Maccabiah: U.S. Wins Bronze in Rugby 15s

— by Amir Shoam

After winning the rugby sevens tournament last week, the U.S. rugby team for the Maccabiah also won the bronze medal in the rugby 15s tournament after beating Great Britain 15-3 in the game for third place.

With this win, the U.S. once again retained its status as the only team to win a medal in each rugby tournament in the history of the games. Head Coach Shawn Lipmam, who previously won medals as a player in five Maccabiah tournaments, broke the record for medals in Maccabiah open category tournaments, as he has seven now.

More after the jump.
Joel Cohen and Jared Braun scored the game’s two tries (5 points each), and Taylor Howden added one conversion kick (2 points) and one penalty kick (3 points). In the semi-final game, the U.S. lost to Australia 10-18. Israel won the tournament after beating Australia in the final game. The two teams that reached the final are the ones that play as a team year-round. Lipman said:

We built a remarkable team that arrived in Israel as the fittest and strongest we have ever assembled. Even though we had trained individually nothing can compare with playing together as a team and getting consistency in execution under pressure. We think we were good enough to have beaten Australia to make the final, but retain lapses on execution hurt us. The game we played against Great Britain for bronze was amazing and an excellent way for us to end. Israel deserved to win the fifteens tournament, and I think it is a good thing for the tournament that more countries are doing well as the competition is becoming more broad based.


Regarding the sevens tournament, Lipman said:

It was a great accomplishment to have won the gold in sevens, as Israel keeps playing international sevens all the time, and we had only two sevens training sessions. We also had to come back from having lost to Israel and tying South Africa prior to the sevens tournament final game. We showed tremendous heart and courage.

Throughout the games, the team suffered with the absence of the injured Zach Test. The 23-year-old is already the U.S. sevens team’s leading try scorer among active players, with 73.

“I am sure Zack Test would have made a big difference for us, but this is a team sport and one can’t rely on a person,” said Lipman. “Rugby is a squad effort, and nothing would have been accomplished without everyone that came, including our amazing support staff.”

Coach Lipman concludes:

More important than winning medals is the fact that this tour changed our players’ lives in very deep and meaningful ways. Every participant in our team is leaving as part of a band of brothers, and now has a family that will always be there with him for the rest of his life. That is the real gold!

1st Children’s Aliyah Flight Arrives: Record 106 Children Aboard

— by Rebecca (Langer) Modell

Gilad Shalit accompanied the 231 North American Olima board this summer’s first charter Aliyah flight including Nefesh b’Nefesh’s 35,000th Oleh

El-Al flight 3004 landed Monday morning at Ben Gurion Airport with 231 new Israeli citizens aboard. Even before they took off, the passengers knew not to expect getting any sleep, as close to 50% of the occupants were children. This is a new record of children arriving on a Nefesh B’Nefesh flight in cooperation with The Jewish Agency for Israel. The 106 young Olim are joining a whopping 989 children who will be making Aliyah throughout 2013 with Nefesh B’Nefesh in cooperation with the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, The Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth L’Israel and JNF. This is an increase of 20%, compared to 822 children that made Aliyah in 2012.

In anticipation of the arrival, Nefesh B’Nefesh prepared reinforcements to help the parents watch over their children and keep them occupied during the long flight and at the arrival ceremony. Amongst the activities that awaited the children were Aliyah coloring books, games and custom-made t-shirts. Former Israeli IDF captive, Gilad Shalit, also joined the flight as a show of support and appreciation for the thousands of North American Olim who are fulfilling their dream to return to Israel and their contribution to the State of Israel.

Also on board were 41 families, including the 106 children as well as 54 singles — 13 of whom will be joining the IDF. Also of note were the 41 Olim moving to Israel’s periphery as part of the Nefesh B’Nefesh and Keren Kayemeth L’Israel Go North and Go South programs.

Kindertransport 1938-1940

The Children’s Aliyah Flight reminds us for the story of the Kindertransport which saved “some ten thousand Jewish children out of Nazi Germany, Austria, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and the free city of Danzig nine month prior to the outbreak of World War II. For the most part, the children were placed in British foster homes, hostels, and farms. One of those children, fourteen-year-old Viennese native Renee Perl, was destined to become the mother of congressional representative Allyson Schwartz, Democrat of Pennsylvania.”
(Source:The Jews of Capitol Hill: A Compendium of Jewish Congressional Members)

The Co-Founder and Chairman of Nefesh B’Nefesh, Tony Gelbart said:

As we welcome our 35,000th Oleh, it is exciting to see so many children amongst the Zionistic modern day pioneers who are helping to build and secure the future of the State of Israel. This new generation is joining young adults volunteering for the IDF and Olim moving to Israel’s North and South to help strengthen the periphery, to infuse the country with renewed passion and idealism.

