“I’m Not Drawing the Big Arc Back to 1936”

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.

Dr. Alon Padovicz, 60, half-marathon

Portrait of a man in sports wear in a locker room

Alon (60) Half Marathon © Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Stephan Pramme

What meaning do you feel it has, that the European Maccabi Games are taking place in Berlin, and in particular at the Olympic Stadium? It’s a place of symbolic importance since Jewish athletes weren’t allowed to participate in the 1936 Olympics…

To be honest, for me it’s nothing special. I’ve lived in Berlin for more than 50 years, and it’s normal to me that Jews come to Berlin or undertake some project in Berlin. Even the place – the Olympic Stadium – isn’t extraordinary to me. I often participate in competitive events in Berlin, for instance in the 25-kilometer race, and we always finish at the Olympic Stadium. It’s not a new feeling for me. I think it’s nice that we can do this here. But I’m not drawing the big arc back to 1936, although I am of course aware of the historical significance.

And being part of the German delegation – what role does that play for you?

I’m a bit ambivalent: on the one hand, it’s nice to be part of the German delegation. It’s an experience of community, we speak a common language, and we know each other. On the other hand, this way I’m representing Germany, which makes up only part of my identity. I was born in Israel, and I feel most closely bound to my home country.

What does Judaism mean to you personally?

Judaism is an essential part of my identity even though I’m not really religious. Judaism is more than a religion for me: it’s a culture, it’s a way of having togetherness, it’s a kind of approach to life – and that’s all very important to me. It’s about roots, it’s community, and I’m part of this community.

Tamar Lewinsky, curator of contemporary history, and Theresia Ziehe, curator of photography, are keeping their fingers crossed for all their interviewees at the European Maccabi Games!

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