Shalom Life | October 17, 2015

Jews Congregate in Berlin to Compete in Maccabi Games

The games will be held for the first time ever in Germany, to the joy of many European Jews

By: B. Shane Morganstein

Published: July 29th, 2015 in Sports » World

Jews Congregate in Berlin to Compete in Maccabi Games

70 years after the Holocaust, and 50 years after the official establishment of German-Israeli relations, Jews from all over the world will be flocking to Germany to participate in the annual Maccabi Games.

Among the many delegations attending the games, one stands out as being particularly influential. After many recent attacks against Jews in France, it is certainly refreshing to see the French delegation representing the still-thriving French Jewish community. As the 80 athletes boarded their plane to Berlin, they were greeted to claps and cheers, thanks to the announcement of the pilot, “We have on board France’s Maccabi team. In a way, they are representing our country at the Olympics.”

Approximately 2,300 Jewish athletes will be making the trip to the German capital, to represent their home countries in front of the international Jewish community. Over the course of the next week, the Jewish athletes will compete in 19 sports, as well as play some exhibition games against German soccer and basketball teams. After the closing ceremonies on August 4th, the athletes will return home, hopefully with a few medals to make their home countries proud.

Interestingly enough, many of the sports venues that the games will be held in were actually built by the Nazis. Most notable of all the venues, Berlin’s Olympiastadion was actually built thanks to a direct order from Hitler, in preparation for Berlin’s hosting of the 1936 Summer Olympic Games. Many of the events will be open to the public, free of charge, though heavy security will be present.

Though some of the older competitors may hold reservations about competing in the former Nazi capital, many athletes are simply proud to be representing their countries at the games.

French soccer player, Sam Zarka, is excited to be able to represent his home country on the world stage, regardless of where the games are held. “We do represent the country. It says France on our jerseys. That’s who we play for.”

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