Reception: Tuesday, May 24, 2022 at 11:00 a.m.
Jews and Golf Exhibition
The Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art, Tulsa, Oklahoma, (article below was originally written for the May 2022 issue of the Tulsa Jewish Review by Mickel Yantz, Director of Collections and Exhibitions) There are certain professional fields that are full of Jews changing the world to become household names. Physics has Einstein, Bohr and Oppenheimer while comedy has Benny, Brooks and Seinfeld. But golf? With the PGA Tournament returning to Tulsa’s Southern Hills this May the museum thought it was time to spotlight Jewish golfers globally and share our own local golf history.
The PGA and LPGA have a couple legendary players. Bruce Fleisher won the U.S. Amateur championship in 1968 which carried him into his professional career winning both individual and team gold medals at the 1969 Maccabiah Games and winning the PGA Club Professional Championship in 1989. Fleisher had a total of 35 wins in his five decades in the game and stayed active coaching for the USA Open Golf Team at the 1989 Maccabiah Games and the 2013 Maccabiah Games in Israel.
On the lady’s side Amy Alcott was self-taught giving her a simple swing that won her the State Amateur at 14 and broke Babe Didrikson Zaharias’ record at Pebble Beach by one stroke. She won the USGA Junior Girls’ national championship in 1973 and once shot four 69s in a tournament at the age of 14. After winning the LPGA Rookie of the Year in 1975 she gathered 34 professional wins, including the Vare Trophy for lowest seasonal scoring average in 1980, before being inducted into the LPGA Hall of Fame in 1999. Following the end of her touring days, Alcott started working in golf course design while writing instructional books and coaching.
Other professionals are LPGA, Duke grad and Israeli Laetitia Beck, who wears the Israeli flag not on her sleeve but on her shoes. David Lipsky, a Californian of Korean descent who won the Asian tour’s Order of Merit in 2014 and competed at the World Golf Championship in 2015. Daniel Berger whose father Jay, was a former pro tennis player and inducted into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, has four PGA victories and will hopefully be in Tulsa. Another current golfer we hope to see in town is Max Homa who won the individual 2013 NCAA Division I Men's Golf Championship in college and as a pro, has won the 2019 Wells Fargo Championship, the 2021 Genesis Invitational and the 2021 Fortinet Championship.
Speaking of Tulsa, let’s talk about our own golf history. Phil Goldfarb, President of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Tulsa had a great article in 2018 sharing the history of Meadowbrook Country Club. He shared: “At the time, Jews were not permitted membership at other clubs including Southern Hills, The Oaks or Tulsa Country Club. The charter members had their first organizational meeting on December 1, 1946 at the Mayo Hotel. There were 26 of the 100 men invested $2,500 each ($33,900 in 2018 dollars) while the other 74 each provided $1,000 ($13,500 in 2018 dollars) in the Country Club project for shares of stock and a proprietary interest in the land. The 26 major members were: Mike Froug, Ray Kravis, Ohren Smulian, Moe Gimp, Herb Gussman, Isadore Nadel, Gershon Fenster, Morris Sanditen, Julius Sanditen, Sam Miller, Mike Miller, Pug Myers, Herman Kaiser, Morris Solow, Morris Goltz, Al Greenberg, Meier Greenberg, Julius Livingston, Al Cohan, Jerry Watt, Dave Jacobson, Meyer Moran, Jay Newman, Ad Eichenberg, Morris Sitrin, and L.B. Klar. The first official meeting of the Board of Governors of Meadowbrook Country Club (MCC) was held on June 11, 1947 with the first Club President being Louis “Pug” Myers. June 22, 1947 was designated as the “official opening day” of Meadowbrook Country Club.
The “new” Meadowbrook Country Club on 81st between Memorial and Mingo (also called by some people “The Jew Club”) initially had nine holes of golf and the course was designed at a fee of $57,364 by Pres Maxwell, son of the great golf course architect Perry Maxwell (who ironically designed the non-Jewish Southern Hills Country Club) and opened to play on March 1, 1956. The clubhouse was completed on May 5, 1956. In the initial year, there were 181 members paying monthly dues of $30.50. The second nine holes designed by Don Sechrest opened in October 1969.
Programs such as a day camp (Camp Shalom started at Meadowbrook), water ballet, athletic events, archery, tennis and swimming instruction, men’s and women’s golf tournaments were the norm. Club Nights which happened once a month brought in the big bands as well as entertainment such as Henny Youngman, Steve Lawrence, and Totie Fields.”
The Jews and Golf Exhibit opens May 12, 2022 with a reception May 24, 2022 at 11:00 a.m. It runs through August 29, 2022 featuring 15 Jewish golfers and artifacts from around the globe. We will also have original documents and objects in partnership with Meadowbrook Country Club to honor the original founders.
Sanditen/Kaiser Holocaust Center
The Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art opened the Sanditen/Kaiser Holocaust Center in November 2020, an expansion which doubled the size of the Center and ushered in a new era for the Holocaust exhibit. Providing for state-of-the-art displays greatly enhancing the Museum’s Holocaust education capacity, it attracts visitors who wish to learn why and how the Holocaust occurred, and how to ensure it never happens again. The Center showcases over 250 artifacts from soldiers and survivors never before seen by the public. The horrifying events of the period are chronicled through the testimonies of five Holocaust survivors who made Oklahoma their home. Their first-hand accounts along with the objects and documents provide a walk through history and expose the effects of hate, local and worldwide. Also featured in the region’s only Holocaust Center are one of a kind art installations from Oklahoma and international artists.
When a Tulsa synagogue hosted a traveling Jewish art exhibit from New York in 1965…
The public’s response was overwhelmingly enthusiastic. The Gershon and Rebecca Fenster Gallery of Jewish Art opened to the public the following year, and Sherwin Miller, the Gallery’s first curator, started to collect Jewish art and artifacts in earnest.
In 2000, the Museum was renamed to the Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art (SMMJA) in honor of its first curator. It moved to its current location on the Zarrow Campus in 2003.
The Museum has on display its permanent collection of art and artifacts, depicting the 5,000-year history of the Jewish people from the pre-Canaanite era through the settling of the Jewish community in Tulsa and the American Southwest. The Museum also features the Sanditen/Kaiser Holocaust Center, which contains hundreds of objects donated by Oklahoma veterans who took part in the liberation of concentration camps. Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany also brought artifacts to the state, many of which are mementos of those who died in the Holocaust. Other items are dedicated in memory of them by their families. These Oklahomans have made their stories part of the Holocaust Education Center at the SMMJA in order to bear witness to the terrors they encountered during the Nazi regime.
All of these exhibits along with the fine art on display at the SMMJA showcases the Museum’s Mission of preserving and promoting Jewish heritage, culture, history and community through art and education.
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