On Sunday, August 14 at 10 am, the community will gather at the Ohav Shalom flagpoles to commemorate the murder of eleven members of the Israeli team by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. Taking place on Tisha b’Av, the Jewish day of national mourning, this observance will consist of a brief ceremony and a moment of silence dedicated to the memory of the slain athletes. The Albany – Schenectady JCC Maccabi teams who participate each year in Olympic-style games for Jewish teens will also attend this observance. The public is invited to participate in this meaningful act, coinciding with the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. The commemoration will take place at Congregation Ohav Shalom, 113 New Krumkill Road, Albany.
Since that tragic event at the Munich Games 44 years ago, the families of the victims have asked the International Olympic Committee to observe a minute of silence in their memory at the Olympics opening ceremonies. Each year the committee has refused.
This year in Rio de Janeiro, Brazilian and Israeli officials will lead a separate ceremony at the Olympic Games. The August 14 ceremony at the Rio City Hall will feature the widows of weightlifter Yossef Romano and Andre Spitzer, a fencing coach, two of those murdered that day. According to the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper, 11 candles will be lit in a ceremony led by officials from the Israeli Olympic Committee and the Israeli Consulate.
“As Brazilian, Jewish and Zionist, we are deeply moved by the International Olympic Committee initiative,” said Israel’s honorary consul in Rio, Osias Wurman. “The fact it will happen in Brazil is very remarkable to all Brazilian Jews.
In advocating for a moment of silence, Anki Spitzer, widow of Andrei Spitzer, has said, “A moment of silence is a fitting tribute for athletes who lost their lives on the Olympic stage. Silence contains no statements, assumptions or beliefs and requires no understanding of language to interpret. I have no political or religious agenda. Just the hope that my husband and the other men who went to the Olympics in peace, friendship and sportsmanship are given what they deserve. One minute of silence will clearly say to the world that what happened in 1972 can never happen again. Please do not let history repeat itself.”
Congregation Ohav Shalom, led by Rabbi Daniel Ornstein and Rabbi Rena Kieval, is a Conservative/Egalitarian Synagogue affiliated with The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.