Maccabiah logo 370.
(photo credit: Hana Ben Ano and Tal Huber)
As the sun set on the 19th Maccabiah Games following Tuesday night’s
electrifying closing ceremony, the record 9,000+ athletes, coaches and staff
have begun returning home to their 78 different home countries.
ceremony was highlighted by mass clothing-trading session, as athletes spent
hours on the Teddy Stadium floor exchanging their home team apparel for
souvenirs from athletes of foreign delegations.
But the exchanges were
more than just a form of barter, representing the Jewish unity and global
comradery signified by the Maccabiah Games.
“[I enjoyed] meeting all the
new people and becoming very close with my team,” said 16-year-old silver
medalist Ilana Kamber, an American fencer in the open women’s
Her teammate Anastasia Ivanoff, who took home gold in open
women’s fencing, said the opportunity to explore Israel on a program called
Israel Connect with the rest of the Maccabi USA delegation was also a major
“We spent three or four days touring around Israel,” Ivanoff,
17, recalled. “That combined with the sports aspect together was just an
For many athletes and coaches, the Maccabiah
provided the opportunity to visit Israel for the very first time.
list included former NHL coach Guy Carbonneau, also a three-time Stanley Cup
champion as a player, who coached Maccabi Canada’s open men’s hockey team to
decisive 7-1 victory over the US in the gold medal game.
“It was a little
different,” Carbonneau said of ice hockey in Israel, where the sport was part of
Maccabiah for the first time since 1997.
“They’re just starting to
understand what hockey is,” he said. “It’s a small country. Hopefully in the
next little while there will be a little more, and if [so], more kids are
eventually going to skate and they’ll be better.”
For David Sofaer, 21,
walking out onto the floor, surrounded by thousands of athletes and fans during
the opening ceremony was the Australian tennis player’s favorite
Sofaer, who won a bronze medal in the open men’s singles
tournament, said he was impressed with the quality of play at the
“It was a pretty good tournament and the standard was higher than
I thought. I think there were eight guys with ATP rankings,” he said.
opening ceremony was also a memorable night for 2012 Canadian Olympian Josh
Binstock, who served as flag bearer and team captain of Maccabi
“I got a little emotional because my dad was beside me and when
he gets going I kind of get going,” said Binstock, who won silver with Canada’s
open men’s volleyball team. “It was a big honor just looking back and having 600
delegation members behind me just following my lead. It gave me goosebumps. It’s
something I’ll never forget.”