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World Jewish Congress and German football league’s historic visit to Israel



The World Jewish Congress (WJC) and the German Football League (DFL) announced a delegation’s visit to Israel, commemorating Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day on Sunday. This visit highlights the role of sports in bridging communities and honoring historical events.

The delegation, comprising officials from the top two divisions of German football, participated in the solemn Yom Hashoah ceremony at Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center. This significant event was a moment for reflection and commemoration. Additionally, the delegation attended a workshop at Yad Vashem to deepen their understanding of the Holocaust and to discuss the role of sports in promoting tolerance and remembrance.

Upon arrival in Israel, the delegation met with the Hostages and Missing Families Forum in Tel Aviv and participated in an evening rally at Hostages Square. Their itinerary included a visit to Kibbutz Kfar Aza in southern Israel, deeply impacted by the events of October 7. They were hosted by the family of Netta Epstein, a member of the local soccer team tragically killed during Hamas’s attack, which claimed over 1,000 civilian lives.

Combatting antisemitism and promoting a culture of remembrance

This visit, organized by the WJC in collaboration with the DFL, aims to combat antisemitism and promote a culture of remembrance and education. “We are honored to lead this delegation to Israel on such a significant occasion,” stated a spokesperson for the WJC. “By standing together in remembrance and solidarity, we reaffirm sports as a catalyst for change and a beacon of hope.”

World Jewish Congress and German football league’s historic visit to Israel. May 5, 2024. (credit: SHAHAR AZRAN / WJC)

Tobias Kaufmann, Senior Vice President Communications of the German Football League, expressed, “We are honored and excited to commemorate Yom Hashoah at Yad Vashem. Representing German professional football clubs, we recognize sports’ power to promote remembrance and address the suffering of those during the Holocaust. The football community stands united against hate—this message is timeless and crucial, especially in these challenging times.”

Yad Vashem Chairman Dani Dayan remarked on the importance of this year’s Holocaust Remembrance Day amid rising global antisemitism. “The central theme, ‘A Lost World: The Destruction of the Jewish Communities,’ highlights the communities obliterated by the Holocaust. Recent events underscore the importance of remembrance. With the German Football League and the World Jewish Congress’s participation, we honor the six million Jewish victims and renew our commitment to combating antisemitism and fostering tolerance.”

Additionally, the WJC announced two sport-related initiatives coinciding with the UEFA EURO 2024 in Germany. The “Football and Memory” initiative, launched on April 25, aims to connect UEFA EURO 2024 attendees with Holocaust history through visits to local memorials and former concentration camps, in partnership with the German Football Association’s Cultural Foundation. A dynamic public exhibit, “Sports. Crowds. Power.” will run from May 23 through July at the Sports Museum on the grounds of the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, exploring the role of sports under National Socialism and its contemporary relevance in combating antisemitism.

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