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The Maccabiah exhibition at Ben Gurion Airport

Israel Celebrates Sport

Then & Now

exhibition logo

Ninety years ago, before the establishment of the State of Israel, the first Maccabiah was held. Since then, and to the present day, tens of thousands of athletes have participated in the Maccabiah Games. The second largest sports event in the world, it has also been called “The Jewish Olympics.” Historical moments in sport that took place during the Maccabiah Games are interwoven with stories of the Zionist enterprise. The Maccabiah strengthens the relationships between its participants and the State of Israel in all its diversity and complexity. As then also today, the Maccabiah is a celebration of international sport.

The exhibition, “Israel Celebrates Sport – Then and Now” presents pairs of photographs depicting inspiring moments of sport. Each pair, comprised of a historical image alongside a contemporary photo, emphasizes the continuity of the sporting tradition, the growing strength of the place of sports in Israeli culture, and the values underlying the Maccabiah – fairness, mutual respect, the victory of body and spirit, and the pursuit of excellence.

In anticipation of the 21st Maccabiah that will be held in July 2022, I am excited to invite you to look back in time and remember significant Maccabiah moments and the remarkable stories of her participants, and from there to take a huge leap and join us at the Maccabiah Games this summer.

Arik Ze'evi
Chair, Maccabiah

arik zeevi moshe shai 24 arik ze evi by kfir ziv 60
אריק זאבי, יושב ראש המכביה, 2021, מדליסט אולימפי בג'ודו לשנת 2004
צילומים: כפיר זיו, ראובן שוורץ

The historic photographs of the Maccabiah athletes perpetuate peak moments that tell the story of the Zionist sporting enterprise. Older photographs tend to fade and suffer degradation, and when viewing a black-and-white image it is sometimes difficult to notice the details that comprise an important element in the story. Imagine that you had a time machine by means of which it was possible to go back to the moments that were immortalized by the camera lens and to see them against in colour, faithful to the original as much as possible. This journey in time is now possible thanks to smart technology breathing new life into old photos with colour, focus and damage repair in deteriorated photographs. Suddenly, we can see the details and can relate in a more personal way to the people in the images, to feel as if we were there at the same instant when the camera clicked.

All historic photographs displayed in the exhibition were colourated using innovative technological applications based on deep learning technology developed by the Israeli hi-tech company, MyHeritage, that specializes in research on family history and in building family trees. In addition to the advanced colouration, the photographs were edited in a process that included sharpening, damage repair and restoration of the original colours of colour images that faded over the years.

The exhibition team made the utmost effort to locate the copyright owners of the images shown here. We apologize for any error or misattribution, and we will make every effort to correct any error in that regard.

Curator: Ya’ara Raz Haklai, PHOTO IS:RAEL
Management and Production: 21st Maccabiah
Executive Producer: Ortal Yahav
Historical Consultation: Dr. Amichai Alperovich
Design: Danielle Weinberg and Itay Blaish
Photo Processing and colouration: MyHeritage
Print Production: Eliran Okashi, Sogrim Pina
Translation: Sheri Oz and Yasmin Danial


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