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Becca's Maccabiah Diary -- July 10, 2001

(This is today's installment in Rebecca Schwartz's diary chronicling her experiences as a member of the US swim team competing in the Maccabiah Games in Israel.)

JULY 9. HELLO from Israel! We have arrived safely in Tel Aviv and Kfar Maccabiah, the Maccabiah village. We were greeted by a band and several members of the press when we landed after our ten hour flight from New York.

The village is beautiful and they are feeding us very well. There are four pools on the grounds and we have
been practicing every morning.

Yesterday, after practice we went to Jerusalem. It wwas truly amazing. Some of the buildings and stories about landmarks dated back to the time of Abraham, over 4,000 years ago. We went to Yad Vashem, the
"Shoah," or Holocaust memorial. It was very sad to see and learn about what happened to the European jews just 50 years ago.

After that we went to the old city of Jerusalem, it was the site of two huge Temples long ago. The second Temple was destroyed by the Romans more than 1900 years ago and, currently, only a few walls remain. But it is still a very holy place for Jews all over the world. I got to fulfill a dream of mine and
actually place a piece of paper with a wish on it into the wall. It was very meaningful to me.

Jerusalem is a city that is very important to Islam and Christianity as well as Judaism, so it is also the flashpoint for much of the unrest that is going on
here. The entire time we were touring yesterday we were accompanied by security guards with guns. I haven't seen anything that would make me think that they would have to use the guns. They are just for percaution, but it is a reminder that we are in the Middle East, a very volatile part of the world.

Today we are going to the Dead Sea and Masada. It should be a great time to spend getting to know my teammates and having fun.

Until the next time,
Becca