Israel's bowlers are on a high, looking forward to welcoming 54 overseas visitors who will be competing with the selected men's and women's squads in the 17th Maccabiah.
With each country allowed two five-up sides, Israel's two men's squads will be joined by 10 players each from Great Britain, South Africa and Australia, with five men each from Canada and the U.S., in its first appearance since the 13th Maccabiah in 1989, plus a somewhat irregular one-man Granada side represented by Ra'anana's local club member Kenneth Fox.
Israel's two women's squads will be joined by five players each from South Africa, Great Britain and Australia.
In a concentrated program, players will be involved in nine round-robin games in the four disciplines of singles, pairs, triples and fours.
In the men's section, Jeff Rabkin (A team), who won the singles title in 1993 and 1997, will be the man to beat, and he could well expect serious competition from his co-international George Kaminsky (B team), who will be playing in his fourth successive tournament. Rabkin skips for Boaz Marcus in the pairs, their counterparts in the B team being Colin Silberstein and Ari Ben-Dor, who were a successful combination in Israel's side in last year's World Bowls Championships.
For the women, Irit Grenchel (A team) and Chaya Prager (B team) will be Israel's singles players, with the hope of bringing Israel the singles crown last won in 1989 by Maureen Hirschowitz.
Among the overseas contingents, there are many repeat visitors to the Maccabiah, none more so than England's Benny Weinstein in his fifth successive tournament, together with his wife Marienne, who was the singles winner in the previous tournament.
Here for a fourth time are Australia's Gary Benveniste and England's Bernard Davidson. South Africa's Mike Brown and Merle Frank are third-time participants, the latter having won the singles title in 1997.
For Australia, it is a welcome third return for Denise Brick and Jill Diamond, who won Australia's first ever gold in the triples with an outstanding performance in the 1997 series, and this in the immediate shadow of the horrific bridge disaster.
Notably absent from the Australian side is stalwart Rodney Davies, who misses out his fifth successive tournament for health reasons, but who will be here to support his team, urging them to repeat their 1997 win of the men's overall trophy.
The tournament starts with preliminary rounds on Monday at Netanya, followed on Tuesday with the official opening at Ramat Gan at 11 A.M. Triples and pairs competition carries through until July 15, after which the singles and fours will be played off at the Ra'anana club.
The Max Spitz trophies for the overall winners will be earned by the side with the highest combined points of the four disciplines.
Israel will be specially honored by the presence of Betty Collins, the president of the World Bowling Board, to which the World's 48 bowling nations are affiliated. The visit was coordinated with Ivan Kantor, a member of Collins' world executive board, and the head of the organizing committee of the Games.
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