Thousands of Jewish Athletes to Compete at European 'Jewish Olympics' in Berlin

This will be the first time the European Maccabi Games takes place in Germany.

Rafael Herlich (Courtesy EMG)

The 14th European Maccabi Games are due to open this month in Berlin, in what is likely to be an "emotionally charged" occasion, as the head of one delegation put it.

This will be the first time the Jewish sporting event has taken place in Germany, and will be hosted at the Olympiastadion, an Olympic stadium built for the Summer Olympics of 1936, in which Jews were originally encouraged not to participate.

The last European Maccabi Games were held in Vienna, Austria, in 2011, marking what the organization said was the largest gathering of Jews in that city since the Holocaust. The organization added that the sporting event also marked the first time since World War II that Jewish athletes from all over Europe competed on the territory of the former German Reich.

More than 2,000 Jewish athletes from more than 36 countries are expected to participate in the games this year, in 19 disciplines.

Daniel Collins, head of Great Britain's delegation to the games this year, was quoted by The Guardian as saying, "I doubt any games anywhere will be as emotionally charged as this one; thousands of Jewish people parading in the Olympic stadium, which houses such meaning, not only to the world’s Jewish community, but to the world’s sporting community.”

The event, which runs from July 27 to August 5, is an offshoot of the World Maccabiah Games, nicknamed the "Jewish Olympics," which are held every four years in Israel.