1973 Maccabiah Games

The 1973 Maccabiah Games, which were held from July 9 to 19, 1973, were opened in Ramat Gan Stadium, Israel.[3] Spain and Costa Rica made their debuts in the Games. A total of 1,800 athletes competed on behalf of 27 countries in 20 branches of sport, in 30 venues across Israel.[2] The Games took place ten months after the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, where 11 Israeli athletes and coaches were slain during the Munich Massacre.

9th Maccabiah
1973 Maccabiah logo.jpg
Host cityTel Aviv, Israel
Nations participating27[1]
Debuting countries Costa Rica
Athletes participating1,800[2]
Events20 branches of sport[2]
Opening ceremonyJuly 9[3]
Closing ceremonyJuly 19[3]
Officially opened byTal Brody; Israeli President Ephraim Katzir
Main venueRamat Gan Stadium


The Maccabiah Games were first held in 1932.[4] In 1961, they were declared a "Regional Sports Event" by, and under the auspices and supervision of, the International Olympic Committee.[5][6][7] Among other Olympic and world champions, swimmer Mark Spitz won 10 Maccabiah gold medals before earning his first of nine Olympic gold medals.[8]

Opening ceremoniesEdit

60,000 spectators packed Ramat Gan Stadium for the Opening Ceremonies on July 9, 1973, as Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, Israeli President Ephraim Katzir, and Israeli Minister Minister of Foreign Affairs Abba Eban paid homage to the slain athletes.[3] The Maccabiah torch had been carried 30 miles to the stadium by a relay of runners from Modi'in in Israel, which is believed to be the burial place of the Maccabees, Jewish warriors of the 2nd century BC in whose memory the Games are named.[1] Those in the stadium rose for a memorial prayer, inspired by the Biblical text of King David's lament for Jonathan and Saul.[1] The prayer said: “They were swifter than eagles and stronger than lions when coming to represent Israel before the nations and peoples of the world."[1] 11 candle‐shaped torches at the top of the stands were kindled one by one, as the name of each victim was mentioned, and the large crowd was hushed as each torch was lit.[1]

The honor of lighting the torch over the stadium was given to basketball player Tal Brody, who had played for Team USA as an American in the 1965 Maccabiah Games, and subsequently moved to Israel, where he became captain of the basketball team.[3] Israeli jumper and basketball player Tamara Metal was chosen as torch bearer, but Metal recited the Vow of the Maccabiah Games instead because she was pregnant.[9]

Notable competitorsEdit

Olympic swimmer Anita Zarnowiecki from Sweden won seven gold medals and one silver medal, surpassing Mark Spitz's record of five gold medals in the 1969 games.[10][11] American swimmer, and future Olympic medalist, Wendy Weinberg won four gold medals.[12][13] Mexican Olympic swimmer Roberto Strauss won three bronze medals in freestyle.[14][15]

Israeli Olympian Shaul Ladany, who had competed at the 1972 Summer Olympics (the Olympics of the Munich massacre), won the 20-km and 50-km walks.[16][17] Esther Roth of Israel won the 100-meter race in 11.75, as well as the 200-meter. Maya Kalle-Bentzur of Israel was also a medalist at the Games.[18]

In basketball, Ernie Grunfeld, who three years later won an Olympic gold medal, was the only high school student on the American team's starting five, and led the team in scoring with a 20-point average as the US took the silver medal.[19] Grunfeld later played in the NBA, and became General Manager of the New York Knicks.

In tennis, South African Ilana Kloss won gold medals in both the women’s doubles and the mixed doubles.[20][21][22] David Schneider won three gold medals, in the men's singles, doubles with Errol Kilov, and the mixed doubles with South African future world #1 women's doubles player Ilana Kloss.[23] American Janet Haas won a silver medal in women's tennis.[24]

In judo, American Bernard Lepkofker won a gold medal in the heavyweight competition.[25] American Olympian Irwin Cohen won the light-heavyweight gold medal, defeating Canadian Olympian Terry Farnsworth who won the silver medal.[25] American judoka Susan Feingold and Lisa Hahn won gold in their respective weight classes; their teammate Nadine Wynick took bronze in her weight class.[26]

