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Film On the Map Documents Israel's Stunning Victory in Basketball to win European Cup in 1977-Fim's Director Menkin to speak June 9 at Jewish Film Festival

by Rhonda Spivak May 17, 2017


You don't have to be a sports buff to  enjoy the terrific  documentary "On the Map" produced by Israeli filmmaker Dani Menkin, who will in Winnipeg at the Winnipeg International Jewish Film Festival  on June 9, 2017, put on by the Rady JCC. The documentary   chronicles the amazing against all odds story of the how the 1977 European Cup victory by the Israeli national basketball team, Maccabi Tel Aviv, won the 1977 European Cup. 

The film traces the decision by  the American Jewish player  Tal Brody decision to give up a career in the NBA to join Macabbi Tel-Aviv in 1966, which he did as a result of the encouragement and request of General Moshe Dayan.

"Moshe Dayan wrote a letter to Tal Brody when Brody was playing basketball for the American army team during the vietnamn war. He asked Brody to come to Israel amd so somehting significant..and that's what Brody did. Dayan was the number one fan of Macabbi and he came to every game and shook the hands of the players at their home games," Menkin told the Winnipeg Jewish Review in a telephone interview. (Editor's note: Dayan himself had gone to Vietnamn during the war as a correspondent for the Washington Post.) 

Brody, who became Macabbi Tel-Aviv's team's captain, moved to  Israel clearly out of a sense of a higher Jewish mission .He also became a magnet for other American basketball players to join Macabbi Tel-Aviv. One such player was African-American Aulcey Perry, who also could have been in the NBA and describes in the documentary how he  converted to Judaism and endured a second, ritual circumcision.


The victory at the European Cup put wind in Israel's sail after Israel's morale was at a lowpoint due to such events as the 1972 massacre of its Olympic athletes at Munich, the 1973 Yom Kippur War and the 1976 plane hijacking that resulted in Israel’s famed successful raid on Entebbe.

The film's title derives from a comment by Brody, after the win, “Israel is on the map, not just in sport, but in everything." 

The film does a very good job at interweaving  archival footage with contemporary interviews and recounts Maccabi Tel unlikely victory over the  Soviet team, CSKA Moscow. Because the Soviet Union had no diplomatic relations with Israel, the teams had to play in a small city in Belgium, considered neutral territory. The Israeli team reached the finals and played against Italy in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. Virtually everyone in Israel was glued to the game, so much so that then  Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin even delayed announcing his resignation so as not to interrupt.

Menkin says it took him three years to research and edit and direct the film, in additon ot fundraising for it. He decdied to make the film since "I realized that people don't kno about the story."

 It took just under a million dollars to make the film but Iam still fundraising for its distribution. Anyone who would like to contribute can go to or website and contribute." (

In addition to  interviewing the players , we also hear from legend Bill Walton, who had played with Brody;  Michael Oren, the former Israeli ambassador to the U.S.; and famed dissident Natan Sharansky, who describes how the unlikely Israeli victory served to  inspire him during his years imprisoned in the Soviet gulag. One scene that is full of high drama is when Brody almost  misses the finals when, learning his elderly father had suffered a heart attack, he opts to return to the U.S. From his hospital bed, Brody's father urges his son to go back and play in the game.


Go see "On the Map." Click here  to buy tickets:

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.