Sarah Garfinkel, West End Strategy Team
NEW YORK – A nearly 50-year mission was finally realized this week as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) granted a moment of silence during the opening ceremonies of the 2021 Summer Olympics, which, in addition to commemorating the lives lost to the pandemic and within the Olympic family over time, honored the memory of the 11 Israeli athletes and coaches tragically lost during the acts of terror at the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Germany.
The JCCs of North America have long been instrumental in advocating for a moment of silence to take place at the Olympic games.
The story of the Munich 11 is shared and commemorated each year during the opening ceremonies of the JCC Maccabi Games®. Since the founding of the games in 1982, 111 host communities have educated approximately 600,000 Jewish teens, host families, volunteers, and spectators about the Munich 11, instilling a sense of pride in new generations of Jewish athletes and artists and inspiring them to carry on the legacy of the Israeli athletes and coaches.
In 2012, in conjunction with hosting the JCC Maccabi Games, the JCC of Rockland County, New York, launched a moment of silence campaign in partnership with Ankie Spitzer, widow of fencing coach Andre Spitzer, and Ilana Romano, widow of weightlifter Yossef Romano.
The efforts of JCC Rockland helped secure a Munich 11 memorial ceremony in the Olympic Village at the 2016 Summer Olympics and led directly to the moment of silence observed at this year’s opening ceremonies. Spitzer and Romano’s heroic journey is captured in the documentary There Was No Silence, which will stream this week (July 26–30, 2021) on Virtual J and features a conversation with Ankie Spitzer; Joe Allen, documentary filmmaker; and David Kirschtel, CEO, JCC Rockland.
About JCC Association of North America
JCC Association of North America leads and connects the JCC Movement, advancing and enriching North American Jewish life. With 1.5 million people walking through the doors of more than 170 Jewish Community Centers and Jewish Community Camps (JCCs) each week, the JCC Movement is the largest platform for Jewish engagement on the continent. JCC Association, the convening organization of this dynamic network, partners with JCCs to bring together the collective power and knowledge of the entire JCC Movement, including 12,000 full-time and 41,000 part-time and seasonal professionals. By supporting them, together we enhance and strengthen Jewish life throughout North America. Learn more at JCCA.org or on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.