In 1993, Daniel Greyber was embarking on adulthood and took his first trip to Israel to compete in the World Maccabiah Games. The USA swim team captain won gold and bronze medals in the 100m and 200m backstroke. Now rabbi of Beth El Synagogue in Durham, Greyber credits that first trip to Israel as a big reason he is a rabbi today. Now he will return to the games in a different role, with another group of young Jewish athletes competing in Israel for the first time.
Greyber has just been named USA team rabbi for the 2013 World Maccabiah Games in Israel.
“I really understand the dedication it takes to achieve at a high level,” he said. “I can relate to the experience of going to Israel for the first time.”
When Greyber went as an athlete nearly 20 years ago, he was finishing college and thinking about the meaning for his life and what was to come after his swimming career. “I felt a connection to the land of Israel,” he said.
Greyber was ordained in 2002 at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies of American Jewish University, and served as a Jerusalem Fellow at the Mandel Leadership Institute in Israel. Before coming to Beth El this past year, Greyber served as executive director of Camp Ramah in California.
As USA team rabbi, Greyber will lead a few ceremonial moments, like adult bar and bat mitzvahs ceremonies for those who didn’t have one growing up, as well as a Shabbat. His task is also to form relationships with the athletes and be there for their first experiences in Israel and how that relates to the way they live their lives as Jews and human beings, Greyber said.
“In training for competition, athletes confront adversity and find resources within and without – there are parallels between the world of faith and world of sports,” he said.
The 19th World Maccabiah Games will be held July 17-31, 2013, with Maccabi USA bringing a delegation of more than 1,000 people to Israel.
Greyber said he’s really looking forward to the experience as team rabbi. “The Maccabiah Games experience taught me, and I’m sure will remind me again, how sports and competition can tear down boundaries and build bridges,” he said. “To return is really a dream for me.”
For more information, visit www.maccabiusa.com.
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BY DAWN BAUMGARTNER VAUGHAN