Bay Space athletes headed to Maccabiah Video games in Israel this summer season – J.

We already introduced you the story of Jacob Bockelmann, the Santa Rosa tech employee heading to the twenty first Maccabiah Video games this summer season as a weightlifter. However the video games – typically referred to as the Jewish Olympics – will see almost 70 different Northern California Jewish athletes compete with different Jewish athletes from all over the world in a variety of sports activities, together with all the things from basketball to squash. Listed here are a couple of extra locals who will signify the US on the video games, which can be held in Israel, July 5-26.


Jessie Arons, ice hockey

Jessie Arons, 20, could have grown up in sunny Palo Alto, however she loves the snow – and ice. A rising junior at Lawrence College in Appleton, Wisconsin (“it was actually enjoyable being right here for the winter”), Arons began ice skating at age 4, and by 5 she had picked up a hockey stick. Her mom, Lisa Stifelman, who performed on a membership ice hockey workforce whereas attending graduate college at MIT, launched her to the game.

Honing her expertise for greater than 13 years with the San Jose Jr. Sharks program, Arons performed ahead on Lawrence’s inaugural girls’s hockey workforce this tutorial yr. And in July, she can be competing within the girls’s open hockey competitors on the Maccabiah alongside together with her pal and former Jr. Sharks teammate Isabella Gershtein of Redwood Metropolis.

Jessie Arons

“The one place overseas I have been is Canada for tournaments after I was youthful, so that is going to be actually thrilling to see Israel and expertise the tradition,” Arons mentioned.

As a pupil at Palo Alto Excessive Faculty, Arons performed area hockey as a result of the state’s athletic governing board doesn’t acknowledge ice hockey as an official sport. She tore her ACL as a junior however had profitable surgical procedure and was again on the sphere (and ice) the next yr.

At Lawrence, Arons is majoring in movie, with a minor in studio artwork. She is a giant fan of the Marvel motion pictures – her favourite character is Spiderman – and he or she is contemplating a profession as a movie editor. She is fluent in American Signal Language, which she took up as a result of she had a deaf pal in elementary college.

Though her Lawrence workforce went 0-23 and was outscored 157-17 in its first season, she mentioned she loved bonding with the opposite gamers. “I really like being a part of a workforce,” she mentioned. “Each workforce I’ve performed on, I’ve had a second household and I simply develop so shut with them.” – Andrew Esensten


RELATED: Santa Rosa weightlifter Jacob Bockelmann headed for 2022 Maccabiah video games


Neil Solomon, squash

Neil Solomon of San Francisco admits the coronavirus pandemic was not nice for his coaching.

“Squash is a horrible pandemic sport,” he mentioned. “Huffing and puffing in a small room subsequent to a different individual is just not factor.”

Neil Solomon outside the Tel Aviv Hilton during the 2017 Maccabiah Games.
Neil Solomon exterior the Tel Aviv Hilton through the 2017 Maccabiah Video games.

However the 65-year-old physician, who’s making his second journey to the Maccabiah Video games, will not let that cease him. A former tennis participant who picked up squash after 30 years, Solomon will compete within the masters division and is a co-chair of the workforce.

“I am coaching proper now,” he mentioned. “I’ve each a conditioning coach and a squash coach to up my recreation.”

He mentioned that whereas some might imagine a Jewish-only sporting occasion could be lower than prime stage, it isn’t the case. Maccabiah Video games opponents have gone on to medal on the Olympics.

“It is a excessive stage of competitors,” he mentioned. “There have been some stellar athletes.”

Considering again to the video games in 2017, he mentioned it was significant to be along with Jewish athletes from everywhere in the world who nonetheless felt like “cousins, our brothers and sisters” even when many spoke totally different languages.

