Jewish American Heritage Month

In 2006, the President of the United States of America first proclaimed May as Jewish American Heritage Month. Skate Guard celebrates the achievements of Jewish skaters in the United States with this timeline of important history.

1907 - An anti-semitic cartoon was published in a Michigan newspaper depicting a Jewish skater carving a dollar sign into the ice. Not only was the cartoon offensive, it was a slap in the face to Jewish skaters who were routinely not considered for membership to American skating clubs.

Emil Fuchs. Self-portrait courtesy Brooklyn Museum.

1918 - Viennese born Emil Fuchs won the silver medal in the junior men's event at the U.S. Championships. Emil was an acclaimed Jewish artist who painted portraits of Queen Victoria and King Edward VII. 

1918 - Susan Clara Seligman won a novice girls event held in conjunction with the U.S. Championships. Susan, an art student, was the granddaughter of the well-known banker Leopold Seligman of J. & W. Seligman & Co.

1920 - Lillian (Levy) Cramer made history as the first woman of Jewish ancestry to win a medal in a senior event at the U.S. Championships. She went on to become one of the first female judges in America. Her parents were Russian Polish immigrants to the United States who were in the ostrich feather trade.

Grace Munstock and Joel B. Liberman. Photo courtesy "Skating" magazine.

1924 - Joel B. Liberman made history as the first skater of Jewish ancestry to win a gold medal in a senior event at the U.S. Championships, as part of the winning fours team from New York. Joel was a winner of an informal waltzing contest at the U.S. Championships in 1923, as well as a three-time national medallist in senior pairs with his step-sister Grace Munstock. He went on to be the first American Olympic and World judge of Jewish ancestry. 

1925 - Ada Marie Bauman won the U.S. junior women's title.  With partner George Braakman, she was a three-time medallist in senior pairs at the U.S. Championships as well. Ada's father was a silent movie producer and his family were Polish-Jewish immigrants. Ada was a film extra who rubbed shoulders with Charlie Chaplin and the real life Mack and Mabel.

Ada Bauman

1928 - Ethel Rose Bijur won her first of three medals at the U.S. Championships in the junior pairs event. A perennial winner of pairs and ice dancing competitions in Lake Placid, Ethel was one of the first American amateur pairs skaters to be lifted in her program. She went on to become a national judge after marrying her partner Bedell H. Harned, the USFSA's Chairman of Committee on Standards and Tests. Ethel's father Moses, an immigrant from Germany, was a member of New York's Jewish Protectory and Aid Society.

1936 - Though his chosen sport was speed skating, not figure skating, Melvin Dubinsky of St. Louis, Missouri was one of the few skaters in the world to take a stand against the Winter Olympic Games in Nazi Germany. Though he had found success in the Silver Skates derby, Melvin withdrew from the Olympic Trials in protest. He went on to serve as chairman of The United Israel Appeal and the National Community Leadership for Israel Bonds. His business firm sponsored the Short Track World Speed Skating Championships.

1938 - New York's Elinor Weiler (Krach) narrowly missed out on a medal in the junior women's event at the U.S. Championships. Elinor's grandparents Levi and Betty Spiegelberg crossed the United States in a covered wagon in the nineteenth century, settling in New Mexico.

1938 - Herta Weintraub, a promising teenage Jewish skater who trained at the Engelmann rink in Vienna and won the Winterspiele in Czechoslovakia, emigrated to the United States with her mother before the outbreak of World War II. The family lost their home and thousands of dollars and Herta's uncle was imprisoned in the Dachau concentration camp.

Idi Papez and Karl Zwack

1939 - Karl Zwack became a naturalized U.S. citizen the summer before the outbreak of World War II. A European Champion and three-time World Medallist in pairs skating, Karl grew up in Austria. His father was Jewish and one of his ancestors was the Royal Physician to the Habsburg Court. Karl's parents were rounded up by the Nazis during the War. They were both sent to the Theresienstadt ghetto in Terezín, northwest of Prague - a transit station on the way to the extermination camps. His mother didn't survive Theresienstadt; His father didn't survive the final leg of his journey - Auschwitz.

1944 - Genevieve Norris (Knorowski) took center ice in the Netherland Plaza hotel ice shows in Cincinnati. Genevieve went on to tour as an adagio pairs skater with Holiday on Ice and the Ice Follies.

1945 - Dr. Julius Pulitzer, one of the founders of the old Figure Skating Club of Cleveland, passed away. He was the founder of the first dental clinic at Mount Sinai Hospital.

