40, 000 Attend Opening of Maccabiah Game; U.S. Athletes Participate
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40, 000 Attend Opening of Maccabiah Game; U.S. Athletes Participate

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The Sixth Maccabiah Games were opened this afternoon with impressive ceremonies attended by 1, 300 Jewish athletes from many countries including the United States. President Ben-Zvi, foreign diplomats and more than 40, 000 spectators were present in the Ramat Gan Stadium where the ceremonies took place.

The flag-bedecked stadium was filled with Israelis and tourists who came to watch the athletic competition. Army buglers sounded the arrival of the President. Then came the march into the arena of 26 contingents, headed by eight fencers with drawn sabers forming a flag guard unit. The Maccabi World Union leaders marched into the stadium followed by the contingents, each of which marched past the reviewing stand saluting Israel’s President.

An all-military detachment with Army colors headed the large Israeli contingent, which included all the Israeli sports organizations–Maccabi, Hapoel and Betar. After the Maccabiah flag was hoisted, a six-gun salute was fired, and hundreds of doves were released in the style of the Olympics.

The President then declared the opening of the Maccabiah games. At that moment, Yohanan Lahav, an Israeli athlete, entered the stadium bearing a Maccabiah torch which had been lit earlier in the day near the graveside of the Maccabean in the Judean Hills. The torch will be kept burning throughout the games, which will begin tomorrow.

Fourteen huge torches were lit towards dusk, and a memorial prayer for the Jewish communities destroyed by the Nazis was read against a background of memorial songs played by the Army band. All in the stadium stood at attention during the listing of the communities in 14 countries destroyed in the Nazi holocaust.

At the close of the memorial ceremony, several thousand young Maccabi members in blue and white uniforms performed mass gymnastics for the spectators. The performance concluded the opening ceremony.

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