Community members gathered at the JCC Rockland on Thursday to observe the 40th anniversary of the murders of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics. The State of Israel on Thursday recognized the JCC, which spearheaded the online Petition to have the athletes remembered at the 2012 London Olympics. Speakers at the program promised to continue their efforts to have the International Olympic Committee commemorate the slain athletes at the Rio Olympic Games
“As I keep telling everybody, we will not be silenced until there is silence,” said Steve Gold, Minute of Silence Petition chairman.
Rabbi Paula Drill delivered an invocation and said people should turn the day of tragedy into a day of doing good.
JCC Rockland Board of Directors President Pam Greenspan said a lot had been accomplished with the attention drawn to the petition and its 110,000 signatures.
“We should be very proud of what we’ve done,” she said, noting Rockland County is a small community that managed to draw worldwide attention and support for the Minute of Silence.
Students at Catholic University of America joined with the JCC to spread word about the petition. They produced a video explaining their reasons for supporting it. One student described the 1972 massacre as the first modern terrorist attack; another spoke about it as anti-human sentiment. One student explained it was not about politics or religion but about 11 people who lost their lives to terror.
After the video, Sabrina Koss of New City performed a song as photos of the athletes were displayed. She and her sister, Mara, also sang together.
Paul Adler, a founder of the JCC Rockland, said although the IOC refused the Minute of Silence request, there was victory because the world and world leaders took notice.
“We made the world remember,” he said.
Gold said Joe Allen, who produced a video about the athletes shown at the opening of the Maccabi Games, was creating a film about the petition. The film “20 Million Minutes” is expected to premiere on March 15.
Several government officials attended the program. Clarkstown Councilmember Stephanie Hausner said there was a lot to be proud of considering all the national attention drawn to the effort. Clarkstown Town Supervisor Alex Gromack said he felt confident the effort would continue because it was for a just cause.
Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski agreed with that sentiment.
“By their denial of he Moment of Silence, it will strengthen the resolve,” he said.
The tribute ended with teens lighting 11 candles as each athlete’s name was read.
William Silverstone of Nanuet participated in the candle lighting and had played in the Maccabi Games. He said it was important to him to commemorate the people who died.
“Rockland is making a difference,” he said.