In 1972, 11 Israeli athletes and coaches were massacred by Arab terrorists at the Summer Olympic Games in Munich, Germany.

Forty years later, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has yet to memorialize the victims with a moment of silence at any of the nine summer Olympics since.


However thanks to an international grassroots effort, that moment of silence, potentially more powerful than uttered words can describe in the memory of victims, has a chance of becoming a reality at the 2012 London, England, Summer Games.

The idea for the “minute of silence” campaign was the brain-child of Mr. David Kirschtel, the CEO of the Jewish Community Center of Rockland County, New York.

Once the JCC in Rockland was chosen to host the 2012 Youth Maccabi, Kirschtel decided that it would be fitting to add meaning to the games by dedicating them to the Munich 11. From there, the “minute of silence” adventure was born.

Most relevant at this time is a ongoing Facebook contest the Rockland JCC has entered, launched by Chase Community Giving to benefit non-profits organizations. Chase has decided to give away more than $2.5 million to help organizations achieve their missions.

After the first round of voting (which is open to the entire Facebook community) the JCC finished in 37th place, good enough to secure a $25,000 grant towards their campaign.

Second-round voting runs from May 19–25, with entrants eligible to win up to $500,000 for their ideas, which Chase feels can benefit society at large.

In addition, the JCC in Rockland is organizing numerous other events with the number ‘11’ as the theme in order to raise awareness and put pressure on the IOC to take action.

Later on this year the Rockland JCC will be hosting an 11K walk to raise funds. They are also asking that members and friends of the JCC donate $11 towards reaching their goal. All who donate will have their names included on a petition to be sent to the IOC.

The most important goal according to a moving video released on YouTube by the JCC to raise awareness about the campaign is to “educate many generations to come.”

According to Kirschtel, “as time passes by, less and less people know the story of Munich.”

He adds that while discussing the campaign at a staff meeting, one of his fellow employees who was actually born in 1972, “had no idea what I was talking about.”

Kirschtel adds that for him, “that is totally unacceptable.”

In addition to support from the local community, Mrs.

Ankie Spitzer, widow of Israeli Fencing Coach Andrei Spitzer, who was killed in the Munich attacks, has thrown her weight behind the campaign.

Since the tragedy, every four years prior to the Summer Games, Ankie has lobbied the IOC for a minute of silence on behalf of the families of the victims, but to no avail – as of yet.

In fact, Ankie says that she would be satisfied with just “30 seconds” of silence, something that the IOC has yet to approve.

It is still unclear to Ankie and the other families why such as small request has been ignored.

A minute of silence in memory of athletes in the Olympics is not unprecedented.

Just last year at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, a moment of silence was held at the Games’ Opening Ceremonies for Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili, who died several days earlier when he lost control of his sled and crashed over a safety rail into a steel beam.

The remaining seven members of his team decided to carry on with the competition and were greeted with a standing ovation by the more than 50,000 spectators in attendance when they entered Olympic Stadium, just prior to standing in silence.

Kirschtel is optimistic that next year, the Israeli Munich athletes will be given their due respect.

A stirring documentary about the JCC Campaign titled “20 million minutes” is set to be released early next year.

A YouTube trailer for the film has already been launched.

“There have been nearly 20 million minutes since Munich,” Kirschtel says on the video. “All we want is one.”

To cast your vote on Facebook for the JCC Rockland’s “One minute of Silence Campaign” via Chase Community Giving, go to http://bit.ly/iSga5Y between May 19-25. For additional information log on to the campaign’s official website, www.munich11.org

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