Tel Aviv (Feb. 5)
The International Maccabiah Games Committee, meeting here in preparation for the quadrennial “Jewish Olympics” to be held in Israel July 6-16, was greeted on be half of the government by Education Minister Zevulun Hammer whose portfolio also covers sports and culture. He used the occasion to promote aliya by Jewish athletes from all over the world and to warn of the dangers of assimilation.
Hammer, a leader of the National Religious Party, yesterday told the committee members representing 30-odd countries that “The biggest success of the Maccabiah will be when we shall not have them as a world Jewish sport event, but as a main sports competition for Israeli sportsmen, The Maccabiah should be the means to the end of attaining our ultimate goal”
According to Hammer, “Athletes who participate in the Maccabiah will gain a better understanding of life in Israel and will learn the significance of being a Jew. Hopefully, this experience will inspire them to take up the challenge of living in Israel and encouraging others to follow in their footsteps, thereby building a strong Jewish society.”
He noted that “In many sports meetings, the main object is to win. Beyond this object at the Maccabiah Games is the coming together for a Zionist cause, therefore the Maccabiah is so important to our nation.”
Hammer warned that “assimilation is the death knell of this generation” and “Jewish clubs and sport is one of the ways to solve this problem.” In that connection, he observed that the interval between Maccabiahs is sometimes more important than the Maccabiah itself because “sport activities serve as a vehicle for initiating many other Jewish activities.”