Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another


Fabien Gilot’s Hebrew Tattoo

After winning gold, an athlete’s tribute to a grandfather figure

Print Email

Out of the Olympics comes the story of Fabien Gilot and the French team, which shocked many by winning the gold medal in the 4×100 meter Freestyle Relay. It actually wasn’t until the last leg when the French team passed the Americans for the win. Another surprise came once the swimmers exited the pool and the tattoo of French swimmer Fabien Gilot was photographed.

It reads: אני כלום בלעדיהם – which in English means “I am nothing without them.”

The story behind the tattoo is pretty compelling. Gilot’s grandmother married a man named Max Goldschmidt, who, despite not being Gilot’s grandfather, occupied that very particularly influential role for Gilot.

Goldschmidt grew up in Berlin and survived Auschwitz before moving to France and meeting Gilot’s grandmother after the war. According to Gilot’s father Michel, Goldschmidt was an inspirational figure to Gilot, witnessing many of Gilot’s athletic triumphs and prompting Gilot to get his now-famous tattoo in tribute to this grandfather figure. Goldschmidt did not get to see Gilot win the gold this week, he passed away earlier this year.

French Olympiad’s Hebrew tribute to Jewish grandfather [YNet]

Print Email

Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180

Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.

Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.

We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.

Why does it end in a comma?

    Kinda wondering that too, but thinking it’s more a stylized full stop? Could certainly be a scribe’s error – perhaps the text Gilot gave to the tattoo artist had a blemish in that spot that the artist, not being familiar with Hebrew, thought was part of the design.

    It’s possible that it was written so that the bottom line is to be read first as: “Without them, I am nothing.” The meaning isn’t changed.

Bravo, Gilot !

are not tattoos against Jewish law

Great Tattoo,that actually means something……..


Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

Fabien Gilot’s Hebrew Tattoo

After winning gold, an athlete’s tribute to a grandfather figure

More on Tablet:

Rediscovering the First Woman Rabbi

By Laura Geller — Ordained in 1935, Regina Jonas died at Auschwitz. Now, she’s being honored.