Maccabi Facts


  • The name "Maccabi" pointed to the continued sense of an unshakable commitment to Zionism. The saga of the ancient Maccabees celebrated at Hanukka signified the courageous fight for freedom of conscience and religion and for autonomy, the very goals for which modem Zionism still strives.
  • The Maccabi movement derives its name specifically from Judah Maccabee (Yehudah Hamaccabi) who led a band of Jewish patriots against the Syrian invaders in 168 B.C.E.
  • The initiator of the Maccabiah Games was Joseph Yekuteli
  • The 2nd Maccabiah was to be known as the “aliyah” Games as many competitors choose to remain in Israel because of the growing Nazi menace
  • The 3rd Maccabiah held in 1950 with a plan to have a new sports stadium that would seat 50,000 people. These games proved to the world Israel’s and Maccabi’s strength and power of survival. There were only 800 participants at these games.
  • In 1965 Mark Spitz attended his first Maccabiah. In 1985 as a multi gold medal winner at the Olympics, he returned to Israel to light the opening ceremony flame.
  • The Maccabiah 2009 hosted over 10,000 athletes, who consumed over 450,000 kosher meals, 200,000 takeaway meals and 1.5 million quarts of mineral water. Over 400 shuttle buses were used daily and almost 3000 police, soldiers and private security guards were employed 24/7.
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