The Maccabis aren't just part of Chanukah

If you live in Israel, the Maccabis quickly become more than just characters who lit a lamp in the Temple way back when. Instead, the name "Maccabi" shows up everywhere in the names of organizations, streets, towns, and even beer brands. In celebration of Chanukah, here are a few of the places that the nes gadol of the Maccabis is still happening here.

1. Cheer on Maccabi Haifa! (And Maccabi Netanya, and Maccabi Tel Aviv, and...)

Most of the Israeli sports teams grew out of the original labor unions in Israel, which is why most Israeli sports teams are named either Maccabi-Something or HaPoal-Something, with a few "Beitar-Somethings" thrown in for good measure. Really, the only soccer team worth caring about is Maccabi Haifa, the Israeli champions and hands down the best "football club" in Israel. Oh, yes... I went there, rabid Beitar Yerushalayim fans. You're no match for Yaniv Katan.

2. Go to a doctor's appointment at your local Maccabi clinic.

Israel has an effective form of socialized health care-- it involves the right balance of free-market competition and government funding. We choose between a handful of providers for our health care, and whichever provider we sign up with gives us basic, free service (with additional coverage you can pay for). We're members of Maccabi health care, and I'm guessing by the logo that this is another instance of the same labor union still influencing modern Israeli organizations.

3. Compete in the Macabiah games.

Ok, you know how the Olympics were originally Greek? And you know how the Maccabis fought against the Greeks? So you know what Israel calls its Jewish version of the Olympic games? Welcome to the Maccabiah, which proves that Jews actually are athletic after all.

4. Drive down Rechov Yehuda HaMaccabi 

(source: http://www.mynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-3639464,00.html)

Here's a good one from the comments-- many cities in Israel have a street named after Yehuda HaMaccabi, leader of the Maccabis. Above, Rechov Yehuda HaMaccabi in Kfar Saba. (You can ALMOST read the street sign.) There are also numerous Maccabi museums, clubs, and even Maccabi towns.

5. Drink Maccabi beer!

(Source: http://www.winet.co.il/he-IL/185/1797/)

NB reminded me of this one in the comments, and it was too good to leave out. Yes, we have a popular beer brand named after the Maccabis. Don't you love this country?

Let me know if you think of any more!


  1. A lot of cities have streets named after Maccabees, like Yehuda HaMakkabi in Tel Aviv.

  2. Great post! I don't have any memories of Maccabi in Israel, but it does remind us how things that are often dead or stagnated in Jewish culture b'hul are well and alive in Israel.

    When I went with my husband this summer (his first time) he was amazed at the fact that there were streets like Ben Gurion Blvd and Moshe Dayan as well as RAMBAM, etc.

  3. There is also Kfar Maccabim (Maccabi Village), Maccbi-hatzir youth movement, the Maccabi Museum (in Ramat Gan, the Maccabim foundation (for students of Iranian origin), dozens of "maccabim" schools around the country, and of course, the town of Maccabim-Reut (not far from Modi'in.) And that's a sampling... I'm probably missing a few.

  4. Oh my gosh, I can't believe I forgot Maccabi beer! Good ones, everyone.

  5. There, I actually added some of your suggestions into the list. Much better!

  6. ALMOST. There's a tiny but huge difference between the Maccabis and the modern stuff: the emphasis on the word. :) THE Maccabis are 'MaccaBI', and everything else is 'MaCCAbi'. That's why it doesn't quite register to anybody else that it's the same word. :)


  7. Despite the cool name, Maccabi Beer is really undrinkable. I much prefer Dancing Camel.

  8. Naatz, good point... and my husband has to remind me of that pronunciation difference regularly. (The street names, etc, are pronounced MaccaBI, right?) Anyone know why there is this pronunciation difference?

  9. Just some Ashkenazi stuff. It's like a lot of names are pronounced with mel'il: SArah, YUda, BinYAmin, but when you read the Bible you read them in the Sepharadi way.

    The difference between these {BOker and boKER, Ochel and oCHEL, NA'atz and na'ATZ} are the same difference as desert and dessert. This way of differentiating words is common in Hebrew, but less so in English.


  10. Ah, thanks for the explanation! That makes sense. How do Israelis pronounce the Maccabi streets? I got confused the other morning when one of my friends (who is converting to Judaism through a conservative Israeli synagogue) talked about the haftarAH and havdalAH, rather than the Ashkenazi pronunciations I'm used to... I almost didn't know what she was talking about. Oy, Ashkenazim.

  11. Do Ashkenazim really say hafTARah and havDALah? Wacky.

    Trying to teach myself Hebrew has resulted in my having the weirdest Hebrew pronunciation around: I tend to use Ashkenazi syllable stress because I'm taking Yiddish classes, but I use Sephardi vowels. (E.g. I say "MAGen DAVid" instead of either Ashkenazi "MOGen DOVid" or Sephardi "maGEN DaVID.") Oy. Hopefully my Israeli professor will help sort me out.


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