|11 Jul 2022|
On Monday 11th July 2022, the 400-strong Team Maccabi Great Britain delegation at the 21st Maccabiah Games arrived at the Beit Halochem centre in Tel Aviv, for a visit that would inspire a generation of British Jewish athletes.
Split between Open and Master athletes (aged 18-85) in the morning and Juniors (aged 13-18) in the afternoon and accompanied by sports managers, coaches, medics, organising committee and staff, Team Maccabi GB dedicated an entire day of its Jewish Identity Programme pre-camp to engaging with Israeli veterans, embodiment of the fight against adversity and ultimate sporting prowess.
The partnership between Maccabi GB and Beit Halochem UK had started at the previous Maccabiah in 2017 and since, a repeated engagement was in the plans for the next Maccabiah. Bringing British Jewish athletes to Beit Halochem serves a number of important aims, all of which are part of the Maccabi GB educational strategy of enhancing participants’ Jewish identity through the prism of sport. Learning about Israel, its history and struggles, as well as its successes and engaging with Israelis on a personal and meaningful level, to understand that their values and histories are akin to ours and to connect with the idea of Jewish People with Israel as its Homeland.
The visit included taking part in a range of disability sports, in a station-rotation led by veterans who showcased their experience and sporting ability. From table tennis to goal ball, to wheelchair basketball and tennis, to badminton and x-fit; each station enabled the Team Maccabi GB athletes to try disability sport, compete against Paralympians and ultimately learn about the meaning of rehabilitation and recovery, to reach incredible sporting successes.
Learning about the debilitating injuries suffered by veterans who put their lives on the line to defend their county, in the many wars Israel has had to face throughout its history, is poignant and meaningful; but to see first-hand how Beit Halochem enables and supports the recovery and the rebuilding of their future, is simply inspiring.
Team Maccabi GB athletes met with veterans who channel their struggles into sport and undertake physical and mental rehabilitation which sees them become professional Paralympians who often represent Israel at the highest levels of world competitions. What more inspiring message could our athletes take into the biggest competition of their lives - the Maccabiah Games.
The day concluded with a Team Maccabi GB & Beit Halochem ‘Welcome Dinner’, hosted at the Junior village in Zichron Yaakov. This special celebration brought together veterans, the Beit Halochem UK team and the whole GB delegation. With an initial address by the Maccabi GB Head of Delegation, the late Brian Green Z”l, the evening featured a keynote speech by Hanoch Budin. Hanoch, a Beit Halochem veteran won two gold, one silver, and five Paralympic bronze medals and triumphed in many World and European Championships in swimming. In 1989, representing all disabled veterans, Hanoch was honoured to light the flame at the 13th Maccabiah Games in Israel.
We are thankful to Spencer Gelding and the team at Beit Halochem UK for enabling such an inspiring visit for the Team Maccabi GB delegation and we look forward to a continued partnership in Israel and the UK.
Head of Operations Maccabi GB
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