I'm off to the Maccabiah Games in Israel. These are the 17th Games of the Maccabiah, which are held every four years, like the Olympics. In fact, the Maccabiah is often called the Jewish Olympics. Organizers estimate about 7,000 athletes from 64 countries will be competing in this year's Games.
The Maccabiah have a few classes of competition: youth, masters, and open. "Open" is where the top athletes in their events compete. These have included Olympic medal-winners such as swimmers Lenny Krayzelburg and Mark Spitz and gymnasts Mitch Gaylord and Kerri Strug. If you want to find out more about the Games or see the schedule of events, check these two websites: www.maccabiusa.com and www.maccabiah17.com.
Why am I so interested? My son, Ami Strutin-Belinoff, will be competing in the Open division of beach volleyball. A bit of background: Ami is a 6'4" 29-year-old psychologist who will be moving from L.A. to San Diego upon returning from the Maccabiah to take a position as school psychologist in the San Diego school system. Oh, and by the way, he plays beach volleyball. A few months ago, he and one of his regular L.A. partners made AAA, just a notch below pro. The past two years he has appeared among the photos of beach volleyball competitions that run in the L.A. Times annual story on the sport. Here's a photo of Ami--not in beach volleyball gear:
I'm also doing this blog because I love Israel and traveling through every part of it. (I'm a writer--as well as a newly graduated librarian--and one of my books is Discovering Natural Israel: www.michalstrutin.com). Plus, one of my closest friends, Talia, lives in Tel Aviv. I travel to Israel fairly regularly.
Of course, I'm going to cover the Maccabiah opening ceremonies--if the complications surrounding getting a ticket were resolved--and all of Ami's events. BTW: his partner is Alon, I think. I'll check to make sure I'm correct on this and provide some more info on him. I do know that he is on full volleyball scholarship to university.
Besides covering the Games, however, I'm going to do my usual meandering around. I can never get enough of visiting the Neve Tzedek neighborhood of Tel Aviv: art galleries, cafes, quaint, charming homes, etc. So part of this blog will just be flat-out travelogue on whatever it is I happen to be seeing and enjoying. If you stick with me and have any questions along the way, I'll try to answer them. I'm also going to include photos, hopefully beach volleyball action shots will be just that.
Well, until I land b'Aretz ("in the Land [of Israel]")...l'hitraot ("see you")!