The city of Jerusalem took center stage as Mayor Nir Barkat hosted a spectacular
gala event on Wednesday night at the Tower of David, just 24 hours ahead of the
Opening Ceremony for the 19th Maccabiah Games at Teddy Stadium.
who’s-who of VIPs were in attendance at the intimate gathering just inside the
walls of the capital’s Old City, including new Hapoel Jerusalem owner Ori Allon
and National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman, who brought along many of
his six team owners who stepped up to sponsor the Maccabiah ice hockey
As Barkat noted to Bettman, “I think Jerusalem has even more
brand recognition than the NHL. Thank you for being so instrumental in making
the Maccabiah’s return to Jerusalem such a success.”
Indeed, tributes to
the Israeli capital were the menu du jour, as Barkat and others made sure the
vibe was focused primarily on the sporting and cultural renaissance of one of
the most holy cities in the world.
Chairman of Maccabi World Union Yair
Hamburger was among those to welcome the guests, exclaiming that “each of the 77
flags to be flown at the Opening Ceremony represents a Jewish community in a
different part of the world. It is the unity of all those communities coming
together that makes these Games so special.”
Grammy-winning singer Miri
Ben-Ari performed a beautiful violin rendition as a backdrop to a stirring video
presentation projected onto the walls of the Old City that extolled the cultural
and religious virtues of Jerusalem.
But it was Barkat, who summed it up
best before David D’or led Hatikva.
“This Maccabiah is a testimony of the
power of both Jerusalem and the Jewish people,” exclaimed the mayor.
comes the real treat – the upcoming two weeks of Maccabiah action.”
On TV: 19th Maccabiah Games Opening Ceremony (live on ONE at 8:30 p.m.)