Sometimes a game is just a game, but on rare occasions, a win might change everything – for the team, for its fans and maybe even for their country.
In 1977, when Maccabi Tel Aviv’s basketball team won the European Championship, the victory put the team, its fans and Israel on the map, according to a new documentary by director Dani Menkin.
“On the Map,” a fast-paced, upbeat and exciting film that tells the incredible parallel stories of a newly formed team and a newly formed country, will be shown at Temple Emanu-El, in Providence, on April 30. Seeing the film, cheering team Maccabi and having a slice of birthday cake are wonderful ways to celebrate Israel’s 69th birthday and Yom ha-Atzmaut.
“On the Map” follows the development of team Maccabi from local club status to ranking as an international powerhouse. Along the way, we meet six American basketball players who have personal reasons for bringing their talents to the team and to Israel.
The team and its fans learn about international competition together, including the fierce competitive spirit and play of Spain and Italy, and the politically laden hostility of CSKA Moscow, a team that repeatedly refused to compete against Israelis.
Eventually, team Tel Aviv and team Moscow face off in a nail-biting competition. Against all odds, Maccabi prevails by a basket.
Moments after the win, Maccabi’s American-Israeli captain, Tal Brody, uttered these meaningful words, “Israel is on the map, not just in sport, but in everything.”
When members of the Arts Emanu-El Committee of Temple Emanu-El previewed this film, they immediately and unanimously agreed that “On the Map” is exactly as its producers describe it: “A film that will mesmerize basketball fans and that captures the spirit of a nation triumphant against all odds.”
The film sets a sports story within the context of Israel’s history, including documentary footage from the 1972 Olympic massacre at Munich, the 1973 Yom Kippur War and the 1976 hijacking of an Air France flight from Tel Aviv. These scenes, plus interviews with – among others – Michael Oren, Israel’s former ambassador to the United States, and Natan Sharansky, a notable Israeli politician who spent years imprisoned in Soviet jails, makes “On the Map” so much more than a sports story. It is part history, part thriller, part biography – and all parts inspiring. It is a film for sports fans, Israel fans and history buffs. It is for adults and teens. It is a film for the whole community.
On Sunday, April 30, at 4 p.m., the community is invited to Temple Emanu-El, 99 Taft Ave., Providence, to see “On the Map,” celebrate Israel’s 69th birthday and enjoy a variety of refreshments, including locally brewed craft beer, baked pretzels with dips and a big birthday cake.
“On the Map” is the final event of Arts Emanu-El’s 2016-2017 season of programming in Jewish arts and culture for the temple and the community.
This spring, during March and April, Arts Emanu-El has focused on the visual arts, with a three-part series on art, memory and the Holocaust. Two compelling photography exhibits are still on display: “Portrait Narratives” by art photographer Jonathan Sharlin, in the art gallery at the Blackstone Valley Visitor Center, in Pawtucket, until April 30, and “Letters and Pictures from a Box,” by art photographer Alexandra Broche, in the Bohnen Vestry at Temple Emanu-El until April 7.
The final event of the art series is a panel discussion on April 19 at 7:30 p.m., in the Blackstone Valley Visitor Center auditorium, titled “Art as Memory Keeper,” featuring Deborah Johnson, Department of Art History and Department of Women’s Studies, Providence College; Annu Palakunnathu Matthew, Department of Art, University of Rhode Island; and artist Jonathan Sharlin. The exhibits and the symposium are free and open to the public.
For more information about the screening of “On the Map” at Temple Emanu-El, including ticket and food prices, and about the art exhibits and the symposium, see the Arts Emanu-El pages under the What’s Happening menu at the Temple Emanu-El website, www.teprov.org.
LINDA SHAMOON is co-chair of Arts Emanu-El at Temple Emanu-El.