By Scott Barancik, editor

A traveling exhibit featuring Jewish baseball history, quirky memorabilia, and the chance to imitate Sandy Koufax on a real pitching mound will make its international debut this week in Philadelphia.

Chasing Dreams, which opens Thursday at the National Museum of American Jewish History (3/13/2014), is more than a collection of objects. Displays crafted by scholars like Major League Baseball official historian John Thorn and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ira Berkow use the story of Jews and baseball to show how the sport helped immigrants of all stripes join mainstream America. An optional companion book drives that message still deeper.

Thorn may be his own best example. Born to Holocaust survivors in a displaced persons camp in Germany, he became fascinated with baseball after moving to his adopted home of New York.

chasing dreamsBut for Jewish baseball fans, the collection itself is worth the price of admission. Borrowed from traditional sources like the MLB as well as individuals reached through Tumblr, objects include everything from Yiddish newspaper articles and Jackie Robinson’s warm-up jacket to Oakland A’s first baseman Nate Freiman’s bar mitzvah certificate, which he produced in 2012 to earn a roster spot on Israel’s World Baseball Classic team.

Chasing Dreams will remain in Philadelphia through October 26, 2014, and will be complemented by a series of lectures and discussions featuring individuals such as former ESPN Magazine executive editor Steve Wulf, author and rotisserie-league inventor Dan Okrent, and historian Thorn. For ticket information, click here.

Afterward, the exhibition will go on tour. Jewish Baseball News will post a tour schedule when it becomes available.

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