Athletes enjoy dazzling Opening Ceremony
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Maccabiah Games

Athletes enjoy dazzling Opening Ceremony

“You have come here from dozens of countries, but you represent one single, special people: the Jewish People, the People of Israel,” President Isaac Herzog says

  • The Aussie team enters Jerusalem's Teddy Stadium. Photo: Shane Desiatnik
    The Aussie team enters Jerusalem's Teddy Stadium. Photo: Shane Desiatnik
  • Australia's flagbearers Lauren Ehrlich (left) and Jonathan Pillemer (right) inside Jerusalem's Teddy Stadium at the start of the Maccabiah Games opening ceremony on July 14. Pictured in centre are Australia's head of delegation Barry Smorgon (left), and Maccabi Australia president and Maccabi flag carrier, Jeff Sher.   Photo: Robi Karp/Maccabi Australia Media
    Australia's flagbearers Lauren Ehrlich (left) and Jonathan Pillemer (right) inside Jerusalem's Teddy Stadium at the start of the Maccabiah Games opening ceremony on July 14. Pictured in centre are Australia's head of delegation Barry Smorgon (left), and Maccabi Australia president and Maccabi flag carrier, Jeff Sher. Photo: Robi Karp/Maccabi Australia Media
  • Australia's flagbearers Lauren Ehrlich (left) and Jonathan Pillemer lead the way into Jerusalem's Teddy Stadium for the Maccabiah Games opening ceremony on July 14, followed by Jeff Sher carrying the Maccabi Australia flag. Photo: Robi Karp/Maccabi Australia Media
    Australia's flagbearers Lauren Ehrlich (left) and Jonathan Pillemer lead the way into Jerusalem's Teddy Stadium for the Maccabiah Games opening ceremony on July 14, followed by Jeff Sher carrying the Maccabi Australia flag. Photo: Robi Karp/Maccabi Australia Media
  • US President Joe Biden waves to the marching American athletes. Photo: Maccabi Australia Team Media
    US President Joe Biden waves to the marching American athletes. Photo: Maccabi Australia Team Media

As the first of 62 delegations to enter Jerusalem’s Teddy Stadium for the 21st Maccabiah Games Opening Ceremony on July 14, the more than 600 marching Australians – proudly led by Australian flagbearers Lauren Ehrlich and Jonathan Pillemer – received a wonderful welcome by the crowd.

“It was so special – what a moment . . . unbelievable!” Ehrlich described the experience of being co-Australian flagbearer with Pillemer. With 10,000 athletes present, and tens of thousands of spectactors watching on, it was an occasion to remember forever.

The huge US delegation received a personal greeting by none other than US President Joe Biden – the first US president to attend the opening ceremony – who waved to them from a grandstand, alongside Israeli president Isaac Herzog and Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid.

Once all 10,000 athletes had marched in, Herzog told them, “Jewish sisters and brothers from all over the world, welcome to the 21st Maccabiah Games!”.

“You have come here from dozens of countries, but you represent one single, special people: the Jewish People, the People of Israel,” Herzog said.

“Our home is your home.

“I want to thank you for strengthening the Jewish people around the world.

“Win lots of medals – and good luck!”

A moment was set aside to reflect on the loss of 11 Israeli athletes who were murdered at the 1972 Munich Olympics, and the four Australians who lost their lives in the 1997 Maccabiah Games opening ceremony bridge collapse.

Several Israeli medallists from the Tokyo Olympics, led by gold medallists Linoy Ashram and Artem Dolgopyat, lit the Maccabiah torch.

Then it was time to party, as a live performance of the 21st Maccabiah theme song Carnival was performed live on stage by Hanan Ben-Ari and dozens of dancers, accompanied by a fireworks display.

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