Archive for the ‘Maccabi Games’ Category


Maccabiah Update

Posted on: November 27th, 2018 by Ron Kaplan

It’s been a while since I posted any news about the Maccabi sports movement, including the Maccabiah Games. Here’s an attempt to remedy.

You can see that the Maccabi movement in Great Britain is very active. One of my regrets during my recent trip to England was not being able to visit them, as well as missing out on the British Baseball Federation. Oh, well, maybe next time.

Finally, On December 9…


You can’t click on the image to access the page, so just drop them an email or call ’em up.

Here’s a piece from the NJ Jewish News I wrote about Jeff Bukantz and other locals who participated in the 2013 Games. I know there are other stories about JB, including a discussion of his book about his dad, Daniel, himself a fencing legend, but unfortunately they don’t appear to be on the NJJN website.

And finally, finally, some shameless self-promotion: if you are interested in having me speak to your synagogue or group about my book, The Jewish Olympics: The History of the Maccabiah Games (or any of my other books for that matter), drop me a line and let’s chat.

Image result for kaplan, jewish olympics


The joys of hosting

Posted on: June 23rd, 2011 by Ron Kaplan

The Philadelphia Jewish Exponent ran this commentary piece by Marji Goldman on the joys of hosting visiting athletes for the Maccabi Games. Philadelphia will host a set of games from Aug. 14 to 19.

If you live in the area and are interested in volunteering, visit www.phillymaccabi.com.


Attention Jewish female hoopsters: Maccabi USA wants YOU!

Posted on: June 2nd, 2011 by Ron Kaplan

Sherry Levin, head coach of the USA Women’s Basketball team that will participate in the 2011 Pan American Maccabi Games in Sao Paolo, Brazil, is “looking for talented Jewish female basketball players interested in not only representing their their country but in sharing their heritage with Jews from the Pan Am countries.  It is an amazing experience.”

The event will be held Dec. 26, 2011-Jan. 2, 2012.

Levin can be contacted at 617-285-7222 or via email. Here’s a link for additional information and application.


The Hall is calling

Posted on: March 23rd, 2011 by Ron Kaplan

Eight more distinguished men and women from the world of sports will be inducted into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame Museum at the 19th annual induction ceremony on Sunday, March 27 at 10:30 a.m. at The Suffolk Jewish Community Center, 74 Hauppauge Road, Commack, NY.

The latest group of honorees include three-time Super Bowl Champion Harris Barton; basketball great Tal Brody; swimming champion Jane Katz; three-time Olympic bobsledder Steve Mesler; former NBA/NHL owner Abe Pollin; Hal Richman, the inventor of Strat-O-Matic baseball; New York City basketball legend Alan Seiden; and former NFL General Manager Dick Steinberg.

Harris Barton – The offensive tackle was drafted from the University of North Carolina by the San Francisco 49ers in 1987 as their first round pick. By his third season, he had helped the team win three Super Bowls (1989, ’90, and ‘95). Protecting Hall of Fame quarterbacks Joe Montana and Steve Young, he became a two-time Pro-Bowl tackle himself. He retired after 12 seasons in the NF.  He currently works in the financial services industry with former teammate and good friend, Ronnie Lott.

Tal Brody – Started his collegiate career in 1961 at the University of Illinois. The 6 foot, 1 1/2inch athlete from New Jersey was a three year starter and still remains on Illinois top 50 all-time scoring list. During his senior year, Brody earned All-America and All Big-Ten.  In 1965, he was the 13th pick in the NBA Draft by the Baltimore Bullets. While he was in training camp he accepted an invitation to play on the United States Maccabiah team, which he led to a Gold Medal. Brody never returned to the Bullets, but finished his master’s degree in educational psychology and returned to Israel to join Maccabi Tel Aviv. Brody has always been a large part of Israeli culture and received the Israel Prize, the country’s highest civilian honor in 1979.

