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.
Chapel Hill, N.C. — With 11 minutes left in the first half of a recent University of North Carolina home basketball game against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, the giant TV screens above the Dean E. Smith Center flash the image of a graying, bespectacled septuagenarian Jew from the East Bronx.