Munich Memory Project Sports Day
During the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team were taken hostage and murdered by the Black September terrorist organization.
For 22 hours the world watched to see what would happen. During the standoff and after the deaths of the athletes – the Games continued. In 2012, in honor of the 40th anniversary of this tragic event, organizations, communities, families from around the world sought recognition of this event by requesting that the International Olympic Committee approve 1 minute of silence in their memory at the opening ceremony of the 2012 games. The request was denied.
The Munich Memory Project Sports Day was designed to be a yearly memorial for the 11 murdered athletes. Ceremonies are important and useful but the most powerful way, the Jewish way, to perpetuate the memory of the deceased is by integrating it into LIFE.
Munich Memory Sports Day is a natural and fun way to make sure neither the horror of what happened nor the humanity of the victims are forgotten. As a community, we honor their legacy through passing on the joy of sports, strength in community and memory of each of the victims as a human being - a man who loved sports, a friend, a family member, a Jew.
Why do the youth of today need to know about this?
The Munich Massacre was the first time the terrorism spectacle unfolded on tv, and one of the first times that Antisemitic terrorism took place on a global stage. Sadly, it would not be the last.
Less than 30 years after the Holocaust, Jews were again murdered on German soil simply because they were Jewish, because they were Israeli. Today Jews are still targeted simply because they are Jewish. Ii is increasingly clear that terrorism is not a Jewish (or Israeli) problem but rather a global problem, and Jews and Israelis in particular are continuously and constantly singled out.
Sadly, in mainstream media and global awareness, victims of terrorism in Israel do not garner the same sympathy as victims of attacks in Europe. It is in this complex reality that our children live. Empowering them with the knowledge of how to address the horror of terrorism and memorialize victims in a positive way is an unfortunately necessary life-skill to have.
Be a part of making memory meaningful with this positive engagement opportunity.
Sports Day can be as large or as small as you like.
This can be an activity in gym class, an event for an entire grade level, school or the kids in your synagogue, youth movement or just something you do with family or friends.
Set up the games:
The goal: tie together games participants will enjoy with the memories and faces of the Munich 11 (see the athletes memory section below).
How? Define “arenas” of competition in honor of the athletes.
Obviously, it is not possible to recreate each of their field of sport in Olympic dimension however it is possible to create different games to symbolize the games these athletes excelled in: wrestling, weightlifting, shooting, fencing, track.
Schools that have these or some of these sports as part of their repertoire can set up competitions according to the guidelines of those fields. Communities that do not have these capabilities can adapt to what is available for example:
- Don’t have a race track? Set up markers to define the “race track” for a 400 yard dash competition / Run, touch the wall of the gym and race back to the other side.
- Don’t have weights to lift? Create your own weights by filling up bottles of water
- Don’t want to hold a wrestling match? Hold any kind of competition that utilizes the skills of a wrestler: strength, speed, balance and declare that it is symbolic of a wrestling match. It could be who can do the most cartwheels in a row, walk the fastest across a balance beam or anything else that suits the participants.
- Shooting can become anything that entails concentration and precision from throwing darts to a game of pin the tail on the donkey. Be creative!
- Fencing can become anything that involves speed, balance, strategy from a duel with pretend swords to a game of tag. Utilize the games that are natural to the age level and capabilities of the participants!
INTEGRATE THE MEMORY:
- Print the athletes’ memory section below.
- Make sure the participants have read the memory section. This can be done by reading it together before the start of the games. Alternatively, the participants can receive the section ahead of time and read it before the Sports Day. The goal is to make sure that all of the participants are familiar with the names and faces of each of the athletes
- Post the corresponding memory pages in a highly visible place next to the games in honor of that athlete so that the participants see the names, faces and bios of the athletes that are being honored with that specific game: