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Building Jewish Pride Through Sports in 2013 Maccabiah Games

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Building Jewish pride through sports...from the London Olympics to the Jerusalem international Jewish athletic event.

Since 1932, every four years, on an uneven number year, one year after the Olympic Games take place, the Maccabiah Games are held in Israel under the auspices of the Maccabi World Union.

In 2013, from July 17th to July 30, approximately 9000 athletes delegations from 70 countries will partake in the 19th Maccabiah Games. The opening ceremony will take place in Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem. The closing ceremony will be held in Haifa's brand new stadium, under construction as of this writing, under the auspices of the IDF.

The name Maccabi stands for 'Mee Ca'mocha Ba'elim Adonai', meaning, Who is like G-d among the Gods. The name is also after the Maccabees heroes, the Jewish rebel army that took control of Judea, which had been a client state of the Seleucid Empire. They founded the Hashmonean Dynasty, which ruled the land of Israel from 164 BCE to 63 BCE, reasserting the Jewish religion, expanding the boundaries of the Land of Israel and reducing the influence of Hellenism and Hellenistic Judaism.

In the Beverly Hills most tastefully decorated home of Laura and Sam Goldfeder, a group of sports' enthusiasts gathered to learn about the upcoming Maccabiah Games and what they can do to help so that the 2013 19th Maccabiah Games will be even more successful than the previous 2009 one.

First to speak was Steve Soboroff, who is the Chairman of the 18th Maccabiah Games. Mr. Soboroff has his full heart in making sure that the Maccabiah Games go from strength to strength. He not only sees the present efforts important but he is already speaking about building the future generation of the Maccabiah Games leadership.

The International Maccabi Organization was established in 1895. Today, there are 500 Maccabi Clubs worldwide and approximately 450,000 members.

In 1984, the Olympic Games, in their then model were failing. Peter Ueberroth who served as the sixth Commissioner of Major League Baseball from 1984 to 1989 changed the games' model that took place in Los Angeles California in 1984. Mr. Ueberroth made the game profitable. After the successful games in Los Angeles, the USA Olympic Committee had in its kitty $300 Million dollars in profit, that after all expenses paid. And that is the goal of the Maccabiah Games; to make them not only the largest gathering of Jewish people in Israel but also make them profitable. Today they are not.

The next to speak after Mr. Soboroff was Eyal Tiberger, the Executive Director of Maccabi World Union from Israel. Mr. Tiberger and his wife Eti are on a USA tour to amass support for the upcoming games. And Support they should have galore. How can we not give a hand to an organization its main goal is to assist 9000 Jewish athletes, able and disable, to arrive to Israel some for the first time, and smell, feel, hear and see the only Jewish Homeland?!

The games will be covered by Jewish Life Television-JLTV, headed by President/CEO Phil Blazer, assisted by Eran Shargal, Director of Development (, both were present at the meeting. The 2013 Maccabiah Games will be available for viewing in 50Million household in America. Of course advertisers for a spot-ad, sponsors and naming rights are most welcome.

To assist in travel and accommodation, Gil Tours Travel, Inc., in Philadelphia, Igal Hami, President/CEO, who attended the meeting, has taken upon itself the make sure that everyone who wants to be in Israel for the games will be.

Among the guests were medal holders of yesteryears in water polo and wrestling. Among them was Eli Marmur, who, participated in the 1973 games as a member of the soccer team USA and was indicted to the Maccabi Hall of Fame as well as the Maccabi Southern California Hall of Fame.

The Maccabiah Games, the third largest international sport event in the world, offer 46 different sports in which one can compete in the group categories: 14 yr old-to-18 yr old, Junior Games; 18 yr old-to-35 yr old Open Maccabiah, and from 35 yr old Master Games.

L to R Host Laura Goldfeder, Eyal Tiberger, Nava Eli Marmur, Igal Hami, Sandy Stein, Hosts mother. Photo by Orly Halevy
L-to-R-Host Laura Goldfeder, Eyal Tiberger, Nava & Eli Marmur, Igal Hami, Sandy Stein, Host's mother.
Photo: Orly Halevy
To bring awareness and encourage participation, representatives of the Maccabi World Union travel the world to meet and select athletes. Countries that cannot afford sending a worthy delegation or single athletes - some are 'lost countries' - will get financial help to achieve the desired goal. It costs $5,000 to sponsor an athlete.

As an indication of the true meaning of the Maccabiah Games, one can dare call the Jewish Olympics, this story is appropriate: after the terror attack on the Chabad center in Mumbai, India, in 2008, the Maccabi World Union took upon itself to bring athletes from India to the 2009 games and thus make a statement of 'we will arise stronger'; a Cricket team was assembled and was brought to Israel to compete. They ended up winning the silver medal in their sport.

Maccabiah Games are a sport competition event but it is also a vehicle to bring the Jewish world to Israel which gives birth to the best ambassadors for Israel and encourages Aliyah, which is immigration to Israel. It is the Taglit-Birthrights Israel - the Zionism of the 21st Century of the sports. The Maccabiah Games is the trigger to Jewish life, before and after.
For more information contact your local Maccabi Club through: and if in the USA:

Come and join the 9000 athletes of the Maccabiah Games 2013 and sing the Jewish national anthem Hatikvah in one of the 70 Hebrew accents.

Are you already excited about the upcoming Maccabiah Games? I for one am! You can either lend a helping hand and/or participate. Your choice.

Athletes, athletes' families and supporters, sports' fans and simply supporters of Israel, see you in Israel in July 2013.
Watch: 80 Years of the Maccabia:

Nurit Greenger sees Israel and the United States equally, as the last two forts of true democratic freedom and since 2006, has been writing about events in these two countries. Contact her by writing to Read more stories by Nurit Greenger.

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