I #LoveIsraelBecause ours are a visionary people.
In 1912 Yosef Yekutiel learned that numerous Jews participated in the Olympics and won medals. He envisioned Jewish athletes winning medals, not for the countries of their residence but for their homeland, Israel.
After the war, his vision was denied by the Olympic Committee who responded saying that “Athletes without a State cannot participate in the Olympics.”
In 1932 the first Maccabiah was held in the Land of Israel. Yekutiel said that: “In addition to the athletic challenge there will be the national challenge. Hundreds of thousands of Hebrews will come to the Land of Israel, breathe the air of our beloved homeland, hear Hebrew alive and playful and will return to wherever they live to strive in the diaspora until their time comes to ascend [make aliyah] to the Land.”
The Maccabiah, the Jewish Olympics, is named after our ancient heroes, the Maccabees who fought against all odds, liberated Jerusalem from Greek occupation and returned the Temple Mount to the Jewish people in 138 BCE. The first Maccabiah happened 1800 years after the Bar Cochba revolt against the Roman occupation of Israel.
In 1932 Jews envisioned themselves in the image of ancient heroes, returning to the Land of Israel and growing strong from breathing her beloved air. Today, in 2017 10,000 Jewish athletes from 80 countries have come to Jerusalem to celebrate the strength of body and spirit in the land of their ancestors.
The opening ceremony included a tribute to athletes who were killed defending Israel or in terror attacks. Honoring those stolen from us is important.
And so is celebrating continuity. What better way to celebrate than a wedding?
One of the athletes proposed to his girlfriend on the stage in front of all the attendees. She had just finished her conversion to Judaism and landed in Israel for the first time. Then the organizers asked her if she would like to get married right then and there! She said yes (of course) and they made the ceremony. One of Israel’s more popular singers sang them a wedding song before the ceremony and after, a different song with the chorus: “That’s happiness because we are all one family.”
We are living a centuries-old vision become reality.
Who wouldn’t want to be part of that?