It was the Maccabiah moment that almost never happened.
Atlantan Micah Frankel won a silver medal in juniors baseball (ages 15 to 18) with Team Canada at the 2017 Maccabiah Games in Israel, but his path to get there wasn’t easy.
The rising junior at Atlanta Jewish Academy played shortstop in 2016 for Team Atlanta in the JCC Maccabi Games in Columbus, Ohio. There he first heard about the Maccabiah Games, known as the Jewish Olympics, from his coaches, Todd Starr and Daniel Kaufman.
When he got back to Atlanta in early August, he asked his father, David, about trying out for Team USA. But the tryouts had been held in early July, and the team had been selected.
David Frankel noticed in his research, however, that Team Canada’s Maccabiah baseball tryouts were still a few weeks away. A native Canadian, Frankel reached out to the coaches to see whether Micah was eligible to try out.
“I was born in Ottawa,” Frankel said. “My father, the late Dr. Ephraim Frankel, was the headmaster of the Hillel Academy there. The Canadian coaches informed me of the two Maccabiah requirements: Jewish lineage and citizenship of the country you are representing.”
Frankel set out to see whether he could extend his Canadian citizenship to Micah. He found out that if you are born in Canada, you are always a Canadian citizen, and your children can gain citizenship upon completion of a rigorous application process.
The coaches invited Micah to the tryouts in Toronto, and Frankel made plans for Micah to arrive in Toronto the next week.
Sixty players tried out, and Micah was one of the 13 selected. Frankel said that was the easy part.
“This past year was filled with the challenge of obtaining my Canadian birth certificate and references so that I could complete Micah’s citizenship application,” Frankel said. “The process was much more involved than I anticipated, but in the end Micah received not only his Canadian citizenship, but a Canadian passport as well.”
In June, Micah spent four days in Toronto at a mini-camp training with Team Canada, then traveled to Israel with the team in July for the three-week Maccabiah Games.
Team Canada went 2-2 in pool play, then lost to Team USA 10-0 in the gold-medal game. Frankel’s JCC Maccabi coach, Daniel Kaufman, was an assistant with Team USA.
Micah was the starting shortstop for Canada in the championship game. While he was disappointed with the outcome, he said the experience of competing for Canada was incredible.