By: Zach Blank
People often ask, what is the true purpose of the Maccabiah? Is it as simple as bringing the gold home or is there a deeper goal? Can the Maccabiah be used to unite a nation spread across the globe or is there an even greater intent? Some, including a group of men from Los Angeles, may ask; can the Maccabiah save lives?
This summer, in the 2013 Maccabiah games, there is one team that shines before the rest. While failing to win a single game throughout their time here, the Guinea-Bissau Men’s Basketball Team has truly left its mark in Maccabiah history.
The Guinea-Bissau Men’s Basketball Team is formed of a group of men from Los Angeles, California in an attempt to save children’s lives in this African country. The team members became temporary citizens of the country in order to represent them in the games and raise money and awareness for children dying of malaria. For every $10 the team raises, another net can be bought to protect a child from mosquitos and lower the risk of malaria. With the knowledge that fifty-percent of children in the country die of malaria each year, team member Yosef Gorowitz stated, “Our goal is to save lives.”
The team’s cause and story have been talked about throughout the games with more excitement than the actual victors of the games. With his team up 66:21 at halftime of his game against the Guinea-Bissau team, Brad Greenberg, head coach of the USA Men’s Basketball Team said in an interview, “They came here for a real purpose, more so than just competing and trying to win a medal. It’s a good lesson for a lot of people.” Furthermore, despite his team being the favorite to bring home the gold, Greenberg added when asked if their purpose was bigger than winning, “Yes, much bigger! Its saving lives.”
Honorable. Respectable. Inspiring. These are mere examples of the ways people across the games are describing the cause and story of this team. The Guinea-Bissau Men’s Basketball Team has brought a true purpose to an otherwise simplistic event.