Last night was remarkable. As we marched into Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem with a USA delegation of over 1100, along with a total of over 9000 athletes from 77 countries worldwide, in front of a nationally-televised (and streamed live worldwide through JLTV), there were many stunning and stirring moments. Seeing the collection of Jewish athletes milling about, getting to know one another, trading pins, posing for pictures with athletes who were 4'10 to over 7', hearing the many different languages and accents, then all of singing Hatikvah in Hebrew, all made for a wonderful evening.
This well-orchestrated evening on a cool night in hills of Jerusalem was beautifully choreographed. The music was exciting, the dancing beautiful, fireworks - WOW! The parade of athletes took almost two hours by itself, yet it was worth it to see flags that have never been flown at the Maccabiah before. Yes, there was a delegation of 55 from Cuba made up mostly of young athletes, along with delegations from Mongolia, Honduras, Aruba, U.S. Virgin Islands - all enhanced this evening.
Now, as we embark on Shabbat in the eternal city of Jerusalem, it is a time to pause and reflect - how fortunate we are to be here in Israel, how our People longed for what we have now. We have been able to show our athletes and their families Israel at its best.
Our ISRAEL CONNECT program was outstanding. So many athletes have come up to Rabbi Dan (Greyber) and told him how cool he is. To have a U.S. Team Rabbi who was captain of our 1993 Swim Team provides a new perspective to the kids.
Competition has begun. I could not tell you how many medals we have won. But I can tell that we have touched everyone in a meaningful and profound way. This year in Jerusalem.
Executive Director, Maccabi USA