No Israelis, but Israeli Memories, at Calgary Olympics

Although no Israeli athlete is participating in the 15th Winter Olympics underway in Calgary and none of the top-rated athletes is known to be Jewish, the corollary events are not without Jewish content.

The memory of the 11 Israeli athletes killed by Palestinian terrorists during the 1972 Olympics in Munich was honored by the Calgary Jewish community at a memorial service Feb. 11.

More than 750 people, including Calgary Mayor Ralph Klein, attended the service at the Calgary Jewish Center, according to Douglas Wertheimer, editor of the Jewish Star of Calgary.

“This was the largest Jewish gathering here in the last 10 years,” Wertheimer said in a telephone interview. About 5,000 Jews live in Calgary, a city of 600,000 people.

As the service took place two days before the official opening of the games, it also was attended by a representative of the Olympics Organizing Committee.

Wertheimer noted two other “Jewish aspects” related to the games.

Rabbi Roy Tanenbaum of Calgary’s Beth Tzedek Congregation is a member of the games’ religious committee.

“The task of the committee is to draw attention to the higher goals of the Olympics, such as promoting brotherhood and peace among all people,” Wertheimer explained. He said Tanenbaum composed three prayers in that spirit which were read in a ceremony before the opening of the games.

And among the 50 booths at an international food fare is the Kosher Kiosk, supervised by Rabbi David Lichtman of the Orthodox Congregation House of Jacob, Calgary, Wertheimer said.

In addition, a team of six Israelis came to take part in a concurrent international snow-sculpting contest. But according to Wertheimer, they left without participating, perhaps because of the warm winds that greeted the opening of the games.

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