[by Phyllis Shaikun]
After a hiatus of five years from the Maccabi Games, the Jewish Community Center Louisville is coming back strong and sending a dozen young athletes to represent our Jewish community in the 2012 Games to be held in Memphis from Sunday, August 5-Friday, August 10.
At least 10,000 Jewish teens from 30 different cities (from New York to Florida to California) are expected to take part in the competition. Everyone is invited to take the short drive to Memphis to watch the games, which cost a mere $30 a ticket for spectators. A community sendoff is scheduled for August 5 at 7:30 a.m. in the JCC parking lot.
JCC Middle School Director David Siskin has announced that the Louisville group includes a tennis player, a ping pong player, a track and field competitor, a dancer and a basketball team made up of eight 13- and 14-year-old boys.
Louisville’s Maccabi athletes are Justin Bass, Nathan Cohen, Spencer Geer, Jack Grossman, Daniel Levine, Cooper Mannel, Laina Meyerowitz, Clayton Oppenheimer, Hillary Reskin, Zack Schwab, Bradley Schwartz and Gabe Sherman. None of the 12 has ever participated in Maccabi competition before and all could be eligible to take part for two more years (ages are 13-16).
Participants compete in one athletic event each afternoon, but the rest of their day can be spent engaging, interacting and meeting with other Jewish teens from across the country. They will have ample opportunity to watch other competitions and to hang out in a special teen lounge staffed by Israeli counselors in charge of arranging activities with Israeli content.
Siskin and basketball coach Evan Rowe will be chaperoning the delegation. They will be driving the JCC van to Memphis and plan to arrive in time for the opening ceremony on Sunday night. The closing ceremony will be Thursday evening.
Some funds to help cover expenses have been allocated from the Federation Annual Campaign and the Samuel A. Glaubinger Youth Fund. Proceeds from fundraising events at Puccini’s and from a raffle are being used to help offset fees. However, the group is still fundraising and additional help would be appreciated.
Athletes will receive a warm-up suit, track jacket and matching pants, dry fit t-shirt and a duffel bag. The basketball team will get uniforms. All competitors will get trading pins (small keepsakes created by each community for their athletes to trade and collect from fellow competitors at the event).
“The community needs to know that the games are more about interacting with other Jewish teens than about the athletic competition,” says Siskin, “but there is lots of excitement and medals to be won.”
The Louisville delegation will be meeting with teens from other cities with whom they will stay in contact. There will be plenty of Judaic content, including a remembrance of Munich 11 (the 11 Israeli Olympic athletes murdered at the Munich games) during the opening ceremony, and teens will have the chance to take part in a day of community service. Home hospitality will be provided during their stay.