Israel is not well-known for physical prowess in the Olympics.  Though Israel has participated in many Olympic competitions, they have rarely won any medals.  However, it looks more and more like that will change in the coming years.

Munich – 1972

Israel sent a few dozen people to the Olympics in 1972 in Munich.  Most of them did not come back.  It was one of the biggest tragedies that befell the Jewish people in it’s early decades.  Munich was even more painful in that it happened in Germany around 25 years after the end of the Nazi Holocaust.

It took a while for Israel to get over that horrible episode.  But, today, Israel is now on the map.  Especially with the influx of many Russian immigrants, Israel has found success in many Olympic sports competitions.  This young Israeli gymnast who looks like medal-worthy is already not a major surprise.  Israel has had young men and women win medals in judo, sailing, and canoeing.

Physical and Spiritual

It is common to think that physical prowess and spiritual prowess are two opposites.  But according to Jewish tradition, the two actually are opposite sides of the same coin.

The quintessential Jewish stereotype of the exile was not strong physically.  He fought with his passport.  He certainly was not focused on sport.  A Jew with a gun was the last thing that anyone associated a Jew as.  But part of the emergence of the State of Israel was the emergence of the age-old Jew.  In Biblical times, Jews who lived in the Land of Israel fought wars as part of life in the Land.  But, after the Temples were destroyed, nearly all of the Jews were forced into the exile and a different Jew evolved.  today, the Jew from the Bible has been restored.   A Jew who both fights and studies the Bible is the new image of a Jew.  But, it really is a reliving of the Biblical characters in the modern era.