The Jewish connection to the Olympic Games is as old as the modern Olympics movement. Unfortunately, some of the connections are tragic, like the murder of 11 members of Israel’s team at the Munich Games in 1972.
Last week The Jewish Week looked at some largely unknown parts of Olympic Jewish history. This week, the Olympics and the Holocaust.
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.
Shortly after a little-known cardinal from Poland was elected spiritual head of the Catholic Church in 1978, Rabbi Arthur Schneier received a call from a network television correspondent asking for comment. The correspondent, who “equated Poles with anti-Semitism,” assumed that Rabbi Schneier, a Holocaust survivor and president of the Manhattan-based Appeal of Conscience Foundation, an ecumenical human rights organization, would comment negatively on the new pope, the rabbi recalls.
In a test case that will likely increase international pressure on Poland to return billions of dollars of property seized from Jews by the Nazis during World War II and nationalized by the communists after the war, a Polish-born Holocaust survivor is expected to file suit before the European Court of Human Rights in the next few weeks, The Jewish Week has learned.
A New York-based not-for-profit law firm is preparing the case on behalf of Henryk Pikielny, who now lives in Paris.
The end of the first Nazi-era denaturalization trial held in Manhattan marks the beginning of a long wait for a verdict — a decision many court observers believe may favor the defendant.
But representatives of local Jewish groups are saying that the trial itself, widely covered in the nation’s media capital, may be as important as the verdict for its educational value.
Miriam Bram heard about the Holocaust at home all her life. Three of her grandparents are survivors.
She learned the facts in high school, and visited the death camps last year in Poland.
This week, during her summer vacation, Bram’s Holocaust education continued — on the 15th floor of the U.S. Federal District Court in lower Manhattan.
Bram, 18, a sophomore at Stern College for Women, attended the denaturalization trial of Jack Reimer, a Ukrainian-born retiree accused of concealing his activities as an SS guard during World War II.
Each year the 12th-grade students of the Solomon Schechter School of Westchester spend a week in Poland, on the way to Israel, learning about Jewish history at the site of death camps, synagogues and forests.
This year their most poignant lesson came at an antiques shop on a Warsaw side street.
They discovered a Torah scroll there.
Friday, September 11th, 2009
Here’s something from JINSA (The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs) regarding 9-11 memorials, and what is all-too-often going unspoken by politicians. But what American politicians are too politically correct to say is, in fact, being said in the Arab media, as in this column from Al-Sharq Al-Awsat.
And in memory of those who died, here’s something from The Jewish Week archives (9/8/06):
None of the 45 people in the kosher Chinese restaurant on Flatbush Avenue had ever been to Zembrov, a town in northeast Poland, and some even had trouble spelling it. But all had relatives who came from there, and they gathered two weeks ago to keep their memories alive.