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The film’s epic journey begins in 1927 when the young Russian sportsman Josef Yekutieli approached the International Olympic Committee to see if a team of Jewish athletes could represent the British Mandate of Palestine at the 1928 Olympic Games. He was refused as the Jews had no state of their own. He set out to create a new set of games for Jewish athletes from all over the world called the “Maccabiada”, named after Jewish warriors who fought for liberation from King Antiochus and the Assyrian Greeks and recaptured Jerusalem in 164 BC. The Maccabiah movement ultimately developed from the ‘Muscular Jew’ philosophy of Max Nordau developed 1898 and Theodore Herzl’s belief in Zionism.

Yekutieli fought for years to make his dream a reality. Finally, in 1931, the first Maccabiah Games, also known as the Jewish Olympics, were announced. They were launched in Tel-Aviv the following year. In one of the most innovative PR exercises of all time, Yekutieli and his colleagues set off on motorbikes to spread word of the games, travelling to Jewish communities throughout the continent.

These bikers were called “Macabbiah riders”. They set out on several remarkable journeys in an attempt to publicise and promote the first Maccabiah Games held in 1932. The second epic journey was 5,825 mile (9,375 kilometre) long. It took them them from Tel Aviv, through Turkey, across the Sinai desert, through Cairo and Alexandria, Egypt; to Thessaloniki, Greece; through Sofia, Bulgaria; Belgrade, Novy, Serbia; Osijek, Croatia; through Vienna and Linz in Austria to Nuremburg and Frankfurt in Germany. They passed through Metz to Paris and by ferry to Brighton, travelling to the English cities of London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds and to the highlands of Scotland, then home via Beirut. Wherever they went, they proudly and enthusiastically announced the first “Jewish Olympics.”

Their bikes weren’t designed for off-road riding, which made for a difficult and dangerous journey, but as it was the only way to spread the news the riders persevered through the bumpy ride.

More journeys followed in 1935, to spread the word for the 1938 Games, that unfortunately never materialised once the Nuremberg laws were put into effect. Once the 1935 riders reached Europe and became aware of the rapidly growing anti-Semitism there their mission changed. They changed course for the USA and Canada to inform Jewish communities there about what was happening in Europe in an attempt to save as many lives as they could.

Since the inaugural games in 1932, the Maccabiah Games have grown to include over 9000 participants from 73 countries to compete in Israel every four years, attracting tens of thousand of spectators. European and Pan-American games are also held quadrennially. In terms of athletes, the games are now considered to be the third largest sporting event in the world.

In the summer of 2015, the European Maccabi Games (also known as the Jewish Olympics) were held in Germany for the first time since the Second World War at the Waldbühne Stadium, site of Hitler’s infamous 1936 Berlin Olympics. This symbolic moment is captured in the documentary feature, “Back to Berlin”, which follows eleven modern day motor bikers on a mission to carry the Maccabiah torch, and fly the Israeli flag from Tel Aviv to Berlin. These riders follow in the tracks of the early 1930’s bikers, who in one of the most innovative PR exercises of all time, set out from the British Mandate of Palestine to all corners of Europe to search for athletes for the first Maccabi Games in 1932.

Each destination on the way to Berlin holds a chilling resonance for the riders as they discover and share how their families perished, or managed to survive. They find themselves heavily protected by police in 21st century Europe where anti-Semitism once again rears its ugly head particularly in countries like Greece, Hungary and Poland. En route to Berlin, the bikers meet much diminished Jewish communities clinging on to plaques and memorials as symbols of a time gone by, and once again fearful.

Back to Berlin is the first biker flick meets Holocaust educational fly on the wall documentary; mixing archival footage of the original bikers, pertinent historical events with the personal revelations of the 2015 bikers to deliver a deep message.


The core group of bikers is comprised of nine Israelis and two Diaspora Jews. They include photojournalists, a TV host, a physicist, a farmer, a surgeon, an inventor, an architect and an art dealer. Seven are descendants of Holocaust survivors, two are actual survivors and two are grandsons of original 1930’s Maccabiah Riders.

This motorcycle journey, over the course of one month, spans more than 5,500 KM (3,500 miles), through nine cities, two major storms and unbearable heat. Our riders, like the Nazis’ torch relay for the 1936 Olympics, carry their torch from Athens to Berlin but this time take a detour via Auschwitz.

As the journey progresses they try to free themselves from the shackles of the past only finding solace on their powerful motorbikes. As their smiles turn to tears and anger, their relationships within the group shift and are challenged. It is only their determination and humour that propels them to deliver their torch for the Opening Ceremony for the European Games.

This is the first full length feature I have ever made. It has been a project of passion.

My foray into filmmaking began in 2012 when I was asked to be a correspondent for a LA based company covering the 2013 Maccabiah Games in Israel. Of the six short stories I produced, one was on the incredible missions of the early 1930’s motor bikers, who, in one of the most innovative PR exercises of all time, set out from the British Mandate of Palestine to all corners of Europe to search for athletes for the first 1932 Maccabiah Games, also known as the Jewish Olympics.

When I heard that Berlin would host the European Games for the very first time, at the Waldbühne Stadion, site of Hitler’s infamous 1936 Berlin Olympics, the title “Back to Berlin” came to me for everything it symbolized.

I would take a group of modern day bikers from Israel to Berlin to deliver the Maccabiah Torch to the shrine of Nazi power defiantly flying the Israeli flag in a Europe where once again anti-Semitism/anti Israel sentiment is rearing its ugly head.

I believe that Back to Berlin is possibly the first Biker-Flick meets Holocaust, educational fly on the wall documentary; mixing archival footage of the original bikers, pertinent historical events with the personal revelations of the 2015 bikers to deliver a deep and profound message.

Cooler than Hell’s Angels…These are God’s angels riding against intolerance and genocide….