Photo Credit: Courtesy of KKL-JNF
A postcard from the first Maccabiah, 1932.

The 2022 Maccabiah Games, a.k.a. the 21st Maccabiah Games, are scheduled to start on July 12 and continue through July 26, in Israel. The Maccabiah Games are open to Jewish athletes from around the world, and to all Israeli citizens regardless of their religion (bet you didn’t know that – DI). 10,000 athletes from 80 countries are expected to compete in 42 sports categories.

The 3rd Maccabiah games in Ramat Gan, 1950. / Courtesy of KKL-JNF

In celebration of the 2022 Maccabiah, KKL-JNF released historical photos from the first years of the Jewish Olympic tournaments, among them a unique photo from the first Maccabiah in 1932.

Jewish athletes at the Maccabiah games. / Courtesy of KKL-JNF
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Lea Fadida, KKL-JNF Director of Public Relations Division, said: ” KKL-JNF is proud to be part of the Maccabiah. The importance of the Maccabiah is not only in the fields of competitions and sports but also in the connection of the Jewish people to the State of Israel. We invite the public to enjoy sports games, activities, and competitions all over the country.”

a Jewish Jewish athlete at the Maccabiah games. / Courtesy of KKL-JNF

The name Maccabiah was chosen as an homage to Judah Maccabee, the fierce Jewish leader who defended the faithful Jews of his country against the Hellenized Jews and the Greco-Syrian armies of King Antiochus. Modi’in, Judah’s birthplace, is also the starting location of the torch that lights the flames at the opening ceremony, a tradition that started at the 4th Maccabiah.

Yosef Yekutieli, founder of the Maccabiah Games / Photographer unknown. Image submitted by Edna Yekutiely, daughter of Yosef Yekutieli

The Maccabiah Games were proposed by Yosef Yekutieli in 1929 at the Maccabi World Congress. Yekutieli (1897 – 1982), who was inspired by the Stockholm Olympics and wanted to establish a similar event in Eretz Yisrael. The new British High Commissioner for Palestine, Sir Arthur Grenfell Wauchope, gave the go-ahead to the Maccabiah. Incidentally, Yekutieli was also the founder of the Israel Football Association, and the Israel Olympic Committee.

The KKL-JNF was present in the Maccabiah games from day one. / Courtesy of KKL-JNF

The 1st Maccabiah opened on March 28, 1932, in the Maccabiah Stadium in Tel Aviv, which was built with donations and filled to capacity on opening day. Roughly 400 athletes from 18 countries took part in competitions that ran from swimming, soccer, and handball, to athletics.

The Polish delegation took first place.

The KKL-JNF was present in the Maccabiah games from day one. / Courtesy of KKL-JNF
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David writes news at JewishPress.com.