1945 - Herbert Kaplan won the silver medal in the novice men's event at the Eastern Championships in Boston. His sister Esther was a medallist at the New England Championships.

Morris Chalfen

1946 - Impresario Morris Chalfen becomes President of Holiday on Ice. Under his ownership, the tour becomes an international success, with performances all around the world.

1947 - California's Renee Stein won the U.S. Silver (junior) ice dance title with partner Sidney Moore. Eight years later, her younger sister Barbara Jean won the exact same title with Ray Sato. The Stein sisters grew up in a Jewish household in Los Angeles. Their parents Aaron and Anne owned a used magazine store.

1949 - Harriet Ella Beloff won the junior women's title at the Middle Atlantic Championships in New York. She was the daughter of famed boxing referee Dave Beloff. She went on to serve as a Gold Judge and was inducted to the Philadelphia Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 2001.


1950's - Olympic and World Medallist and nine-time U.S. Champion Maribel Vinson Owen took a stand against the open unspoken anti-semitic and racist membership policies of skating clubs on the East Coast. When one club official told her a skater wouldn't be permitted membership because she was Jewish, Maribel tore him a new strip in front of a room full of people. "You bigot!" she screamed. "Our soldiers went to war and gave their lives to put a stop to that sort of thing! How dare you! You should be ashamed!"

Tab Hunter

1951 - Tab Hunter (Art Gelien) won the bronze medal in the novice men's event at the U.S. Championships. Though he didn't identify as Jewish, his estranged mother was of Jewish ancestry.

1951 - Ellie Sonneman won the bronze medal at the Eastern Championships in Troy, New York. 

1955 - Brooklyn's Evelyn Muller (Kramer) won the novice women's title at the Eastern Championships in Princeton, New Jersey. Evelyn wasn't permitted to join the Skating Club of New York because she was Jewish. She went on to be a highly successful international coach, working with World Medallists like Caryn Kadavy and Elizabeth Manley.

1956 - Skating on home ice, Cleveland, Ohio's David Shulman won the silver medal in the senior men's event at the Midwestern Championships. He went on to serve as President of the Professional Skaters Guild of America.

Andree Anderson and Donald Jacoby. Photo courtesy Donald Jackson.

1958 - Donald Jacoby won his first of two U.S. senior ice dance titles with Andree Anderson. Donald was adopted from the Brooklyn Hebrew Orphan Asylum as a child. Prior to skating with Andree Anderson, Donald won medals at both the U.S. and North American Championships with Virginia 'Ginnie' Hoyns.

1961 - Ronna Goldblatt won the senior women's title at the New England States Championship in New Haven, Connecticut.

1962 - Frances Gold finished fourth in the senior women's event at the U.S. Championships. Frances was the daughter of Czechoslovakian born coach Otto Gold and represented Canada at the North American Championships.

Taffy Pergament

1963 - Margo 'Taffy' Pergament won the novice women's title at the U.S. Championships in Long Beach, California. When Olympic Gold Medallist Karl Schäfer was asked by a reporter about her, he said, "You know what I think about Taffy? In my opinion, she is the most gifted and talented girl in the United States."

1963 - Gail Ann Kaplan won the novice women's title at the North Atlantic States Championship in Rochester, New York.

1964 - Siblings Vivian and Ronald Joseph earned the bronze medal at the Winter Olympic Games in Innsbruck. The Joseph's were U.S. Champions at both the junior and silver medal level and two-time World Medallists. A writer for "The Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle" noted the anti-semitism in the sport at the time the Joseph's were competing, "The clubs would fit it embarrassing to herald a champ whom they weren't in full favor of. Or who goes to the wrong church. If you want to be brutal about it. Of course, a lot of this hard to pin down, but I personally have overhead judges saying... 'Do you know so-and-so is Jewish?'"

Vivian and Ronald Joseph

1964 - The Anti-Defamation League B'nai Brith complained to the USFSA about the Detroit Skating Club's anti-semitic membership practices. Judge Burton R. Shifman stated that the League "received and verified many complaints against the Detroit Skating Club during the past two years and that club officials had freely admitted their discriminatory membership policies at a meeting with the ADL." Because the Detroit Skating Club was the only club affiliated with the USFSA at the time, Jewish skaters in the city at the time lacked access to testing and competitions.


1965 - In an effort to tackle racism and anti-semitism in the sport, the USFSA amended its Bylaws to state: "The purpose of the Association is to encourage full participation in the sport of figure skating by all persons regardless of race, religious creed, color, national origin or ancestry."

