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April 25, 2014 / 25 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Maccabiah Games’

Stoudemire Seeking Israeli Citizenship

Monday, August 5th, 2013

Israel may be about to import another self-anointeded Jew, this time New York Knicks start Amar’e Stoudemire, who claims he has Jewish roots.

His agent Happy Walters told New York magazine that the Knicks’ power forward is ”getting citizenship.” He added, ”He applied, and he’s there now,” meaning he is touring Israel.

Stoudemire went to Israel for the Maccabiah Games as the assistant coach of the Canadian basketball squad. The games ended earlier this week.

At his wedding last year to Alexis Welch, Stoudemire donned a kippa and prayer shawl for the “Hebraic” ceremony. In July, he announced he had become a part owner in the Israeli basketball club HaPoel Jerusalem.

He told the JTA in an exclusive interview last month that, he is in regular dialogue with New York rabbis, studies Torah and observes the High Holidays.

“I’m not a religious person, I’m more of a spiritual person, so I follow the rules of the Bible that coordinate with and connect with the Hebrew culture,” Stoudemire told JTA.

In other words, he picks and chooses from the Torah whatever suits him.

The JTA contributed to this article.

Maccabiah Games Draw US Athletes to Become ‘Bar Mitzvah’

Sunday, July 21st, 2013

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.”

Maccabiah Games 2009 – Coach Bruce Pearl: ‘Being Jewish And Being Connected To Israel Is Part Of Who I Am’

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

The hottest event at the 18th Maccabiah Games currently being held in Israel could be the anticipated encounter between the American and Israeli men’s basketball squads during the playoffs next week, a prospect that Bruce Pearl – the University of Tennessee and Maccabi USA coach – is actually counting on.

Pearl, who could end up being the most successful collegiate Jewish basketball coach of all time, believes a final gold medal encounter between Israel and the U.S. would be both fun and a boon for Jewish basketball players on both sides.

“The Israeli squad is very talented, having made it into the playoffs at the World University Games and four players having played in the Israel Basketball League [IBL],” Pearl told The Jewish Press.

“You look at what happened with Maccabi Tel Aviv forward Omri Casspi, who was drafted in the first-round by the NBA’s Sacramento Kings, and you can understand that the level of play in Israel is very high.

“We also have brought a talented team to Israel including Dan Grunfeld [son of former New York Knicks star Ernie Grunfeld], who is playing on a top professional team in Spain, along with Duke University star guard Jon Scheyer.

“What is particularly interesting is that the professional Israel Basketball League has reached a high level of play, which makes it a great place for both Jewish and non-Jewish athletes to play their game.

“The NBA doesn’t have to be the only path for college players looking to play the pro game. They can play on a team in the IBL or on a dream team like Maccabi Tel Aviv which plays in the EuroLeague.”

On the other side of the equation, Pearl would love to get his hands on some Israeli talent for his highly ranked University of Tennessee squad. Twenty-one-year-old Israeli point guard Gal Mekel who is considered to be the country’s best young backcourt star, refined his game in the NCAA as a member of the Wichita State University team in 2007.

“I would love to have a couple of young Israeli players at Tennessee,” Pearl said.

Although winning a gold medal at the Maccabiah Games would be another defining moment in his illustrious coaching career, Pearl believes his encounter with the Jewish state and the people of Israel is also of paramount importance.

“Growing up in the Boston area [Sharon, Massachusetts], Israel has been at the forefront of family conversation ever since I was a small kid,” he said.

“My grandparents were Orthodox and kept a kosher home as well. I can also remember that it was much more difficult for my parents, who endured a lot of anti-Semitism during my childhood than what my own children have to deal with today.

“Anti-Semitism isn’t really an issue in America today, even in the South where I coach. Yes, it might be lying there below the surface but it’s not out front like it was for me as a kid.”

Israel, he adds, “is also at the forefront and part of my daily life as well. Our rabbi discusses Israel each and every week at the Shabbat service I attend with my family. And when I open the local daily newspaper, I don’t automatically turn to the sports page. I flip through the World section to see if there’s a story about Israel.”

But hearing and reading about Israel isn’t the same as seeing and feeling Israel. A bit overwhelmed by his first-ever trip to the Jewish state, Pearl said, “You know what my first impressions were? I didn’t know Israel had mountains, so many mountains. And it’s a place that’s really ‘lived in.’ Outside the Western Wall you see all of these Jewish neighborhoods. I saw families, large families. In Israel, they really believe in the biblical saying, ‘Be fruitful and multiply.’

“This has been a fascinating experience for me and I’ll tell you this much: this will not be my first and last trip to Israel. Being Jewish and being connected to Israel is part of who I am.”

Latest In The Cease-Fire That Never Was: Israeli Copters Kill Hamas Militants

Friday, August 17th, 2001

A pair of Israeli attack helicopters killed four Palestinians in Bethlehem on Tuesday as the cease-fire that wasn?t entered its second month. At least two of the targeted Palestinians were planning a terror attack for next week?s closing ceremony of the Maccabiah Games, according to Israeli security sources.

Taha Aruj and Omar Saadeh, identified by Israeli officials as Hamas militants, were killed along with a cousin of Saadeh and a fourth man whose identity was not immediately released.

Early reports gave conflicting numbers of other Palestinians wounded in the attack; one Palestinian source reported 14 injured including two children in serious condition.

Israeli officials said the action was taken to pre-empt a Palestinian attack. ?Regrettably, the Palestinian Authority has no intention of stopping the violence and terrorist activity,? said Raanan Gissin, an aide to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti denounced the Israeli attack as a ?massacre against Palestinian civilians,? and a Hamas spokesman vowed ?revenge very soon.?

