The 20th Maccabiah Games kicked off in Israel last week, and Minnesota has representation from three athletes and two support-team members that are a part of Team USA. Gymnast Tyler Schmidt, water polo player Josie Berman, and open-water swimmer Jordan Greenberg are all competing in the games, while physicians Howard Fidler and Joel Carter are also part of the delegation.
The Maccabiah is the world’s largest Jewish athletic competition in the tradition and values of Maccabi, emphasizing the centrality of the State of Israel in the life of the Jewish people. The Maccabiah takes place every four years in Israel, and are often referred to as “the Jewish Olympics.” This year’s competition has athletes from 80 countries taking part, and celebrated the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem in the opening at that city’s Teddy Stadium.
TC Jewfolk was able to connect with Berman, a Wayzata native, in the middle of her competition. We’ll try to connect with the others during their competition.
Berman had anticipated being an open-water swimmer in the games, but was recruited to join the water polo team so that there would be enough players to field a squad – and so the tournament could take place.
Berman is a sophomore in the Honors Program and Ithaca College and swims for the school’s Varsity Division 3 swim team. She took on the challenge and began training at Cornell University with their club water polo team and continued training for the games with a master’s water polo team in St. Paul.
“Upon arriving in Israel, we had two weeks of training with our team of nine players and I have completely fallen in love with the sport,” she said.
The U.S. has split its first two matches: An 11-5 loss to Israel and a 17-10 win over Hungary. The US will play Israel again on the 12th as well as Hungary on the 13th. The Gold medal game will take place on Sunday, July 16 at the Wingate Institute in Netanya.
Berman has had her share of success competing against Jewish swimmers in the past. She swam for Team USA’s Junior Swim Team in the Berlin European Maccabi Games in 2015 and won two gold, two silver and two bronze medals in individual and relay races. She swam for Team Minnesota at the 2014 JCC Maccabi Games in Detroit where I won 11 golds and one silver.