Columns - 2008

    Olympic predictions

    by Doug Brook
    Deep South Jewish Voice columnist

    After four years, it's already that time again to foist upon you, both of this column's readers, timely predictions of olympic proportion. Some of them even relate to sports.

    Having won medals in every summer Olympics since 1992, a total of six in history and their first gold medal ever in 2004, Israel is forecast this summer by Sports Illustrated to win a single bronze medal.

    SI gives this forecast to the 2004 bronze medal winner Ariel Ze-evi, or they simply copied the 2004 results and forgot to change anything. However, the magazine calls Ze-evi "maybe Israel's greatest athlete ever." Imagine how much more they'd be impressed if they included the hyphen in his name.

    Both of you who read this column remember that in 2004 SI predicted a bronze for Gal Fridman, who instead won gold in windsurfing, and bronze for greco-roman wrestling instead of Ze-evi's bronze.

    (Don't feel bad, I wrote it and I had to look it up.)

    Given SI's accuracy in those predictions, as well as about Brett Favre's retirement and the New York Y*nkees allegedly not being under the influence of the devil, this column not only predicts gold for Ze-evi but also that this columnist will not see the event.

    Ze-evi competes in Judo, which at first could sound odd until you consider it's the most logical sport for Israel to win.

    After all, what sport is more appropriate for Israel than one with "Jew" right in the name? Not to mention that Judo, the father of modern martial arts, is more about competition than violence, more about immobilizing and subduing than physical force.

    It is commonly believed that Judo is a product of nineteenth century Japan, a derivation of jujutsu. But the truth is that its origins can be traced to much earlier times and an entirely different place.

    In truth, Kano Jigoro was influenced heavily by a Jewish traveler whose name, influence, and Social Security card have been lost in time. Jigoro learned the martial art from this anonymous soul, and in homage to him named the art after "what the Jew do."

    Little else is known yet, but more might be learned from continued research. Top men are working on it right now.

    What is known is that this traveler was a wandering member of a heretofore hidden Hasidic Group, the Bavavers. This offshoot of the Bobover Hasidim is a Southern branch of extremely traditional Judaism, which strictly follows the teachings from the equally heretofore hidden Mishnah tractate Bava Gump.

    And if there's one thing Bava Gump exhibits, it's self defense. Many of the opinions and edicts in Bava Gump are quite defensive. But more on that and the elusive Bavavers in a future column.

    A significant advancement in Israeli Olympic success is actually happening outside of any competition in Beijing. Exhibiting its typical wisdom, the IOC removed baseball as an Olympic sport after 2008.

    However, there is heavy petitioning to have it return for 2016. This should give Israel just enough time to field a top-level team built on players from the new Israel Baseball League (IBL). It's real, look it up.

    While you're looking it up, you can do your homework on the next prediction which Vegas would call a sure bet. If Vegas put odds on such things.

    This year, attendance at High Holiday services will be lower than last year, given that it falls entirely on weekdays this time.

    It is also very bankable that this year there will be readings including the story of Abraham nearly sacrificing Isaac and Jonah nearly making people think that a whale is a big fish instead of a mammal.

    And because bad things come in threes, the final prediction for the months ahead involves the new television season. Appropriately, it's a two-parter.

    First, this new season will unfortunately not be interrupted by a writers' strike.

    Second, and more relevant toward being published in this circulation, no fewer than three network sitcoms this fall will make repeated jokes referencing Jewish rites of passage. Or satirizing the Jewish rights of parents. Or both.

    And finally we might discover the answer to the age-old question, if it takes ten Jews to make a minyan, how many more does it take to make a decision?

    Doug Brook is a writer in Silicon Valley who is a lifelong IBL fan, even though the League was founded in 2007. For more information, past columns, other writings, and more, visit

    Copyright Doug Brook. All rights reserved.