If I understand the timing correctly, the London Olympics will begin on Friday night, July 27 – at 9:00 p.m. London time. I won’t be watching it – in a few hours, the Sabbath will come to Israel. It is the 9th day of the Jewish month of Av, Tisha B’Av. This year, the mourning associated with this sad day will be pushed off to Sunday. We do not mourn on the Sabbath, not as a nation and not as an individual.
We will begin our mourning as the Sabbath leaves us. Tisha B’Av is, without doubt, the saddest day of the Jewish calendar. we have a long list of tragedies that have befallen our people on this day and each year we remember. There are those who are against remembering the Israeli athletes who were murdered 40 years ago. They want us to move on, to stop remembering. This for a people who remember the day both our Holy Temples were destroyed more than 2,000 years ago – and even more for the First Temple.
We remember each Temple; we remember each massacre. We remember the expulsion from Spain during the Spanish Inquisition that started on this day in 1492, and so much more. I won’t be watching as the opening ceremonies mark the start of the Olympics, but I will remember.
I was only 11, just about 12, but there were several moments that remain clear to me – the first announcement and confusion…how could the Olympics be continuing as if nothing is happening? They’re playing while the Israelis are being held at gunpoint. And then the world seemed to straighten a little and the games stopped.
And then the announcement that they were being moved to the airport and the quick glimpses of the tied athletes. And then reports of gunfire and finally, an announcement that the Germans had launched a rescue attempt and that the Israelis were saved.
And then Jim McKay….they’re all gone.