This weekend we commemorate Tisha B’Av, recalling the greatest tragedy of our people, the destruction of the Second Temple leading to our nearly 2,000 year exile from our land and the powerlessness that enabled the Shoah to occur. While this is a specific memory and ritual for our people, unfortunately, even with the birth of the State of Israel and our new sovereignty in our land, we still must face antisemitism and violent attacks on our innocent civilians around the world. This weekend we commemorate as well the murder of eleven Israelis at the Olympics 40 years ago, and encourage all around the world, Jew and Gentile, to understand that as Isaiah reminds us in this weekend’s haftarah, “Learn to do good, devote yourselves to justice, aid the wronged. Uphold the rights of the orphan and defend the cause of the widow.” We also must remember as the philosopher Santayana said, “those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.” The following words adapted from a statement from the World Union of Progressive Judaism explain the position of our synagogue community on this issue.
As the sporting world prepares to focus on the 2012 Olympics in London, governments and heads of state from many countries have appealed to the International Olympic Committee to observe a moment of silence in memory of the 11 Israelis – three weightlifters, two wrestlers, one fencer, three coaches and two officials — murdered by terrorists at the Munich Games 40 years ago. Jewish organizations representing millions of Jews in 45 countries in 7 regions around the globe joined in those appeals. At the last minute, and with little publicity, IOC officials made a small gesture towards recognition of this stain on Olympic history. While the tribute itself, held in the Olympic Village, touched on the disparity between the Olympic vision of peace and solidarity and the vicious attack on the Israeli team, simply because they were Israelis, the message was lost to the wider Olympic community, and indeed, the world.
A moment of silence at the opening ceremony makes no political statement; it simply asks the world, and not just the few in the Olympic Village ceremony, to pause and remember the lost lives and the sorrow of a tragic event in Olympic history, remembered by hundreds of millions of people around the world. To allow this milestone anniversary to pass almost without notice is an insult both to the families of the slain and the very spirit of the Olympics. This Shabbat at our services at Temple Beth Shalom we will read the names and honor the memories of the following 11 athletes during worship and other public events while the games are on:
David Berger, weightlifting
Ze’ev Friedman, weightlifting
Yossef Gutfreund, wrestling (referee)
Eliezer Halfin, wrestling
Yossef Romano, weightlifting
Amitzur Shapira, athletics (coach)
Kehat Shorr, shooting (coach)
Mark Slavin, wrestling
Andrei Spitzer, fencing (coach)
Yaakov Springer, weightlifting (referee)
Moshe Weinberg, wrestling (coach)
We also recall with gratitude the sacrifice of German Police Officer Anton Fliegerbauer who lost his life fighting the terrorists. May their memories remain with us for a blessing.