Locals Bringing Home Plenty of Medals, Memories from Maccabiah

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Fireworks at the opening ceremony of the 20th Maccabiah Games in Jerusalem, July 6, 2017. Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.

Abigail Goldstein’s double gold in the 1,500- and 3,000-meter runs for juniors, and outstanding performances by golfers Ben Feld and Ben Smith in the open category stood out among locals at the 20th Maccabiah Games, which concluded July 17 in Tel Aviv.

Nearly 10,000 individuals representing 80 countries competed in an array of sports ranging from cycling to water polo, chess to bridge, and track and field to basketball, but it was the host country that turned out to be the most dominant.

Israel racked up a combined 354 gold, 268 silver and 289 bronze medals in the junior, open and masters competitions. The United States finished a distant second with 56 gold, 71 silver and 83 bronze medals.

But Americans did bring home the gold in men’s open basketball, soccer and rugby. The junior team won in ice hockey and took silver in both boys and girls hoops.

Meanwhile, the women’s open team, featuring locals Leah Matusow, Allison Chernow, Lauren Rothfeld and Hannah Fox, knocked off the Israelis 81-71 in the championship game.

But trying to figure out who from the area has done what is a painstaking process. The official Maccabiah website, maccabiah.com, breaks athletes down by country, but doesn’t designate cities or even states among thousands of American participants. It provides winners in individual events, but doesn’t reveal who’s on a winning team.

That makes interpreting results a difficult proposition. Apologies then, if some other local Maccabiah heroes have been missed. Updates on jewishexponent.com will take place as more information comes in.

Thank Twitter for noting Goldstein’s #doubledip. First, the recent Germantown Academy grad won the 1,500 in 4:34.88 on July 12, leading a U.S. medal sweep. A day later, Goldstein, Maya Rayle and Rylee Pustilnik went 1-2-3 in the 3,000 again, with Goldstein clocking in at 10:09.26.

Turning to golf, according to maccabiah.com, Feld came in with the top score in open singles, yet is somehow credited with receiving a silver. The Plymouth Meeting native and teammate Smith also helped Team USA get a silver in the team event.

In men’s open basketball, James McDonnell won gold, as did Alec Weiss, Jonathan Dolezal and Daniel Rubinstein in open soccer and Isaac Katz and Tristan Sylk in open rugby. Benjamin Pulley and the open ice hockey team wear the silver, along with Lou Moyerman in master’s team judo.

As for the women, it’s gold for Brittany Gelman of Ambler in open softball, along with Julia Kreider and Sophie Cweiber in junior basketball.

Silver goes to Alexis Esbitt of the women’s junior field hockey team, Brooke Wolford in double sculls open rowing and Emily Bartos in squash.

Non-medalists include Ian Harris, fourth in the 84-kilometer masters cycling for ages 60 and up, along with Tracey Specter, who placed fifth and sixth in open cycling for 50 year olds. Valerie Yoshimura was seventh in the 200 butterfly and competed well in other races. So did Noah Stevens, who swam in five events.

Finally, Australian native Josh Hersz of Dresher played on that country’s master’s basketball team, which finished sixth. He and his younger brother, Tom, were given the honor of carrying the Australian flag for a special memorial services just outside Ramat Gan Stadium.

In 1997, they were witnesses to the collapse of a makeshift bridge over the Yarkon River leading into the stadium, which took the lives of four teammates. A permanent bridge has since been constructed. 

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