Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat welcomed an elite group of USA Maccabiah athletes to
the Israeli capital on Sunday.
The mayor sat down at a table in his
office and introduced himself to the largest delegation at this year’s games,
including 2012/13 BSL-winning basketball coach Brad Greenberg, two-time Olympic
gold-medalist swimmer Garrett Weber-Gale and President of Maccabi USA Ron
“For me the Maccabi games in Jerusalem is a really good excuse,
if you like, to fulfill the role Jerusalem played two and three thousand years
ago as the center of the Jewish people,” Barkat said.
serve as the hub of activity at the games this year and hosts the Opening
Ceremony in the newly remodeled Teddy Stadium, which the mayor said is part of a
larger effort to promote the city’s culture as a whole.
The USA is
sending over 1,000 athletes to the Games this year. Many athletes in attendance
on Sunday said this was their first time in Israel.
“This is a totally
different atmosphere for me, and getting connected to the culture of Judaism and
the heritage of our people is fantastic,” Weber-Gale exclaimed. “It’s dramatic,
it’s like I want to make aliya already.”
news, Brazilian soccer legend Zico will attend the Maccabiah’s Opening Ceremony
on Thursday as a guest of honor of the Brazilian delegation.
played for Brazil in three World Cups and is regarded as one of the country’s
greatest ever players, will spend four days in Israel.
“I’m happy to be
coming to Israel. It will be very interesting to experience the Maccabiah,” said
Zico. “I feel close to the Jews in Brazil and especially in Rio and I’m
delighted to be part of the Maccabiah.”