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World Jewish Congress and German Football League Announce Historic Delegation Visit to Israel – World Jewish Congress

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BERLIN/TEL AVIV—The World Jewish Congress (WJC), together with the German Football League (DFL), is proud to announce a special delegation visit to Israel to mark the occasion of Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. This initiative underscores the power of sports in bridging communities and commemorating historical events.

Members of the delegation, consisting of officials from clubs across the first and second divisions of German football, took part in the official Yom Hashoah ceremony held at Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, marking a significant moment of reflection and commemoration. The group also took part in a workshop at Yad Vashem the next day, aimed at deepening understanding of the Holocaust and highlighting the responsibilities of sports organizations in promoting tolerance and remembrance.

Upon arriving in Israel on Saturday the group met with the Hostages and Missing Families Forum in Tel Aviv and attended the evening rally in Hostages Square.

Trip participants will also visit Kibbutz Kfar Aza in southern Israel, an area profoundly affected by the events of October 7th. The group will be hosted by the family of Netta Epstein, a beloved member of the local Kfar Aza Foxes soccer team who was killed along with more than 1,000 civilians during Hamas’s attack.

Organized by the WJC in collaboration with the DFL, this visit exemplifies the joint efforts of the global sports community to combat antisemitism and foster a culture of remembrance and education. Through this visit, the delegation aims to inspire action and promote the message of tolerance and understanding across the sports world and beyond.

“We are honored to lead this delegation to Israel on such a significant occasion,” said WJC Executive Vice President Maram Stern. “By standing together in remembrance and solidarity, we reaffirm the role of sports as a catalyst for change and a beacon of hope.”

“We‘re very honored, and excited by the opportunity to commemorate Yom Hashoah at Yad Vashem. As the representative of German professional football clubs we recognize the power that sport has to promote remembrance and draw attention to the plight of those who suffered in the Holocaust. The Footballing community should stand together as a family against hate – this message is timeless, and important especially in these difficult times“, said Tobias Kaufmann, Senior Vice President Communications of the German Football League.

“This year’s Holocaust Remembrance Day is particularly poignant in the face of rising global antisemitism,” Yad Vashem Chairman Dani Dayan remarked. “The central theme for this year’s Yom Hashoah, ‘A Lost World: The Destruction of the Jewish Communities,’ emphasizes the communities lost to the Holocaust. Recent events underscore the paramount importance of remembrance. With the participation of members from the German Football League and the World Jewish Congress, we honor and remember the six million Jewish victims and reaffirm our commitment to combatting antisemitism and fostering tolerance.”

The World Jewish Congress previously announced the launch of two additional sport-related initiatives set to coincide with the UEFA EURO 2024 tournament in Germany:

The initiative “Football and Memory” launched on 25 April, connects UEFA EURO 2024 attendees with the history of the Holocaust through visits to local memorials and former concentration camps. Developed in partnership with the German Football Association’s (DFB) Cultural Foundation, “Football and Memory” reflects on history by using sport as a bridge to the past. Special programming at each site will highlight the interconnectedness of sports, history and memory. A website, available before and during the tournament, will also link visitors to host cities where memorials and museums are located.

Starting May 23 and continuing through July, the World Jewish Congress will host a dynamic public exhibit, “Sports. Crowds. Power.” at the Sports Museum on the grounds of the 1936 Summer Olympics, when the Nazis were in power. The site is adjacent to Berlin’s Olympic Stadium which will host the finals of this summer’s tournament.

“Sports. Crowds. Power.” explores the nefarious role of sports under National Socialism and delves into how the Nazis manipulated sports to consolidate power, the tragic impact of the Holocaust on European Jewish athletes and sporting clubs, and the contemporary role of sports in combating antisemitism.

For more information about the visit and the initiatives of the World Jewish Congress and the German Football League, please contact: cory.weiss@wjc.org.

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