• Issue: July 1969
  • Designer: E. Weishoff
  • Plate no.: 249
  • Sheet of 15 stamps Tabs: 5
  • Method of printing: Photogravure

The beginnings of the Maccabi Movement date back to the end of the nineteenth century - the century of the peoples' consciousness of national revival, striving towards freedom and independence - the time, also, when the Zionist movement came into being.

The call of Dr. Max Nordau, the national leader, for a "muscle Jewry" greatly influenced the movement and inspired the Jewish youth to get organised "in order to fortify both the body and the spirit, to restore the consciousness of our self-respect."

The "Maccabi" societies increased in number, particularly in the European countries. In 1921, during the 5th Zionist Congress in Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad, Czechoslovakia), the Maccabi societies amalgamated into the World Maccabi Organisation. The heads of the Zionist Congress attended the foundation meeting.

"Maccabi," a resounding name in the tradition of the Jewish people, recalled the memories of a heroic though fearfully glorious past, the national and victorious uprising under the leadership, of the Maccabeans. Rallying round the name "Maccabi" was something like a declaration on a trend of action, an inspiration, a challenge.

Since the beginnings of the movement, it had been the heartfelt desire of the pioneers of "Maccabi" to arrange a world gathering of its members in Eretz Israel. This idea was raised several times in deliberations and discussed in the columns of the publications of "Maccabi." The decision to organize the first Maccabiah in Eretz Israel - a sports festival to demonstrate the grandeur and strength of the Jewish youth - was solemnly and enthusiastically taken at the "Maccabi" World Congress in 1929. The news of the Maccabiah to be held in Eretz Israel - the Land of Forefathers - was met with great excitement by the "Maccabim," with enthusiasm by the Jewish Community in the Diaspora and the Jewish population in the Land of Israel. An organizing committee for the Maccabiah was nominated by the "Maccabi" Federation. The "Maccabim" devotedly volunteered to help in this initial enterprise. One had to improvise sport sites, to mobilize financial resources, to spread the Maccabiah consciousness, to win patrons and supporters and to overcome obstacles.

The first Maccabiah took place in 1932, in an atmosphere of joy and spiritual elation. It was a magnificent and thrilling spectacle, a spectacle of the grandeur and glory of the young Jewish generation, a manifestation of fraternity and unanimity of the proud Jewish youth, a popular festivity, abounding in joy of life, inspiring strength and reassurance in the heart of the Jewish population in the land of Israel, and an outburst of rejoicing and pride among the Jewish people dispersed all over the world.

In that period of yearning of the youth to return to the Promised Land in spite of limitations imposed on immigration by the Mandatory authorities, the Maccabiah represented an outlet for immigration by which hundreds of "Maccabim" poured into the country, where they contributed substantially to the promotion of physical training in the land of Israel.

The first, so very successful "Maccabi" Sports Festival, guaranteed the organisation of the Maccabiah as a regular institution, with the purpose of gathering Jewish sportsmen in Eretz Israel by way of a popular festivity. The second Maccabiah took place in 1935. In 1939 the world was involved in a devastating war. The Nazi regime destroyed the centers of the Jewish people in Europe, and brutally murdered millions of our brethren. In this national catastrophe, the Jewish youth was almost completely extinguished, and an end was put in the Nazi-occupied countries to the dynamic "Maccabi" movement.

The 3rd Maccabiah took place in independent Israel, in 1950. It was followed by the 4th Maccabiah in 1953. In the same year the "Maccabi" World Congress adopted a resolution to the effect that the Maccabiah should take place every four years. The fourth and fifth "Maccabi" Games were subsequently held in 1957 and 1961, respectively. For the latter, the international committee for the Maccabiah was set up, composed of representatives of the "Maccabi" branches and other sports organizations in Israel and abroad. The seventh Maccabiah, took place in 1965.

The Maccabiah games are organised under the supervision of the International Sports Federations; practical preparations for the games are taken care of by an organizing committee in Israel.

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The Eighth Maccabiah