1965 - Michael Sklar of Massapequa, New York was the unanimous winner of the North Atlantic States juvenile men's title.

1968 - Karen Cohen of the North Jersey Figure Skating Club won the novice pairs title at the North Atlantic Championships in West Orange, New Jersey with partner George Magill.

1971 - Laurie Brandel (Stern) won the novice women's title at the U.S. Championships. She went on to win the junior women's title at the 1973 U.S. Championships.

Gale and Joel Furhman

1973 - Gale and Joel Furhman won the silver medal in the senior pairs event at the U.S. Championships.

1973 - Emily Benenson won the bronze medal in senior pairs at the U.S. Championships with Johnny Johns. She went on to win two more bronze medals at Nationals in 1975 and 1976 and finish second at the World Professional Championships in Jaca, Spain with partner Jack Courtney.

1973 - Matthew 'Bud' Zats judged his first of many U.S. Championships. A former competitive pairs skater at the Sectional level from Minnesota, Bud served as the President of the St. Paul Figure Skating Club and corresponding secretary of the USFSA.

1973 - Todd Kaufman won the silver medal in the intermediate men's event at the Eastern Great Lakes Championships. He later toured with Holiday on Ice, acting as World Champion Tim Wood's understudy.

1975 - Jo Ann Schneider and Richard Farris won the silver medal in the junior ice dance event at the U.S. Championships.

Scott Cramer. Photo courtesy "Skating" magazine.

1976 - Scott Cramer of Wyncote, Pennsylvania won his first of three medals in the senior men's event at the U.S. Championships. Scott represented the United States at two World Championships and was a winner at the World Professional Championships in Jaca, Spain in 1980.

1980 - Ari Lieb of the Hayden Recreational Center Figure Skating Club finished second in the junior ice dance event at the U.S. Championships in Atlanta, Georgia.

1981 - Judy Blumberg and Michael Seibert won their first of five U.S. senior ice dance titles. Judy and Michael were two-time Olympians, three-time World Bronze Medallists and World Professional, World Cup and U.S. Open Professional Champions. Judy was awarded the Athlete of the Year Award by the Jewish Sports Hall Of Fame in 1991 and she and Michael were inducted to the U.S. Figure Skating Hall Of Fame in 1996.

Judy Blumberg and Michael Seibert. Photo courtesy "Ice & Roller Skate" magazine.

1981 - Seth Chafetz won the silver medal in the senior men's event at the Eastern Great Lakes Championships in Plymouth, Michigan. He went on to coach at the Detroit Skating Club.

1982 - Amy Lynn Grossman and Robert Davenport won the bronze medal in the junior pairs event at the U.S. Championships.

1983 - Robert Rosenbluth won the bronze medal in the senior men's event at the Eastern Championships. In a 2015 interview with "Our Lives" magazine, Rosenbluth recalled, "When I was 13 years old, my coach became pregnant and temporarily stopped coaching. She sent her best skaters to one of the top coaches in the country. That coach happened to be teaching in Philadelphia, where I lived at the time. Unfortunately, he coached at a rink that would not accept us as members because my family is Jewish. At the time, Philadelphia still had many sporting and social clubs that were very restricted. I was able to skate in the mornings and take lessons from my coach there, but we could not join the club. Being barred from membership in a club that I had earned my way into by being an excellent athlete was a hard lesson for an adolescent to learn. Ultimately, it only made me work harder to be the best." He went on to serve as a judge at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.

1983 - Elisa Spitz won her first of two consecutive Skate America ice dance titles. With partner Scott Gregory, Elisa represented the United States at three World Championships and the 1984 Winter Olympic Games in Sarajevo. The Spitz family were members of the Jewish Center of West Orange and Elisa's mother Rose (Bojes), a former winner at the Eastern Championships in ice dancing who was born in Poland, emigrated to the United States with her family just prior to World War II.

Elisa Spitz and Scott Gregory

1984 - Pam Shifman won the novice pairs event at the Eastern Great Lakes Championships in Lakewood, Ohio.

1985 - Kansas City, Missouri's Todd Brown won the junior men's event at the Eastern Great Lakes Championships in Wyandotte, Michigan.

1986 - Gillian Wachsman won the U.S. senior pairs title with partner Todd Waggoner. The duo represented the United States at three World Championships and the 1988 Winter Olympic Games in Calgary.