Dr. Jane Katz – Growing up on the Lower East Side of New York City, Katz started swimming competitively at age 14. While a member of the U.S. Swim Team Maccabiah Games in Israel, her love for long-distance and synchronized swimming grew. Katz has competed in many races in pools, lakes, and even oceans. In 1964, she was a member of the U.S. synchronized swimming performance team in Tokyo. Some of her other achievements include being named an All-American and World Masters Championships. As recently as August, 2009 she competed in the National Senior Games winning several events. She earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education and a master’s degree at NYU and currently works as a professor at John Jay College and continues to teach student the benefits of water fitness at City University.

Steve Mesler – A three-time Olympian for the United States. Born in Buffalo in 1978, his passion of competition started at age 11 by running track.  In high school, he earned a track and field national championship and All-American honors. Battling five years of injuries and elbow reconstructive surgery, he changed his mindset to become one of the best “pushstarters” in bobsledding. Steve led the U.S. team in 2010 to its first Olympic Gold Medal in 62 years and broke a 50-year drought in the American World Championship. Other career highlights include two World Cup Championships and earning medals on every bobsled track in the world. He has totaled 39 World Cup Medals, the most ever by a U.S. push athlete. Today, Steve is a motivational speaker and has created his own non-profit organization which allows Olympians and professional athletes to communicate through technology in the classroom.

Abe Pollin – Born in 1923 in the Washington, DC area. Pollin graduated from George Washington University in 1945 and took a job working in his family’s construction company. As a successful construction contractor, he headed an investment team that purchased the Baltimore Bullets in 1964. After building the Capital Centre in 1973, he moved the Bullets and his new NHL team, the Capitals, to Washington. As an owner, the highlights of his sports career came in 1978 when the Bullets won the NBA title and in 1998 when the Capitals reached the 1998 Stanley Cup Finals.  In addition to owning sports teams, Pollin, who died in 2009 at age 85, was a very active philanthropist.

Hal Richman – As a child, Richman enjoyed playing board games like All-Star Baseball. He was very passionate about sports and wanted to create a game for people to enjoy in which the player controlled the action using realistic scenarios. After years of gathering information and ideas, Richman created Strat-O-Matic Baseball. The realism in the game, based on actual player information and statistics, was revolutionary and made it very popular among baseball fanatics.  The game celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. [Editor’s note: Here’s a interview I did with Richman just around the time of the anniversary event held in Manhattan.]

Alan Seiden – This New York City native’s basketball career began at Jamaica High School where he was the starting guard for all four years. In 1955, Seiden led his team to the PSAL and led New York City in scoring. He was accepted to St. John’s University where he was the team’s second leading scorer in his sophomore year. The next season, he was named team co-captain and earned a spot on the second team All-America. During his senior season he helped take the Redman to the NIT finals where he posted a game high 22 points and got the victory. Although Seiden had a stellar collegiate career, he only played one season in the ABL — with the Pittsburgh Rens where he averaged 9.2 points per game.

Dick Steinberg – Vice President and General manager of the New York Jets from December, 1989, to September, 1995. He was known as one of the most knowledgeable minds in the NFL and a top talent evaluator.  He played an important role in the scouting and acquisition of players from the time he entered the NFL in 1972 as a scout for the New England Patriots. He is generally regarded as the person who selected the talent for two different Super Bowl teams — the Los Angeles Rams in 1980 and the Patriots in 1986.  Steinberg died from stomach cancer in 1995.  The National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame created the Dick Steinberg Good Guy Award to honor a Jewish individual who best exemplified the positive aspects of sports.

In addition to the eight inductees, the NJHoF will also present the following annual awards:

  • Dick Steinberg Good Guy Award to Jeff Idelson, President of the National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum
  • George Young Award to Negro League legends Larry Doby, Josh Gibson, Buck O’Neil, Jackie Robinson, and Satchel Paige
  • Marty Glickman Award to the year’s Top College Athletes: Female – Loren Galler Rabinowitz, figure skater/ice dancer, cum laude graduate of Harvard.  Miss Massachusetts in 2010 and Miss America pageant contestant in 2011.  Male – Gabe Carimi, football, 2010 Outland Trophy winner from the Univ. Wisconsin.
  • Jules D. Mazor to the year’s top male high school Athlete: Niv Sultan, football player from Hewlett (NY) H.S. attending Harvard in the Fall.
  • Pearl D. Mazor to the year’s top female high school athlete: Alexandra Raissman, gymnast from Needhan (Mass.) H.S.;  Lena Brottmon, softball pitcher from Illinois; and Kyllie Rosenstock, diver from Madison (WI) West H.S.

