Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) Around 9,000 Jewish athletes from 79 countries
will take part in the 19th quadrennial Maccabiah Games that will get underway
later this week. Most of the athletes will be visiting Israel for the first
time, and Israel's Immigrant Absorption Ministry will grant a unique benefits package
to Maccabiah participants who immigrate to the Jewish state by December 31, 2014.
The package will include expanded financial grants, professional Hebrew courses and special assistance from the Immigrant Student Authority. The Immigrant Absorption Ministry will also encourage employers to hire immigrants and give preferential aid to immigrants who choose to live in national priority areas.
"The Maccabiah is an important impetus for aliyah [immigration to Israel]," Immigrant Absorption Minister Sofa Landver said. "We must not miss this opportunity to encourage young athletes and their families to move to Israel and settle down here."
Additionally, around 300 Israeli high school students will meet with Maccabiah athletes while they are in Israel. "We'll thus strengthen the connection between Israeli youth and Diaspora Jews and use the popularity of sport as part of the Education Ministry's goal of promoting a healthy lifestyle,” Israeli Education Ministry Director-General Dalit Stauber said.