Gillian Wachsman and Todd Waggoner. Photo courtesy "Skating" magazine.

1986 - Maradith Feinberg won the Eastern Senior pairs title with partner Craig Maurizi. Maradith placed as high as fifth in senior pairs at the U.S. Championships and later starred as Belle in Walt Disney World On Ice's production of "Beauty and the Beast".

1987 - Norman Smilowitz of the South Mountain Figure Skating Club won the junior men's title at the Eastern Championships. Norman was once a student of World Champion Hans Gerschwiler.

1987 - Cindy Bortz (Gould) won the World Junior Championships. A U.S. Junior Champion as well, Cindy was later inducted into the Southern California Jewish Sports Hall Of Fame.

Cindy Bortz

1990 - Soviet skaters Irina Kortchach and Andrei Torossian defected during a "Moscow on Ice" tour of America. As Irina was Jewish, the duo were offered assistance by the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society. In an interview with "The Washington Post", Kortchach said through a interpreter that she was once attacked while shopping with her mother 'simply because she looked Jewish'. She chose to have plastic surgery on her nose.

1992 - Troy Goldstein performed what his competitor Todd Sand called a 'Troyathalon', competing in four different senior events at the U.S. Championships. Goldstein won the bronze medal in the senior men's figures and competed in senior men's, pairs and ice dance - the latter two with his sister Dawn. He went on to tour with Disney on Ice and serve as President of the Skating Club of New York - a club that once turned away prospective members that were Jewish.

1992 - Roman Fraden won the novice men's title at the U.S. Championships. He was the son of Russian-Jewish immigrants.

Charlène von Saher

1993 - Charlène von Saher won the British women's title. Charlène , who is of Jewish ancestry, grew up in Connecticut and represented the United States internationally. She won a medal at the Merano Spring Trophy before deciding to compete for her country of birth. She represented Great Britain at three World Championships and the 1994 Winter Olympic Games in Lillehammer. Charlène and her mother Marei played a very important role in the restitution of valuable art plundered by the Nazis during World War II. One of the paintings recovered was "Eissegeln in einer niederländischen Stadt", a seventeenth century Adam van Breen painting of Dutch skaters on a frozen canal.

1993 - Birmingham, Michigan's Eve Chalom won the U.S. novice ice dance title with partner Mathew Gates. The duo went on to win the U.S. junior title in 1995 and four consecutive medals at the senior level. They represented the United States at two World Championships and several Champions Series events.

Eve Chalom and Mathew Gates

1993 - Everett Weiss of Albequrque, New Mexico won the junior men's figures at the U.S. Championships.

1995 - Dan Hollander of Huntington Woods, Michigan won his first of two consecutive medals in the senior men's event at the U.S. Championships. Though Hollander represented the United States at two World Championships, his greatest contribution to the skating world were his hilarious show numbers. He brought down the house on Tom Collins' Champions On Ice tour for years and won the 2000 American Open title.

Dan Hollander. Photos courtesy "Skating" magazine.

1995 - Jeffrey Weiss of the Palomares Figure Skating Club wins the silver medal in the junior pairs event at the U.S. Championships in Providence. He and partner Erin Elbe represented the United States at the World Junior Championships.

Erin Elbe and Jeffrey Weiss

1995 - Rhode Island's Lyndsay Ann Reed finished second in the junior women's compulsory figures at the U.S. Championships in Providence.

1996 - Jewish skaters Robert Shmalo and David Fisch won medals in the compulsory figures at the U.S. Championships. Robert, who hailed from Cincinnati, went on to represent America internationally as an ice dancer. 

1997 - Leslie Soderberg and David Lipowitz won the senior ice dance title at the Eastern Championships in Simsbury, Connecticut. Their story was truly remarkable in that they were in their thirties and Leslie had last qualified for the U.S. Championships in 1980.

1999 - Jamie Silverstein won the World Junior Championships in ice dance with partner Justin Pekarek. She went on to win the silver medal at the Four Continents Championships with Justin and represent America at the 2006 Olympic Games with Ryan O'Meara. She was inducted to the Michigan Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 2012.

Amber Corwin

1999 - Amber Corwin won her first of two medals at the Four Continents Championships. Amber competed no less than twelve times at the senior level at the U.S. Championships, placing in the top ten every time but twice. 

2001 - Daria Zuravicky made history as the first woman to represent Israel at the World Championships. Zuravicky was born in Albany, New York and trained in Simsbury, Connecticut with Oksana Baiul's coach Galina Zmievskaya.