For tickets or additional information, contact Alan Freedman at 631-462-9800, ext. 119.


Basketball coaches and players wanted for European Maccabi Games

Posted on: January 18th, 2011 by Ron Kaplan

The 13th European Maccabi Games will be held from July 5-13 in Vienna, Austria. The Olympic-style Games is the biggest Jewish sports events and one of the five biggest international sporting events worldwide.

The United States delegation, cochaired by Jacqui Pearl, is currently seeking a Head and Assistant coach, as well as 12 players, born between 1995 and 1997, for the junior boys basketball team.

For more information, visit www.maccabiusa.com or contact Jacqui at jacqui.pearl@gmail.com.

Rockland JCC looks to the future, remembers the past

Posted on: December 10th, 2010 by Ron Kaplan

This Hanukka story from Nyack.patch.com pays tribute to David Berger, a local product, who was killed along with 10 other members of the Israeli team, at the 1972 Olympics in Munich.

The Rockland JCC will serve as a host site for the 2012 Maccabi games

Basketball coaches, players sought for Pan-Am Maccabi Games

Posted on: October 21st, 2010 by Ron Kaplan

From the Jewish Coaches Association:

American Maccabi Games, which will take place in Sao Paulo, Brazil over the New Year’s holiday in December of 2011. Exact dates are not yet confirmed. The USA will be fielding 4-6 basketball teams – male U16, U18, Open (anyone) and Masters (over 40, with 3 players between 35-40); and possibly U18 girls and Open women. Although applications are not out yet, we are currently beginning the search for coaches and players who might be interested. Since the event is during most basketball seasons, we are looking for college coaches and players who are not currently working/playing or who shut their programs down over the holidays. For the open men’s team – which historically has been made up of former D1 players — we are specifically looking for a former college head coach or assistant. If you know of anyone who is interested, please have them contact Brian Schiff, Director USA Maccabi Basketball at 610-836-2572 or by e-mail at bschiff@comcastsportsnet.com.

Olympian Lezak to speak at Maccabi USA conference

Posted on: September 29th, 2010 by Ron Kaplan

From the MaccabiUSA website:

Jason Lezak, a member of the 18th Maccabiah USA Swim Team and four-time Olympic gold medal swimmer will speak about his Maccabiah Experience at the Maccabi USA conference weekend in Cambridge, Massachusetts on October 16.  He will also be a featured speaker at a fundraising dinner honoring Jordan Weinstein, First Vice-President – Maccabi USA, that evening.

Lezak, who represented the USA at the last three Summer Olympic Games, is the winner of seven medals overall including four gold medals.  One of his career highlights was anchoring the Men’s 4×100 Freestyle relay when he swam the fastest 100 split in history, stealing the gold medal from the French Team.  Lezak bypassed competing in the World Championships in Rome last summer in order to compete as part of the 900+ USA Team at the 18th World Maccabiah Games in Israel.  He was voted the Most Outstanding Athlete of the Games by the international organizing committee.

In addition to competing as part of Team USA, Lezak also participated in the cultural pre-camp program along with the other 700 Open and Juniors American athletes.  He had the opportunity to tour historic sites throughout Israel and immerse himself in the culture of Israel and Judaism.  “It was a great overall experience,” Lezak said. “We had the opportunity to sightsee and learn about our culture and most importantly, compete against the best Jewish athletes in the world.”

