[by Shiela Steinman Wallace]
When Josh Rudy and Max Stratton, both eighth graders, were first asked if they would like to participate in the Maccabi Games in Omaha last summer, they were not excited about the prospect, but it was something to do and they knew they’d be able to play basketball, so, reluctantly, they agreed to go.
“We met a lot of new people,” Max said. “And we had a lot more fun than we expected,” Josh added, noting that there were a lot more good Jewish athletes than he thought would be there. They also agreed that it was something they’d like to do again.
Since they were the only two athletes from Louisville, they played on the Omaha team, Josh’s mother, Susan Rudy explained. She’s originally from Omaha and her family was among the hosts for the games, so it was easy to arrange. In fact, they even played host to two teens from Dallas, Sam Kleinman and Brent Weinberg.
Although Josh and Max’s team played just six games and lost to Phoenix in the first round, they had a good time. Their friends from Dallas fared better, capturing the bronze medal in the 14 and under competition.
The Louisvillians found plenty of social activities and touring opportunities were part of the Maccabi experience. They visited the Omaha Zoo and the Strategic Air Command Museum, and enjoyed an outing to the Amazing Pizza Machine.
All told, 1,000 young Jewish athletes competed in 10 different sports in 11 venues in Omaha. The athletes who traveled to Omaha were hosted by 305 Jewish families in their homes. Everyone who participated made many new friends and left with strong, positive memories.
Their many new friendships didn’t end with the closing ceremony. Today, Josh and Max keep up with everyone online.
They’re still playing basketball, too – Max for Collegiate and Josh for Kammerer. Both have also spent a lot of time doing sports at the JCC in Louisville – t-ball and soccer in addition to basketball, and both their mothers have been leaders there – Robin Stratton served as the JCC’s executive director and Susan Rudy was a JCC Board member and now serves on the JCL Board.
These Maccabi Games were sponsored by the Jewish Community Center of Omaha.
For information about future Maccabi Games, please contact David Siskin, 238-2701 or firstname.lastname@example.org.