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

Maccabiah Basketball Coach Teaches the Importance of Relationships

Barry Kleiman with wife and team manager Marcie

— by Amir Shoam

When Barry Kleiman, coach of the Under-16 basketball team for the Maccabiah, was 19, he worked as a counselor at a sleepover camp in the Philadelphia area. One day after lunch, when he and the other counselors were playing basketball, a 12-year-old girl named Donna asked them to teach her how to play. She kept playing with them every day during the camp, and in the next two summers, in which she also attended the camp. The two had not seen each other for the next 30 years. When a camp reunion meeting, which Kleiman could not attend as he was living in California, was approaching, he asked his close friend, who also worked in the camp as a counselor, to look for Donna.

It turned out that since the camp Donna had represented Queens College in the All-America women’s basketball team, was selected to the all-star game of the Women’s Pro Basketball League, represented the U.S. in the 1985 Maccabiah Games, and became the PGA Tour’s senior vice president of strategic development. Later, Donna Orender became the president of the WNBA.

More after the jump.
The two have become friends again, and afterwards met again on the basketball court in the 2011 JCC Maccabi Games in Springfield, MA, as Orender’s twin sons participated in the basketball tournament. One year later, Orender, also one of Maccabi USA’s vice presidents, recommended Kleiman for his current position. “I feel honored about that,” said Kleiman, “I know there were other people who were qualified for this job, but I got it because Donna knew me as a coach and as a person and was sure about me. This story shows the importance of creating and maintaining relationships.”

This principal has also led Kleiman in selecting the squad for the coming tournament: “I wanted to pick not only good basketball players, but also people that I wanted to spend four weeks in Israel with,” he said.

Before the trials, I asked each player to write a letter about their motivation and expectations regarding the tournament. I wanted people who would listen, play strong, and know how to work with people they had not known before. I enjoy improving those aspects in players during a season, but it is not something that you can do in one week of training before a tournament.

Among the chosen players are four from the Lower Merion High School: Corey Sherman of the school’s first team, and Michael Berg, Jeremy Horn and Eli Needle of the freshmen team. An interesting coincidence considering that unlike other coaches, Kleiman did not pick players who had already known each other on purpose.

“I was awed to hear that four kids from one high school made it to a national team,” said Berg.

It is not very often that I can experience something as big as that with people I literally see every day in classes. I have always wanted to visit Israel, and the fact that I get to do something that I really like while I am there makes it a great honor. The players who made it from the tryouts were all very good, and I expected them to make it. I also remember a couple of twins from Florida [Orender’s sons, Jacob and Zach], as well as a tall guard from Illinois [Jordan Baum].

“I was quite nervous about the trials,” admits the 15-year-old forward.

I do not consider myself a good tryout player because I am not a “flashy.” Additionally, I am a perfectionist, so whenever I did something wrong, I would think about it for a long period of time during the tryout. I respect Coach Kleiman very much for seeing my value as a player.

“Winning the gold is the goal for me, and I am sure that most of my teammates feel the same,” continues Berg. “The whole experience is special, but we go there to win and represent the U.S. the way we should.”

Based on the east coast tryout sessions and Coach Kleiman’s words, we don’t have too much size. I expect us to be a quick-running and sharp-shooting team. We should not expect anything less than winning.

“I try to ignore any expectations,” concludes Kleiman. “In the last tournament the U.S. won the gold, but due to the age restriction those are not the same players this time. I try not to manage aspirations, but reality: to be as good as this team can. I expect the players not just to try to score, but to do everything yachad — together, so that this tournament will become a great memory.”