The organizers of the Games invited two non‐Jewish Dutch athletes, who in sympathy with the Israelis had withdrawn from the Munich Olympics after the murders.[3] Vilhelma Van Gaol, who had qualified for the semifinals in the sprints at Munich, raced as a pacer--not as a competitor, and Bert Kops, a heavyweight wrestler, appeared in an exhibition match.[3]

National delegationsEdit

A total of 27 nations sent delegations of athletes to the Games.[1] The United States delegation consisted of 263 athletes, and was the second-largest after Israel.[3][2] South African track and field, wrestling, and weight‐lifting teams did not participate, because international federations in those sports had imposed bans on the athletes, but the South African delegation of 150 athletes was the third-largest delegation.[3] Rhodesia had a delegation of 21 athletes.[1] A total of 27 former Soviet Jews who had immigrated to Israel competed, with their strengths being in wrestling, weight lifting, boxing, fencing, and tennis, and pole vault.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Times, Moshe Brilliant; Special to The New York (July 10, 1973). "50,000 Spectators Searched as Security Surrounds Opening of Maccabiah Games" – via NYTimes.com.
  2. ^ a b c d "Sports News Briefs". July 7, 1973 – via NYTimes.com.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Maccabiah Games: A Somber Occasion". July 8, 1973 – via NYTimes.com.
  4. ^ "The 20th Maccabiah Games: A brief History (Part 1)," The Canadian Jewish News.
  5. ^ Helen Jefferson Lenskyj (2012). Gender Politics and the Olympic Industry. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 9781137291158.
  6. ^ Mitchell G. Bard and Moshe Schwartz (2005). 1001 Facts Everyone Should Know about Israel p. 84.
  7. ^ "History of the Maccabiah Games". Maccabi Australia.
  8. ^ "At Maccabiah Games, 300 Jewish American athletes become bar and bat mitzvah". The Forward. July 14, 2022.
  9. ^ ""Matal, Tamar"". Archived from the original on 2017-12-15. Retrieved 2016-11-14.
  10. ^ Anita Zarnowiecki Adds Seventh Win. Observer-Reporter (July 16, 1973).
  11. ^ "Historik – Svenska Makkabiförbundet" (in Swedish). Retrieved 2021-03-10.
  12. ^ "Wendy Weinberg Weil - Swim Across America". www.swimacrossamerica.org.
  13. ^ "Frank R. Comfort".
  14. ^ Discover Swimming. Lulu.com. 27 September 2019. ISBN 9780359871353.
  15. ^ "Cdinforma, Número 2606, 8 De Tamuz De 5773, México D.f. A 16 De Junio De 2013 [dvlrkyyj8wnz]". idoc.pub.
  16. ^ "Ladany, Shaul". Jewsinsports.org. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved February 24, 2013.
  17. ^ Robert Slater (2000). Great Jews in Sports. J. David Publishers. ISBN 9780824604332. Retrieved February 28, 2013.
  18. ^ "Dr. Maya Kalle-Ben Tzur - אתנה". athenawomen.org.il. Archived from the original on 2017-12-15. Retrieved 2022-05-13.
  19. ^ "Ernie Grunfeld". Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on August 20, 2006. Retrieved February 20, 2014.
  20. ^ "At the Maccabiah Games: U.S. Wins the Most Medals with 246; Israel Comes in Second with 217". 26 July 1985.
  21. ^ "Israel Basketball Team Loses out to Underdog U.S. Squad at 10th Maccabiah". 22 July 1977.
  22. ^ "Seeking Jewish Tennis Players to Represent the United States | Adults-Seniors – News | USTA Florida". Usatennisflorida.usta.com. 22 September 2008. Retrieved 11 February 2011.
  23. ^ Palm Beach Post, "U.S. Athletes Hold Slim Lead Over Israel", 17 July 1973, p. 42
  24. ^ "U.S. Wins 76 Gold Medals to Beat Israel as Maccabiah Champions". The Detroit Jewish News. August 3, 1973.
  25. ^ a b "U. S., ISRAEL WIN 12 MEDALS EACH". July 11, 1973 – via NYTimes.com.
  26. ^ Picker, Al (August 4, 1977). "Mother of 4 Wins Judo Gold". The Jewish News. Vol. XXXI, no. 31. East Orange, New Jersey. p. 29. Retrieved 2022-06-12.

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