2002 - Sarah Hughes made history as the first American skater of Jewish descent to win an Olympic gold medal at the Salt Lake City Olympics. The following year, she was the first figure skater to be inducted to the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.

Sarah Hughes

2004 - Loren Galler-Rabinowitz won the bronze medal in the senior ice dance event at the U.S. Championships with partner David Mitchell. Her maternal grandparents were Polish Jews who survived the Holocaust.

2005 - Melissa Gregory won the silver medal at the Four Continents Championships with partner Denis Petukhov. Melissa won her first of six consecutive medals in the senior ice dance event at the U.S. Championships in 2002 and represented America at the 2006 Winter Olympic Games and four World Championships. 

2005 - American-born skater Tamar Katz represented Israel at her first of five World Championships. 

2005 - Chloe Katz won the bronze medal in the junior pairs event at the U.S. Championships with Joseph Lynch.

Sasha Cohen

2006 - Sasha Cohen won the Olympic silver medal. Sasha was also a three-time World Medallist and U.S. Champion. She was inducted into the Southern California Jewish Hall of Fame in 2015 and the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 2016.

2006 - Benjamin Agosto won the Olympic silver medal with partner Tanith Belbin. The dynamic dancing duo were four-time World Medallists and three-time Four Continents Champions. Benjamin's mother was Jewish; his father Puerto Rican.

Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto. Photo courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency Archive.

2006 - Anna Madorsky of the Bozeman Figure Skating Club won the senior women's event at the Northwest Pacific Regional Championships.

2007 - Jenna Syken of Chester, Pennsylvania represented Israel at the World Junior Championships.

2008 - Hayley Anne Sacks represented Israel with partner Vadim Akolzin at the World Championships. Sacks was born in New York City and previously competed at a Sectional level as a singles skater.

2009 - International judge Nancy Meiss was inducted to the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame. She started her career as President of the Chicago Figure Skating Club's junior club prior to World War II and judged for over fifty years. She was the American ice dance judge at the 1988 Winter Olympic Games in Calgary.

2009 - Ariana Weintraub and Avidan Brown of the Rye Figure Skating Club won the junior ice dance title at Israel's National Championships.

2009 - American born Alissandra Aronow represented Lithuania at the World Junior Championships with Aleksandr Pirogov. Alissandra was the granddaughter of Max Fisher, a Jewish philanthropist who served as an advisor on Jewish issues to over a dozen U.S. Presidents. She was once taught by Jewish coach Julianne (Weiner) Berlin.

Max Aaron

2013 - Max Aaron won the U.S. senior men's title. In an interview with Chavie Lieber of the Jewish Telegraphic Society,  Max said, "I grew up looking to all those Jewish athletes for inspiration. I always thought the list needed to be longer. We needed to have a stronger representation of Jewish athletes, and I'm so happy that I'm part of them now." His sister Madeline won the U.S. junior pairs title in 2014.

2014 - Jason Brown's medal-winning performance of "Riverdance" at the U.S. Championships went viral. Shortly after, he was part of the medal-winning American team at the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. Jason earned accolades as one of the most artistically gifted skaters of his era, winning an Olympic medal in the team event, the U.S. title and an impressive collection of medals on the Grand Prix circuit.

Jason Brown

2014 - Simon Shnapir won an Olympic bronze medal in the team event at the Sochi Games. A two-time U.S. Champion, Simon was born in Moscow, Russia.

2014 - U.S. born ice dancer Isabelle Tobias represented Lithuania at the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.

2014 - Rhea Schwartz was inducted into the Greater Washington Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. Rhea started skating at the age of thirty and was a pioneering force in the establishment of national and international adult competitions.

2016 - Russian born Jewish "Star Trek" actor Anton Yelchin was killed in a tragic accident. Though he wasn't a skater, skating ran in his family. His parents Irina Korina and Viktor Yelchin emigrated to the United States to coach after fifteen years skating with the Leningrad Ice Ballet. Viktor Yelchin once taught a young Sasha Cohen.

Aimee Buchanan. Photo courtesy "Cleveland Jewish News".

2018 - American-born Jewish skaters Aimee Buchanan and Paige Conners represented Israel at the Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang. 

2019 - Eliana Gropman represented the United States at the World Junior Championships with partner Ian Somerville. Eliana won medals at the juvenile, novice and junior level at the U.S. Championships.

2022 - Elliana and Ethan Peal won the bronze medal in the junior ice dance event at the U.S. Championships.

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