U.S. Under-16 basketball team for the Maccabiah:


  • Jordan Baum, Deerfield, IL;
  • Ofek Belkin, El Paso, TX;
  • Michael Berg, Merion Station, PA;
  • Sam Fieldman, Roslyn Heights, NY;
  • Spencer Freedman, Pacific Palisades, CA;
  • Michael Hayon, Calabasas, CA;
  • Jeremy Horn, Wynnewood, PA;
  • Eli Needle, Merion Station, PA;
  • Jacob Orender, Jacksonville Beach, FL;
  • Zach Orender, Jacksonville Beach, FL;
  • Corey Sherman, Penn Valley, PA; and
  • Isaac Siegel, Amherst, MA.
Coaching staff

  • Head Coach: Barry Kleiman;
  • Assistant Coach: Dave Goldman;
  • Assistant Coach: Jake Shechtman; and
  • Manager: Marcie Kleiman.

New Jersey Swimming Champion Getting Ready for the Maccabiah

Rebecca Lewinson of West Windsor, N.J., who will reprsent the U.S. in the Maccabiah Games this summer, has already won almost any swimming title she competed for: at the New Jersey High School State Championship, she won the 100m Breast category three years in a row. She is currently a member of the Princeton University Swim Team, and won two Ivy League Championships in three years. In the 2009 Maccabiah, at the age of 17, she competed in the open age category and won the gold medal in 200m Breast, silver in 400m Medley Relay, and bronze in 100m Breast.

The 6-foot-tall athlete, who will turn 21 next Wednesday, started swimming at the age of 9, which is relatively late for a competitive swimmer. By the age of 15 she was ranked second in the National Age Group Rankings for 200m Breast.

“I love the fairness of the sport: If you work hard, you do well. I also enjoy the opportunity for improvement,” Lewinson said in an interview with The Philadelphia Jewish Voice. “Being a part of a team completely changes the sport. Racing for my high school and college team is probably my favorite part of the sport, and motivates me to be a better swimmer.” However, she said that swimming is “a huge time commitment,” involving practices before and after school:

In high school, I gave up a lot of social time in order to train and compete. It seemed like the end of the world then, but I now realize that swimming’s time commitment taught me a lot about prioritizing and time management, and opened many doors for me. In college, swimming has definitely contributed more to my life than it has made me sacrifice. The friendships I have made and lessons I have learned far outweigh anything I missed out on for swimming.

In the coming Maccabiah, the International Relations student will compete in 200m and 400m (her best race) Individual Medley, 100m and 200m Breast, and 100m and 200m Fly. However, winning medals is not her only goal: “I hope to swim my heart out for my team, but I also expect to meet people that I will be friends with for the rest of my life,” she said.

I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to travel to Israel to compete for my country and have the experience of being surrounded by thousands of Jewish athletes from around the world. Being Jewish has allowed me to connect with people in my community and University. I am actually remaining in Israel after the games to pursue research for my Senior Thesis.

Lewinson is a part of a family of female athletes: Her mother was captain of the Syracuse track team and a professional dancer. Her older sister competed on the varsity track team and swim team at Widener University, and her younger sister dances and is being recruited to compete in college for a crew. Unlike her mother, she is not planning to become a professional in her sport:

Although I would love to compete for the rest of my life, trying to make a living out of swimming is not realistic and would not allow me to pursue my career goals outside of the pool. I will be a senior in college next fall, and I look forward to seeing how far I can push myself during my last year.

Philly Jewish Sports Hall of Fame Welcomes Nine New Inductees

Fishberg (left) and basketball legend Larry Brown

On May 20, Stephen H. Frishberg welcomed the 2013 inductees to the Philadelphia Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. As Chairman of the Board, Mr. Frishberg recognized each individual’s contribution to the field of sports in Greater Philadelphia.

The 2013 inductees include Ellen Barkann, Bob Brooks, Larry Brown, Fred Cohen, Josh Cohen, Ron Cohen, Bonnie Kay, Marc Rayfield and Pillar of Achievement honoree, Jed Margolis. In addition, the 2013 JCC Maccabi Games’ Team Philadelphia Graduating Athletes received special recognition.

Inductees’ group photo after the jump.

