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.

Basketball: Maccabi Tel Aviv Returns To Win Against Istanbul

— by Amir Shoam

After two disappointing losses, Maccabi Tel Aviv beat Fenerbahce-Ulker Istanbul 91-73 yesterday in the basketball Euroleague second group stage. Maccabi could not flee during the first half, which ended in 36-36. During the third quarter Maccabi seemed to run away, but the Turks managed to cut the difference back to 53-48 by its end. However, in the first three minutes of the fourth quarter Maccabi went up to 66-54, and Fenerbahce could not get back from that.

More after the jump.
Maccabi enjoyed a great day of its two best scorers this season: center Shawn James scored 9/10 two-point throws and 4/4 free throws, and also contributed five rebounds and an assist in his 30 minutes on the field. Guard Ricky Hickman scored 6/8 two-pointers, 9/9 free throws and 1/3 three-pointers, and added five assists and five rebounds in 29 minutes. However, Israeli guard Moran Roth was selected game MVP for his six assists and eight points, including 2/2 three-pointers, in 16 minutes.

As remembered, Maccabi finished the first group stage in the first place out of six with an 8-2 win-lose record. As a result, it was placed as one of the two group winners out of eight teams in the new group. In the first game of the stage Maccabi lost to Siena, which finished third in Maccabi’s group in the first stage but has greatly improved during the season — 69-79. Last week Maccabi lost 70-71 to Caja Laboral. The teams that finish in the first four places of this group will advance to the quarter-final series stage.

“Fener has a lot of useful players, but we played better as a team”, said head coach David Blatt. “I’m still hurting last week, because we could win an even better team, but at least we’re back in business. It wasn’t as easy as the score suggests, but the last quarter was something special. We defended pretty well as always, but we needed another scorer except for Ricky and Shawn and I’m happy that Moran had a great game”.

Two Philadelphians To Join National Jewish Sports Hall Of Fame


Steve Bilsky and Randy Grossman
National Jewish Hall of Fame 2013 Inductees

— by Alan Freedman

Two athletes with ties to Philadelphia, Steve Bilsky and Randy Grossman, will be inducted into The National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame & Museum on April 21, 2013. Steve Bilsky, a star basketball player at Penn in the 70’s and the current Athletic Director at Penn, and Randy Grossman, who attended Haverford High School and was a three-year starter at tight end for Temple, are among the inductees in the Class of 2013.

Their biographies follow the jump.
As a basketball player at Penn, Steve Bilsky was a three-time All-Ivy League guard and captain of the school’s best team in its history in 1970-71. In his current position as Penn’s Athletic Director, Bilsky has expanded activities, competition and facilities for the school’s numerous men’s and women’s teams and its recreation programs. Bilsky played on the ’70-’71 nationally ranked Quaker team (28-1), that was considered one of the all-time greatest teams in school history. In his final two seasons as Penn’s point guard, his teams had a 53-3 record.

Randy Grossman was an outstanding tight end at Temple in the early 70’s and was named to the AP All-America third team as a senior in 1973; he helped the Owls to a 9-1 record that season, the best in Owls’ history. Grossman earned All-east honors and was invited to play in the North-South game. He was signed by the Pittsburgh Steelers as a free agent and helped them to win four Super Bowls – he caught a touchdown pass in Pittsburgh’s 21-17 victory over Dallas in Super Bowl X.

The National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame & Museum, located in Commack, New York, is dedicated to honoring Jewish athletes, coaches, broadcasters and others who have distinguished themselves in the world of sports, an area of accomplishment not often associated with the Jewish people.

Basketball: Maccabi In Final Game For 1st Place

— by Amir Shoam

Maccabi Tel Aviv will play tomorrow against Alba Berlin in the last game of the basketball Euroleague group stage. Maccabi currently holds the 1st place in the group as it won Unicaja Malaga, which is in second place, by 5 points and lost to it by 2. While a win tomorrow will get Maccabi the 1st place, a loss will let Malaga have it if it wins Elan Chalon.  The group’s winner will get teams that were ranked lower in the round as it’s rivals in the second group stage.

More after the jump.
Yesterday Maccabi’s players and staff visited the schnieder children’s hospital in Petach Tikvah, distributed presents and even performed the Korean hit song “Gangnam style” for the children.”Through those visits the players realize what’s really important in life and try to give back the love they get”, said head coach David Blatt.

Basketball: Maccabi Looks To Secure First Place

– by Amir Shoam

Maccabi Tel Aviv will play tomorrow in Italy against Sienna in the basketball Euroleague group stage. With a 5-1 record, Maccabi is currently holding the group’s first place thanks to winning Unicaja Malaga by 5 points before losing to it by 2 points last week. Sienna is the third-best team in the group so far with a 3-3 record, and a win against it will make it very possible for Maccabi to finish the group with a 9-1 record, which will guarantee first place.

