I've composed a special prayer to mark the 40th anniversary of the massacre at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, which saw 11 Israeli athletes and coaches killed.
The prayer will be recited in synagogues across the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth on Shabbat, July 28 (8 Av 5772). This coincides with the start of the Olympic Games in London and is the day before Tisha B'Av, the traditional day of mourning in the Jewish calendar.
The prayer -- available to download from the my website -- includes the Hebrew memorial prayer as well as the names of the 11 murdered Israeli athletes and coaches. It is available to any other organisations which may be holding their own commemoration events.
The massacre of 11 Israeli athletes and coaches at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich was a tragic event in the history of the Olympic Games. But for the Jewish people, Munich 1972 is more than history. It is an event forever etched into the hearts and minds of our collective Jewish memory.
History is his story -- an event that happened sometime else to someone else. Memory is my story -- something that happened to me and is part of who I am. History is information. Memory, by contrast, is part of identity.
The 11 Israeli athletes and coaches were targeted not just because of their nationality, but because they were Jews. The attack was carried out on a world stage because it had a global target: the Jewish people.
We are a people whose faith is central to our identity. It is therefore not sufficient for the Munich 11 to be remembered simply in the secular setting. It requires an expression of religious remembrance as well.
That is why I have composed a special prayer of remembrance to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the massacre and to ensure it has a place on the map of Jewish memory.
Coming at a time in the Jewish calendar when we recall the many tragedies that have befallen our people throughout history, the 40th anniversary of the Munich massacre is also a moment when we can recall how, despite the many attempts to destroy our people, our faith has remained intact and the Jewish people, together with the memory of those lost, lives on.
Prayer to Commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the Massacre at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich
Almighty God: We, the members of this holy congregation,
Together with members of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth,
Join our prayers to the prayers of others throughout the world,
In remembrance of the 11 Israeli athletes Brutally murdered in an act of terrorism,
At the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich,
Because they were Israelis,
Because they were Jews.
At this time in the Jewish year,
When we remember the destructions of our holy Temples,
And the many tragedies that have befallen our people throughout history,
We mourn their loss
And continue to protest against those who hate our people.
We pray to You, O God:
Comfort the families and friends of the Israeli athletes who continue to grieve
And grant eternal life to those so cruelly robbed of life on earth.
Just as we are united in grief,
Help us stay united in hope.
As we comfort one another under the shadow of death,
Help us strengthen one another in honouring life.
The Olympic message is one of peace, of harmony and of unity,
Teach us, Almighty God, to bring reconciliation and respect between faiths,
As we pray for the peace of Israel,
And for the peace of the world.
May this be Your will and let us say: Amen