The 19th Maccabiah, the largest games to date, will take place in July 2013, highlighting the vivaciousness and vibrancy of Jewish and Zionist sports and the widespread activity of the Maccabi World Union, organizer of the world's third largest sporting event. Some 8,500 young athletes from 71 countries will come together in Israel to compete in 42 different sports in four categories. For the first time, the Maccabiah opening ceremony will be held in Jerusalem, with competitions taking place throughout the country. The 19th Maccabiah demonstrates the ever- increasing significance of this enterprise, as each time the games convene a new chapter is written in the history of Zionism.
Since being founded by the Maccabi World Union 80 years ago in Czechoslovakia, the Maccabiah games were held twice in Tel Aviv prior to the establishment of the State of Israel and 16 times thereafter. While the emphasis may shift from time to time and from event to event, the foundation of Zionist values, which bring thousands of young Jews from around the world to every Maccabiah, introducing them to Israel and to Israeli youth, has not wavered since the first Maccabiah.
The early Maccabiah games served as a means for creating ties between Zionist sports and the Olympic movement and in time the Maccabiah was recognized as one of the world's most important regional sporting events. The first two Maccabiahs led to the Aliyah of hundreds of young people from around the world and strengthened the Jewish Yeshuv in Eretz Israel in many fields (education, research, culture and art, sports and sports culture). The continued Aliyah of prominent athletes after Israel's independence furthered sports in Israel, as did the appearance of the greatest Jewish athlete, Mark Spitz. Leading Jewish athletes will also take part in the 19th Maccabiah, including some recent medal-winners from the 2012 London Olympics, whose participation reflects their appreciation for the organization that connects them to Israel and to Judaism.
On Thursday July 18, 2013 a spectacular and moving ceremony shall take place at the Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem. Some 8,500 athletes from Israel and around the world will actively participate in the ceremony and the artistic tale presented to the tens of thousands of spectators in the stadium, as well as the additional millions watching in Israel and worldwide. Jewish broadcasting networks will broadcast the ceremony live on designated television channels and websites. The ceremony will be followed by ten days of competitions held throughout Israel.
The arrival of thousands of athletes and those accompanying them from all around the globe is a joyous event not only for Israeli sports, but also for Israeli tourism (hotels, hostels, restaurants, buses, trips) as well as for the thousands of volunteers who look forward to meeting Jews from overseas in person and to helping organize this complex event that has educational and religious aspects (such as conducting mass Bar Mitzvah ceremonies at the Western Wall) in addition to the sports. The 19th Maccabiah is the culmination of four years of preparation conducted by the Maccabi World Union and it is a national event that shall remain etched in our national memory long after the closing celebration.
The 19th Maccabiah Organizing Committee