Named after the Maccabee family, who vanquished the Greeks despite 6-1 odds and stingy handicapping; the Maccabiah Games bring together 7,000 of the world's best Jewish athletes to satisfy their insatiable lust for gold. Whoa. That came out wrong.

I once saw the Maccabbiah games, years ago, and it's actually pretty nice. The athletes aren't jaded, the crowds get pretty into it, and victors are showered with lean pastrami.

The games start July 13th. Here's a brief guide to some of this year's more distinguished participants:

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Jason Lezak – USA – Swimming

It might seem silly for a top notch athlete to forgo the World Championships for an intramural jaunt, but this guy is going to be a freaking god for two weeks. (After that it's back to shitty old monotheism.) Why languish under the shadow of Michael Phelps when you can be the Jewish Mark Spitz. (Other than the real Mark Spitz.)

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Yevgeny Lukyanenko – Russia – Pole Vault

You remember Yevgeny Lukyanenko, right? Lukyanenko? Silver medal, Beijing? Come on…Lukyanenko! Rhymes with, uh…Lukyanenko...

Adam Kovacs – Hungary – Karate

Apparently, this is the #2 Karate guy in the world. Perhaps he will parlay his success into Hungarian action movie stardom. Or, even better, perhaps he will parlay his success into getting the fuck out of Hungary.


Boris Gelfand – Israel – Chess

The pride of Rishon Lezion, Boris Gelfand exploded through the ranks of—wait—chess?? Chess is a sport? What about Mah Jong? What about gin rummy? I could make some noise in gin rummy.

Bruce Pearl – USA – Basketball

Holy shit—Bruce Pearl is bringing his florescent man-boobs to the Promised Land! Meet the new face and chest and midriff of American Jewry. It isn't Coach K, but still pretty impressive. Seriously, do you have any idea how difficult it is to body-paint a tallis? I'll tell you: very difficult.

Yeah, I think that's enough.

U.S.A.! U.S.A.!