David Mark Berger (May 24, 1944 – September 6, 1972) was an American-born Israeli weightlifter for the Israeli Olympic team in 1972. A lawyer by education, Berger was one of 11 members of Israel’s Olympic team who were taken hostage and subsequently murdered by Palestinian terrorist group Black September at the Munich Olympic Games.
David was born in Cleveland, Ohio to a normal Jewish family living in the suburb of Shaker Heights. He and his family were congregants of Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple in Beachwood. A noted student-athlete, David graduated for Shaker Heights High School in 1962. After high school, David studied law at Tulane University from 1962 to 1966, where he was an honor student as well as a weightlifter. While a junior at Tulane, he won the NCAA weightlifting title in the 148-pound class. Furthermore to his accomplishments as a student, David earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Tulane in 1966. He earned a master’s degree in business administration and a doctor of laws degree from Columbia University (both in 1969). In addition to working toward his degrees, Berger was able to devote time to weightlifting, competing as a light-heavyweight. His father, Benjamin, was once quoted as saying, “I used to tell him ‘You may not be the best weightlifter in the world, but you’re certainly the smartest!’”
After competing in the 1969 Maccabiah Games where he won a gold medal in the middleweight weight-lifting contest, David emigrated to Israel with the intent of opening a law office in Tel Aviv, after completing his compulsory military service. He later met and became engaged to a young Israeli woman, also a student. Continuing his weightlifting competitions, he won a silver medal at the 1971 Asian Weightlifting Championships, and made the 1972 Israeli Olympic team. In late August of that year, David flew to Munich with his teammates. On September 2, 1972, he competed, but was eliminated in an early round.
- The David Berger National Memorial in Beachwood, Ohio honors the memory of David Berger and his fallen teammates.
- In 2002, New Orleans renamed “Avenger Field,” located in Audubon Park, “David Berger – Avenger Field” in memory of Berger and the other victims of terrorism.”
- Berger and the ten other members of the 1972 Israeli Olympic team killed in Munich were inducted into the Philadelphia Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.
- The Shaker Heights High School weight room is named after Berger.
- The David Berger Memorial Weightlifting Tournament is held every year at the Lost Battalion Hall in Rego Park, Queens, NY.
- David Berger AZA #1823 is a BBYO chapter in Cleveland, Ohio named in honor of him. The chapter has visited the Berger house, saw his medals, and heard personal stories of David’s academic accomplishments, his character and his dreams, told directly from David’s parents.
- David Berger AZA #2059 is a BBYO chapter named for him in Dallas
- David Berger is also the name of a street in Ashkelon, Israel.