web analytics
November 23, 2014 / 1 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post
IDC Herzliya Campus A Day on Campus

To mark IDC Herzliya’s 20th anniversary, we spent a day following Prof. Uriel Reichman, IDC’s founder and president, and Jonathan Davis, VP for External Relations, around its delightful campus.



Maccabiah Games Draw US Athletes to Become ‘Bar Mitzvah’

For American athletes, the Maccabiah sports even proves the games are about more than sports. Several of the American Jewish athletes were inspired to become Bar Mitzvah.
By:
Athletes from the Australian delegation wave their national flags during the opening ceremony of the Maccabiah Games in Jerusalem for the 19th Maccabiah Games, dubbed the 'Jewish Olympics'

Athletes from the Australian delegation wave their national flags during the opening ceremony of the Maccabiah Games in Jerusalem for the 19th Maccabiah Games, dubbed the 'Jewish Olympics'
Photo Credit: Flash 90

Luke Rosener removed his orange T-shirt, changed into a white dress shirt and alighted from a chartered bus.

The garb was a far cry from the uniform Rosener will wear while playing for the U.S. volleyball team at the Maccabiah, the 78-nation sports competition that began in Israel last week. The Cupertino, Calif., native’s attire was more befitting a religious ceremony — in this case, his bar mitzvah.

Rosener, 22, had never had a bar mitzvah, owing to his family’s financial situation and his early struggles with dyslexia. But as part of the 1,200-member U.S. Maccabiah delegation, Rosener encountered a ready-made opportunity to become a bar mitzvah alongside scores of new friends also celebrating the traditional rite of passage.

That’s because Maccabi USA, the American branch of the international sports movement, brings participants to Israel a week before the competition for a mandatory program of touring and discussions rich in Jewish content. In recent years, the program, known as Israel Connect, has featured a mass bar mitzvah ceremony for participants who never had one.

“There’s so much more to [the Maccabiah] than playing sports,” said Jeffrey Bukantz, Maccabi USA’s general chairman and a former fencing Olympian. “We really do consider it the flagship of the program. It’s to the point that Israel Connect is more important than the actual sports. The kids are really impacted by the program.”

On the lush grounds of a reception center in the hills west of Jerusalem, a mile beyond the Elvis Inn pub guarded by a white statue of the King, the delegation gathered in the setting sun Tuesday for the ceremony. The entry hall’s long red carpet was lined with red, white and blue balloons and round tables in the vast garden were stacked with wrapped presents.

The Tuesday ceremony coincided with Tisha B’Av, the 25-hour fast commemorating the destruction of both Holy Temples — a day on which celebrations are frowned upon. But as he prepared to chant the Torah portion designated for the closing hours of many fast days, Daniel Greyber, the delegation’s official rabbi, offered a fresh perspective.

“The afternoon of Tisha B’Av is a time of rebuilding, of looking forward,” Greyber said. “The bnai mitzvah ceremony connects us to the Jewish people — not only in this world at this time, but for all of history. In that regard, it requires celebrating.”

Along with the U.S. team’s assistant rabbi, Noam Raucher, Greyber led the crowd in spirited singing. And he punctuated the Torah reading with references to group discussions he had led the previous day covering biblical events and their relevance today.

Dave Blackburn, a star softball pitcher who has competed in six Maccabiah Games, recited Birkat HaGomel, traditionally recited by those who have escaped harm. In 2009, Blackburn was nearly killed in a car crash, an accident that claimed his right leg below the knee and broke 27 bones.

“I’ve lived to share this Maccabiah experience with you, my extended family,” Blackburn said from his wheelchair.

Greyber called the Maccabiah participants to the Torah in three groups, and as the last one ascended the podium, he called for attention.

“Everyone, look at the miracle that is happening,” said Greyber, “as the sun goes down over Jerusalem, as this group that has never been to Israel and never had a bar or bat mitzvah is having an aliyah for the first time.”

Then Blackburn’s nephew Landon stepped forward. “My uncle,” he began, struggling through tears to get the words out, “is keeping me alive, and that’s all that matters.”

