A lot has been happening in the Maccabi World lately. All good.
Tryouts are progressing in all sports and the interest is phenomenal. We have a great group of high level athletes competing for spots on all teams, Junior, Open and Masters. We have attracted several elite athletes such as Olympian Josh Binstock in volleyball and top runners and swimmers who I expect will all do very well in the Games next summer.
I have been attending many of the tryouts. One unique experience was attending the cricket tryouts and getting to know our team which is made up mostly of skilled Indian Jews. Both Open and Junior Hockey tryouts have attracted an extremely high level of talent to go along with our top level coaches headed by Mike Keenan with the open team, and Mario Chucillo with the juniors.
Other exciting news is the addition of Amare Stoudemire to our coaching team. I met Amare who will assist Head Coach John Dore at our Open basketball tryouts.
It is very exciting anticipating the performance of all of our athletes next summer.
I just returned from the JCC Maccabi Games in Rockland New York. The JCC Maccabi Games are a weeklong event hosted by JCC's in North America, where approximately 4000 teens between the ages of 13-16 compete in various sports and study and perform in the Artsfest component. There is a tikkun olam component to the week and very much an effort to enhance the participant's Jewish identity and provide a forum for them to make friends from around the world.
While most delegations come from the USA and Canada, sizable teams came to Rockland from Mexico, Great Britain and Israel. From its inception in 1982, a founding principle of these Games has been to remember what happened in Munich and honour the 11 athletes tragically killed by terrorists. In fact, many of you may have signed the petition to pressure the IOC to have a minute of silence in the opening ceremonies at the London Olympics to remember and honour the slain athletes who all died as Olympians. Sadly this initiative was turned down for no apparent reason other than they were Israeli and Jewish. A certain example of antisemitism and bowing to pressure from the many Arab countries.
The JCC of Rockland was actually the initiator and driving force behind this worldwide campaign. Though the minute of silent wasn’t accepted, there is now significantly more support for honouring our athletes from countries around the world. Corporations and world leaders such as President Obama, Mitt Romney and our staunch Israeli ally, Steven Harper along with many citizens from 152 countries have expressed their support.
The Wife of Andre Spitzer, Ankie, along with the father and siblings of David Berger and the wife and family of Yossef Romano were all present at the opening ceremonies in Rockland. Ankie spoke to the group which included 1250 athletes. She then lit a candle and a well deserved minute of silence was observed followed by a beautiful rendition of the song Halleluyah honouroing each of the 11 athletes.
The message is clear and inspiring. Never forget! Never again and instill in our kids Jewish Pride!
After watching some of the competition and the level of our tryouts, I wholeheartedly agree with the MC in Rockland who said that anyone who thinks that the words Jewish athlete is an oxymoron is indeed a moron.
This year again, Maccabi Canada is an official charity with the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.
Please consider helping by signing up to run/walk and fundraise for Maccabi Canada during the Scotiabank events October 14th in either the 5k, half or full marathons. EVERY DOLLAR you raise will go directly into our Adopt an Athlete Fund to subsidize those who otherwise could not afford to go to the games.
The lives of many young people who participated in the Games are changed forever. The greatest Canadian Maccabi runner of all time Joseph Kibur, initially from Ethiopia, came to Canada with nothing. In a documentary Joseph states that Maccabi is where he learned to be a person. Maccabi Canada was his support system. He has gone on to give back both here and in Ethiopia.
The excitement for Israel is building and palpable. We appreciate the support of all in the community who have and are helping us reach our goal in whatever way possible.
Thanks for being part of the Maccabi family.