The Maccabiah is the world’s largest Jewish athletic competition in the tradition and values of Maccabi, emphasizing the centrality of the State of Israel in the life of the Jewish people. The Maccabiah takes place every four (4) years in Israel - "the Jewish Olympics" as they are often called, are Maccabi World Union's largest and most famous enterprise.
Within the Maccabiah there are four separate competitions that take place; Open, Junior, Masters, and Paralympics. Junior games are open to any qualifying athlete aged 15-18. Masters are divided into a number of different age categories mostly to accommodate older competitors and the Open division is generally unlimited in age, subject to the governing international rules in each sport, and is intended for the best athletes from each delegation. In order to participate in the Maccabiah, athletes must represent a delegation. Delegations are formed by each of the Territorial Organizations that participate, i.e. France, Brazil, Germany, United States, Canada, Hungary, Australia, etc.
There are many Olympic gold medalists, world champions, and world record holders who have competed in the Maccabiah. They include, Mark Spitz, Lenny Krayzelburg, Jason Lezak, and Marilyn Ramenofsky (swimming); Mitch Gaylord, Abie Grossfeld, Ágnes Keleti, Valery Belenky and Kerri Strug (gymnastics); Ernie Grunfeld, Danny Schayes, (coaches); Larry Brown, Jordan Freed, Nat Holman and Dolph Schayes (basketball); Carina Benninga (field hockey); Lillian Copeland, Gerry Ashworth, and Gary Gubner (track and field); Angela Buxton, Brad Gilbert, Julie Heldman, Allen Fox, Nicolás Massú, and Dick Savitt (tennis); Dave Blackburn (softball); Angelica Rozeanu (table tennis); Sergei Charikov, Vadim Gutzeit and Mariya Mazina (fencing); Isaac Berger and Frank Spellman (weightlifting); and Fred Oberlander and Henry Wittenberg (wrestling); Madison Gordon-Lavaee (volleyball); Bruce Fleisher (golf); and Adam Bacher (cricket); Boris Gelfand and Judith Polgar (chess); Elizabeth Foody (Soccer); Aaron R. Schwid (bowling); Irwin Cotler (table tennis); Jonathan Bornstein (football), and Steve March Tormé (fast-pitch softball). Shawn Lipman who played in 1991 Rugby World Cup also competed several times in the Maccabiah.