July 28, 2009
I touched on the subject last week. We have just the closing ceremony of the 18th Maccabiah¦ Games. Held every 4 years here in Israel – since before the establishment of the State – the Games are one of the largest sporting events to be held in the World. 11 Days, over 7,000 athletes from 51 countries, competing in 31 sports (yes, including chess).
1,247 medals were handed out, including 2 gold to my good friend Leon Silverman, competing in his umpteenth Maccabiah, this time in the over-80s tennis, singles and doubles. (Yes, there were some other living competitors. Yes, some of them did survive the best-of-3 sets and the rounds to the finals).
OK, it does sound a little strange – and exclusionary (is that the right word?) to have such an event. But when you look at it more in the ‘club’ sense, it’s rather nice. It can be seen in so many different lights, allow me to say the least of which is religious. Here, more than ever, one can see the bond that holds the Jews together.
Some of the overseas competitors come for the first time of course; others are frequent visitors. And every time, there are stories of 1) some falling in love with Israel – 2) some falling in love with each other – and 3) some doing both, and settling here.
One criticism. Next time they raise the all-important flag at the opening ceremony, they have to have a fan blowing. It was a sultry night; no wind. Couldn’t even identify the flag. Could have been Palestinian, for all we know.