More after the jump.
Last Sunday Maccabi beat Hapoel Eilat 79-68 in a game full of upsets in the local league. Israeli forward Lior Eliyahu was man of the match with 18 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists.

Israel’s national team was drawn to a relatively easy group in the 2013 European championship: except for 2011’s silver medalist France, the team will play against Britain, Germany, Ukraine and Belgium, in all of which basketball is not considered a major sport. The tournament will be held in Slovenia next September, and the top three teams from each group will qualify to the next round.

Follow my tweets @amirshoam

Basketball: Maccabi Loses, But Retains First Place

— by Amir Shoam

Maccabi Tel Aviv lost today 62-64 to Unicaja Malaga in the basketball Euroleague group stage. However, with both teams holding a positive 5-1 record in the competition now, Maccabi still beats Malaga in the group table for winning it 85-80 in the first round. The score has been close for most of the game’s time, with Malaga leading twice by six points and Maccabi leading once by five only to see each other coming back. Devin Smith and Ricky Hickman missed during Maccabi’s last possession and could not force overtime.

More after the jump.
Center Shawn James contributed 14 points, nine rebounds and two steals for Maccabi in 20 minutes. Hickman added 13 points, five rebounds and five steals in 28 minutes. Israeli guard Yogev Ohayon finished with seven points, seven of Maccabi’s total nine assists, and two steals in 31 minutes.

Just a couple of hours before the game rockets were fired to the Tel Aviv area, for the first time since the Gulf War in 1991. The result of Hamas’ attack was that the Yad Eliyahu arena (11,700 sits) was not full, which rarely happens in a Euroleague game.

“All through the game we played too slow and did not develop the kind of game we needed to”, said head coach David Blatt. “All of the surrounding events affected us more than they did them, but some things are more important than this game. Despite that, the game had to be played”, he added.

Follow my tweets @amirshoam

Israeli Basketball: A Very Yellow Weekend

— by Amir Shoam

Maccabi Tel Aviv thrashed Polish champion Prokom Gdynia 93-62 last Thursday in the basketball Euroleague group stage. The win came four days after the humiliating domestic league defeat, 64-81 to Maccabi Rishon Lezion. Maccabi led 27-13 after the first quarter on the way to 50-30 at the break, and most of the second half became “garbage time.” (With little doubt in the final result coaches of both teams replaced their best players with substitutes in order to protect their stars from injury and give their second stringers valuable playing experience.)

More after the jump.
Ricky Hickman led the side with 14 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds and 2 steals in 24 minutes. David Logan added 13 points, 3 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 assists in 22 minutes. The most influential Israeli was point guard Yogev Ohayon, with 8 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds and no turnovers in 24 minutes.

The win kept Maccabi on top of group B with 4 wins out of 4 games. Next Thursday the team will play in Germany against Alba Berlin (2 wins, 2 losses) in the final game of the 1st round.

Maccabi’s head coach, David Blatt, announced earlier this week that he will not continue as the head coach of the Russian national team, “for personal reasons”. Just over a year from his appointment, the American/Israeli coach led the team to win the 2007 European championship. He later won the bronze medal in both the 2011 continental championship and the Olympic tournament last summer.

Jordan Farmar contributed 18 points to one of the Euroleague’s greatest upsets of recent years: Efes Istanbul went back from trailing 30-48 after the 1st half to a 76-64 win over Caja Vitoria. The American Jew, who won 2 NBA championships with the LA Lakers, also added 6 rebounds and 3 assists in his 30 minutes on the field.

Maccabi Tel Aviv’s soccer team also had success today as it went to top the Israeli premier league table after a 3-1 win over Hapoel Ramat Gan. Eliran Atar scored his 8th and 9th goals of the season during the first 4 minutes of the second half and keeps leading the top scorers’ table. Maccabi now has 21 points of 8 games. SC Ashdod, which is having a surprisingly good season so far, went down to the 2nd place with 19 points after 0-0 versus Hapoel Be’er Sheva.

Hapoel Tel Aviv (15 points) will play tomorrow against Maccabi Netanya. Next Saturday Maccabi and Hapoel Tel Aviv will play each other.

Eden Ben Basat scored yesterday his 4th goal of the season (in 7 appearances) for Stade Brest in the win 2-0 against FC Lorient in the French Ligue 1. Goalkeeper Guy Haimov broke the Cypriot first division record for not conceding a goal for the longest time, as he kept his net clean in the 8th straight game since the start of the season. His team, AEK Larnaka, is coached by Ran Ben Shimon, who led Ironi Kiryat Shmona to a sensational Israeli championship last season. The team beat AEP Paphos 3-0 today and has 22 table points.

