Birthright through the sports
There are approximately 6 million Jews living in the state of Israel today. They are the new image of the Jew: independent, smart, educated, happy and free. A Jew who will stand up for himself and defend his homeland and his life. The Jew who, for 2000 years lived on the margin of society, who had a Sha, shtil mentality is definitely disappearing fast. But, there are also approximately 7 million Jews who live outside Israel, they are called the Diaspora Jews and they are not like the Israelis. The common denominator of all Jews is them being Jewish.
The state of Israel was built, and is still largely supported by the Diaspora Jews; but the greatly needed connection between Jews all over the world and Israel is weakening. Nowadays many Jews say they do not have much in common with Israel, Israel does not represent their Jewish values or take an important place in their thoughts and actions. The claim that the Diaspora Jews do not connect with Israel, as they should, is wrong, and must be dealt with. Huge effort must be made to correct this “standoff.” Reason: in WWII Hitler did not want to kill the Jews, he just did not want them living in any country he had conquered and hoped to rule over. Since no country, including the USA, opened its doors to absorb the millions of European Jews, Hitler came up with the “Final Solution” idea: no one wants this vermin, disgusting people, then I will simply get rid of them, I will kill them all.
But now Jews have a homeland and if, God forbid, they are no longer wanted where they live, as it appears to be the case in most of European countries, they have a home to go to where they are wanted and are needed.
Israel is the body of the Jewish nation; Jerusalem is the heart of the Jewish nation through which ALL Jews’ blood flows. In order for the nation of Israel to survive, for Jews living anywhere in the world to be able to walk tall, with dignity, respect and no fear, Israel must be looked upon and treated as such and every Jew in the world must have an interest and give much support for the state, even when he or she do not agree with certain issues about the Jewish state.
The State of Israel is a phenomenon unlike any other country, a miracle that happened to the Jews 65 years ago. At the end of the day every human being on earth, a Jew or non-Jew, can find something in common with Israel but especially Jews must find and have a deeper connection with her.
This brings me to the July 2013 Maccabiah games, the third largest world sports event and the largest Jewish event, which takes place in Israel every 4 years, one year after the Olympics are held.
I have already written about this event: ‘The Maccabiah Games 2013-Building Jewish Pride Through Sports in 2013 Maccabiah Games: However, I see the need to touch on the subject again, through a new lens of our Jewish youth, the leaders of tomorrow.
I first met Tami Adams in August 2012 when, like myself, she attended a meeting of Maccabiah Games enthusiasts with Steve Soboroff, the Chairman of the committee of 18th to the Maccabiah Games and Eyal Tiberger, the Executive Director of Maccabi World Union, in Israel.
Tami told me that her daughter, a volleyball player wants to make the Los Angeles team for the Maccabiah Games for teens. I suggested that Tami contacts the Maccabi Club Los Angeles to see how her daughter can apply to be a member of the team. In January 2013, Tami informed me that her daughter Michelle has made the Los Angles Volleyball Team to the 19th Maccabiah Games of 2013.
In a recent follow up meeting of Maccabiah Games enthusiasts with Eyal Tiberger and Steve Soboroff, hosted by Marvin Markowitz, the owner of the Mark Events’ Hall, I met Michelle Adams. Her demeanor and disposition has given me a good reason to place her in the category of the future of the Diaspora leaders who will connect Jews with Israel in ways like never before.
Michelle, age 15, is a student at Beverly Hills high school, in Beverly Hills California. She is a member of the soccer and volleyball team and the secretary of Teen BHED (Beverly Hills Education Foundation), a community awareness service organization that raises funds for the Beverly Hills Education System. Last summer Michelle also participated in the JCC Maccabi tournament in Houston, Texas (Jewish teens compete in JCC Maccabi Games in Houston -), which triggered her wish to partake in the Maccabiah Games.
I was curious to know how Michelle got into the Maccabi Los Angeles volleyball team to the Maccabiah Games and what are her views regarding Israel so I conducted an interviewed with her as follows:
NG: How did you get to participate in the JCC Maccabi Games in Houston?
MA: “I asked my coach what summer volleyball tournament are available. She told me about the tryouts for the JCC Maccabi, which I knew nothing about. I was curious and I wanted to play. So I showed up to all the tryouts because I did not have enough time playing. I was picked up and flew to Houston. There, about 1000 youths formed a camaraderie and togetherness. We all had similarities coming from Jewish household, even if we came from different places, and the love of sport. We were all like one.
In Houston there was a group from Maccabi USA who handed out flyers. I picked up one and I followed up with some research.
Then my mother attended the meeting where you met. I called up my coach from last summer and asked her for recommendations. Maccabi USA called her and asked questions about my level of playing, my achievements at school and about the club where I play. In January 2013 I was informed I have made the team and they confirmed my participation in the games. I now train four days a week for the games and I am raising the funds needed to pay for my trip and perhaps even help others who need financial help to get to Israel and play. For that purpose I set up a webpage for people who wish to support me and others: http://friendraising.towercare.com/Markslist/campaign/display/profile.do?campaignId=13623
The Maccabiah Games are 81 years old, in existence since 1932. In this year, 2013 Games, 72 countries will participate, 18 countries more than in last one, the 18th Games; it offers the 9,000 participants 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.
NG: How do you see yourself connecting further with Israel?
MA: “With all the wonderful opportunities relating to Israel there is much that can be done. I started to volunteer to JCC (Jewish Community Center) Bar and Bat Mitzvah Project; I am getting more involved in my temple and Jewish activities that are connecting to Israel. Connecting with Israel must begin internally and spiritually. We need to keep the youth interested and involved so they are driven to act. For example, making connections to topics like the Holocaust. Maybe start a ‘Across the Ocean Pen-Club’ with Israeli youth through Social Media.”
NG: What do you want to gain from participating in the Maccabiah Games?
MA: I want to have connection with more people in Israel and the land and bring my experience and story back home to inspire other youths to duplicate me and follow my footsteps, get involved so the bridge with Israel gets stronger.”
NG: thank you Michelle for you input.
My fellow Jews, we must cultivate the next generation so they can pick up the torch and run with it. Michelle is just one example of so many other like her who need to join her on her road.
The Maccabiah Games is the largest interactive, international Jewish networking, combining sports and entertainment that strengthens Jewish unity through sportsmanship.
Through JLTV over 100Million people will be able to watch the games.
In approximately 100 days the games will begin. Israel does not have Maccabiah village, with all facilities and accommodation in one area. To organize such event it takes a great deal of logistics and thus it becomes the effort of the entire country; the entire state of Israel becomes the Maccabiah Games village.
Sports breaks all boundaries.
The Maccabiah Games’ mission is to be the best Israeli-Zionist experience, where the participants arrive as athletes and return more connected to their Jewish heritage and Israel and also become new ambassadors of Israel.
If you want to have the best, a one in a life time experience, unless from here-on you will partake in every Maccabiah Games, pack up your bags and join the greatest experience ever, that will begin on July 18th 2013, with the opening ceremony, at Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem, and will end on July 30th, with the closing ceremony and much tears of joy and pride.