Tag Archives: Budapest

Jews of the Week: Imi Lichtenfeld and Roy Elghanayan

Krav Maga & The Jewish Bruce Lee

Lichtenfeld

Lichtenfeld

Imre Lichtenfeld (1910-1998) was born in Budapest and grew up in Bratislava. His father was a police chief inspector who also owned the Hercules Gymnasium where he taught acrobatics and self-defense. Training under his father, Lichtenfeld became Slovakia’s Wrestling Champion, Boxing Champion, and Gymnastics Champion. In response to rising anti-Semitism in the 1930s, he put together a group of Jewish boxers that defended local communities from thugs. He realized that his training was of little help in real-life combat situations, so he started developing a new system of self-defense based on practical techniques, natural motions, and “simultaneous defense and attack”. In 1940, Lichtenfeld left Czechoslovakia due to the Nazi invasion and joined the Free Czech Legion, fighting alongside the British Army in North Africa. After two years of distinguished service, he finally made his way to Israel, and was immediately recruited to train the fighters of Haganah and Palmach (the Jewish defense groups that later became the IDF). His very effective self-defense system became known as Krav Maga – “contact combat” or “close combat”. With the formation of the State of Israel in 1948, Lichtenfeld (now better known by his Hebraicized name Imi Sde-Or) was appointed the IDF’s Chief Instructor of Physical Fitness and Krav Maga. He served in this role for the next 20 years, then shifted his focus to training Israeli police, while also opening two training centres for the general public in Tel-Aviv and Netanya. In 1995, he founded the International Krav Maga Federation.

Elghanayan (courtesy: bjjlegends.com)

Elghanayan (courtesy: bjjlegends.com)

Perhaps the best-known Krav Maga expert today is Roy Elghanayan (b. 1984),¬†nicknamed the “Jewish Bruce Lee”. He began his training in Krav Maga and martial arts at an early age, and his skills were quickly recognized when he joined the IDF. He soon became the Chief Instructor of Krav Maga for the Israeli Special Forces. He holds a 4th Degree Black Belt, and is recognized as Israel’s Official International Ambassador for Authentic Krav Maga. He is also the only person to hold two Israeli Krav Maga national championship titles. Over the years, he has developed his own unique style, and has taught self-defense all over the world, including to the LAPD and the CIA. He currently runs a Krav Maga club in Los Angeles, and has also choreographed fights for some Hollywood films. When asked about the secret ingredient in his diet, he answered: “I only eat kosher protein”. Click here to see Elghanayan in action.

Words of the Week

Everybody has a plan, until they get punched in the face.
– Mike Tyson

Jew of the Week: Edward Teller

Father of the Hydrogen Bomb

Edward Teller

Edward Teller

Edward Teller¬†(1908-2003) was burn in Budapest to a Hungarian-Jewish father and German-Jewish mother. He did not speak until age three, and was thought to be mentally retarded. However, he soon showed his true genius, and went on to get a degree in chemistry, followed by a Ph.D in quantum physics. Fleeing the Nazis, Teller made his way to England, then Denmark, and finally the United States, along the way working with some of the greatest scientists of the time, including Heisenberg, Fermi, and Bohr. With World War II in full swing, Teller wanted to contribute to the war effort. Together with Hans Bethe, he developed a shock-wave theory that was instrumental for missile technology. In 1942, he was invited to join the Manhattan Project, and contributed greatly to the development of the first atom bomb, despite the fact that he already came up with a stronger “fusion” bomb, and insisted on developing the latter instead. In July of 1945, Teller was among the few who witnessed history’s first atomic blast. After the Soviets tested their first nuke, President Truman pushed for the development of Teller’s more powerful fusion bomb (aka the hydrogen bomb). By 1952, Teller was already known as “the father of the hydrogen bomb”. At the same time, Teller worked to develop nuclear safety standards, and researched meltdown-proof reactors. He would go on to serve as head of some of the finest laboratories in America, and founded the Department of Applied Sciences at UC Davis. Perhaps most significantly, Teller was instrumental in helping Israel develop its nuclear technology, visiting the nascent state 6 times in the span of 4 years, advising both military chiefs and prime ministers. He convinced the Israeli government not to sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, and was the one who later informed the CIA that Israel was in possession of nuclear weapons. Teller continued his research until his last days; his final paper (on thorium reactors) was published posthumously. His work led to breakthroughs in chemistry, physics, nuclear, and military technology. He passed away with a list of awards appended to his name, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Purim Begins This Saturday Night!

Words of the Week

In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.
– Theodore Roosevelt

Jews of the Week: Keleti and Gorokhovskaya

Gorokhovskaya and Keleti

Agnes Keleti (b. 1921) was born in Budapest and was Hungary’s national gymnastics champion by age 16. Shortly after, World War II began, forcing Keleti to go into hiding. Much of her family, including her father, were killed in the Holocaust. Keleti¬†survived by posing as a Christian villager. After the war, she began training once more, but had to overcome injuries that prevented her from competing. Determined to go on, she qualified for the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, and won 4 medals, including a gold. Keleti returned to the Olympics in 1956, winning 6 more medals, 3 of which were gold. Being 35 years old at the time made her the oldest-ever gold medal winner in her sport. Her ten total medals makes her among the most decorated female athletes of all time. She also won at the 1954 World Championship. After the Soviet Union’s invasion of Hungary in 1956, Keleti immigrated to Israel, where she still lives today.

A very similar story is that of Maria Gorokhovskaya. Like Keleti, she was born in 1921 (in Ukraine) and took up gymnastics at a young age. After surviving the war, she also competed at the 1952 Helsinki Games, winning 2 golds and 5 silvers. Her 7 medals in one Olympiad is still a world record. Like Keleti, Gorokhovskaya won at the 1954 World Championships, too. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, she made aliyah to Israel in 1990. Both Keleti and Gorokhovskaya have been inducted in the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. In addition, Keleti has been inducted to the Hungarian and Gymnastics Halls of Fame.

Words of the Week

Everything that is for the sake of God should be of the best and most beautiful… When one feeds the hungry, one should feed them of the best and sweetest of one’s table. When one clothes the naked, one should clothe them with the finest of one’s clothes.
– Maimonides