“For Me, Judaism Means Family”

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.

Daliah Hoffmann (24), half-marathon

Portrait of a young woman in sports wear with bottle and towel

Daliah (24) Half Marathon © Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Stephan Pramme

Daliah, why are you taking part in the European Maccabi Games?

I’m here because sports are an extremely important part of my life, and, of course, I want to experience this event in Berlin; it’s an opportunity not to be missed. However, I thought twice about it because I’ve already run a half-marathon this year, and that was enough. Yet it’s really nice to run together with family.

What’s required to participate in these Games?

First of all, you have to show you’re Jewish with your birth certificate and those of your family, as far as I can recall. If it were up to me, I’d also let people in who somehow feel connected to the religion. I think it’s unfortunate that some aren’t allowed to be part because they aren’t Jewish on paper, but feel Jewish or were raised Jewish, even if their mother isn’t.

What does Judaism mean to you personally?  continue reading


“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


“Chess and Bridge Are Typically Jewish”

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.

Ruslan Satschkow (28), fencing

Young man with floret and helmet in fencing suit

Ruslan (28) fencing © Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Stephan Pramme

Ruslan, why are you participating in the European Maccabi Games?

I grew up in Rostock and was active there in a fencing club. My trainer has a Jewish background, and he had been a very good and active fencer in Ukraine. Then he opened a fencing club in Rostock and got involved with youth. At some point, he got us onto the idea of being part of the Maccabiah. My first was in Rome, and we did pretty well. Then it was Israel – my first time there. I’ve been part of the Maccabiah ever since.

Part of the competition will take place on the 1936 Olympic Grounds …

The Olympic Stadium is a very symbolic place – both very negative but also very positive. For example, the Champions League Final was there this year.  continue reading