The history of the games

Maccabiah grows in stature with international debut of future nine-time Olympic gold medalist.

mark spitz 88 (photo credit: )
mark spitz 88
(photo credit: )
The seventh Maccabiah saw 1,200 athletes from 25 countries, including the first and only delegation from Iran. Venezuela and Peru sent delegations for the first time, but the Turkish delegation was notably absent - the country's foreign ministry refused exit visas. At the time of the seventh Maccabiah, Israel was caught in a series of conflicts with Syria and the country was struggling economically. The Israeli government could only contribute eight percent of its total budget to supporting the influx of 10,000 athletes and tourists that arrived for the Games. The athletic achievements at the 1965 Games were great. Many of the records set at the sixth Maccabiah were broken. The US brough 200 athletes and achieved spectacular results, especially in swimming. Fourteen golds were won in 18 races and the delegation was led by Olympic silver medalist Marilyn Ramenofsky and future Olympic gold medalist Mark Spitz, then just 15 years old. Now-Israeli basketball star Tal Brody also made his first Maccabiah appearance for the USA in 1965. A synagogue was added to Kfar Maccabiah and the Ramat Gan stadium was enlarged to accomodate 55,000 spectators. Basketball games were held on six different courts, soccer games took place in five different cities and some of the indoor sports were held at the Tel Aviv fairgrounds. Although Israel still lacked television, West German TV filmed the seventh Maccabiah and produced a special program from the footage, which was then bought by Holland, Belgium, France, Austria and Switzerland.