Monday, July 16, 2012

The Jewish Olympic Games

On July 27, the 2012 Olympic Games will open in London. This will be the 30th Games of the modern era, dating back to 1896 when Baron Pierre de Coubertin‏ first conceived and implemented the idea. The Zionist movement also embraced the spirit of ​​the Olympics--for Jews--in the form of the Maccabiah Games. In 1932, the first Maccabiah Games were held in Tel Aviv; the next will take place in 2013. Over the years, many famous Jewish athletes from around the world have participated in the Maccabiah.

The Israel State Archives holds the newsreel collection of filmmaker Nathan Axelrod (145.2) spanning the years 1927-1958. One of these newsreels is dedicated to the Second Maccabiah Games, which took place in April 1935. You can watch some it below.
About 1,350 athletes from 28 states participated in the event. (Some of them were actually immigrants disguised as athletes in order to circumvent the British Mandate's limitation on the number of Jewish immigrants to Palestine.) Among the participants was a prominent Jewish-American athlete named Lillian Copeland who had won a gold medal in the 1932 Los Angeles Olympic Games with a world record performance in the Discus competition, and a silver medal in the 1928 Amsterdam Games. A year after her participation in the Maccabiah, Copeland would boycott the 1936 Olympics in Germany.

In the spirit of the Maccabiah slogan--"Higher! Faster! Stronger!"--here's to hoping that the London Games will be a success...particularly for its Israeli participants.

No comments:

Post a Comment