For more about each inductee, see our article by Debbie Weiss.

Left to right: Fred Cohen, Ron Cohen, Bob Brooks, Larry Brown, Bonnie Kay, Stephen H. Frishberg, Ellen Barkann, Josh Cohen, Marc Rayfield, Jed Margolis

Larry Brown Among Nine Philly Jewish Sports Hall of Fame Inductees

Brown coaching the SMU Mustangs

— by Debbie Weiss

The Philadelphia Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and Adolph and Rose Levis Museum (PJSHOF) will be celebrating its 16th anniversary by honoring nine new individuals at a reception to be held on Monday, May 20 at the Gershman Y.  

The 2013 inductees include Ellen Barkann, Bob Brooks, Larry Brown, Fred Cohen, Josh Cohen, Ron Cohen, Bonnie Kay, Marc Rayfield and Pillar of Achievement honoree, Jed Margolis. In addition, the 2013 JCC Maccabi Games’ Team Philadelphia Graduating Athletes will receive special recognition.

More after the jump.
The inductees into the PJSHOF represent the best of the best: those who through perseverance, dedication, superior talent and skills, have risen to the top of their respective sports. Their names and achievements will be celebrated within the walls of the museum.  

Each PJSHOF inductee has been involved in sports as an athlete, coach, manager, administrator, team owner, or member of the media. They must have at least one Jewish parent and have lived within, or competed within, the five-county Greater Philadelphia area. They have joined a special group of approximately 130 past honorees.  

This year’s special class includes one of the most successful coaches in basketball history, one of the winningest football coaches in Philadelphia’s high school history, a top radio broadcast manager, and more.

  • Ellen Barkann, a competitive figure skater, achieved the highest level in all disciplines of her sport: singles, pairs and ice dancing. In 2012 she created a nonprofit organization, The Barkann Family Healing Hearts Foundation, whose mission is to provide grants and financial assistance to families in the area who are overcome by family crisis, long term illness or sudden loss of life.
  • Bob Brooks was a multi-talented athlete as the starting pitcher on the University of Pennsylvania’s baseball team, and as a three-year starter on the basketball court who earned All-Ivy and All-State honors in his senior year. He is a longtime community volunteer.
  • Larry Brown is one of the most successful basketball coaches, at college and professional levels, of all time. He is the only head coach to lead teams to an NBA title (Detroit Pistons, 2004) and an NCAA Championship (University of Kansas Jayhawks, 1988). He is also the only coach in history to lead eight different NBA teams to the playoffs. He also is the only U.S. male to both play and coach in the Olympics, winning Gold Medals in 1964 and 2000, and is enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts. He is currently the head basketball coach at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.  

    Fred Cohen playing for Temple, 1956

  • Fred Cohen achieved a stellar basketball career in high school and the upper levels of the college game. Playing for the Temple Owls, he set an NCAA playoff record for 34 rebounds in one game, that remains intact. He played with All-Americans Hal Lear and Guy Rogers, and their 1956 team went to the NCAA Final Four. He went on to graduate Yale Law School and has had a distinguished law career as a professor, then activist and author in the area of correctional mental health law.
  • Josh Cohen ranked among the top ten tennis players in the world in U.S. Juniors, and number one nationally in every USTA age group from 12-18; he won the International Grass Court Championship, competed in all four Grand Slam tournaments, and reached the quarterfinals in the French Open. In 2012, Billie Jean King named him head coach of her team, the Philadelphia Freedoms.  
  • Ron Cohen has been the head football coach at George Washington High School for the past 28 years and is the winningest coach in Philadelphia’s history. He has been named Coach of the Year on nine different occasions. He holds the city record for most playoff wins with 55, and has coached seven Big 33 football stars, including four players who have gone on to play in the NFL.
  • Bonnie Kay has been a Philadelphia area competitor in golf tournaments for over 40 years, having won the Women’s Stroke Play Championship and the Mixed Pair Championship as well as various country club championships. As a proud player in two Maccabi Games in Israel, she won a team Silver in 1985 and a team Gold in 1997. She is a consulting psychologist to Fortune 500 corporations, city and state agencies, and private family-owned companies.
  • Marc Rayfield is the senior vice president and market manager of CBS, Inc. where he is currently responsible for live broadcasts of the Phillies, Eagles and Philadelphia Union as well as Temple, St. Joe’s and Villanova athletics. His purview at CBS includes oversight of KYW Newsradio, WIP, WOGL, WPHT and cbsphilly.com.    
  • Pillar of Achievement honoree, Jed Margolis has been dedicated to using sports to strengthen Jewish identity and pride and love for Israel throughout his 40 years working in the JCC World and at Maccabi USA, where he has served as executive director since 2002. One of the many highpoints in his Maccabi USA tenure came in 2009, when he was honored as a member of the Maccabi USA Leadership Team by The National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. He also represented the USA as a member of the Masters Men’s Gold Medal Basketball Team, coached by NBA Legend Dolph Schayes, at the 1995 Pan American Maccabi Games in Uruguay.