Football and Politics: Tom Corbett and Penn State

Crossposted from Democratic Convention Watch

Yes, I know, I'm not generally the best person to discuss sports. And in the interest of full disclosure, I've never actually been to a football game. Still, I understand the economic effects that football has on college: both direct and indirect. The lessons we can learn from that relationship, and the Penn State imbroglio, have direct transferability to what is happening to our political system. Further, the meshing of the two has had life-altering consequences for too many young boys. 

Friday, USA Today had an editorial on Penn State, entitled “Will Penn State save itself from 'death penalty'?”.  The salient point from the editorial:

Outraged critics want the NCAA to level its “death penalty” to shut down the Nittany Lion football program for at least a year. That option is under consideration, and appropriately so given the severity of the crime, but it's a crude tool. No doubt it would cripple Penn State's football program for many years. That's what happened the only time it was used, against Southern Methodist University in 1987. But it would also injure a lot of people — players, employees, businesses — who have no culpability. Before it's applied again, Penn State should have a chance to come up with a response that could serve as a model. (Emphasis mine.)

Here's the thing about culpability, and its applicability to politics: there are no indrectly-involved innocent adults (except the victims). What happened at Penn State, and as the editorial points out, at many other institutions, is that a bunch of very rich people use their money to further their ends, the needs of everyone else be damned. Happy Valley is an insular society where everyone knows what's going on. People have known about Sandusky and the cover-up for decades potentially going back to the 1970's. But hey, Penn State was winning, and that was all that mattered. “Mattered” not just to the college, but to the political system of Pennsylvania.

In 2008, information about Sandusky was brought to the PA Attorney General's office, then headed by Tom Corbett. The case languished as Corbett ran for Governor, accepting in $640,000 in donations from Jerry Sandusky's Second Mile charity. Worse, after assuming office, Corbett gave a $3 million dollar grant to Second Mile. As a side point, in his position as governor, Corbett is an ex-officio trustee of Penn State. The trustees, you may recall, didn't fare so well in Louis Freeh's report, in terms of not acting on information about which they were well aware.

After Corbett left the AG's office, it was a matter of months until Sandusky was indicted and successfully prosecuted. After 3 years of inaction, MONTHS. Three years of additional victims. The money generated by Penn State football was so very important not only to the university (at the expense of academic programs) but to the governor's office. Important enough that the dozens of sexually abused boys did not matter at all to any of them. To be clear: Tom Corbett knew he was going to run for governor while he was AG. He allowed a multiple-victim sexual abuse case to not be prosecuted so that he could protect a football team and get political donations.

Let that sink in. 

In my mind, there is no doubt that the punishment to Penn State should be that they don't get to play football this year. The players should be allowed by the NCAA to either transfer to other schools, or take a year off and maintain eligibility. If that's too harsh, really punish them by allocating every single dollar in profit made by the football program to charities that work with sexual abuse victims for the 2012-13 season, 90% of the profit allocated that way for the following season, dropping down each year…

And for the political side? Prosecute Tom Corbett for hindering prosecution, take away his law degree, and impeach him for moral turpitude. 

Hold Penn State and Tom Corbett up as talismen for what should never, EVER happen again.

8 New Members Inducted Philadelphia Jewish Sports Hall of Fame


(L-R) Richard Cohen, inductee; Buzz Bissinger, inductee; Glenn Fine, inductee; Lisa Hoffstein, inductee; Stephen H. Frishberg, board chair; Phil Kendall, accepting on behalf of George Katz; Rich Yankowitz, inductee; (front) Al Schrier, board member; (behind Al), Lewis Katz, Pillar of Achievement recipient; Fred Shabel, inductee; and Michael Barkann, master of ceremonies and Hall of Fame member.

— by Scott D. Bluebond and Debbie Weiss

The Philadelphia Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and Adolph and Rose Levis Museum (PJSHOF) celebrated its 15th anniversary by honoring eight new individuals in a reception held on May 21, 2012 at the Gershman Y at Broad and Pine Streets in Philadelphia. The 2012 inductees include Buzz Bissinger, Richard Cohen, Glenn Fine, Lisa Hoffstein, George Katz, Fred Shabel, Rich Yankowitz, and Pillar of Achievement honoree, Lewis Katz. In addition, the 2011 JCC Maccabi Games® Team Philadelphia Graduating Athletes received special recognition.

The inductees into the Philadelphia Jewish Sports Hall of Fame represent the best of the best, those individuals and teams who, through perseverance, dedication, superior talent and skills, have risen to the top of their respective sports. Their names and achievements are celebrated within the walls of the museum. Each PJSHOF inductee has been involved in sports as an athlete, coach, manager, administrator, team owner, or as a 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 120 past honorees. This includes the Philadelphia SPHAs, a championship basketball team that was dominant between the two World Wars and later became the NBA Warriors; Philadelphia Phillies senior vice president and general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr., NFL Films founders Ed and Steve Sabol; Philadelphia Flyers founder Ed Snider; NBA Hall of Famer Dolph Schayes, and many others.

