As the world celebrates the Games of the XXX Olympiad in London, I wonder how many will remember that it is also the 40th anniversary of the Munich Massacre. If this was before your time, at the Munich Games in 1972, Palestinian terrorists murdered 11 members of the Israeli Olympic Team.
On September 5, 1972, Palestinian terrorists broke into the Olympic Village. They immediately killed two and nine were taken hostage. Efforts to rescue the hostages failed and they were eventually killed.
The Olympic Games are a great time to remember that countries can usually put aside their differences and come together for a few weeks on the world’s grandest stage. And while we all have our favorite athletes and sports, I would like to believe most of us enjoy seeing the world come together, sending its best athletes to compete.
But as we talk about the history of the Olympics, most don’t talk about the tragedy of the Munich Games. I know what you’re thinking, “Why should we remember something so sad?”
It’s simple. We remember because that’s how we heal.
Each time there is a tragedy of large proportions, such as the recent shooting in Aurora, Colorado, the Oklahoma City bombing, 9/11, etc., we take a moment to remember those who were lost and those still affected by such tragedies.
Remembering the fallen of the Munich Games is no different.
With that, I would like to thank Rabbi Ruth Abusch-Magder (on Twitter as @RabbiRuth http://twitter.com/RabbiRuth) for bringing this to my attention and calling for a two-minute moment of silence (turn off your TV if you like) during the Opening Ceremonies. You can read her post on the subject here: “A Modest Proposal for the Olympics”.
For your prayers and moments of silence, here are the names of the 11 who died 40 years ago:
Now, we can truly let the games begin!
The 1972 Israeli Olympic team. (Photo credit: http://elearning.huc.edu.)