web analytics
July 25, 2014 / 27 Tammuz, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post
IDC Advocacy Room IDC Fights War on Another Front

Student Union opens ‘hasbara’ room in effort to fill public diplomacy vacuum.



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.

Please use the Facebook Tab below to leave your comment:

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

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Loading Facebook Comments ...
Loading Disqus Comments ...
Current Top Story
New York Senator Chuck Schumer (D)
BiPartisan U.S. Effort to Ensure Hamas Disarmed Before Ceasefire
Latest News Stories
New York Senator Chuck Schumer (D)

Senators wrote to Obama insisting any ceasefire ensures Israel will be free from Gazan terrorism.

Eastern Jerusalem  Arabs clash with Israeli police.

Friday, the end of Ramadan, will show whether the Palestinian Authority wants to renew the intifada.

IDC APC covered with letters of support from children of Israel.

If you get the pun, let me know.

Hamas terrorists often misfire their rockets that explode in Gaza civilians areas.

Hamas committed two war crimes at once – firing from the area of the school and preventing civilians to evacuate.

Egyptian soldiers shot and killed a suicide bomber and blew up a vehicle loaded with Grad missiles, its military reported Wednesday. The suicide bomber was wearing a vest loaded with explosives while approaching the Kerem Shalom crossing. The truck with missiles and launchers was on the Egyptian side of border near Gaza. Since the fall […]

The number of rockets and missiles fired on Israel is decreasing, but the war is far from over.

Israel threatened to go disproportional on Gaza, if the FAA ban on US flights to Israel wasn’t rescinded.

Two people were injured in a mortar strike in the Eshkol region. One was hurt seriously, and the other was lightly injured. They were taken to Soroka hospital for treatment.

Hamas rockets exploded in the area, and there was heavy combat going on. UNRWA admits rockets hidden in their other schools have “gone missing.”

Chairman Avner Shalev: Countries must combat “expressions of anti-Semitism”

Israeli leaders say London has special responsibility to stand by Israel at this hour of need; Hammond: Israel right to defend self.

Finance, Economy ministries team up to support Israeli businesses struggling under weight of non-stop rocket fire.

New president to take office this evening; was elected June 10 following bitter campaign

Mrs. Beck took personal interest and was hands-on, sharing with her children, grandchildren, and others the wonderful values that she stood for.

Overnight clash leads dozens of Islamic heroes to surrender; many brought to Shin Bet for debriefing

Jewish communities from around the world have stepped up to support children from southern Israel who have lived their entire lives under the threat of missile attacks from Hamas freedom fighters in Gaza. (To quote the late comedian George Carlin: If firefighters fight fire, and crime fighters fight crime… what do freedom fighters fight? But […]

More Articles from JTA

A chief rabbi of the Netherlands said unidentified individuals hurled stones at his home in what he said was the second anti-Semitic attack on him in a week. Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs said the latest attack took place at 5 a.m. Thursday, when two stones were hurled through a window of his home in Amersfoort. An earlier incident outside his home […]

Wave of anti-Semitic graffiti, physical attacks spreads, this time to University of Oregon

Police in Berlin say about 1,000 demonstrators, most of them Palestinian, held an unregistered march protesting Israel’s actions in Gaza. Up to ten demonstrators were arrested for breach of the peace and for trying to forcibly free others already arrested in Saturday’s melee, a police spokesperson said. Rocks were thrown during the disturbance and a police officer was struck but […]

Leftists talk “peace” in Tel Aviv, but Arab family won’t accept condolence visit from Peres

38 year old man beaten with metal bars; Third of Malmö residents from Muslim-majority countries

A Jewish-Muslim family from Syria escaped from the country’s civil war to Israel.

From Australia to Argentina, Jewish communities mourn latest Palestinian atrocity.

    Latest Poll

    Do you think the FAA ban on US flights to Israel is political?






    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

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: