The Olympics – Remembering Munich & Tisha B’Av

The WORD – 7/26/12.  The human memory is a curious thing.  Sometimes, we want to forget something, but our brains will not let us.  Sometimes, we block out a memory that we would like to recall.  And sometimes, sadly, due to illness our memory becomes completely random and unreliable.  Despite our imperfect ability to preserve them, our memories are invaluable. 

In the coming days, we have two opportunities to put our memories to good use. 

First of all, tomorrow will be the opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London.  Despite a request by the government of Israel to honor the 11 Israeli Olympians murdered in Munich during the 1972 Summer Olympic Games, there will be no moment of silence during the ceremonies tomorrow.  Although it is a powerful memory for many of us, the International Olympic Committee would like to forget it.  Even a last minute personal appeal by Ankie Spitzer and Ilana Romano – widows of two of the slain Olympians – fell on deaf ears.  IOC President Jacque Rogge said no again. 

So, what can we do?  

Some have called for a “boycott” of the Opening Ceremonies.  By not watching it, we might be able to drive down the ratings.  While I am intrigued by this notion, I am also aware of the fact that Bob Costas who will be hosting NBC’s coverage of the Ceremonies has pledged to call out the IOC for their poor decision and honor the 11 slain Israelis during the telecast.   And I don’t want to miss that. 

A second suggestion has been to have our own moment of silence at 9:30am tomorrow morning – or at any point during the Opening Ceremonies, really.  And that makes more sense to me.  That is what I will be doing tomorrow morning. 

In addition, we will be reciting the names of the 11 murdered Israeli Olympians before the Kaddish during services this Shabbat –  Moshe Weinberg (wrestling coach); Yossef Romano (weightlifter); Ze’ev Friedman (weightlifter); David Berger (weightlifter); Yakov Springer (weightlifting judge); Eliezer Halfin (wrestler); Yossef Gutfreund (wrestling referee); Kehat Shorr (shooting coach); Mark Slavin (wrestler); Andre Spitzer (fencing coach) and Amitzur Shapira (track coach). 

Then, following Shabbat, we will once again put our collective memory to use as we observe Tisha B’Av.  Through music, text and “choreography,” we will remember events from long ago that have effected the development and mindset of our people.  It is a reminder that we not only learn from our own individual experiences in life, but from our shared history as well.  Jacques Rogge would do well to remember that as well.  Tisha B’Av Services will be Saturday night at 8pm and Sunday morning at 9:30am.




About Rabbi Avi Friedman

I am the rabbi of Congregation Ohr Shalom - SJCC, a progressive Conservative and traditional congregation. I am also husband to Jodi as well as father to Gabi, Jonah, Jessica and Ilana. I have been a part of the Summit community since 2005.
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