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Jewish London and the Olympics

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"And if suddenly, rising from the darkness over our heads, the light of a star shines. All that we ask for, let it be." These are the words of the Hebrew song "Lu-Yehi," or "Let It Be." In a powerful moment during the official Munich Memorial on Aug. 6, a packed house of more than 650 people at London's Guildhall joined in singing and honoring the 11 Israelis killed at the 1972 Olympics.

High school members of the Israel Scouts (Tzofim) Friendship Caravan traveled from Israel and led the audience in singing while a group of 11 dignitaries, including Boris Johnson, mayor of London, lit 11 candles.

"It's a great honor to be here in this position," scout Roey Vald said.

"We've grown up hearing about it (Munich)," scout Alon Vesly added.

Among the crowd on the 40th anniversary of the tragedy: Munich widow Ankie Spitzer. "Our loved ones came home in coffins," she said.

British Prime Minister David Cameron and U.K. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg also attended. "The world will never know the Olympic glory they could have achieved," Clegg said.

Ambassadors at the ceremony read messages from President Barack Obama and the Prince of Wales.

The victims' names were read dozens of times by speakers. The audience joined in for the traditional Mourners' Kaddish.

The memorial shed light on a dark event in Olympic history; During the second week of the 1972 Games, the Palestinian terrorist group Black September ambushed Israeli coaches and athletes at their lodgings in the Olympic Village. They were taken hostage and later murdered.

Although everyone in the auditorium stood for one minute of silence at the beginning of the service Aug. 6, it wasn't the moment that mourners of the Munich massacre believe they deserve. Since London's bid for the 2012 Games was accepted, British Jews and Jews around the world lobbied for a moment of silence during the Games' opening ceremony. It didn't happen.

Esmond Rosen is the regional development manager of the Jewish Volunteer Network. JVN and other groups, such as the London Jewish Forum and Jewish Leadership Council, are part of the Jewish Committee for the London Games. The groups came together to plan commemorative efforts for the Munich 11.

"It's important that people do remember and honor those who were massacred," Rosen said.

But the International Olympic Committee has declined to honor the fallen with an official moment of silence every Olympics since Munich. Many believe the IOC wants to remain neutral, but there have been acknowledgments of other tragedies at the Olympic Games.

At this year's opening ceremony, a choreographed dance and song honored the victims of the London terrorist attack of July 7, 2005.

There was no mention of Munich.

"People say, 'There was an honoring of 9/11, there was an honoring of 7/7 ... they have done that, so therefore why don't they do it when it's Jewish?'" Rosen said.

"You could have done the bare minimum, honor all athletes that have died in the course of the Games if you don't want to get political," said Debbie Usiskin, a Jewish Londoner. "It wouldn't hurt anyone."

A 2010 petition started at the Rockland (N.Y.) Jewish Community Center and sponsored by Spitzer has received worldwide attention. It asked the IOC to recognize the 11 victims and claimed no religious or political intent.

"Our call was heard all over the world," Spitzer said at the memorial. "Only the IOC remains deaf and blind."

The IOC has offered no official explanation, but IOC President Jacques Rogge spoke at the ceremony, saying, "We are here to speak with one voice against terrorism."

Not enough, said Spitzer.

"Shame on you, IOC!" she said.

Spitzer has vowed to never stop working to preserve the victims' memory. "We will be back because until we hear the words you need to say because you (the IOC) owe it to them," she said.

Julie Levin is among the students from Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication sent to London to cover the Olympics for Cronkite News Service.