(JNS.org) About 2,000 Jewish athletes have gathered at the 14th European Maccabi Games, whose opening ceremony was held Monday.
The July 27-Aug. 5 games are taking place at Berlin's Olympiastadion, the same stadium built and used for the Summer Olympics of 1936 during the Nazi era. At that time, Jews were discouraged from participating.
The organizers of the games being called "Europe's biggest Jewish sports event” say this year’s games "send a message for tolerance and openness against anti-Semitism and racism."
"Today Jewish life in Germany is reviving. We have over 120,000 members in 108 Jewish communities. Berlin is the biggest Jewish community and you will have all the options to explore it this week. You will see throughout the next ten days that Jews in Germany are not only safe but also proud of our long-standing Jewish traditions," said the host nation's Alon Meyer, president of Maccabi Germany, at the welcome event for the games.
"It is a great opportunity to show the world that it is possible to live a Jewish life in Germany because for many people it is unimaginable to live in Germany as a Jew. I am often asked how I can live as a Jew in Germany after the Holocaust. It is possible and we want to show that Jews can live here and with this event we want to show that it is definitely possible," said Ruben Gerchikov, a member of the German soccer team, Reuters reported.
"I think it's a great feeling to have a bunch of Jews together from all around the world, the biggest amount of Jews in Germany since the Holocaust. I think it is a great thing. It's such an awesome feeling to be here," said Arielle Schneider of the U.S. women's soccer team.
Participants in the games come from 36 countries and will compete in 19 sports disciplines.