Letters to the Editor | January 4, 2023


When BBC played against Gezer

The story about Alon Leichman, who was born and raised on Kibbutz Gezer and has become a pitching coach for the Cincinnati Reds, is wonderful (“Wild Pitch,” Dec. 29), but I would be remiss if I did not point out that Kibbutz Gezer built its softball diamond in 1978, not 1983, when Gezer was the site for the launch of the Israel Softball League.

I know that because I made aliyah in the late summer of 1978, when an ad in the Jerusalem Post titled “Where have you gone Joe Dimaggio” invited softball players in Israel to join the new league and caught my eye. The ad was placed by Ed Freedman, a big Dodgers fan who was practicing law in Israel and was friends with David Leichman, and Jonathan Broder, who was the Chicago Tribune correspondent in Israel.

After a try-out, I was selected by Ed Freedman to join his team the “BBC” (named after a bar in Tel Aviv), and we played in the opening game against Gezer. The then-U.S. ambassador, Samuel Lewis, threw out the honorary first pitch, and the game was covered by the Post and Haaretz.

Since I was a research fellow at that time at the then-Shiloah (now Dayan) Center for Middle East Studies at Tel Aviv University, I received a copy of an article in Haaretz, which described the game but was clipped because it mentioned that I — the “mitztayen” (the best player) – was from Machon Shiloah.


Forty-four years later, it is gratifying to see how far softball and, subsequently, baseball have grown in Israel. For that, Alon Leichman can thank not only his father, but also Ed Freedman and the largesse of the Chicago Tribune (which surely was the unwitting source of the funds for the critical Jerusalem Post ad).

Ira Hoffman, Bethesda

Regarding “What made Nazi physicians unusually evil” (Dec. 8):

There are several historical facts that the article failed to mention. Shiro Ishii, the Imperial Japanese Army surgeon general, conducted similar, horrific experiments on civilians and prisoners of war in the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo during World War II. He was later granted immunity by the U.S. government in exchange for his research information. Our government also “studied” Nazi medical “information.”

On a more personal note. organized medicine in Maryland and the District of Columbia in the 1930s through the early 1960’s was overtly antisemitic. Jews were permitted membership in the D.C. Medical Society, but were not permitted to hold office. Thus the Jacobi Medical Society held much importance among Jewish physicians.

My father graduated from the University of Maryland, School of Medicine in 1936. There were quotas limiting the number of Jewish students. In addition, by 1934-35, Jewish students were segregated from non-Jews and on at least one occasion, the Jewish students were physically attacked.

Barrett L. Burka, M.D., Naples, Fla.

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