(JNS.org) While the International Olympic Committee (IOC) refused to hold a moment of silence during the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics in honor of the 11 Israeli team members killed by Palestinian terrorists during the 1972 Munich Olympics, the organization did include a tribute for victims of the 2005 London subway bombing.
NBC edited out the segment for U.S. television viewers. “It’s almost unheard of for a nation to change Olympic opening ceremony protocol, and the IOC often uses that as one of its excuses to deny a moment of silence for the Israelis,” wrote Christine Brennan in an op-ed for USA Today. “But then it changed protocol for others.”
NBC sportscaster Bob Costas did recognize the 11 murdered Israelis while current Israeli athletes walked around the Olympic stadium in London during the opening ceremony’s parade of nations. “For many, tonight, with the world watching, is the true time and place to remember those who were lost, and how and why they died,” Costas said on air.
But Britain’s Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks did not let the moment pass. He composed a prayer to honor the slain Olympians, which he introduced with a statement on his blog:
“The massacre of eleven Israeli athletes and coaches at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich was a tragic event in the history of the Olympic Games. But for the Jewish people, Munich 1972 is more than history. It is an event forever etched into the hearts and minds of our collective Jewish memory. History is his story – an event that happened sometime else to someone else. Memory is my story – something that happened to me and is part of who I am. History is information. Memory, by contrast, is part of identity. The eleven Israeli athletes and coaches were targeted not just because of their nationality, but because they were Jews. The attack was carried out on a world stage because it had a global target: the Jewish people. We are a people whose faith is central to our identity. That is why I have composed a special prayer of remembrance to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the massacre and to ensure it has a place on the map of Jewish memory. Coming at a time in the Jewish calendar when we recall the many tragedies that have befallen our people throughout history, the fortieth anniversary of the Munich massacre is also a moment when we can recall how, despite the many attempts to destroy our people, our faith has remained intact and the Jewish people, together with the memory of those lost, lives on.”
Prayer to the slain Munich Olympics athletes:
We, the members of this holy congregation,
Together with members of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth,
Join our prayers to the prayers of others throughout the world,
In remembrance of the eleven Israeli athletes
Brutally murdered in an act of terrorism,
At the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich,
Because they were Israelis,
Because they were Jews.
At this time in the Jewish year,
When we remember the destructions of our holy Temples,
And the many tragedies that have befallen our people throughout history,
We mourn their loss
And continue to protest against those who hate our people.
We pray to You, O God:
Comfort the families and friends of the Israeli athletes who continue to grieve
And grant eternal life to those so cruelly robbed of life on earth.
Just as we are united in grief,
Help us stay united in hope.
As we comfort one another under the shadow of death,
Help us strengthen one another in honouring life.
The Olympic message is one of peace, of harmony and of unity,
Teach us, Almighty God, to bring reconciliation and respect between faiths,
As we pray for the peace of Israel,
And for the peace of the world.
May this be Your will and let us say: Amen