet.” The boys are Beachwood High’s 112-, 130- and 125-pound wrestlers.
My son Jack wrestled in middle school. The matches were so primal: two or three minutes of animal behavior in a stinky windowless wrestling room. Tough and scary. And I was just watching.
My wife dated a wrestler in high school.
Maybe I should have wrestled.
It never entered my mind. I don’t like singlets. I don’t like armpits – other guys’. I don’t like headlocks, unless Bobo Brazil is giving one to Lord Layton, and it’s 1960.
The yideo below, “Stratton of Judea,” is from the Klezmer Guy live show. The clip is about my father changing his last name. One of my better efforts.
The text — but not the video — was posted here Sept. 16, 2009.
Yiddishe Cup plays 7 p.m. Thurs., Aug 25, at Wiley Middle School, 2181 Miramar Blvd., University Heights, Ohio. The concert is in the air-conditioned auditorium rather than on the lawn, due to construction outside the building. Free. More info at 216-932-7800.