“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. We’re writing history while at the same time starting a new history with modern Judaism and new life in Germany. When everything goes well, it’s a strong symbol against anti-Semitism. Just a year ago, I had to face demonstrations that had unpleasant elements. That’s exactly why I think it’s important we show we are living here like everyone else. I’ve never been to the Olympic Stadium, but I think it’ll be strange being there. I live in Germany and know what happened here. However to really stand there will be an emotional moment.

What role does Judaism play for you?

On one hand, there’s the religion with its holidays, living with Jewish faith and family. On the other hand, there’s life outside the synagogue. To me, it means belonging to a community no matter where you are in the world. There’s an immediate connection when you go to a community event or come to an organization, welcomed with open arms.

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!

Leave a comment