Tag Archives: Record Holders

Jew of the Week: Susan Polgar

Susan Polgar – Best Chess Player of All Time?

Zsuzsanna Polg├ír (b. 1969) was born in Budapest, Hungary, the eldest of the famous Polgar sisters who were raised by their father as an “educational experiment” designed to prove that “geniuses are made, not born”. Polgar’s parents home-schooled her, focusing especially on chess. By the age of 4, Polgar won her first chess tournament. In the same year, she composed a novel chess problem, making her the youngest chess composer of all time. By 12, she was the world under-16 champion. At 15, she was the world’s top-rated female chess player. Breaking the gender barrier, Polgar insisted on playing against men. In 1991, she became the first female Grandmaster of chess, and in 1992, the first ever chess player (male or female) that won all 3 types of chess world championships. Among her many other accolades, she was undefeated in 56 Chess Olympiad games, winning 10 medals. Stunningly, she has set a world record by simultaneously playing 326 games (309 of which she won!) She also holds the world record for most games played (1131) and most games won (1112). Polgar was part of the “Chess for Peace” movement, and started the charitable Susan Polgar Foundation. If that’s not impressive enough, she is a writer, too, regularly contributing to various magazines, and has written 6 books. Though most of her family now lives in Israel, Susan remains in the United States and continues to serve on the World Chess Federation.

Passover Begins Monday Night! Click Here to Learn More

Words of the Week

Why was the First Temple destroyed? Because there was idolatry, promiscuity and murder. But the Second Temple, at which time they were occupied in Torah, mitzvot and charity, why was it destroyed? Because there was baseless hatred between them.
– Talmud, Yoma 9b

Jews of the Week: Spitz, Torres, Lezak & Leibovitch

World’s Best Swimmers

Mark Spitz

Mark Spitz – Greatest Olympian

Jews play an illustrious role in swimming history. One of the early greats was California Jew Mark Spitz, who began his career at the 1965 Maccabiah Games, winning 4 gold medals. The 1972 Munich Olympics were his shining moment, winning an incredible 7 gold medals while setting 7 new records. This added to the 2 gold medals he’d already won in the ’68 Olympics. Mark Spitz was famously the only one to swim with a mustache (which would later inspire Michael Phelps). He has been voted “Athlete of the Century” and “Greatest Olympian”. Meanwhile, Dara Torres is considered the greatest female swimmer in American history. She’s competed in 5 Olympic Games and has won a staggering 12 Olympic medals. In Beijing 2008, Torres set the record for being the oldest swimmer in Olympic history. She still managed to win 3 silver medals. Born to a Jewish father, Dara converted to Judaism officially before marrying Israeli surgeon Itzhak Shasha.

Keren Leibovitch

Keren Leibovitch

The 2008 Olympics also saw Jason Lezak win a breathtaking relay, ironically earning Michael Phelps an 8th gold medal and thus breaking Mark Spitz’s long-time record. Like Spitz, Lezak is a Jew from California who captains the US swim team and has 7 Olympic medals under his belt. Lastly, and most heroically, is Keren Leibovitch. While serving in the IDF, she had an accident that rendered her legs 90% paralyzed. She became a Paralympic swimmer, winning 4 golds, 2 silvers and a bronze medal over her career, plus 3 World Championships and 3 world records. She has the distinction of being the greatest Israeli Paralympian of all time.

Words of the Week

A single action is better than a thousand groans.
– Rabbi Sholom DovBer of Lubavitch (1860-1920)