The Minister of Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver said:

I am happy to welcome over 100 children who are making Aliyah today through Nefesh B’Nefesh and joining us here in Israel. Aliyah from North America is extremely important and makes us stronger as a nation.

The Chairman of The Jewish Agency for Israel, Natan Sharansky said:

The Jewish Agency, which brings tens of thousands of Olim from across the globe sees Nefesh B’Nefesh as a dedicated partner in this important work.  The children and their parents who are arriving on this Olim flight from North America represent the future of Israel and every one of them strengthens Israeli society.

Hundreds of families and friends as well as Israeli dignitaries gathered at Ben Gurion Airport to welcome the country’s newest citizens at the arrival ceremony.

Those present included:

  • Minister of Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver;
  • Member of the Committee for Immigration, Absorption & Diaspora Affairs MK Dov Lipman;
  • Chairman of the Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky;
  • World Chairman of KKL-JNF, Effie Stenzler;
  • Vice President Global Sales of El Al, Offer Gat;
  • Vice Chairman of Nefesh B’Nefesh Erez Halfon and
  • Co-Founders of Nefesh B’Nefesh Rabbi Yehoshua Fass & Tony Gelbart.

Photo credit: Shafar Azran and Peter Hamalgyi.

About Nefesh B’Nefesh: Founded in 2002, Nefesh B’Nefesh in cooperation with the Israeli government and the Jewish Agency for Israel, is dedicated to revitalizing Aliyah from North America and the UK by removing or minimizing the financial, professional, logistical and social obstacles of Aliyah. The support and comprehensive social services provided by Nefesh B’Nefesh to its over 35,000 newcomers, has ensured that 97% of its Olim have remained in Israel.  

Maccabiah: U.S. Wins Gold in Rugby Sevens


Team Captain and Tournament MVP Dallen Stanford receiving his two trophies

— by Amir Shoam

It was harder than one might have expected, but the U.S. has won its first gold medal of the 19th Maccabiah games yesterday (Wednesday), after defeating Israel 17-14 in the final of the rugby sevens tournament. The rugby 15s tournament will start tomorrow, but the team will hold its first match of it on Sunday, against Canada (10 a.m. EST, Wingate Institute).

“It was the best Israeli rugby team I have seen in the games,” said Head Coach Shawn Lipman, who previously won medals in them five times as a player, to the Philadelphia Jewish Voice. “The match could have gone either way. We wanted to have the level of challenge that we have prepared for, and now we know that the 15s tournament is going to be hard.”

Tries by Willie Rudman, Team Captain Dallen Stanford (tournament MVP) and Joel Cohen (5 points each), and one successful conversion kick for Standford’s try by Taylor Howden (2 points), provided the team with a promising 17-7 lead. Israel rallied back with a successfully converted try, but the U.S. managed to hold its opponent from scoring any more points.

More after the jump.
On its way to the final, the team had lost the lead in two of its three round-robin stage matches: On its first match, South Africa came back to a 12-12 draw against it after trailing 12-0. On its second match, Israel upset the score, from a 5-0 trailing to a 5-10 win. However, on its last round robin match, the U.S. thrashed Great Britain 35-0 to finish the stage second, after Israel, and win the ticket to the final match against it.

The greatest success story of the tournament, according to Lipman, was Jarett Brotz of Cherry Hill, N.J. After the trials for the team last January, the back-row forward was put on the reserve list. “We saw potential in him, but he needed to work on his fitness,” explained the Coach. As previously-qualified players could not eventually join the trip, Brotz was called to fill in. During the training in Israel, he was chosen as one of the 12 players out of 29 to participate in the seven-a-side tournament. As the tournament progressed he earned increasing playing time, and shined on the defensive side. “He will be one of our most important players in the 15s tournament,” concluded Lipman.

The opening ceremony for the Games will be held today in Jerusalem (1:30 p.m. EST, Teddy Stadium), with almost 9,000 athletes participating and 30,000 expected viewers. Many of the tournaments will start tomorrow (Friday).

