Maccabi GB Celebrate the 20th Maccabiah Games

Maccabi_-_Maccabiah.jpgThe 20th Maccabiah Games are the pinnacle of Jewish sporting achievement. Our Great Britain team of close to 400 people can proudly say that together we have represented our country and our community

There were many firsts for the Great Britain Delegation at these Maccabiah Games.

This was the first time the competition venues were spread from Jerusalem to Haifa.  It allowed our athletes to experience far more of Israel which in turn only added to their connection to the country. 

It was the first time our Jewish Identity Pre Camp Programme was based in the North of Israel.  This allowed our delegation to visit the inspirational Beit Halochem rehabilitation Centre for IDF soldiers and experience Paralympic sports with the residents.  To visit the Ghetto Fighters Museum to learn of the resistance movement against the Holocaust. And it gave us the wonderful opportunity to visit a number of projects funded by our partners UJIA. From the Equaliser Programme in Acco to Magic Moments in Shlomi, this was a truly special meeting of young Brits and Israelis.

On the sports front this was the first time we have taken a Junior Lacrosse team to the Games and what an achievement it was when they won the Silver medal.  In fact standing at Ben Gurion airport and seeing so many female athletes arrive as part of Team Maccabi GB was an incredible achievement. It had been one of our objectives and to take Lacrosse, Junior and Senior Netball and Football.  It was a wonderful social experience for all involved.

We were honoured to have as part of our delegation our first para athlete, Freya Levy, who competed in a mixed GB, USA wheelchair basketball team.  And this was the first time she had been to Israel.  What a powerful introduction to the Jewish Homeland and she came home with a bronze medal.

And this was the first time I marched into Teddy Stadium at the Opening Ceremony as General Team Manager in front of 30,000 people including the President and Prime Minister of the State of Israel.   We are also proud of what we achieved in bringing such a strong team in such challenging economic circumstances at home and proud of what we hoped we would achieve in the sport to come.

Winning 38 medals, the highest medal haul from any prior GB Maccabiah teams, was an astonishing achievement.  Each medal won and each medal lost has its own story of hard work, physical assertion and a true commitment to the athlete’s sporting discipline.  And although medals are an athletes dream, the Maccabiah is about far more than just sport and medals. 

The Games were about swapping shirts in the evening with your opponent from the morning.  They were about wearing a union jack Star of David on your chest and being a proud Jewish British athlete.  And most importantly they were about being part of an event with 10,000 Jews from Israel and around the Diaspora in the Jewish homeland.  The 20th Maccabiah Games is a unique experience and every member of our Delegation was extremely proud to have been a part of it.  

Maccabi GB is for an Active Jewish Community.  The 20th Maccabiah Games in Israel goes to the real core of that message.