Get ready for a Fantastic Voyage at the 17th World Maccabiah Games. Follow all the action through the eyes of an athlete (that would be me) and learn more than you ever wanted to know about bowling (please, control your enthusiasm, you're embarrassing yourself). Fasten that seatbelt and make sure your tray table and seatback are in the locked and upright position -- this is going to be one crazy time!

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Closing Time ...

I just arrived back at the hotel with the rest of the delegation, the "Maccabiah" theme song ringing in my ears. The Closing Ceremonies were quite an extravaganza -- singers, dancers, speakers, more speakers, fireworks, and even more speakers. In contrast to the wild crowd at the Opening Ceremonies, this was a more intimate affair at Sultan's Pool in Jerusalem, primarily reserved for the visiting athletes. I'm not even sure if the Israelis were invited to join.

There was a big push to make aliyah -- to move to Israel and go through the process of becoming an Israeli citizen. Now, I love Israel as much as the next person, if not more, but part of the honor of the games was being able to represent my home in my homeland -- it's a unique feeling that very few of us had the chance to share and experience. I know there are others that feel the same way I do, and if anyone with any pull for the 2009 Games is reading this, just ease up on the aliyah talk a little bit. I'll get off my soapbox now.

Getting to the Closing Ceremonies was an adventure itself. We were originally scheduled to leave Ramat Gan at 9 a.m., which (thankfully) was delayed to 11:30 a.m. After a quick stop at Kfar Maccabiah to pick up Lou Moyerman, our USA Team Manager, we set off for Jerusalem, where all the athletes were gathering for the Closing Ceremonies. We were also staying in a hotel in Jerusalem, rather than return to our team accommodations. Why it made sense for us to leave Ramat Gan, 15 minutes from the airport, and stay over in Jerusalem, 45 minutes from the airport, well that's a mystery still left unsolved.

Enough of the digression. On the way down Highway 1, our bus began overheating (well, at least that's what we think the dinging sound was). Fortunately, we planned to stop at McDonald's and as luck would have it, that's where the bus stopped to rest. After our quick detour, we were back on the road. We went up the hills and down the hills, then up the hills and down the hills, finally making out way into Jerusalem proper.

The schedule had us going to the Kotel in the afternoon, followed by a mass walk toward Sultan's Pool. But there was time to check-in at the hotel, so we thought. Our bus driver, on the other hand, had instructions to go to the Western Wall. That didn't sit too well with Lou, who in the end got the bus back to the Jerusalem Gate Hotel.

Luxury accommodations these were not, but they would have to do and it was only for a few hours. The bowlers elected to skip the Kotel portion and just go right to the holding area next to Sultan's Pool. It was there that we met up with other bowlers and enjoyed a yummy box dinner and went en masse to the Closing Ceremonies. I was very excited that we could all sit together and close this experience as a large group. These were the people we had shared the past two weeks with -- competiting, dining, partying, living together -- and to sit side-by-side as our Games came to a close was a fitting touch.

The water works have already started and tomorrow will probably be no better. Laila tov.


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