A statement issued by several Palestinian factions called for ?immediate revenge on all settlers and their soldiers. The Gilo settlement and other settlements will not be far away from our bullets and mortar bombs.?

A few hours later, Palestinian gunners in Bethlehem fired a mortar toward Jerusalem. The mortar shell landed in the southern Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo in the first such attack on the city.

In the 24 hours prior to Tuesday?s Israeli helicopter attack, two Palestinians ? apparently intending to carry out an attack during the opening of the Maccabiah Games ? accidentally blew themselves up in the vicinity of Jerusalem?s Teddy Stadium, and two IDF soldiers, one of them a woman, were killed and another soldier and at least eight civilians were wounded when a Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up near the entrance to the Benjamina railway station.

Also on Monday, a car belonging to settler activists Noam and Elisheva Federman of Hebron was blown apart, but no one was injured. Police believe a bomb had been placed in the trunk.

The extremist Shi?ite Islamic Jihad organization claimed responsibility for the Benjamina railway attack, saying it was in retaliation for recent Israeli eliminations of Palestinian terrorists, including those belonging to Islamic Jihad.

At midnight the IDF began shelling Palestinian targets in Jenin and Tulkarm in response to the bombing. Earlier, Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said Israel would hit back for all terror attacks.

?We don?t intend not to retaliate on every incident. We plan to retaliate,? Ben-Eliezer told reporters before the bombing Monday.

He also spoke of the failed attempt by Palestinian terrorists to stage an attack at the opening of the 16th Maccabiah Games in Jerusalem: ?A terrible tragedy was averted. Two terrorists got confused and set off a bomb. You know where they were heading.? But hours later the suicide bomber at the Benjamina railway station succeeded in carrying out a deadly attack, despite reinforced security measures and the presence of police and security personnel at the entrance to the railway station.

Benjamina station is a major railway junction for passengers traveling from Nahariya, Haifa, and the bayside suburbs to Tel Aviv and the South. Passengers change trains there, and it has become a drop-off point for people living in the region, especially the expanded township of nearby Zichron Ya?acov.

? Additional reporting by The Jerusalem Post and Middle East News Line

Latest In The Cease-Fire That Never Was: Israeli Copters Kill Hamas Militants

Friday, August 17th, 2001

A pair of Israeli attack helicopters killed four Palestinians in Bethlehem on Tuesday as the cease-fire that wasn?t entered its second month. At least two of the targeted Palestinians were planning a terror attack for next week?s closing ceremony of the Maccabiah Games, according to Israeli security sources.

Taha Aruj and Omar Saadeh, identified by Israeli officials as Hamas militants, were killed along with a cousin of Saadeh and a fourth man whose identity was not immediately released.

Early reports gave conflicting numbers of other Palestinians wounded in the attack; one Palestinian source reported 14 injured including two children in serious condition.

Israeli officials said the action was taken to pre-empt a Palestinian attack. ?Regrettably, the Palestinian Authority has no intention of stopping the violence and terrorist activity,? said Raanan Gissin, an aide to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti denounced the Israeli attack as a ?massacre against Palestinian civilians,? and a Hamas spokesman vowed ?revenge very soon.?

A statement issued by several Palestinian factions called for ?immediate revenge on all settlers and their soldiers. The Gilo settlement and other settlements will not be far away from our bullets and mortar bombs.?

A few hours later, Palestinian gunners in Bethlehem fired a mortar toward Jerusalem. The mortar shell landed in the southern Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo in the first such attack on the city.

In the 24 hours prior to Tuesday?s Israeli helicopter attack, two Palestinians ? apparently intending to carry out an attack during the opening of the Maccabiah Games ? accidentally blew themselves up in the vicinity of Jerusalem?s Teddy Stadium, and two IDF soldiers, one of them a woman, were killed and another soldier and at least eight civilians were wounded when a Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up near the entrance to the Benjamina railway station.

Also on Monday, a car belonging to settler activists Noam and Elisheva Federman of Hebron was blown apart, but no one was injured. Police believe a bomb had been placed in the trunk.

The extremist Shi?ite Islamic Jihad organization claimed responsibility for the Benjamina railway attack, saying it was in retaliation for recent Israeli eliminations of Palestinian terrorists, including those belonging to Islamic Jihad.

At midnight the IDF began shelling Palestinian targets in Jenin and Tulkarm in response to the bombing. Earlier, Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said Israel would hit back for all terror attacks.

?We don?t intend not to retaliate on every incident. We plan to retaliate,? Ben-Eliezer told reporters before the bombing Monday.

He also spoke of the failed attempt by Palestinian terrorists to stage an attack at the opening of the 16th Maccabiah Games in Jerusalem: ?A terrible tragedy was averted. Two terrorists got confused and set off a bomb. You know where they were heading.? But hours later the suicide bomber at the Benjamina railway station succeeded in carrying out a deadly attack, despite reinforced security measures and the presence of police and security personnel at the entrance to the railway station.

Benjamina station is a major railway junction for passengers traveling from Nahariya, Haifa, and the bayside suburbs to Tel Aviv and the South. Passengers change trains there, and it has become a drop-off point for people living in the region, especially the expanded township of nearby Zichron Ya?acov.

? Additional reporting by The Jerusalem Post and Middle East News Line

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/latest-in-the-cease-fire-that-never-was-israeli-copters-kill-hamas-militants-2/2001/08/17/

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