“All of us got here from the identical inventory!” he mentioned. “Our forefathers obtained on totally different boats.” – Maya Mirsky


Vivian Ovrootsky, tennis

When Vivian Ovrootsky, 17, of San Jose, gained her first event at age 7, it wasn’t only a trophy that motivated her. “I would be pestering my dad for a cellphone,” she recalled. He informed her “You understand what, OK, how about this? If you happen to win this event, I will purchase you a cellphone, ‘”Ovrootsky mentioned. “He did not notice who he pitched that deal to.”

Since then, she’s had an outstanding profession, profitable two prestigious tournaments: the 2019 Easter Bowl (singles) in Indian Wells, California, and the 2019 Eddie Herr Worldwide (doubles) on the IMG Academy – Bollettieri tennis complicated in Florida, each within the 16-and-under division.

She’ll compete within the youth class within the Maccabiah Video games.

Members of Team USA at the opening ceremony of the 2017 Maccabiah Games.  (Photo / Lior Mizrahi)
Members of Staff USA on the opening ceremony of the 2017 Maccabiah Video games. (Photograph / Lior Mizrahi)

Ovrootsky simply completed her freshman yr taking part in tennis for the College of Texas; she went 12-7 in singles and 10-8 in doubles. Her coach in Austin, Howard Joffe, gained a gold medal on the 1989 Maccabiah, so when Ovrootsky was provided a spot this summer season, Joffe inspired her to take it.

Within the lead-up to the video games, Ovrootsky did not have to alter her observe routine a lot. In late Could, the Longhorns competed within the NCAA Championships, the place they captured their second straight workforce title (and her teammate, Peyton Stearns, gained the singles title).

The Maccabiah will make for Ovrootsky’s first journey to Israel, and he or she’s excited. “I simply actually wish to see what the expertise is like,” she mentioned. “I feel it is simply going to be superb to get to go there, go to Israel, play some tennis.” – Lillian Ilsley-Greene


Katie Lowenstein, volleyball

Katie Lowenstein, 15, of Marin, is among the youngest Bay Space athletes heading to the Maccabiah Video games this yr. She’s competing in juniors volleyball within the under-16 division, and most of her teammates are older than her.

Katie Lowenstein
Katie Lowenstein

Will probably be Lowenstein’s first go to to Israel, and he or she’s making the journey solo. “I am excited,” she mentioned. “If that is how I’ll see Israel for the primary time, then that is such a cool option to see it.”

At 5-foot-7, she is just not tall for her sport, however she has one talent that units her aside. “I am simply quick,” she mentioned. “It is probably not a volleyball-related talent, however I’ve simply been informed I am very fast.”

Lowenstein simply completed her freshman yr of highschool on the Branson Faculty in Ross, the place she performed for the women varsity volleyball workforce. She additionally performs for the Absolute Volleyball Membership in San Rafael and practices three days every week.

“It’s one thing I love to do like after I’m harassed with college, or simply something happening,” she mentioned. “Volleyball observe is a means I can simply take my thoughts off of it.”

Lowenstein, who attended Brandeis Marin in San Rafael, started taking part in volleyball at age 11 and realized in regards to the Maccabiah Video games on the Okay-8 college. She additionally realized rather a lot about Israel.

“I’m simply actually excited to see all of those locations,” Lowenstein mentioned, noting that the seashores and Israeli meals can be on the prime of her listing whereas she’s there. – Emma Goss


Hana Strause, gymnastics

Hana Strause, 17, has been doing gymnastics since she was 4. “I’ve been doing it for thus lengthy,” she mentioned. “I do not know what I would do with out it.”

Now the current highschool graduate from Foster Metropolis can be becoming a member of teammates from California and throughout the nation for the Maccabiah in Israel, competing within the open gymnastics class.

Strause competes at Degree 10, the very best stage of USA Gymnastics Junior Olympics Program, which places her on the stage of most faculty gymnasts. She practices about 20 hours per week.

