In Olympic years, some People of the Book become people of the backstroke, the clean-and-jerk, and the high hurdles.
The Games, Summer and Winter, serve as a showcase for the best athletes, Jewish and non-Jewish. From A (Ruth Abeles) to Z (Eli Zuckerman), names like Mark Spitz and Kerry Strug are in the record books as well as Jewish history texts.
Beginning with 10 medals won by Jewish athletes at the first modern Olympics in Athens in 1896, Jews have been a steady presence at the international competition.
A photocopy of a small, handwritten note in German, composed about 60 years ago, was another translation job for Philipp Bulgarini the other day.
The final words of a death camp-bound Jew in Nazi Germany, scribbled in a crowded cattle car, the message was apparently thrown off a train with the hope that it would reach his or her relatives still in safety.
Bulgarini says the words spoke to him.
Yossi Goldberg played soccer and basketball as a boy growing up in Israel, but figure skating was in his blood — his mother was a figure skater in Lithuania.
That, says Goldberg, founder and president of the Israeli Figure Skating Association, is why he has devoted a dozen years to a winter sport in a Mediterranean country.
For some Holocaust survivors and their supporters, a Senate subcommittee hearing this week was their last chance to collect on the Nazi-era life insurance policies of their parents.
The survivors asked that Congress adopt legislation that would require insurance companies doing business in the United States to publish the names of all policyholders from the pre-war era. If the companies then refused to settle claims on reasonable terms, survivors and their heirs could sue them during the next 10 years.
Efforts are under way to resolve a 3-year-old stalemate that has kept the Austrian government from paying a $210 million Holocaust-era property claims settlement and to provide the Austrian Jewish community with the money it needs to continue operating.
Israel Singer, president of the Conference on Jewish and Material Claims Against Germany, said he has proposed funding the Jewish community using unallocated money from a $400 million fund created to pay surviving slave laborers. The deadline for filing slave labor claims expires Dec. 31 and about $150 million remains.
Even as a worldwide search was launched to locate and pay insurance policies of Jewish Holocaust victims and their heirs, a major Israeli group rejected offers by the new rightist Austrian government to resolve its outstanding Holocaust-era claims.
"It is imperative that we not fall into Haider's trap and let him use the back of the Jewish people to gain recognition and legitimacy from the world," Salai Meridor, chairman of The Jewish Agency, told The Jewish Week.
A free comprehensive guide that describes the dozens of compensation and restitution programs available to Holocaust survivors is being made available by Jewish social service agencies nationwide.
In the New York area, 13 agencies will be distributing the 50-page booklet prepared by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany. It explains the current and pending restitution and compensation programs, the criteria for eligibility and how to apply.
Austrian far-right leader Joerg Haider, here to run in Sunday's New York Marathon, said he met with Jewish leaders the following day to correct "prejudicial" reports spread about him by his political enemies.
"All of the meetings ... with ethnic minorities, with Jewish groups, with representatives of the Jewish community have been really successful," he told The Jewish Week. "It makes me happy that we could show them that there is no sign of danger, that there is a sign of hope for them because we are the power to enforce democracy in Austria."