The Twelfth Maccabiah: 5745

3,700 Athletes from thirty seven countries competed in thirty events at the Twelfth Maccabiah.  For the first time, contingents arrived from Panama, Guam, Gibraltar and Yugoslavia (one athlete).  Colombia and Zaire, absent since the Sixth Maccabiah, renewed their participation after a twenty four year lapse.  A new event, rhythmic gymnastics appeared for the  first and last time.  Boxing, a popular event in the first eleven Maccabiot, was eliminated from the list of competitions due to an insufficient number of competitors.

1,800 busses and 450 minibuses transported the athletes during the Maccabiah. 82,000 telephone calls were placed from Kfar Maccabiah and 980 public figures participated.  Mark Spitz, winner of seven Gold Medals for swimming at the Munich Olympics (1972) bore the torch accompanied by Shirley Shapira and Shulamit Romano, whose fathers were murdered by PLO terrorists at the Munich Games.

In thirty nine track and field competitions, nineteen Maccabiah records -- twelve men and seven women - were broken, including the Israeli decathlon record.  Israel won fifty four of the 117 medals awarded.  At the pool, twenty one Maccabiah records were broken in thirty heats.  

The United States won all Gold Medals but three, two went to Israel and one to Canada.  Israel captured eleven of the ninety swimming medals. In twenty two marksmanship competitions, eight Maccabiah records were surpassed.  Israel came away with nineteen medals in the Men's Division, six of them Gold Medals and seven in the women’s, three of them gold.

In the weight lifting contests, five records were set.  Israel won thirteen of the twenty seven medals, four of them gold.  The Israeli team triumphed in chess and the Australian team in bridge.

In the final Maccabiah tally, the Americans had won nearly half the Gold Medals, ninety Silver Medals and seventy four Bronze.  In the playoffs the American men's basketball team beat the Israeli all-stars by one point (Israeli stars Berkovitz and Aroesti did not play this time).  On the other hand, the Israeli soccer team, coached by Eliezer Shpiegel, beat Holland in the playoffs, 1:0. Thanks in particular to the virtuosity of the Brazilian whizzes, the junior soccer games were a unique attraction drawing thousands of spectators to the University Auditorium in Ramat Aviv.

With the addition of a new wing, dedicated four days prior to the Games, an additional 16,300 spectators were able to view the Opening Ceremony, impressive as ever.  At the ceremony, Israeli songwriter Naomi Shemer led fifty thousand in communal singing of ׂAl Kol Eleh׃ (ׂFor All of These׃).  On the evening before the opening, the Chamber Orchestra gave a special festive concert at the Tel Aviv Museum.

For the first time, the organizers installed an up-to-date Motorola communications and media system simultaneously broadcasting the latest scores in all competitions. As the latest scores came in, they were registered in a central computer and transmitted directly to the media and the general public.  

Israeli television broadcast twelve consecutive hours of track and field competitions, swimming events and playoffs.  Gymnastic competitions were covered in the regular sports programs.  The budget for the media broadcasts was covered in full by commercial enterprises at $50,000 per company.

Outstanding athletes: Champion sprinter (100 and 200 meter) Gary Wilson was, without a doubt, the outstanding track and field athlete of the Maccabiah.  British champion of the Eleventh Maccabiah, James Aspir, won the 1,500 and 5,000 meter races.  Winner of the 400 meter race, Australian Mark Rosenberg, set a Maccabiah record worthy of international recognition (46.54 seconds).  Two-time sprint winner, Lisa Grupp was outstanding among women athletes.  The American Jerry Wilko excelled in shot put and discus throw and Carrie Fabin of world renown participated in the golf competitions.

In swimming, a new champion, Seth Brown arose, replacing Mark Spitz, if not in virtuosity, then in the number of Gold Medals -- six. Eyal Shtigman was the Israeli hit at the pool, setting a Maccabiah and Israeli record for the 100 meter breaststroke.  Eleven year old Stephanie Rosenthal, the promising swimmer on the United States all-star team, was the attraction, setting five international records in the under-twelve category.   Ofer Botzer of Zevulun Jaffa, who ranked eighth in the European heavyweight surfboard championship won the Gold Medal for this competition.  Brazilian marksman Alehandro (Aryeh) Stessin won five Gold Medals in pistol shooting and Zvia Weissfield won the Gold Medal in the javelin throw. Table tennis Maccabiah champions were Israelis Dror Pollack, six time Israeli champion, and Iris Karni.

