All of Israel stands with you, as you take your places on the starting line at every event. All our hopes are with you. All our good feelings are with you. All our pride is in your every stroke, your every action in every sport. Whether or not you bring home medals, you have already won medals in our hearts.
There has been quite a stir among Jews throughout the world, especially Israelis, calling for a moment of silence at the Opening Games on Friday night, the Sabbath. The Olympic Committee has nixed any memorial of that sort for the 11 Israeli athletes massacred in Munich 1972.
Dear athletes, you can make your own memorial. You can make a memorial that will have a greater impact than any Minute of Silence could have made.
Instead of just lighting a memorial candle, you can all together LIGHT SHABBAT CANDLES, make your own kabbalat Shabbat (welcome of the Sabbath), proclaim the Holy Sabbath in Olympic Village. You can sing Shalom Aleichem, Malachei HaShabbat – Welcome to you, angels of Sabbath – and you can have in mind the 11 angels that are watching over you and asking YOU to give them justice.
They don’t need you to win at the games. They need you to remember 11 Jewish athletes, massacred at the Munich Olympics. And there is no better way to make the entire world remember these 11 Jews, who were killed because they were Jewish, than to remember the Sabbath and try as best as you can to keep it holy. This is the most powerful memorial anyone could achieve!
If you remember the Sabbath while you are at the Olympic Games, you will sanctify G-d’s name globally, just as Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon, o’h, did when he asked his rabbi in Florida, “When do we observe Shabbat in space?” Suddenly the entire world was speaking about Shabbat and the glory of the Jewish people.
A few weeks ago Israel’s President Shimon Peres announced that he will not come to the Olympic Opening Event, because he chose not to desecrate the Sabbath in order to attend. Mr. Peres is not a religious Jew, but as President of the State of Israel before the world, he felt he must act in a way that brings honor to the Jewish nation. Every newspaper and television show in the world reported that “Israel’s President Shimon Peres chose Shabbat over the Olympic Opener.” What Jewish pride he showed to the world!! Jews walked taller in every country under the sun because of that decision. And Jerusalem of Gold shined even brighter.
I understand that you feel you must participate in the Opening Event. And I don’t know enough about the Olympics to ask you to stay back. But I ask you to try as best as you can to make the 25 hours from tonight until tomorrow night holier for yourself and your team. I ask you to find time in between all of this afternoon’s exciting events to light Shabbat candles, drink a cup of wine for kiddush, sing Shalom Aleichem together. You can even dance the hora, if that’s what you know.
But make a difference in this Olympics. Remember the 11 Israeli athletes who were murdered by Islamic terrorists because these athletes were Jews. Whether you are religious or not, whether you chose to or not, you are representing every Jew in the world today.
Make your own memorial to Israel’s fallen athletes by remembering that YOU ARE A JEW. And a Jew remembers the Sabbath to keep it holy.
No medal, no sports recognition, no feature story in a magazine could give Israel and the Jewish people more pride (or shall we say, nachas!) than if you made it known that the Israeli team remembers the Sabbath and the 11 angels that are at the Olympic Village with you.