On the Map
It was my senior year in high school and not that many years after the Yom Kippur War when Maccabi Tel Aviv, Israel's perennial basketball champions, were matched against the mighty Russian Red Army team, CSKA Moscow, in the European Cup Basketball Championship. Russia' s team, stacked with every good Russian player conveniently drafted into the military so they'd be eligible to play, had previously won the European title four times. No Israeli team before had gone deep into any tournament. The Russians refused to play in Tel Aviv. The game was set for a neutral arena in Belgium.
On February 17, 1977, the streets emptied and restaurants went dark throughout Israel as the entire nation watched that semi-final game against the mighty Soviet Union.
Led by captain Tal Brody of New Jersey, alongside American Jews Lou Silver, Bob Griffin and Eric Minkin, Idaho-born Jim Boatwright and Aulcie Perry, Maccabi triumphantly defeated the Soviets, 91-79. After the game, Brody was interviewed, shouting to the world in Hebrew, "We are on the map! And we are staying ON THE MAP -- not only in sports, but in EVERYTHING!" Israel, its borders contested, surrounded by enemies, was now and forever ON THE MAP.
The film honors American and Israeli heroes, mesmerizes fans of the game, and captures the spirit of a nation victorious against all odds.
Like many Israelis, I too ended up on the steps of Tel Aviv's City Hall jumping into the water (it was February) of the pool designed to hold the water of a decorative fountain. At school the next day I got tons of respect because my father, a pilot for El Al at the time, was sent to bring the team back.
In his documentary On The Map, award-winning Israeli filmmaker Dani Menkin captures all that and more. Our good friend Nancy Spielberg and the team that produced Above and Beyond are all part of the On The Map team.
The film will make its New England debut in our community on Sunday, September 25, at 4:30 PM, at the UMass Dartmouth Library. The event marks the start of our 2016-17 annual campaign. All members are invited to attend with students and children welcome. Federation members are encouraged to make a pledge toward the annual campaign at this time.
Refreshments will be served. (The Patriots are NOT playing Sunday the 25th.)
I hope to see you all and ask that you kindly RSVP by replying to email@example.com or by calling 508-997-7471.
Read more about the historic game and watch a video trailer for the film in this Tablet Magazine article.