In the first six months of this year,
Israel saw a record number of tourists.
That confirms my saying there have been
so many tour buses on the Jerusalem, Israel streets.
This week also felt like a new record in the making.
No sooner had the Prime Minister of India left,
that the President of Rwanda arrived,
followed by the Irish Foreign Minister.
I thought someone made a mistake in the official guest book,
but the calligraphy was ready and waiting for the next guest.
I feel sorry for the person in charge of flags,
trying to keep the correct ones up for each official delegation.
But not just tourists and international delegations
have arrived in record numbers.
The World Maccabiah sports competitions are being held
from July 4- July 17, 2017.
10,000 athletes, from 80 countries,
compete for medals in Jerusalem and around the country.
Maccabiah flags were displayed outside of Beit Hanasi,
the Israeli President’s official residence
for a meeting of World Maccabiah delegates with
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.
South Korea was represented by this man competing in Judo.
Most people were wearing regular clothing
but these Australians wore Maccabi shirts,
and stopped long enough to pose for a photo.
The beautiful voices of a children’s choir group
from Beer Sheva provided entertainment,
between the effusive and positive speeches.
Attention was given to break of protocol when
President Rivlin hugged the Indian Prime Minister.
But after the official photo with leaders of World Maccabiah,
the President again broke protocol
and walked to the back of the room
to take selfies with members of the Maccabiah group.
The affection and excitement was impressive.
Also impressive were
Jason Lezack and Lenny Krayzelberg,
USA gold Olympic medalists.
And much less familiar swimmers,
like Yigal Kopinsky of Suriname.
I could go on and on with the interesting countries
and delegates from Puerto Rico, Barbados, and more.
But I want to share what happened on the Jerusalem streets
with tens of thousands participating,
not just a few special individuals.
For the Jerusalem Maccabiah Night Run,
streets were closed as tens of thousands of runners,
took 5 or 10-K or half-marathon routes.
Hundreds were taking photos and selfies with phones,
but this was first time I have seen a runner
participating in a race with such a serious camera.
Near the end of the routes
which went back toward the starting line,
runners turned toward the Old City.
A friend waved on her way back to Jaffa Gate.
A cool shower was waiting near the finish line.
For Jerusalem, it was a hot night.
The final stretch was past the Old City Walls
where spectators waited to cheer runners on,
with the 50-years unification of Jerusalem light show
playing in the background.
The smiles at the finish line next to Mamilla Mall –
The Maccabiah sports range from golf, with one male playing,
to ice hockey in new Jerusalem rink,
to bridge, and of course tennis and swimming.
where Natan Sharansky played 20 opponents,
at the same time.
He won 17 games and tied 3 others.
Some make light of these “Jewish Olympics”
but Jason Lezack representing the athletes, spoke beautifully.
I think his words are important enough to share:
For additional photos:
Maccabiah 2017 HERE
and Night Run HERE