SARATOGA SPRINGS – “On the Map,” a film that tells the against–all-odds story of Maccabi Tel Aviv’s 1977 European basketball championship will be screened at Temple Sinai in Saratoga Springs on Sunday, Aug. 13, at 7 p.m. Temple Sinai is located at 509 Broadway, Saratoga Springs. A panel discussion and dessert reception will also be featured.
“This award winning film, currently making the rounds of film festivals around the world, shows that athletics can sometimes have political ramifications that move beyond the arena, bring disparate people together to accomplish feats that change the destiny of nations and the shape of the world,” said Phyllis Wang, coordinator of the Saratoga Jewish Cultural Festival, which is presenting the film.
Organizers report that “On the Map,” plays like a fairly straightforward documentary about the rapid growth in the quality and popularity of Israeli basketball in the 1970s, culminating in the surprising victory by Maccabi Tel Aviv BC at the FIBA European Champions Cup in 1977. However, by paralleling the team’s improvement throughout the course of the decade with simultaneous political developments inside Israel and among the Jewish diaspora, Dani Menkin’s film uses basketball as a paradigm for various complex developments occurring at the time within the Jewish world.
The interest of Israel’s most important political leaders, including Moshe Dayan and Yitzhak Rabin, in the development and success of the Tel Aviv team revealed the intimate relationship between the nation’s cultural and political success.
The film shows, according to organizers, that when the underdog Maccabi Tel Aviv beat CSKA Moscow in the tournament, the victory was more than merely an athletic one. It was a monumental psychological triumph for Jews the world over, providing emotional support for Jewish dissidents in the U.S.S.R. and legitimized Israel in the athletic sphere by providing it with its first major international championship.
The film also highlights how Israel continues to face similar hostility and boycotts as it did in the ’70s. Like the Arab nations that continue to refuse to allow their athletes to compete against Israelis at the Olympics and other international events, the U.S.S.R.’s autocratic government didn’t recognize Israel’s existence. Thus, the match between Maccabi Tel Aviv and CSKA Moscow had to be played on neutral territory in Belgium. Although the U.S.S.R. wanted to skip the game entirely, FIBA and Israel convinced the Soviet Union to participate, which in and of itself was a diplomatic breakthrough. By forcing the U.S.S.R. to recognize the Israeli team, the country itself was legitimized in the Soviet Union.
A $10 admission donation is requested. Information and reservations may be obtained by calling 518-584-8730, ext. 2 or at the website, www.saratogajewishculturalfestival.org.