December 15, 1899 – January 14, 1978
You might have seen the Oscar-winning movie "Chariots of Fire". It's a story of two British runners competing in the 1924 Olympics: a gentile, Eric Lidell, and a Jew, Harold Abrahams. The two form a friendship, Abrahams overcomes antisemitism to win the gold medal, there's inspirational music. The Academy loved it.
And it's based on a true story, of course, for Abrahams did become the first (and face it, last) Jew to win the title of World's Fastest Man by capturing the Olympic gold in the 100 meter run. (To clarify, in the Irena Szewinska profile we wrote that no Jew has ever been the world's fastest man. That is true, if you look at 100 meter record holders, but not true if you look at 100 meter Olympic champions, which are not necessarily one and the same... anyway, where were we?)
Chariots of Fire, Abrahams, gold medal, Jew. Hooray?
Not so fast.
For in 1934, Abrahams converted to Catholicism.
Ugh. Now, that did not stop the International Jewish Hall of Fame from electing him, but... converting to Catholicism? Really?
Stupid Hollywood with its stupid "twist" endings.
Verdict: Borderline Jew.
January 13, 2010