Paralymics mark Shabbat in Beijing

Athletes from Israel’s Paralympic team attended a Shabbat service at the Israeli Embassy in Beijing.

Saturday marks the opening of the Paralympic Games in the Chinese capital. The games, for physically handicapped athletes, is held every four years in the same city as the Olympic Games.

Ruhama Avraham-Balila, Israel’s minister of tourism, said she expected Israel’s Paralymic team to win more medals than the Israeli Olympic team, which won a single bronze medal this year. In Athens in 2004, Israel’s Paralymic team won four gold, four silver and five bronze medals, coming in 32nd in the medal rankings.

The athletes are an inspirational reminder that people “can reach higher than the sky,” Avraham-Balila said.

Serge Abou, the European Union ambassador to China and a Jew, added his own words of  encouragement. So did the chairman of the Israeli paralympic delegation, Dani Ben Abu, who was wounded in the 1973 Yom Kippur War but went on to become a surfer and sailing competitor.

Beijing Chabad Rabbi Shimon Freundlich led the Kabbalat Shabbat service.

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