Slain Israeli Olympian, Tulane grad, enshrined in Jewish Sports Hall

This month, a Tulane alumnus is being inducted posthumously into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.
Weightlifter David Mark Berger, one of the Israeli athletes murdered by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Munich Olympics, will be part of this year’s class that will be inducted on April 21.

Berger was a weightlifter at Tulane University, where he won the NCAA weightlifting championship in the 148-pound class. He graduated from Tulane in 1966.

In 2002, New Orleans renamed Avenger Field in Audubon Park “David Berger — Avenger Field.”

Berger was a native of Cleveland, Ohio. After Tulane, he earned a master’s degree from Columbia University and competed in the 1969 Maccabiah Games, winning a gold.

He emigrated to Israel, with the goal of opening a law office and continuing to compete. He won a silver at the 1971 Asian Weightlifting Championships, but was eliminated from Olympic competition in an early round on Sept. 2, 1972.

A Black September group from the Palestine Liberation Organization took the Israeli delegation hostage on Sept. 5, those who were not initially killed died during a botched rescue the next morning.

Last summer, there was a worldwide movement to have a moment of silence or other recognition at the 2012 Olympics, but the International Olympics Committee refused.

Alan Freedman, associate executive director of the Suffolk Y Jewish Community Center and director of the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and Museum, said “this was the right time” to induct Berger. “From the first year we dedicated the Hall to the memory of the Munich Eleven.”

This year’s inductees include Berger, Richard Bernstein (marathon runner), Bruce Cohen (lacrosse), Steve Bilsky (basketball), 2012 Olympics gold medalist Aly Raisman (gymnast) and Boyd Melson (boxer).

The National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and Museum is dedicated to honoring Jewish sports figures who have distinguished themselves in the field of sports, to foster Jewish identity through athletics.

The Jewish Sports Hall of Fame is located at the Suffolk, N.Y., Y Jewish Community Center, with plaques honoring those inducted on permanent display