Jewish Journal


July 23, 2008

Let the games begin!


Aug. 8 is the start of the XXIX Olympiad (just a fancy way of saying the 29th Summer Olympics) in Beijing, China. The games bring together athletes from more than 200 countries to compete for national glory and gold, silver and bronze medals -- in a variety of sports (no, shopping is not one of them -- I checked). The opening ceremony will be shown on NBC on Friday, Aug. 8, (so set your DVRs because they are long, and you might want to fast-forward through some of it). While you are watching the games, think about the following cool facts (and you can use them to quiz your mom and dad to see how much they know).
  • The Olympic Rings represent the continents of the world whose athletes play in the games (the Americas share a ring, and Antarctica doesn't have one).
  • The 1936 games were held in Berlin, Germany -- which was flying the Nazi flag at the time
  • The United States has hosted the Summer Games four times since 1896: Los Angeles has hosted the games twice -- the last time being 1984 -- and Chicago is in the running to host the 2016 games (vying with Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo).
  • This year's games introduce BMX for men and women, and women will also be competing in the steeplechase for the first time.
  • The United States leads the medal race, having won a total of 2,189 medals at Summer Games (895 gold, 692 silver and 602 bronze).
  • Israel has only been competing since 1952 and has won six medals at the Summer Games -- in judo, sailing and canoeing. They've taken home medals at the last four Summer Games (one gold, one silver and four bronze). As of right now, more than 40 Israeli athletes are set to go to Beijing, the largest Israeli delegation in Olympic history.
  • At one time, the Summer Games had competitions in cricket, croquet, golf, lacrosse, polo, rugby and "so-cool-I-hope-they-bring-it-back" tug-of-war. Really!

International Fun

After watching the opening games, you might get inspired to visit some of the countries you've just seen. Well on Sunday, Aug. 10, you can take a trip around the world without packing a thing at the 23rd annual Children's Festival of the Arts. Kids of all ages will have the chance to enjoy music from Russia, Korea and India; eat yummy food; get their faces painted, and make really cute crafts they can take home. The folks at Paramount are playing host, which means you never know which famous faces will show up to play.

Free. Noon to 4:30. On the lot of Paramount Pictures, 5555 Melrose Ave., Hollywood (free parking at Bronson Gate). For more information, call (323) 871-2787.

Have We Got a Story for You

ALTTEXT There's nothing like telling a good story, but be careful that the story you tell is the truth, or you could end up in trouble like Yankel in Debby Waldman's book, "A Sack Full of Feathers" (Orca, $8.95). Yankel is a boy who can't stop telling stories around his village of Olkinik -- but his stories belong to other people. Will the rabbi's plan to teach Yankel a lesson work -- or will it be too late? The paperback, for children ages 4-8, has great illustrations by Cindy Revell and is a great way to teach about the rights and wrongs of gossip and telling tales.

If you would like to win a copy of "A Sack Full of Feathers," send an e-mail to kids@jewishjournal.com with your first name, age and city -- along with your opinion about gossip. One winner will be selected at random -- but the runners-up will have their essays printed on an upcoming YeLAdim page.

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