19th Maccabiah Games Kick Off With Rugby Sevens Tournament


Team Captain Dallen Stanford with Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat

— by Amir Shoam

The opening ceremony of the 19th Maccabiah Games will be held next Thursday, but one American team wants to be wearing gold medals for it. One of the earliest tournaments of the games will be of rugby sevens, with the U.S. team taking on South Africa, Israel and Great Britain tomorrow (Wednesday) in the Wingate Institute, Netanya. On Friday, the four teams will be joined by Australia, Canada and Chile for an 11-day rugby 15s tournament.

“The U.S. has never sent a rugby team as committed, conditioned or talented as this one to the games,” said Head Coach Shawn Lipman to the Philadelphia Jewish Voice. “We have exceptionally high standards for ourselves, and are absolutely dedicated to coming home with two gold medals.”

More after the jump.
Due to the weather conditions and the high intensity of the 14-minute long sevens game, the tournament will start at 17:20 Israel time, and the final game will be played as late as 22:20. The teams will have to finish the round-robin stage in one of the top two places in order to win a ticket to the final.

The Philadelphia area will be represented in the team by Jarett Brotz from Cherry Hill, N.J.


Jarett Brotz of Cherry Hill, N.J. (Photo: Jewish Community Voice)

The team practicing on a tour of Tel Aviv’s old neighborhoods

And in Jerusalem, even without a ball

Rugby: U.S. Team for Maccabiah Trains With Navy Seals

— by Amir Shoam

The U.S. rugby team for the Maccabiah in Israel this summer will train with the US Navy Seals at their facility on Coronado Island and at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista during this week. The team has been training for the last year under Shawn Lipman, who was an International with the USA Eagles — having played in the Rugby World Cup — and the captain of the USA Maccabiah Team that won the gold in 1997.  

Rugby is the game that most of the western world plays instead of the American football. Despite their common origin, rugby differs from football in many ways, including:

More after the jump.

  • The forward pass is completely forbidden, and players can only advance by breaking the opposition line or running to a ball kicked by a teammate in front of them.
  • The game does not stop after the tackle and substitutions are limited, which requires the players for better aerobic ability.
  • Each team has 15 players on the field: eight forwards who win the ball at set pieces and after the tackle, and seven backs that break the opposition line and score most “tries” (equivalent to touchdown).
  • The game is not violent, and only specific ways of tackling and pushing are allowed, and so the players use minimal protective equipment.

“The squad that we have assembled is the most talented and athletic squad ever assembled and has seven international level players”, said Lipman to the Philadelphia Jewish Voice. “I anticipate all the teams will be better this time and the competition will be very good. We believe that by training, coaching and managing ourselves like a professional elite level team, we will be prepared for the challenge of the tournament”.

The team is expecting a fierce competition from nations like Britain, Australia, South Africa and Israel. For the first time in the Maccabiah the teams will also compete in the seven-a-side format, which is shorter (14 minutes instead of 80) and requires a better athletic ability as the seven players need to cover the whole same-sized field. “We are planning on winning Gold in both”, added Lipman.

After the trials, the team will be fully appointed with additional 18 to 20 players. Ten players have already been named to the team:


From left to right: Dallen Stanford, Matt Hawkins, Zach Test and Shawn Lipman, all are USA Eagles
  • Matthew Crawford, Collegiate All-American in 2011 and 2012;
  • Joji Kurosaki, alumnus of the 2009 Maccabiah, Boston University and University of Oregon Rugby teams;
  • Max Levine, two-time DII Collegiate National Champion, alumnus of the 2009 Maccabiah and Middlebury College Rugby Club Captain;
  • James Murray, 2007 NYS Rugby Men’s College All-Stars — SUNY Cortland;
  • Robert Shaw, Current U.S. National Team Eagle standout and playing professionally in England;
  • Ross Silverman, 2010 U.S. Rugby Federation High Performance Grant Recipient;
  • Joshua Slater, alumnus of the 2009 Maccabiah;
  • Dallen Stanford, USA Eagles;
  • Kevin Swiryn, USA Eagles, American Rugby Union Player and leading scorer and points for the U.S. during the ’08-09 IRB Sevens World Series;
  • Roman Wilson who plays for the Oklahoma City Crusaders;
  • Zach Test, professional Rugby player with the U.S. National Team, alumnus of the 2009 Maccabiah, IRB Sevens World Series in 2010-11, and member of the U.S. Team that took the bronze at the 2011 Pan American Games.

The tournament will start on July 19. Follow the Philadelphia Jewish Voice on Facebook and Twitter for additional coverage of the team as preperation progress.