Shabbat is the time of the week where we take a breath and reflect. While the 19th World Maccabiah Games are still in full swing until the 31st, we've reached the point where we can also take a breath and reflect.
In the last two plus weeks, over 1,000 proud Jewish-American athletes have had a multi-dimensional life experience. The Israel Connect program was moving, educational, and set the tone for why we came to Israel. Of course, the athletes made a smooth transition to the "other" reason we came to Israel, which was to compete for Maccabiah medals.
While Maccabi USA's mantra is that our success is not determined by how many medals we bring back home, but rather by how many kids we bring to Israel, let's just say that there has been record-setting success on both fronts. As an example, the fencing team alone won 36 medals!
But, for our athletes, this experience has been about more than standing on top of Masada or the medal podium. It has been about making friends from within the team, as well as from around the Diaspora. It has been about meeting our Israeli brothers and sisters and marveling at how this country, about the size of New Jersey and surrounded by less-than-friendly neighbors, can thrive like no other.
We couldn't wait for the 19th World Maccabiah Games to come and hoped they would never end. In a few days, however, the Games will be over. But, the impact of this trip will remain with over 1,000 athletes forever.
Shabbat Shalom, everyone.
USA General Chairman, 19th World Maccabiah Games