Landon Blackburn, a wrestler, said later that his uncle’s participation in the games is his most cherished aspect of the trip. His own father would not have permitted him to participate without his uncle’s influence, he said.

A native of La Porte, Ind., Landon, 18, said he grew up celebrating Jewish holidays, but as a rebellious child opted not to have a bar mitzvah.

“But all that did was make my life harder, that the weight of the world was on my shoulders,” he said. “I didn’t have anything to help me cope with the hardships of life.” he said.

Having this bar mitzvah, he said, makes him feel “100 percent better about my outlook on life.”

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

One Response to “Maccabiah Games Draw US Athletes to Become ‘Bar Mitzvah’”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Islamic State flag displayed from Arab residence
IDF Arrests Terrorist Linked with ISIS
Latest News Stories
Hevron terrorists burned to the ground the rooms a a checkpoint where IDF soldiers were stationed.

It was a miracle no one was injured or burned to death.

Islamic State flag displayed from Arab residence

Israeli’s most powerful weapon of defense is good intelligence.

Jordanian Prime Minister, Abdullah Ensour

This is in followup to the prayers and moment of silence that the Jordanian Parliament held in honor of the two terrorists.

US Secretary of State John Kerry with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier before P5+1 talks. Nov. 22, 2014.

Is the West about to provide Iran with a major concession in order to reach an “historic” (but empty) deal?

Someone spray painted “ISIS” in Arabic on a memorial for fallen Druse soldiers up north.

Government ministers are examining steps the state can take to deter more terrorist attacks.

Yehudah Glick will be undergoing additional surgery on Sunday morning.

After discovering a tunnel from Gaza into the Sinai that extended 1850 meters, Egypt has decide to extend it sterile zone along its 14 kilometer Gazan border from 500 meters to 1000 meters.

The students were attacked as they walked back from Friday night prayers.

Bnei Akiva religious youth members joined forces with far left Meretz youth group members on July 4, 2011, to protest in front of the US Consulate in Israel, calling for the release of Jonathan Pollard. That was years ago, and as of today, Pollard has now spent 30 years in jail. Enough is enough.

The task force will aim at keeping Americans from joining ISIS and other radical Muslim murder gangs.

The cell that planned to kill Lieberman was only of several planning to kill PA official and Israelisץ

Arab pathologist who originally agreed with the findings of Arab bus driver’s autopsy showing suicide, now disagrees.

Secret Service officers arrested a woman with a gun while she was walking along the White House fence around 8:30 p.m. (EST) Thursday at the same time President Barack Obama was addressing the country on the issue of immigration. The woman was identified as April Lenhart, 23, from Michigan. She was wearing a holster and […]

And we can already hear Obama and Kerry telling him not to upset Allah and thank God on the Temple Mount.

More Articles from JTA
Paul Goldenberg

The task force will aim at keeping Americans from joining ISIS and other radical Muslim murder gangs.

Charley Levine, a top public relations professional in Israel and well known in Ango-Israeli circles, has died.

New York police have arrested a 23-year-old Brooklyn man was arrested for assaulting an Orthodox Jewish couple in Manhattan this summer. A police department spokesman confirmed to JTA that Mustafa Mashni was charged with assault, as first reported on the Jpupdates website. The victims, in their 20s, were walking on the Upper East Side at […]

A Canadian university professor was charged in Paris on Saturday in the deadly 1980 synagogue bombing in Paris that killed four and injured more than 40. The arraignment of Hassan Diab came hours after he arrived in Paris after being extradited from Canada following a six-year fight to prevent it. Canada’s Supreme Court last week […]

The summer war between Israel and Hamas released an explosion of online anti-Semitic hate speech in several European countries, an international watchdog reported.

“Operation ‘Hospitals of Hope’ is an integral part of the vision of MASHAV and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel of helping nations in need, including nations without diplomatic relations with Israel.

The lab will operate in both Israel and New York, and will allow researchers to explore technologies in areas including communication and coordination, food and wellness, education and safety, and information and entertainment.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/maccabiah-games-draw-us-athletes-to-become-bar-mitzvah/2013/07/21/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: