Serving solo for Belgium
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Maccabiah 2013

Serving solo for Belgium

Carole Dwek is her country’s only female Maccabiah athlete. She plans to change that by 2017, though she’s also now calling Israel her home

Carole Dwek, second from right, with countrymates (photo courtesy Carole Dwek)
Carole Dwek, second from right, with countrymates (photo courtesy Carole Dwek)

Even though she’s representing Belgium this year at the Maccabiah games, competing in the female tennis open, Carole Dwek — a 23-year-old government student from Brussels — has been living and studying in Israel for the past three years.

As a Jew with Syrian, Greek, and Polish roots, Dwek had early run-ins with the anti-Israel crowd at her international high school. But when she interned for European Parliament Member Marek Siwiec after high school ended, and noticed that the attacks didn’t stop, she decided that she had to come to Israel to discover her heritage and find out the “truth.”

“It just seemed natural for me to want to reconnect with my roots, and to understand better the history of my family and my ancestors by exploring the Jewish state of Israel.” Dwek recalled in a recent interview.

A few months ago, she started speaking with Michel Grun, the head of Belgium’s delegation to the Maccabiah. Dwek asked if she could be on the team even though she was living in Israel. The team was happy to take her on as an athlete.

“I was thrilled, because it was something I had always planned on doing in my life.” Dwek says.

Dwek is the only woman representing Belgium in this year’s “Jewish Olympics” even though the country has a Jewish population of over 30,000 and a very active community,

Four years from now, there’ll be more, she promises. She’s decided to take it upon herself to start recruiting athletes for the European Maccabiah games and for the next Maccabiah here in 2017.

“In order to have a strong and united community, there is no better way than to build up the Belgian Maccabiah delegation.”

Carole Dwek claps with the Maccabiah crowd as she marches with Belgium delegation at the opening ceremony (photo courtesy Carole Dwek)
Carole Dwek claps with the Maccabiah crowd as she marches with Belgium delegation at the opening ceremony (photo courtesy Carole Dwek)

In this year’s games there are only four athletes representing Belgium. Dwek hopes to triple that number for the Maccabiah European games in 2015, and wants to lead a delegation of 30 Belgian athletes in the 2017 games.

For Dwek, “The Maccabiah is much more than a global sporting event; it is an event when your mental attitude is tested and you have to stay focused, positive, and a hundred percent dedicated.”

Dwek is planning to continue to study here, and is hoping to become an Israeli diplomat.

“I have a few good options and projects for next year. I am definitely planning to continue learning, take on more responsibilities, and contribute to professional associations.”

Dwek’s favorite experience in the Maccabiah so far was a dinner reception hosted by the Maccabi World Union. All heads of delegations were invited to meet and greet. Dwek was invited as the Belgian head of delegation’s special guest. “I felt very proud and honored to be there,” she said.

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