“Sports Are Sports, and Religion Is Religion”

The 14th European Maccabi Games (EMG) are taking place in Berlin from 27 July until 5 August 2015. More than 2,000 Jewish athletes from 36 countries will compete in 19 sports from football to fencing to chess. To accompany the games Tamar Lewinsky and Theresia Ziehe are producing a series of portraits with interviews, introducing a new member of the German delegation from Berlin every day here on the blog. They conducted the interviews on the grounds of the TuS Maccabi in Berlin’s Grunewald where Stephan Pramme also shot the portraits.

Ben Lesegeld (28), soccer

Ben, what role does it play for you that a part of the European Maccabi Games will be held at Berlin’s 1936 Olympic park?

Young man in sports wear with a soccer ball sitting in front of a bar

Ben (28) soccer © Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Stephan Pramme

On the one hand, it’s very special for me as an athlete, because the Olympic compound offers us a completely professional setting. On the other hand, it gives me a queasy feeling. The architecture of the Olympic Stadium always leaves me a little bit awestruck. For me, it’s not simply a “wonderful setting” though, because the stadium always reminds one of the history. So it’s not that simple to participate in an athletic event there with ease, joy, and pleasure. For me personally, it’s important to think about the people who weren’t allowed to take part back then. But I still find it good that the Maccabi Games are happening there. It shows that life must go on: we know exactly what happened there, but we keep going, we take part in a sporting event – despite this history – and we show that the future will be an open one.

What requirements must one fulfill – aside from athletics – in order to participate?  continue reading


“The Maccabiah Is a Strong Symbol Against Anti-Semitism”

The 14th European Maccabi Games (EMG) are taking place in Berlin from 27 July until 5 August 2015. More than 2,000 Jewish athletes from 36 countries will compete in 19 sports from football to fencing to chess. To accompany the games Tamar Lewinsky and Theresia Ziehe are producing a series of portraits with interviews, introducing a new member of the German delegation from Berlin every day here on the blog. They conducted the interviews on the grounds of the TuS Maccabi in Berlin’s Grunewald where Stephan Pramme also shot the portraits.

Sarah Geldmann (25), Hockey

Young woman with hockey stick

Sarah (25) hockey © Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Stephan Pramme

Sarah, what meaning does it hold for you that the European Maccabi Games are taking place in Berlin?

The symbolism is intense, I think. We represent Jewish life in Germany, and, as hosts, we can show other nations that there aren’t just a few of us in Germany, as some may think. There is Jewish life here, and Berlin has become a hotspot for Israelis. Even if some had concerns, it’ll for sure be a great event.

Jewish athletes were barred from the 1936 Olympics. Now this is exactly where most of the European Maccabi Games are taking place. What do you think about that?

Of course, it has a huge historical meaning. There are survivors who are with us, and I’m proud we can show them we’re here again.  continue reading


“It was time that this event happened in Berlin”

The 14th European Maccabi Games (EMG) are taking place in Berlin from 27 July until 5 August 2015. More than 2,000 Jewish athletes from 36 countries will compete in 19 sports from football to fencing to chess. To accompany the games Tamar Lewinsky and Theresia Ziehe are producing a series of portraits with interviews, introducing a new member of the German delegation from Berlin every day here on the blog. They conducted the interviews on the grounds of the TuS Maccabi in Berlin’s Grunewald where Stephan Pramme also shot the portraits.

Tom Meshulam (23), futsal

Young man sitting on a table with a lot of soccer balls at his feet

Tom (23) futsal © Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Stephan Pramme

Tom, was does it mean to you that the European Maccabi Games are coming for the first time to Berlin?

For me personally, it’s very special. It’s a ‘home game’ because I’m from Berlin. I grew up here and celebrated my bar mitzvah here. Now more than 2,000 athletes will travel here from around the world. It’s going to be a great experience. I think it’s time that, after Vienna and Rome, this event happens in Berlin. One doesn’t always need to put the past in the foreground – it’s important to look forward.

What are the requirements for participation in the EMG?

You have to be good at your sport and make it onto the team.  continue reading