The Super Jews exhibition tackles the Jewish heritage of selected European football clubs and explores how Jewish identities manifest among the fans.
- Focus on Tottenham, Ajax, Bayern, Austria Wien and First Vienna
- Highlights the sometimes-complicated relationship between supporters and that Jewish heritage
- Runs Jul 12, 2023 – Jan 14, 2024
- See also:
Football & Jewish identity
(Fan scarfs: “Partisan*Rothschild”, “Yid Army”, “F-Side”. 21st century; press photo © JMW / Tobias de St. Julien)
After several years of covering exhibitions on your Klimts and Kokoschkas, I did not expect to find myself in one featuring Tottenham Hotspur, victims of one of my favourite ever football goals.
Mind you, Terry McDermott’s headed effort in Liverpool’s 7-0 win in 1978 was a genuine work of art, carved out with all the precision of a Michelangelo sculpture.
Tottenham, of course, are well known for their support among the Jewish community, which brings us to the small Super Jews exhibition at the Jewish Museum.
Such a connection is by no means unique to Spurs. Jewish staff, footballers and communities played key roles in the development of the game and in the history and success of various prestigious European teams.
Super Jews highlights this history, primarily through the examples of local clubs FK Austria Wien and First Vienna FC 1894 (known colloquially as “the Austria” and “Vienna”), Bayern Munich, Ajax Amsterdam and, of course, Tottenham.
In Austria, for example:
- Zionist-oriented SC Hakoah won the league in the inaugural 1924/1925 season.
- Hugo Meisl managed the national team that dominated international football in the early 1930s.
- Ella Zirner-Zwieback was a driving force behind the foundation of the first (short-lived) women’s football championship in 1936.
(“Partisan*Rothschild” t-shirt (First Vienna FC 1894). 2018; press photo © JMW / Tobias de St. Julien)
Vienna, for example, owe their existence to the initial support of the Rothschild family, a fact reflected in the club’s shared colours with the Rothschild coat of arms.
The exhibition thus reminds us implicitly that Jewish history is our shared history.
Equally, Super Jews also tackles issues around Jewish identity within the clubs, highlighting the sometimes complicated relationship between a club’s support and its Jewish heritage.
So you have, for example, both non-Jewish and Jewish fans acknowledging or actively embracing this heritage much as they might any other historical aspects of their club.
You also have largely non-Jewish fan groups appropriating Jewish symbolism to build an identity-forming collective, sometimes as a reaction against anti-semitic fans of other clubs.
That process becomes more complex when home fan groups have adopted anti-semitic nomenclature as a conscious move to reclaim racist terms of abuse or (less benignly) to provoke a reaction from opposition fan groups.
(The Bayern Munich part of the exhibition; press photo © David Bohmann)
What may have begun with good intentions in darker moments of football’s past may no longer be appropriate in the modern era and even contribute to negative stereotypes.
The journey down football history and into fan culture certainly invites you to think (as so often with exhibitions at the Jewish Museum).
At such moments, I am reminded of what philosopher, Nobel Prize winner (and goalkeeper) Albert Camus once noted:
All I know most surely about morality and obligations, I owe to football.
Dates, tickets & tips
Explore Jewish football connections and identity in football and football stadiums from July 12th, 2023 to January 14th, 2024. An entrance ticket for or from the Jewish Museum includes the exhibition.
If you wish to see the two Viennese clubs in action, the season begins for both Austria Wien and First Vienna with cup matches on July 21st, 2023. The regular league season begins about a week later.
(You should have no trouble getting last-minute tickets for all but the very top matches.)
How to get there
Check the main Jewish Museum article for travel tips. You want the Dorotheergasse location and go up one floor to find the special exhibition galleries.
Address: Dorotheergasse 11, 1010 Vienna