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" 'Lion King' star Jason Raize will perform and former New York Knicks guard Walt Frazier will carry the lead the parade of athletes."
--Staten Island Advance


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<< Staten Island Advance recap of the Maccabi Games 2000 opening ceremonies

Staten Island Advance (Staten Island, NY)
Let the Games Begin!
by Leslie Palma Simoncek, Religion Editor
August 18, 2000

Staten Island Advance story on the opening of the National Soccer Hall of Fame

First of the Maccabi 2000 athletes expected on Island today; opening ceremonies are set for Sunday

After two years of planning, New York City's first-ever Maccabi Games will open with an extravaganza in the Theater at Madison Square Garden Sunday night.

The Jewish Community Center of Staten Island is the host of this year's event, which will bring 1,000 teenagers and 200 coaches from the United States and six countries to the borough for four days of sports competitions. About 200 Island athletes, ages 13 through 16, also will compete.

CBS sportscaster Warner Wolf will be the master of ceremonies for the kick-off, which will begin at 7:30 p.m. Mayor Rudolph Giuliani is expected to extend greetings to the visiting athletes. "Lion King" star Jason Raize will perform and former New York Knicks guard Walt Frazier will carry the lead the parade of athletes.

The rest of the ceremony will have a decidedly Staten Island profile.

Annadale resident Phyllis Martin of Starfire Music will sing the "Star-Spangled Banner," and the Canadian national anthem, and Cantor Mordechai Edry of Congregation B'nai Jeshurun will sing "Hatikvah," the Israeli national anthem, and the "Shehikhiyanu," a prayer sung before joyous occasions.

Members of two Island dance troupes, the JCC's own L.A. Dance and the Prince's Bay based Star Struck will perform.

"We knew we wanted some entertainment and we thought, what better than to showcase our home-grown talent," said Sylvia Cohen, head of the committee that organized the opening ceremonies.

Borough President Guy V. Molinari will lead the athletes in the recitation of the "Athlete's Oath," and JCC President Jon Salmon will lead the "Coach's Oath." Dr. Mark Sherman, chairman of Maccabi Games 2000, will give welcoming remarks.

The ceremony also will include a memorial tribute to the 11 Israeli athletes, coaches and judges slain by Palestinian terrorists at the Munich Olympics in 1972, and to the four people killed in the collapse of a pedestrian bridge during Maccabi Games in 1997 in Ramat Gan, Israel.

Athletes from Israel, Canada, Australia, Mexico and Venezuela began arriving today. The rest of the delegation from the U.S. and abroad will come to the Island on Sunday. Five hundred Island families, representing every segment of the Jewish community, have opened their homes to host two or more visiting athletes. More than 400 volunteers will help the games run smoothly.

Competition begins tomorrow and concludes Thursday. Events will include basketball, tennis, swimming, soccer, volleyball, racquetball, track and field, table tennis, bowling, golf and karate.

Organizers have worked hard to make the games more than just sports. A strong religious component is integral to the structure of the four-day event, and the visit to New York will afford the teens a taste of life in and around the Big Apple. All the athletes will see "The Lion King" on Broadway and visit Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, N.J.

More than 150 of the athletes are Orthodox Jews so to accommodate their dietary needs without singling them out, Maccabi organizers decided to serve Glatt kosher meals to all the athletes.

Young Israel of Staten Island in Willowbrook has opened its morning minyan to young men who would like to say morning prayers, with the JCC providing transportation from the synagogue to the College of Staten Island, the main venue for the games.

Rabbi Moshe Katzman of Chabad Lubavitch of Staten Island will lead workshops at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. daily in Building 1R at CSI to show athletes in their off-hours how to make or decorate mezzuzah cases, kippot, shofars and Shabbat candlesticks.

On Thursday, Frazier, now an announcer for the Knicks, will come to the Island as the keynote speaker for "A Day of Caring and Sharing," which will pair Maccabi teens with developmentally delayed young people in a variety of sports clinics at CSI.

Throughout the week, a Holocaust exhibit and a photographic display of noted Jewish athletes will be on view at CSI.

Monday night is Host Family Night, the only evening the JCC has not planned activities for the athletes. The JCC Family Camp in Sea View and its facilities in Tompkinsville and Greenridge will be open. The owner of The Atrium theater has offered free admission to athletes and their host families for a special screening of "The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg." The Staten Island Yankees have designated the evening "Jewish Heritage Night."

Tickets to the opening ceremonies are no longer available but all sports competitions and exhibits are free and open to the public. 

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