Holidaymakers to Israel can this week enjoy what is one of the world's most important Jewish and Zionist festivals and events.
The Maccabiah is the "Jewish Olympics", a quadrennial athletics event held in Israel which attracts competitors and fans from more than 70 countries.
Tourists visiting Tel Aviv or the holy metropolis of Jerusalem on city breaks cannot fail to have noticed advertisements for this year's event, in which Olympic medallists and world champions share centre stage with amateur athletes.
London 2012 Olympic stars expected at the Maccabiah include USA gymnast Aly Raisman, USA swimmers Garrett Webber-Gale and Jason Lezak, Australian sprinter Steven Solomon and Israeli gymnast Alex Shatilov.
Previous participants say the competitive tension is replaced by a sense of family away from the track.
Maccabiah chairman Amir Peled told the Times of Israel recently: "The Maccabiah is the most important Jewish and Zionist event in the world."
Events will be staged throughout Israel, with ice hockey taking place in Metula, and weightlifting staged by Beersheba.
The Maccabiah gives "an opportunity to tour the country" away from the sports stadiums, said Peled.
Tourists can enjoy spare days visiting such sights as the (Holocaust Memorial) and the Dead Sea.
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