Israel Features & Resources

Reform Movement Responds to IOC's Underwhelming Gesture for Munich Terror Victims

Remembering the 11 Victims of Terror in Munich 1972

Annette Powers

July 24, 2012, New York -- As the sporting world prepares to focus on the 2012 Olympics in London, governments and heads of state from many countries have appealed to the International Olympic Committee to observe a moment of silence in memory of the 11 Israelis - three weightlifters, two wrestlers, one fencer, three coaches and two officials -- murdered by terrorists at the Munich Games 40 years ago. The entire Reform and Progressive Jewish world representing 1.8 million Jews in 45 countries in 7 regions around the globe joined in those appeals. At the last minute, and with little publicity, IOC officials made a small gesture towards recognition of this stain on Olympic history. While the tribute itself, held in the Olympic Village, touched on the disparity between the Olympic vision of peace and solidarity and the vicious attack on the Israeli team, simply because they were Israelis, the message was lost to the wider Olympic community, and indeed, the world. A moment of silence at the opening ceremony makes no political statement; it simply asks the world, and not just the few in the Olympic Village ceremony, to pause and remember the lost lives and the sorrow of a tragic event in Olympic history. To allow this milestone anniversary to pass almost without notice is an insult both to the families of the slain and the very spirit of the Olympics. The World Union calls upon its 1200 affiliated congregations and communities around the world to read the names and honor the memories of the following 11 martyrs during worship and other public events while the games are on:

David Berger
Ze'ev Friedman
Yossef Gutfreund
Eliezer Halfin
Yossef Romano
Amitzur Shapira
Kehat Shorr
Mark Slavin
Andre Spitzer
Yakov Springer
Moshe Weinberg

We also recall with gratitude the sacrifice of German Police Officer Anton Fliegerbauer who gave his life fighting the terrorists.

Eternal God,

While the sporting world focuses on the Olympic Games in London, our minds and our hearts recall with reverence the memories of those who were murdered - simply because they were Jews who represented the Land of Israel - 40 years ago. May the ideals that inspired them continue to inspire us. May we - as they did - strive for excellence through hard work, fair play and the desire to leave the world - as they did - better for our presence. We take them into our hearts with our own loved ones as we pray they find peace and reward in the world beyond.

May their memories remain with us for blessing.


Mike Grabiner, Chairman, WUPJ
Rabbi Stephen Lewis Fuchs, President WUPJ
Stephen Sacks, Chairman, URJ (North America)
Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President, URJ (North America)
Lois Horn Zeidler, Chair, North American Council
Leslie Bergman, President, EUPJ (Europe)
Miriam Kramer, Chairman, EUPJ (Europe)
Miriam Vasserman, Chair, WUPJ-LA (Latin America)
Rabbi Joshua Kullock, UJCL (Latin America)
Yaron Shavit, Chairman, IMPJ (Israel)
Steven Lurie, Chairman, SAUPJ (South Africa)
David Robinson, President, UPJ (Australasia)
Rabbi Alex Duchovny, Chair, FSU Progressive Rabbis Council