“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. Obviously, a new stadium wouldn’t be built for the Maccabiah, and the Olympic Stadium meets the needs of the athletes and the games. Many don’t even think of its particular history anymore. Newspapers make note of it, or we get asked about it in interviews, but it’s the best place in Berlin for such a large sporting event to take place.

What do you think is a typical Jewish sport?

I’d say chess has a strong connection to Judaism. Bridge is also typically Jewish. So chess and bridge.

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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