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.
Grodno, Belarus — Tsilia Brido remembers her early Belarus Passover in her Polotsk hometown, her grandfather leading the seders in Hebrew, women from the neighborhood baking their matzahs in her family’s large wood stove.
“It was before the war,” she says, referring to World War II. Belarus was the first of the former Soviet Union’s republics to be invaded by the German army.
Brido remembers the seders ending after 1941, first under the Nazis, then under the communists.