July 19th – Opening Ceremony!!!!

I’ve realized that blogging everyday with everything else I’m doing just isn’t really manageable. So I’m skipping a few days. Nothing really happened besides the fact that we moved out of Kibbutz Shefayim and into the Jerusalem Ramada. We also watched Spring Breakers.
Oh and I went on an AMAZING run through Jerusalem. Our coach told us that we could train on our own or together. My teammates headed to the track, but I hate the track because I feel like a hamster running in circle so I decided to run through the city. First, I was the most scantily clad person on the street wearing shorts and a sleeveless shirt. Second, the most common group of people that I saw were young orthodox couples pushing a stroller. So cool. So cute. I felt like I was pure energy. I was running through the most beautiful streets in the world. I could feel the beating heart of Jerusalem and the spirit of God coursing through my veins. I don’t care how cheesy that sounds. I felt the endurance and strength within my fit body and knew that this run had brought me closer to god. Every step I took was in appreciation of what Adonai gave me.
There you go. Now you’re caught up.
Now to the 19th.
The entire day was dwarfed by the opening ceremony. 10,000 athletes. 30,000+ spectators and televised throughout Israel.
Where to even start? It was incredibly overwhelming.
We wore our very cool warmup clothes that screamed America and got into the  buses that took us to Teddy stadium. There we met 10,000 other Jewish athletes in full patriotic uniform. My friend Norm and I just walked throughout the whole area talking to people, trading pins and checking out cute girls. Very important stuff.
Oh an Amare Stoudemire was there (NBA New York Knicks star)…to coach the Canadian basketball team. WTF? Traitor lol.
Finally, all the Jews gathered around their respective country’s flag. We had some fun chanting “USA! USA! USA!” while the people from Uruguay, South Africa, Mexico etc had much more elaborate/interesting chants. We started moving towards the entrance to the stadium and as we ran to the entrance we high dozens of Israeli soldiers holding out their hands to us.
We entered Teddy Stadium and the first words I said (which you can hear on the video below) were “Holy Shit.” Can’t really phrase it better than that.
Watch it here
Then we got to see some awe-inspiring performances. First, we saw Israeli hip-hop violinist legend Miri Ben-Ari (American are likely to know from her work with Kanye West on co-writing “Jesus Walks” and “Through the Wire” or from this Pepsi Commercial). Next, we heard Carly Rose Sonenclar sing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”…she sang it beautifully and with soul. You may recognize her as the viral video sensation from X-Factor where she sang Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good”.
It was an amazing night with fireworks, fire and lots of large organized dancing. (like this)
There were also speeches by Benjamin Netanyahu, Shimon Peres and Obama. I could understand 80% of what Bibi said and 20% of what Shimon said. Mainly because Bibi, the man who oozes badass, is an awesome orator. Everyone noticed however that Obama slighted Netanyahu by wishing Shimon Peres a happy birthday but not mentioning Netanayahu. See his speech here.
An incredible night.
Here are some more pictures of the night.