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Australian Jews remember Maccabi victims on 2nd anniversary of tragedy

SYDNEY, July 27 (JTA) — Some 800 local Jews have turned out to remember the Australian athletes who were killed or injured two years ago during a bridge collapse at the Maccabi Games in Israel. To mark the anniversary, public officials joined the community Sunday in dedicating a nature reserve to the victims of the tragedy. The reserve was named in honor of Warren Zines, one of four members of the Australian team who died in the bridge collapse during the Games’ Opening Ceremonies. Peter Wertheim, president of the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies, the umbrella organization for 40,000 Jews, devoted his speech to remembering the personal qualities of those who lost their lives and the trauma and hardship endured by their families. He also spoke of the 70 team members who were injured when the bridge collapsed, plunging them into the Yarkon River outside the Ramat Gan stadium. He highlighted the case of Sasha Elterman, a teen-age tennis player who has had over 30 operations to solve problems associated with her fall into the polluted river. A number of speakers, including Wertheim, repeated the Australian Jewish community’s demand that the leaders of the Maccabi World Union step down until the completion of an inquiry into the cause of the bridge collapse. They also expressed concern that other national Maccabi associations had not supported Australia’s call. Zionist Federation President Ron Weiser said the refusal of Maccabi organizations in the United States, Britain, Canada and elsewhere to back Australian Jewry’s efforts was “to their undying shame.” During the ceremony, which included the recitation of Kaddish, four trees were planted for the dead and an additional tree to represent those who were injured.

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