RA’ANANA -- Brazilian table tennis players Lydia Levy, 15, and Denise Suarer, 16, would make most recreational players jealous with their quick reflexes and precision smashes. But they both claim they came to the Maccabiah, sponsored by The Jewish Agency for Israel, primarily for fun and to connect with other Jewish teens from around the world.
“I came to Maccabiah because I can get better at my sport, but also meet many new people and make Jewish friends,” Levy said.
Both young women have been to Israel before, but they both noted that, each time they come, the differences between Israel and Sao Paulo become even clearer.
“In Brazil you have to go to places where the Jewish community is more concentrated,” Levy said. “It is different in Israel.”
Added Suarer: “It means a lot to me to be [In Israel]. I identify with the people here because all of them are Jews. In Sao Paulo I feel kind of lost, because I know I’m not like most others in my country. It’s difficult..”
For both Suarer and Levy, the Maccabiah experience has been different than their other visits to the Jewish homeland.
“It has been meaningful to meet so many other Jews,” Suarer said. “We know that we have connections with them and that we all share something in common.”
Nowhere in Israel can one’s connection to the Jewish past, present and future be more profound that at the Western Wall. Levy agrees: “The most meaningful experience I’ve had in Israel was going to the Kotel.
At the Kotel (Western Wall) I really feel God’s presence, like I can talk to him.”