Written by Elana Mutnick
Every four years, Maccabi World Union, one of the largest Jewish organizations in the world, awards volunteers from the Maccabiah for their exceptional service. The Yakir Maccabi award is an incredible honor presented every four years at the ceremony, and only 12 recipients can receive the honor. A total of 146 volunteers have accepted awards and received the recognition they deserved since the first ceremony in 1984. The Yakir Maccabi Committee considers nominations for this award over three years between each Maccabiah.
This award bestowed by Maccabi ensures these volunteers’ dedication and lifetime efforts to the Maccabi Movement do not go unnoticed. Before the 2022 Yakir Award Ceremony began, volunteers and participants of the Maccabiah took photos and talked among their peers over cold beverages and countless appetizers at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. It indeed was a beautiful celebration of leadership.
The ceremony opened with a breathtaking performance from dancers, and each Yakir Award presented was followed by a personal story on each incredible recipient. This year, 11 volunteers received this exclusive honor of the Maccabiah.
Maccabi USA’s very own, Jeff Bukantz, was one of the 11 presented with this prestigious award. Bukantz made his first Maccabiah fencing team in 1981 and later became the Chair of fencing in 1989 for the 13th Games. He has been on the executive committee since the 1990s and has taken up countless leadership roles in Maccabi USA, currently serving as the organization’s president.
Other recipients of this award include Tommy Bacher of Canada; Daniel Belinky of Argentina; Leo Dan Bensky of Finland; Stuart Greenberg of Great Britain; Dagmar Gavornikova of Slovakia; Yaacov Gitlin of Israel; Yair Hamburger of Israel; Ittamar Herman of Israel; Michael Mirilashvili of Israel; and Oudi Recanati of Israel. These eleven recipients of the Yakir award have exerted exemplary efforts to the Maccabiah and its ideals.
Yakir Maccabi continues to acknowledge the tireless efforts of its veteran members in the Maccabi Movement. These individuals have enriched the lives of so many. They have served the Jewish community with such excellence that there is no one more deserving of Maccabi’s highest accolade, the Yakir Maccabi Award.
Elana Mutnick is a New Jersey native and a rising sophomore at the University of Maryland. Follow her on twitter (@ElanaMutnick_) and check out her website (https://elanamutnick.com/)