Lezak will speak about his experiences as an athlete and why he bypassed the World Championships of Swimming in order to participate in the Maccabiah Games. Both events have limited availability and if interested in attending, please contact Sara Feinstein at 215.561.6900 x119 or sfeinstein@maccabiusa.com This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Jewish groups stick with Coach Pearl in face of scandal

Posted on: September 15th, 2010 by Ron Kaplan

I’m surprised I hadn’t heard this via my regular rounds (nothing on PTI, but here’s a shonda,  from the JTA:

Bruce Pearl, a big-time college basketball coach and spokesman for Jewish causes, was a week or so early on his mea culpas during the Yom Kippur season.

Pearl, the wildly popular men’s coach at the University of Tennessee, has orchestrated a major turnaround since taking over the program in 2005, leading the traditional football powerhouse to its first-ever No. 1 ranking in basketball last year.

In the process he has taken up Jewish causes, including serving as coach of the gold medal-winning U.S. men’s  basketball squad at the 2009 Maccabiah Games in Israel and speaking on behalf of local groups; in 2007 he rocked the house with a motivational speech at the Jewish federation system’s annual General Assembly in Nashville.

These days, however, Pearl finds himself in the middle of controversy. At a news conference on the second day of Rosh Hashana, a teary Pearl acknowledged that he had lied to NCAA investigators looking into alleged recruiting violations. Since then he has been skewered by the media.

But the Jewish charities he has helped are standing by their man.

“We are supportive of him,” said Jed Margolis, the executive director of Maccabi USA, in a Sept. 14 interview. “People  make mistakes, and he has owned up and taken responsibility for them, and I feel very comfortable.”

Pearl has become one of Maccabi USA’s most prominent faces along with former Olympians Lenny Krayzelberg, Mark  Spitz, and Kerry Strug.

U.S. men’s basketball coach Bruce Pearl, left, exults after his team wins the gold medal in overtime at the Maccabiah Games in Israel, July 2009. Photo courtesy Maccabi USA

“His impact on the games was very positive, and not just because of the medal he won,” Margolis said. “He was a good role model and teacher, and had a wonderful experience in Israel. He was a real shining light for us.”

The organization’s president, Ron Carner, also sent an open letter to the embattled coach offering his support.

“In the past few days I have been contacted by many of our board members and executive committee as well as our athletes — all unanimously agree that I should write in an official capacity to reassure you that the entire Maccabi USA family is behind you during this trying time,” Carner wrote.

Margolis, who enjoyed Shabbat dinner with Pearl and his family at the Chabad of Knoxville several weeks ago, insisted that Maccabi USA never considered dropping the coach.

Pearl has become known in Tennessee for his philanthropy, where he serves as a spokesman for the United Way. In addition to his speech at the federations’ General Assembly, he regularly speaks to groups associated with the Jewish Federation of Knoxville and is an avid supporter of Hillel at the University of Tennessee, which has about 500 Jewish students, according to the local federation’s executive director, Jeff Gubitz. The coach regularly lends out his office to Hillel, which does not have an official campus space, for Torah study. And Pearl, who belongs to the Conservative synagogue Heska Amuna, where he attended services the first day of Rosh Hashana, regularly donates memorabilia for local charities, according to Gubitz.

Pearl’s actual infractions might seem minor to the casual observer: According to reports, he made excessive phone calls to recruits and used unauthorized phones to do so, and then lied about the infractions. But his critics say that Pearl doesn’t have much room for error; 20 years ago, as an assistant coach for Iowa State, he famously was the whistleblower who outed another assistant coach at the University of Illinois for trying to secure a recruit by offering him an SUV and cash.

In the cut-throat world of major college basketball recruiting, Pearl broke a serious taboo, and once he was busted for lying about his own infractions, his peers and the press pounced, sparking scores of articles lambasting him and calling for his ouster. The University of Tennessee has not fired the coach, but it has docked him $1.5 million in pay over the next five years and has barred him from off-campus recruiting for the next year.

[Editor’s note: Just wondering why they had to hold the news conference on the second day of Rosh Hashana. It couldn’t have waited a couple of days? Just sayin’.]

The next generation of Olympians?

Posted on: July 20th, 2010 by Ron Kaplan

You gotta start somewhere.


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