The Twelfth Maccabiah in 1985 was held against the backdrop of runaway inflation and a wave of labor strikes which threatened to paralyze the economy.   The total budget for the Maccabiah reached four million dollars, and after the close, the deficit was forty thousand dollars.

As at former Maccabiot, ׂTour V’Aleh׃ of the Jewish Agency endeavored to exploit the Maccabiah to further Aliyah, setting up information centers at the athletes’ quarters, organizing social occasions between the athletes and veteran immigrants and conducting tours throughout the country.  Representatives of industry scouted among the athletes, extending job offers to potential immigrants with essential skills. In the last analysis, the Maccabiah proved to be a disappointment in this respect. With few exceptions, there was no real aliya.  Once again, for the average participant, the Maccabiah was primarily a grand picnic, ten days of fun. Within the framework of accompanying events and in order to insure that there would be athletic reserves of youth for future Maccabiot, the organizers held a Junior Maccabiah, by all accounts a great success.  Simultaneously, within a separate framework, competitions for veterans were held in several sports.  For the first time, the Ministry of Education and Culture and the Maccabiah organizers declared this year Maccabiah Year; all athletic competitions and championships in Israeli educational institutions were held ׂmarking the Maccabiah.  

In addition a ceremony bestowing the title ׂYakir Maccabi׃ was held in the Jerusalem Theatre.  A world convocation of sports doctors from all over the world was held at the Wingate Institute.  In addition, a world convocation of sports writers, jointly sponsored by the Maccabiah organizers and the Journalists Union, wsa held at Beit Sokolov in Tel Aviv. This time, the exhibit of children's paintings from twenty different countries was displayed in Dizengoff Center in Tel Aviv.  The athletes planted three thousand saplings in Maccabi Forest in Modiin honor of the Maccabiah.  

Finally, the National Postal Service published a bloc of three colorful stamps depicting three branches of competitions -- tennis, surfing and basketball.  The stamps were valued between 400-600 shekels.

Following the grand Maccabiah tradition, the Closing Ceremony was held at the Sultan's Pool in Jerusalem.  Prime Minister Shimon Peres, Mayor of Jerusalem, 

Teddy Kollek, and Chairman of Maccabi World Union, Israel Peled, addressed thousands of athletes.  The Maccabi flag was lowered by a snapping expert who glided down to the stage. A helicopter flew low into the Pool, grabbing the Maccabiah mascot, the Guri doll, and bearing it upwards to the skies.  The main attraction was provided by members of the Amizur Kiryat Ono Athletic Association who climbed the walls of the Old City in view of the spectators at the Pool, creating a star of David with their bodies.  The ceremony concluded with a spectacular fireworks presentation to the full-voiced audience singing ׂHora Jerusalem.

Notable Athlethes

  • Champion sprinter (100 and 200 meter) Gary Wilson
  • British champion of the Eleventh Maccabiah, James Aspir, won the 1,500 and 5,000 meter races.
  • Winner of the 400 meter race, Australian Mark Rosenberg, set a Maccabiah record worthy of international recognition (46.54 seconds).
  • Two-time sprint winner, Lisa Grupp was outstanding among women athletes.
  • The American Jerry Wilko excelled in shot put and discus throw and Carrie Fabin of world renown participated in the golf competitions.
  • In swimming, a new champion, Seth Brown arose, replacing Mark Spitz, if not in virtuosity, then in the number of Gold Medals -- six.
  • Eyal Shtigman was the Israeli hit at the pool, setting a Maccabiah and Israeli record for the 100 meter breast stroke.
  • Eleven year old Stephanie Rosenthal, the promising swimmer on the United States all-star team, was the attraction, setting five international records in the under-twelve category.
  • Ofer Botzer of Zevulun Jaffa, who ranked eighth in the European heavyweight surfboard champtionship won the Gold Medal for this competition.
  • Brazilian marksman Alehandro (Aryeh) Stessin won five Gold Medals in pistol shooting
  • Zvia Weissfield won the Gold Medal in the javelin throw.
  • Table tennis Maccabiah champions were Israelis Dror Pollack, six time Israeli champion, and Iris Karni. 

Joining the Party: Countries who participated for the first time

  • Panama
  • Guam
  • Gibraltar
  • Yugoslavia (one athlete).
  • Colombia
  • Zaire

Say Hello: New Sports Competition

  • Rhythmic gymnastics 

Saying Goodbye: Categories From Previous Maccabiot That Were Left Out

  • Boxing