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!
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • 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.