Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Jewish Traces in Unexpected Places: Black Jewish Teen Wins Irish Dancing World Championship


Drew Lovejoy, a 17-year-old from rural Ohio, is not the first person you would think of as the winner of the all-Ireland dancing championship for three years in a row. To start with, he isn't Irish, he's American, with a white Jewish mother from Iowa and a black Baptist father from Georgia.

As Sabrina Tavernise wrote in the New York Times on St. Patrick's Day: 
Drew is the first to admit that this is a lot to take in, so he sometimes hides part of his biography for the sake of convenience. As in 2010, when he became the first person of color to win the world championship for Irish dancing — the highest honor in that small and close-knit world — and a group of male dancers in their 70s, all of them Irish, offered their congratulations.
“They said, ‘We never thought it would happen, but we’re thrilled that it did,’ ” said Drew’s mother, Andee Goldberg. She added, “They don’t even know he’s Jewish. That hasn’t been broached. I think it would be too overwhelming.”
Neither mother nor son can remember a time Drew wasn’t dancing, or the reason that he started. Drew thought it might have had to do with his mother getting tired of Disney movies and playing Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly videos for him. She also took him to musicals and theater performances.
But when he went to a friend’s Irish dance competition in Indianapolis, and saw the girls and boys leaping and skipping, dancing that was part tap, part ballet set to very happy music, he was hooked.
“I was like, ‘Yeah, right,’ ” his mother said, shaking her head. “You’re biracial and you’re a Jew. We thought you had to be Irish and Catholic.”
He said, “I was like, ‘I want a medal.’ ”
 And that's what he got. Here's a video clip from the local TV station in Iowa. Enjoy!

(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS:  THE VIDEO MAY NOT BE VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY ON SOME COMPUTERS AND TABLETS.  YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.)