With opening ceremonies for the 20th Maccabiah Games in Israel just over a year away, the U.S. delegation is scouring the country for elite Jewish athletes to compete in the third-largest sporting event in the world.
In 2013, 30 athletes from Georgia represented the United States at the 19th games in 16 sports, including softball, basketball, swimming, volleyball, soccer, tennis and rugby. Those games brought together 7,500 athletes from 77 countries to compete in 34 sports.
Tryouts for many of the 2017 U.S. squads are scheduled for this summer. To find a listing of sports and tryout dates, visit maccabiusa.com.
Kenny Silverboard, who works at the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, served as an accommodations manager for the U.S. delegation in 2013. He’s quick to talk about how being at the games affected him.
“I had goosebumps walking into the opening ceremonies in 2013,” Silverboard said. “When they started singing ‘Hatikvah’ with 40,000 people in that stadium, it was spine-tingling. It doesn’t get any better than that.”
He added: “Everybody wanted our Team USA jackets. We could have traded them for gold.”
Silverboard is Atlanta’s unofficial connection with Maccabi USA, based in Philadelphia. He regularly communicates with Program Director Shane Carr about teams looking for athletes. Silverboard said the U.S. delegation’s current need is for high school baseball players born from 1999 to 2002 and softball players of all ages.
The World Maccabiah Games are held every four years in Israel. Since the fourth games in 1953, the event has been held each summer after the Summer Olympics. The Maccabiah Games are open to Jewish athletes from around the world and to Israeli athletes regardless of religion.
Competition is split into four divisions: juniors, open, masters and disabled. An athlete selected to a team has a financial commitment that varies for each group.
Team USA brought 1,106 athletes to Israel in 2013 and won 196 medals (77 gold, 60 silver, 59 bronze), was second only to Israel’s 411 (153 gold, 135 silver, 123 bronze).
The 20th Maccabiah Games will take place from July 2 to 18 next year.
Georgia at the Games
Since 2005, 94 athletes from Georgia have represented the United States at the World Maccabiah Games. In 2013, the Georgian delegation consisted of 30 athletes and accommodations manager Kenny Silverboard.
Noa Allen, juniors fencing
Ariel Allen, open fencing
Michael Berger, masters triathlon
David Cohen, men’s open rugby
Joshua Doman, juniors tennis
Stephanie Falcon, open tennis
Samantha Findling, women’s open softball
Halle Friedman, open swimming
Benjamin Glauser, open track and field
Johanna Goldblatt, juniors swimming
Rachel Goldblatt, juniors swimming
Scott Holtz, masters triathlon
Morgan Kosterlitz, open beach volleyball
Ryan Landy, masters triathlon
Elias Levy, juniors swimming
Itzhak Levy, masters table tennis
Megan Light, women’s open softball
Joshua Merlis, men’s open basketball
Jenna Nurik, open tennis
Danielle Paz, women’s open soccer
Meryl Romeu, open 10-pin bowling
Benjamin Rothschild, open cycling
Warren Russ, men’s open soccer
Nicholas Salinger, open futsal
Ryan Salmon, open swimming
Ronen Schechter, boys’ juniors soccer
Eyal Schechter, men’s open soccer
Garett Schwartz, juniors ice hockey
Aaron Shiffman, boys’ juniors soccer
Aaron Simon, men’s youth basketball
Kenny Silverboard, accommodations manager