8,000 Athletes From Around Globe Head To Israel for Maccabiah Games

Aly Raisman Will Help Lead American Delegation

Opening Ceremony: Dancers perform at the opening event of the 2011 Maccabiah Games in Jerusalem. This year, 8,000 athletes will compete in the ‘Jewish Olympics.’
getty images
Opening Ceremony: Dancers perform at the opening event of the 2011 Maccabiah Games in Jerusalem. This year, 8,000 athletes will compete in the ‘Jewish Olympics.’

By Seth Berkman

Published July 14, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

‘Golden girl’ gymnast Aly Raisman will lead a parade of more than 8,000 athletes from around the world to Israel next week for the 19th Maccabiah Games in which they will compete, mingle, and display their Jewish heritage.

This year’s event will see many first-time competitors, including delegations from Cuba, Nicaragua and Mongolia. Some nations will only send one or two athletes, like El Salvador, whose delegation consists of a lone squash player.

The United States will send more than 1,100 athletes, coaches and managers to compete in 33 sports. Along with youth and over-35 categories, there are also half a dozen events for Paralympic athletes.

Jed Margolis, executive director of Maccabi USA, said the American team will include athletes ranging in age from 14 to 84 and it will be double the size of the 2102 U.S. Olympic team.

“We’re building Jewish pride through sports, connecting people to their culture and heritage,” said Margolis, a member of the ’73 U.S. basketball team. “We don’t just go to compete and come home.”

The Games, often called the Jewish Olympics, first began in 1932, with 5,000 athletes from 22 countries, including the United States. Delegations of motorcyclists, led by Yosef Yekutieli, creator of the event, circled throughout Africa and Europe to promote the Games. This year, the Games are expected to draw more than 8,500 athletes competing from 71 countries.

Famous names have often competed — before and during the height of their athletic glory. Mark Spitz competed in the 1965 Maccabiah Games as a 15-year-old. This year, American Olympic gold medal gymnast Raisman is scheduled to compete. New York Knicks star Amar’e Stoudemire will also be in Israel to coach the Canadian basketball team.

Other famous Maccabiah Games alumni include Olympic gold medalists Kerri Strug and Lenny Krayzelburg and NBA champion Dolph Schayes and Larry Brown.

The opening ceremony will take place on July 18 at Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • Before there was 'Homeland,' there was 'Prisoners of War.' And before there was Claire Danes, there was Adi Ezroni. Share this with 'Homeland' fans!
  • BREAKING: Was an Israeli soldier just kidnapped in Gaza? Hamas' military wing says yes.
  • What's a "telegenically dead" Palestinian?
  • 13 Israeli soldiers die in Gaza — the deadliest day for the IDF in decades. So much for 'precision' strikes and easy exit strategies.
  • What do a Southern staple like okra and an Israeli favorite like tahini have in common? New Orleans chef Alon Shaya brings sabra tastes to the Big Easy.
  • The Cossacks were a feature in every European Jewish kid's worst nightmare. Tuvia Tenenbom went looking for the real-life variety in Ukraine — but you won't believe what he found. http://forward.com/articles/202181/my-hunt-for-the-cossacks-in-ukraine/?
  • French Jews were stunned when an anti-Israel mob besieged a synagogue outside Paris. What happened next could be a historic turning point.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.