The Maccabiah Games, which President Biden is scheduled to attend on Thursday evening, are Israel’s biggest sporting event, often referred to as the Jewish Olympics.
All Jewish athletes around the world are welcome to compete in this event, as well Israeli athletes of all faiths. It is one of the most important sporting events in the world, with over 10,000 athletes representing 60 different countries.
The 21st Maccabiah — named for an ancient Jewish warrior, Judah Maccabee — began on Tuesday and is taking place over a two-week period in dozens of venues across the country.
The United States has 1,400 athletes representing it, making them the largest foreign delegation. Russia and Belarus withdrew from this year’s event before the organizing committee had decided whether to bar the Russian delegation from competing because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, according to a spokesman for the Games.
In Mandatory Palestine, the name given to the area when it was under British control, the first Maccabiah Games were held in 1932. The goal was to give Jewish athletes, who sometimes faced antisemitic restrictions on sporting activity, the chance to compete at a high level, and to “glorify the sports achievements of Jewish youth,” according to the organization.
Many of the participants would move to Mandatory Palestine, in spite of rising antisemitism throughout Europe in the years following the event.
According to the government, the Games have continued to be a pathway to Israeli citizenship. More than 5 percent of participants applied for such citizenship after the Games. Maccabiah presents “a golden opportunity to encourage aliyah” — or Jewish immigration to Israel — Pnina Tameno Shete, the minister for aliyah and integration, said in a In a statementThis week.
One of the most famous examples was Tal BrodyAmerican-born basketball star, who quit a promising N.B.A. job to become a US-born basketball player. After earning a gold medal in the Games with the United States in 1965, he went on to a successful basketball career. After winning the gold medal in 1965 Games with the USA, he immigrated to Israel, where he played basketball for Maccabi Tel Aviv. Later, he led them to a European championship.