August 2008 in the Exponent: ‘Jews in the Pool’ Set Tone; Competition a Lifeline for Two Sisters


The names, places and dates change, but the same kind of news stories tend to pop up over and over again.

Case in point: A few weeks back, the Jewish Exponent wrote about the Jewish athletes involved in the Winter Olympics.

And 10 years ago (Aug. 7, 2008, to be exact), the Exponent’s front page featured a JTA story about Jews participating in the Summer Olympics in Beijing.

There were seven Jewish athletes participating on the U.S. team — and they did the nation proud.

At the ripe old age of 41 (for an Olympic athlete, at least), swimmer Dara Torres won three silver medals and became the oldest swimmer to be a part of the U.S. Olympic team. Over the course of her career, Torres won 12 Olympics medals and competed in five different Olympic Games.

Fellow M.O.T. Jason Lezak also was a pool legend, competing in four different Olympic Games and racking up eight medals. At Beijing, his relay team, which included Michael Phelps, won a gold medal and Lezak won a bronze medal in an individual event.

Also on that relay team were Jewish swimmers Ben Wildman-Tobriner and Garrett Weber-Gale, who both won second golds in a different relay event.

Aside from the swimmers, fencer Sada Jacobson won a silver medal in individual sabre competition and a bronze in team sabre competition.

Along with the JTA story, the cover included a staff-written article about two aged German sisters, Ruth Politzer and Jean Cato, who were living in Glen Mills.

The sisters were told they were ineligible for the 1936 Summer Olympics because they were Jewish and later fled Germany for Argentina. That didn’t stop them from competing in other competitions in both javelin and shot put. Politzer later competed in basketball, while Cato became a tennis player.

The sisters immigrated to the United States in 1946. They lived in Tom’s River, N.J., for many years before moving to Glen Mills in 2007.


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