Five Philadelphians in U.S. Futsal Team for the Maccabiah

Due to its similarity to soccer and the smaller field and number of players, futsal is an extremely popular hobby around the world. “Futsal in Brazil is like basketball or baseball here in the U.S. In fact, at younger ages they play it instead of soccer,” explained Michael Monheit, chair and head coach of the U.S. futsal team for the upcoming Maccabiah Games.

Two years ago, Monheit established the American Futsal Academy in King of Prussia. “Before that, clubs in the area used futsal for practice, but there were no actual futsal clubs here,” he said.

We established a new club in order to bring together the best futsal players in Greater Philadelphia, and we won the northeast championship in three age categories in our debut season, and in two age categories last year.

Monheit, an attorney and internet marketing manager for his living, took the reins of the Maccabiah team nine months ago. In the final squad for the tournament he included four players from Greater Philadelphia. “We selected many players from the northeast because we wanted to be able to practice frequently,” he explained. “Futsal depends a lot on timing, set plays and coordination between the players. In this way it reminds of basketball more than of soccer.”

While the popularity of the Major League Soccer has increased since the arrival of European stars in their early 30s such as David Beckham and Thierry Henry, futsal is a bit different game: Each team has five players on a field about the size of a basketball court. “Due to the smaller number of players, the players need to be more versatile,” said Monheit.

The four field players switch positions all the time, and even the goalkeeper has an important role in starting counter-attacks after he makes a save. Because of the size of the field, the transition from defense to attack is a lot quicker. For soccer teams, futsal is an important practice way for those aspects.

“Most of our players played soccer for most of their lives and only recently started playing futsal regularly,” continued the coach.

Futsal is growing around the world and about 20 teams will participate in the coming tournament. Despite that, I believe that we have a real chance to win a medal. We practice a lot and participated as a team in northeast tournaments. If you defend well, you can keep the score low and have a chance to beat a technically better team.

One of the players in the team is Monheit’s son, Matthew. The 21-year-old played soccer since the age of 4 and until last year, including the famous Coppa team in high school and the varsity team of MIT, where he studies environmental engineering. He has also participated in the previous Maccabiah Games with the Under-19 soccer team.

While being able to play in all four field positions, he prefers to play as the pivot — standing close to the opposition goal and taking advantage of the defense’s marking of him to create scoring opportunities for the two wingers playing on his sides.

“In the coming tournament there will be teams that are better than us, like Brazil and Israel,” said Matthew. “Winning a medal won’t be easy, but I think it’s possible.”

Unlike other players, which are often coached by their fathers in early ages, it’s the first time that my father coaches me. I really enjoy it. It helps me understand the game on the team level, and I also help him in the organization of the team, like an assistant coach.