Hana Strause competing at the NorCal State Championship, at which she won the All Around, March 17, 2018. (Photo / Courtesy Chip Strause)
Hana Strause competing on the NorCal State Championship, at which she gained the All Round, March 17, 2018. (Photograph / Courtesy Chip Strause)

“I am in all probability finest at beam and flooring,” she mentioned.

As soon as the Maccabiah is over, Strause already is aware of her subsequent step: She’s dedicated to Yale College for gymnastics, and is contemplating learning economics.

Strause additionally competed for Staff USA on the Maccabiah Video games in Israel in 2017. However she mentioned it did not go effectively, for a few causes – she was solely 12 years outdated again then, plus she had been sick and did not have good outcomes.

Now, although, she is wanting ahead to exhibiting her finest self. She additionally mentioned will probably be fascinating competing with a bunch, as she often competes domestically in meets as a person. However the Maccabiah can be totally different, as all opponents are a part of Staff USA for his or her sport, even when they compete on their very own in any given occasion.

“I’ve a workforce, a bunch of individuals for the workforce, as a substitute of simply myself,” Strause mentioned. – Maya Mirsky


Josh Anish, basketball

Josh Anish of Berkeley knew he wished to signify the USA on the Maccabiah Video games this summer season. However first, he mentioned, he wanted to lose some weight.

Now in his mid-40s, Anish was a 6-foot-7 heart who performed 4 years of school basketball at Amherst School. Final summer season, when a pal identified that tryouts for the Maccabiah masters division (45 and older) had been arising, Anish stepped on the size: 265 kilos.

“I used to be fats and out of practice throughout Covid similar to all people else,” he joked.

However Anish was acquainted with the chance in entrance of him. At 16, he competed within the junior division on the 1993 Maccabiah Video games. His workforce gained gold – an unforgettable expertise that led to lasting friendships.

When his workforce landed in Israel again then, “ all the American delegation began dancing,” he mentioned. “I used to be like, what is that this? What cult am I in? ”

These video games will mark his first return to Israel after 29 years.

From final summer season to the tryouts in October, Anish labored exhausting to get into combating form. And since the 2021 Maccabiah had been postponed by a yr as a result of pandemic, Anish had time to show 45, simply eligible for the masters division.

Josh Anish (center, blue shorts with red stripe) plays defense during training camp.  (Photo / Mackenzie Mager)
Josh Anish (heart, blue shorts with crimson stripe) performs protection throughout coaching camp. (Photograph / Mackenzie Mager)

“I misplaced weight. Dieted. Went to the health club. I used to be doing all the things, ”he mentioned, finally reaching a svelte 225 kilos. “After I went to the tryout in Philly, it was clear I ought to make the workforce.”

On the courtroom, Anish is just not a highflier. Although he is as tall as Julius “Dr. J ”Erving was in his taking part in days, he isn’t a dunker. He is passer and an environment friendly scorer – and he is shocked himself with how the sport has come again to him after a few years.

“I’m really pretty athletic,” he mentioned. “Which is loopy.”

Anish had a formidable profession at Amherst, a aggressive Division III college the place he was a workforce captain in his senior yr. Nonetheless, “my two basketball peaks had been Maccabiah after I was 16, and hopefully, Maccabiah after I’m 45,” he mentioned. “Who is aware of what occurred within the center?”

Within the center, Anish began a profession in tech, obtained married, and had three children – who will be part of him on the video games. For the primary time ever, they are going to get to see their dad play aggressive basketball. His 14-year-old son Nate will even have fun his bar mitzvah.

The USA grasp’s workforce can be competing towards Israel, Argentina, Australia and Brazil. Anish mentioned Israel is the favourite, however Staff USA has a really robust squad, together with guys who performed Division I a long time in the past at good basketball colleges like Miami and Washington. Anish mentioned he idolized these gamers in Israel when he was 16, after they performed within the extremely aggressive open division.

“They’re nice. They’re form of legends, ”he mentioned. “However they’re 52. It is good to have some youthful blood in there.” – Gabe Stutman

Leave a Reply