The rebirth of the Maccabiah

By ARIEL ZIRULNICK
July 10, 2009 00:35

 
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Following the tragedy of the 1997 Maccabiah and the low numbers of the 2001 Maccabiah, organizers hoped to make the 17th Maccabiah, held in 2005, a symbol of rebirth. Around the same time, Israel succeeded in quelling the terrorism campaign that began in 2000 and Israeli windsurfer Gal Friedman won Israel's first Olympic gold medal. Maccabiah participation skyrocketed to 6,667 athletes from 54 countries and participation in the Junior Maccabiah topped the participation of the Maccabiot of the 1970s. The 17th Maccabiah was so large that it strained even Egged, the world's second-largest bus company. At the opening ceremony, families of the victims of the bridge collapse in 1997 led the delegation parade into the stadium and Israeli children injured in the terrorist attacks of the previous few years formed the color guard of the Maccabiah banner. The show featured Israeli musical articles of all types and was rich in Jewish tradition. The sporting events featured some nailbiting contests. World champion Daniella Krakower of Argentina lost in the Judo final to a 17-year-old Israeli, while champion karate sensei Adam Kovacs lost his final to an American. Grandmaster chess player Judit Polgar defeated opponent after opponent, including some of Israel's top politicians.

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