On the other side of the field you can find Mike Markovitz, who plays as a “defender.” In addition to being the last line of defense, he coordinates the attacking play. In ninth grade, after 10 years of playing soccer for local teams, he joined the Lower Merion Velez, where under an Argentina-born coach which was specialized in futsal he participated in a few tournaments every year. At 20 years old, he captains the University of Pennsylvania club team, as he chose to focus on his bio-medical engineering studies and not to join the varsity team, which practices more often. In the summers, he plays for Philly United in the national Under-23 soccer league.

After representing the U.S. in smaller Maccabi tournaments in Argentina, Italy and Australia, he was hoping to qualify to the soccer team for the coming Maccabiah, but was eliminated in the trials as he was injured at the time and could not play to his full ability. To his fortune, Monheit was present in the trials and advised him to join his team.

“After watching some of our rivals in video, I think we have a good chance for a medal,” Markovitz said.

I really like the squad that we have. Since most of our players are young, if we keep holding practices after the tournament we will return much better for the 2017 games. I am very excited to play for this team and to fly to Israel for the first time.

Full U.S. squad for the tournament:

  • Jesse Goleman from Pittsburgh, PA;
  • Ari Lewis from Jericho, NY;
  • Michael Markovitz from Blue Bell, PA – University of Pennsylvania;
  • Matthew Monheit from Philadelphia, PA – Massachusetts Institute of Technology;
  • Alexander Moshal from Wynnewood, PA – George Washington University;
  • Noah Rothstein from Los Angeles, CA – George Washington University;
  • Nicholas Salinger from Newton, MA;
  • Powell Schneider from Cambridge, MA;
  • Samuel Stein from Bryn Mawr, PA; and
  • Samuel Stone from Maplewood, NJ – Bryant College.

Euroleague Basketball: 6 Straight Wins Get Maccabi to Quarter-Final

— by Amir Shoam

Despite the 71-74 loss to Barcelona in the basketball Euroleague second group stage yesterday, Maccabi Tel Aviv qualified to the quarter-final stage, and will meet Spanish League leader Real Madrid for a best-out-of-five game series starting next Wednesday.

After losing five of its first seven games in the second group stage, Maccabi won six in a row against all of the other teams in the group execpt for Barcelona. Small forward Devin Smith was selected Euroleague MVP for March for his performances.

“We didn’t break down even when the situation was hard, and once again showed Europe who are Maccabi Tel Aviv,” said Head Coach David Blatt. “We believed in ourselves and worked hard, and that’s what makes the difference between winners and losers.”

Euroleague Basketball: 3 Straight Wins Get Maccabi Back in Business

— by Amir Shoam

Maccabi Tel Aviv beat Fenerbahce-Ulker Istanbul 94-85 yesterday and went back up to a 5-5 record in the basketball Euroleague second group stage. After an even first quarter (22-22), Maccabi went up to 33-23, and the Turks never managed to cut the difference down to less than five points.

Ricky Hickman scored 18 points with great accuracy (3/5 three-pointers, 7/8 free throws and 1/1 two-pointer). David Logan finished with 15 points (5/7 three-pointers), 3 assists, 2 rebounds, one steal and no turnovers. Devin Smith added 16 points (4/6 three-pointers and 2/3 two-pointers).

More after the jump.
Despite finishing the first stage on top of its group with a 8-2 record, Maccabi did not start the current stage well. Maccabi’s only win from the first five games was the previous encounter with Fenerabhce-Ulker. Since then, except for an understandable 77-82 loss to Barcelona, Maccabi got impressive wins against Basiktas Istanbul (77-55), Siena (92-61) and Caja Laboral (66-62). Next week Maccabi will play against Khimki Mosscow. After 14 games, the top four teams out of eight in each group will move up to the quarter-final series stage.

