Maccabiah remembers 1997

July 16, 2013 by David Weiner-Maccabi NSW
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While members of Australia’s 19th Maccabiah contingent eagerly count down the seconds until this year’s Games Opening Ceremony, the entire Maccabi community continues to remember four members if the 1997 contingent who lost their lives when a bridge they were crossing to reach the Ramat Gan stadium collapsed.

The 2013 team pays respect

The 2013 team pays respect

The Australian delegation travelled to the siteon Monday afternoon to continue the tradition of paying respect to the memory of Yetty Bennett, Elizabeth Sawicki, Greg Small and Warren Zines, victims of the 1997 tragedy.

Greg’s son, Josh, is here again in 2013, attending his second Maccabiah Games.

“My life, that of my family and the lives of the Bennett, Sawicki and Zines families changed dramatically 16 years ago. I stand here representing all of us.

“Like my father, Maccabi has played an important part of my life. This is my second Maccabiah Games in ten pin bowling, just like my dad Greg.

“In fact, I’m wearing my dad’s bowling shirt.

“In this way, I’m continuing the tradition started through my parents.

“My sister is heavily involved in Maccabi Junior Carnival in Australia and would love nothing more than to attend a future Games.”

Australia’s ambassador to Israel, Mr Dave Sharma, paid tribute to Josh’s resilience and journey: “I am sure your father is immensely proud of you Joshua and I congratulate you on having the strength to come back here and to celebrate his memory by participating in the Games”.

The event, fittingly, was held on the eve of Tisha B’Av, a fast day in the Jewish religion that marks some of the darkest occasions in Jewish history.

Maccabi Australia president Lisa Borowick told the audience: “We are here today to pay respect to their memories and to acknowledge the loss felt by Australian Jewry and the loss experienced by all those involved in the 15th Maccabiah Games.”

Lisa spoke about how being involved in the 1997 Games spurred her on to make sure she continued to devote herself to the Maccabi movement.

“We have two choices to make (after tragedy): to dwell in the past with a shadow over your head … or you can continue to write the chapters of your life but never forget to honour and remember what happened.”

Harry Procel OAM, Head of Delegation for Australia in 2013, also reflected on his involvement in 1997 and the bond that inextricably links all those who were there.

He added: “While I am saddened by the event, I am comforted when I look out at this wonderful team and am even hopeful of what Maccabi can bring to our community.”

Many of our juniors weren’t even born during those fateful Games, and this event ensures that the legacy of Yetty, Elizabeth, Greg and Warren will never be forgotten.

Indeed, Lisa said “Maccabi Australia will always commemorate and honour the lives of those who tragically lost their lives with services like this with out entire delegation”.

Roy Salomon, Honorary President of the 19th Maccabiah Games echoed that sentiment and congratulated the Maccabi movement in Australia for the way the organisation has rebounded from the tragedy.

“We couldn’t be prouder of (Australia) and to see a wonderful team at the Games.

“We will never allow their (Yetty, Elizabeth, Greg and Warren)’s memory to fade

“Everyone of you competing today … their spirit will remain in this Games with this team.”


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