Beijing Olympics: Jewish Update Part II

Alas, the über-hyped 2008 Beijing Olympics are upon us. A few weeks ago, we had an overview of Jewish news related to the Games, and we’re pleased to bring a second installment.

You’d probably like to know, for example, how many American-Jews will be competing. The answer to that is seven, led by four swimmers.

Jason Lezak, Ben Wildman-Tobriner, Garrett Weber-Gale, and Dara Torres lead the way. The three men, in fact, will most likely comprise three-fourths of the men’s 4×100-meter freestyle relay. And Torres, the 41 year-old sprinter who has nine medals to her name, is enshrined in the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and will be competing in her fifth Games, hardly needs an introduction.

Another water-related athlete is Rami Zur, a kayaker who competed for Israel in 2000 and the U.S. in 2004.

On land, Jewish-Americans are represented by fencer Sara Jacobson and marathoner Deena Kastor, both of whom won bronze medals in Athens.

For a complete list of Jews competing in Beijing, see this list, comprised by JTA. It includes three Canadians, five Argentinians, and 39 Israelis. Israel was planning on bringing 40 athletes, but American born swimmer Max Jaben was kicked off the team for testing positive for boldenone.

One of the Israelis is Gat-El Gaterer, who will be competing in Taekwando. Gaterer is Orthodox, which has created a fair share of controversy (read the comments) regarding the proper role of Orthodox women and whether one should be competing as such on a world stage.

Israel is expecting a modest amount of success. The head of the Olympic Committee of Israel says one medal, at least, is a necessity.

And how have Jews reacted to China’s dubious human rights record? One, Rabbi Adin Even-Yisrael Steinsaltz, has denounced China for persecuting Falun Gong practitioners.

As a side note, it’s worth reporting that the Chinese Turkestan Islamic Party has released a video threatening to attack the Olympics. This is the same armed group that claimed responsibility for bus attacks in Western China last month.

Here’s to a safe and competitive 2008 Olympics!

Benjamin Schuman-Stoler


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One response to “Beijing Olympics: Jewish Update Part II

  1. How do you know for a fact that there are seven Jews on the US Olympic Team?

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