Head coach David Blatt concluded:

We came today with a very determined mindset knowing that this was a critical game and we played accordingly. We saw some great basketball and teamwork and that’s how Maccabi needs to play. We made a lot of three-pointers because we moved the ball well and got to open shots; we didn’t take crazy shots. The game against Khimki could determine our entire season and it will be a real battle.

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High School Tennis Star Returns to Play With U.S. Maccabiah Team

— by Amir Shoam

Among the names in the U.S. tennis team for the Maccabiah announced last week you can find Jennie Shulkin, Pennsylvania’s five-time high school State champion (four times as the leading singles player in the team competition and once in individual doubles). The player, who will turn 20 next month, is already a Maccabiah gold medalist: in squash, with the U.S. junior team in 2009. Being nationally ranked in both squash and tennis, and despite that a shoulder injury made her miss the trials for the tennis team for that year, she was still able to seize the opportunity to participate in the games.

The University of Pennsylvania sophomore started playing tennis almost as soon as she could pronounce “tennis” — at two and a half years old. Being ranked #32 nationally in squash entering Penn, she played on the varsity squash team, but now has gone back to her first love: “My dream has always been to represent the U.S. in tennis at the Maccabiah”, she explained in an exclusive interview with the Philadelphia Jewish Voice.

More after the jump.
“Playing tennis has always felt natural to me, like it’s what I’m supposed to do”, she said. “I feel at home on the court. I was never planning on becoming a professional, but I see it as a life-long sport”. At Penn she studies Communications and Public Service, and afterwards wants to go to law school.

A conservative Jew, Shulkin says that her ethno-religious belonging affects her “identity, decisions and everyday life. I am very proud of being Jewish.”

Shulkin wins the Pennsylvania State trophy in her senior year, 2011

“Since joining the squash team I have not played competitive tennis regularly, but in the try-outs I held my own against players from Division 1 tennis teams, and I feel ready to compete in the games”, she indicated.

I don’t like being overly confident, but I really want to help the U.S. team bring home the gold. I’m also excited to play competitively again, and to see my friends from all over the world that I’ve met last time. My family is also very supportive of my participation. My mom, dad and brother came with me four years ago, and this time my grandparents will join us too.

U.S. tennis team for the tournament:

  • Joshua Albert from Manhattan Beach, CA — University of California Davis;
  • Stephanie Falcon from Marietta, GA — University of North Carolina Greenboro;
  • Max Franklin from Mercer Island, WA — Washington University;
  • David Holiner from Dallas, TX — University of Texas Austin;
  • Michael Laser from Glencoe, IL — Dartmouth College;
  • Emma Levy from Princeton Junction, NJ — Tulane University;
  • Jose Lieberman from Los Angeles, CA — University of Miami;
  • Amira Massi from Los Angeles, CA — California State Northridge;
  • Jenna Nurik from Roswell, GA — University of Tennessee;
  • Sara Perelman from Pittsburgh, PA — Cornell University;
  • Adam Reinhart from Chicago, IL — DePaul University;
  • and Jennie Shulkin from Gladwyne, PA — University of Pennsylvania.

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Maccabiah: Greenberg Seeks Disabled Athletes for US Delegation

— by Sara Feinstein

Stuart Greenberg, 19th Maccabiah USA Paralympic Chairman, is aggressively working to recruit qualified Jewish disabled athletes to compete at the 19th World Maccabiah Games in Israel in July. He is specifically looking for athletes to participate in Wheelchair Basketball, Hand Cycling, Half Marathon, Swimming, Table Tennis and Tennis:

My expectations are to be competitive and represent the American Jewish Community with the highest standards of sportsmanship. I want to also do my best in making the journey to Israel a safe and fun filled experience the athletes will always remember on and off the field of play.

Greenberg has worked with the Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Department for over 39 years. He was the Director of the Carousel House Recreation Center for People with Disabilities from 1992-2003 and has extensive experience working with athletes with disabilities. Please contact him directly at 215.300.4150 if you know of any qualified athlete that would be interested in participating.