Today marks the first day of the 2012 Summer Olympics. The Olympic Games can be traced back to 776 B.C.E , where they were held for nearly 12 centuries before being banned due to their pagan roots. The first modern Olympic Games were held in Athens in 1896 and have evolved and grown ever since.
Tisha B’Av is also this weekend. At the same time when the Jewish community will be participating in communal mourning of the destruction of the Temple and the loss of thousands, the 11 Israeli athletes killed 40 years ago at the 1972 Munich Games will also be on many people’s minds–official recognition or not.
Looking back to more uplifting Olympic moments, this story of the 1936 US Olympic rowing team certainly highlights a proud achievement in the face of adversity. Called the “high spot” of the Games by sportswriter Grantland Rice, it must have been an especially uplifting moment for the USA as a group of college rowers from the University of Washington came from behind to defeat Germany as Hitler and other Nazi officials looked on.
And lastly, if you were ever curious about Jewish Olympic athletic prowess here is a list of all Jewish Olympic medalists. Feel free to tally up the total number of golds, silvers and bronzes.