More after the jump.
This year’s special class includes coaches, charity founders, sports managers and a prize-winning writer:

  • Buzz Bissinger is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, author, and now talk show host, best known for his
    non-fiction book, Friday Night Lights.
  • Richard Cohen is a world class tennis and squash player known also for his tennis coaching prowess.
  • Glenn Fine is a former inspector general of the United States Department of Justice and Rhodes Scholar, who was a 10th-round draft pick by the San Antonio Spurs.
  • Lisa Hoffstein, University of Pennsylvania tennis star, is president and founder of “The Katie At The Bat Team,” dedicated to empowering inner-city children to achieve their full potential through participation in athletics.
  • Posthumous awardee George Katz was a boxing manager famous for handling his boxers with extreme caution. He guided many good Philly contenders including Gil Turner and Kitten Hayward.
  • Fred A. Shabel has been vice-chairman of Comcast-Spectacor, the high profile sports and entertainment organization, for the past 32 years.
  • Rich Yankowitz, longtime head basketball coach at Dobbins Tech, is the winningest coach in Philadelphia Public League history.
  • Pillar of Achievement honoree Lewis Katz is a Camden-raised entrepreneur, former owner of the New
    Jersey Nets and New Jersey Devils, and philanthropist. He is director of the Katz Foundation, which supports a variety of charitable, educational and medical causes. He joins a distinguished group that includes Irv Kosloff and Ike Richman, Sam Rabinowitz, and 2011 inductee, Steve Cozen.

Al Shrier served as ceremony chairman; Jay Goldberg, nominating committee chair; Harriet Beloff Goodwin; décor chair; and Louis Schmidt, publication chair. Deborah P. Weiss is the director and Stephen H. Frishberg is chair of the board.

The Philadelphia Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and its sports museum honor local Jewish teams and athletes, many of whom actually played their sports in the Broad Street PJSHOF location. Founded in 1997 to celebrate the contributions of local Jewish pioneers and heroes in the sports world, the Philadelphia Jewish Sports Hall of Fame soon expanded to a full-fledged museum with an endowment from the Levis family. It is located in the old YM-YWHA, where many of the basketball, volleyball, gymnastics, track and swimming stars practiced and played. There are lockers filled with uniforms, equipment and other memorabilia representing Jewish athletes associated with local teams like the Flyers and 76ers. There is also a gripping memorial remembering the Israeli athletes who were killed during the 1972 Munich Summer Olympic Games.

The mission of the Philadelphia Jewish Sports Hall of Fame is to provide the community with tangible and lasting evidence of the past, present and future of Jewish sportsmen and sportswomen in the Greater Philadelphia area and to instill community pride in Jewish accomplishments in the field of sports and the role sports has played in preserving Jewish culture. The hall and museum reflect the obstacles Jews had to overcome in order to excel in sporting endeavors locally, nationally and internationally; portray the instrumental role sports has played in Jewish life; and provide continuity to future generations of Jewish athletes. Celebrating 15 years in 2012, the PJSHOF is open Sunday through Friday and provides tours by request. Please call 215-900-7999, write [email protected] to learn more.

JCC Maccabi Games Seeks Host Families and Volunteers

The Kaiserman Jewish Community Center in Wynnewood is still seeking both host families and volunteers for its Maccabi Games August 14-9.

On the volunteering end, the JCC is hoping to fill over 3,000 volunteer shifts. You can register to become a volunteer here. These include positions such as medical tent volunteers, greeters, sporting event assistants, and meal helpers.

If your family is interested in hosting an athlete for the Maccabi Games, you must live within a 45-minute drive from the JCC. The JCC included a list of the following responsibilities for host families:

Each Host Family will be asked to take a minimum of two visiting athletes. Your responsibilities are to pick them up on Sunday August 14 at the Kaiserman JCC and get them settled in then bring them that evening to Opening Ceremony and stay to enjoy the show.  On Monday morning the week of competition begins. Hosts may either bring their athletes to the JCC or directly to their venue (TBD on Main Line) for the day.  Athletes will stay with us at the Games until after the evening activities conclude each night (approx 9:30pm).

More after the jump.
Wednesday night is Host Family Night.  This is your chance to show your athletes your favorite part of Philadelphia. Sports conclude that day by approx 4pm.

On Friday morning everyone goes back home and the Games are complete.

If you’d like to host Maccabi Games athletes or volunteer, please go to www.phillymaccabi.com under the “host” or “volunteer” options.