A Daughter’s Love for Jewish Dad — and Soccer — Spans Generations
Soccer and the Shoah: Jill Klein’s father is second from left with his team members in a displaced person’s camp in Austria, wearing a sweater as his goalkeeper’s jersey.
My father and I will watch every game that the United States plays in the World Cup that starts this weekend. We live on opposite sides of the world – he is in Florida and I am in Australia—but today’s video technology will allow us to cheer the team on together.
My father’s love for soccer goes back more than 80 years. On Sundays, starting from when he was only five, he used to ride on his father’s bike to the soccer stadium at the edge of their town in Czechoslovakia. He sat in a small seat on top of the handlebars, his legs dangling in front of him. The bike swayed from one side to the other as my grandfather Herman pedaled through the town square, and my young father felt every bump of the cobblestones.
The two of them shared a passion for soccer that drove my grandmother to tears. For years they supported their local team, rejoicing in occasional victories against their rivals from a larger, nearby town. My father played every day after school, and when he was a teenager, he joined the town’s Jewish youth team. Herman would watch my father—the shortest kid on the team—play in goal, producing diving saves that made Herman proud.