3 Av 5774
By Matthew Fox
JCC MetroWest took a delegation of 10 local teenagers and 2 Israeli teenagers from Ofakim, MetroWest's sister city, to compete and participate in the JCC Maccabi Games and Artsfest that was held in Israel from July 25 through August 4. This marked the first time ever that the JCC Maccabi Games and Artsfest were held in Israel. The program was comprised of over 1,000 Jewish teenagers from delegations all over North America and the World. MetroWest had nine athletes who competed in soccer, swimming, and tennis and three artists who participated in broadcast journalism, dance, and rock band.
The Israel Experience was much more than just the traditional JCC Maccabi Games and Artsfest, as it included a host family weekend in Ofakim (MetroWest's sister city in Israel) and three days of touring around the major cities of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
ports competitions and art specialties began on Tuesday, July 26 and were held in Kiryat Shmona, a town located in Northern Israel. After three straight days of competing and creating, the teens took a day off to participate in a "Day of Caring and Sharing" (DOCAS) on Friday. The MetroWest delegation was assigned the project of revamping a youth center in Kiryat Shmona. The teens cleaned, renovated, gardened, and painted - the results were amazing! All together, JCC Maccabi participants donated 6,000 working hours to various projects that helped the host community. Following DOCAS, the MetroWest delegation had a long bus ride south to Ofakim for a visit with their host family. Each teen spent the weekend with an Israeli family in their home and it was great to get a sense of how Israeli's live, especially how they spend Shabbat. While everyone's host family experience differed slightly, two constants seemed to be endless amounts of delicious, homemade food and an inspiring sense of family closeness. Host family weekend concluded on Saturday night with a karaoke pizza party for the teens and their new Israeli friends. On Sunday, it was off to Hebrew University in Jerusalem where the finals of the sports competitions and the Artsfest performances took place. The Israel Experience concluded with three days of touring in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Highlights from the touring included the Old City of Jerusalem and the Kotel, Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, Machon Ayalon (an underground munitions factory), and shopping in the Shook market.
Each evening there were exciting activities planned for all the JCC Maccabi participants that included Israel themed parties, Lunagal Water Park, and incredible Opening and Closing Ceremonies. These ceremonies featured popular music by Israel's HaDag Nahash, American Idol finalist Brett Lowenstern, and Yeshiva University's Maccabeats.
JCC MetroWest artists took advantage of an amazing week of learning and creating as participants in JCC Maccabi Artsfest. Samantha Silverman (Livingston) spent the week learning skills and techniques in the Broadcast Journalism specialty that were showcased in interviews she conducted with Maccabi participants and played for everyone to see at Closing Ceremonies. Samantha also had the opportunity to record at an active regional radio station in Israel. Ariella Liebman (West Orange), a participant in the Dance specialty, enjoyed learning new routines and taking part in a workshop with renowned choreographer Claude Dadia. Ariella's hard work paid off when she performed in front of large crowds at Hebrew University and at the Closing Ceremonies. Daniel Dumashlek (Ofakim, Israel), a saxophone player, participated in the Artsfest specialty Rock Music and spent the week creating performance pieces with his new band mates that they performed at the end of the week. Daniel also had the opportunity to meet and speak to HaDag Nahash band members, one of the most popular bands in Israel, which combines hip hop, rock, reggae, and funk.
MetroWest athletes impressed in the JCC Maccabi Games and brought some hardware back home with them to New Jersey. Swimmers Juliet Felsen (Randolph), Adina Reisner (Randolph), Slade Reisner (Randolph), and Jonas Singer (Millburn) earned a total of 20 medals over three days of intense competition. All the swimmers earned at least two medals (complete medal results can be seen below) with Juliet earning a gold medal in the 200 Meter Medley Relay and Jonas and Juliet both earning gold in the 400 Meter Free Relay. Soccer players Esther Neibart (Morristown), Sara Widmann (Morristown), and Nathaniel Tsimikas (Morristown) all competed on mixed teams, joining up with athletes from the Vancouver delegation. For the girls the mixed team provided the opportunity to become friends and develop a bond with other athletes they otherwise probably would not have met. The team, who had never played together before meeting in Israel, learned as they went along and became stronger in each game of the tournament. Their best result was a 2-2 tie against the Baltimore team. Sara netted two goals in the tournament. Nate's mixed team saw a little more on field success ultimately making it to the gold medal game of the tournament, played at Hebrew University in front of a sell out crowd, where they lost a close game 2-1 to a strong Memphis team. The silver medals were a great reward for this hard working team. Nate played almost the entire tournament at defense which is not his customary position and was one of the team's most valuable players. Tennis players Andrew Nolff (Millburn) and Adina Yoffe (Ofakim, Israel) showed their skills over four days of competing at the Israel Tennis Center. After winning one match and losing another in the preliminary rounds and then having to forfeit two more matches because of injury, Adina earned the 10 seed in the playoffs where she upset the 7 seed 8-2 to advance to a match against the 2 seed. Adina lost this hard fought match but was very proud of her performance. Andrew won three of his four preliminary matches convincingly, 8-0, 8-2, 8-4, earning him the 5 seed in the playoffs. He took down the 12 and 4 seeds before facing off against the 1 seed and losing an extremely intense match. The loss put Andrew in the bronze medal match against the 3 seed. Two sets were not enough to determine a winner so the match went to a tie break with Andrew ultimately winning 10-8 and earning the bronze!
The JCC Maccabi Games and Artsfest in Israel was an incredible experience for this group of MetroWest teens and the memories will last a long time!
Gold Medal - 200M Medley Relay, 400M Free Relay
Silver Medal - 50M Fly, 50M Breast, 400M Medley Relay, 100M Breast
Bronze Medal - 200M Free Relay
Silver Medal - 400M Free Relay
Bronze Medal - 200M Medley Relay
Silver Medal - 200M Back, 200M Medley Relay,
Bronze Medal - 400M Free, 400M Free Relay, 400M Medley Relay, 50M Back, 200M Individual Medley
Gold Medal - 400M Free Relay
Silver Medal - 400M Individual Medley, 400M Medley Relay, 200M Individual Medley
2nd 500 Free
2nd 200 Free
2nd 400 IM
2nd 200 Back
2nd 200 Fly
3rd 50 Free
3rd 100 Free
3rd 100 Breast
4th 100 Fly
4th 50 Fly
4th 200 IM
6th 200 Medley Relay
4th 200 Breast
4th 400 Free Relay
6th 50 Breast
6th 50 Back
6th 400 Free Relay
4th 200 Medley Relay
4th 400 Free Relay
5th 200 Free Relay
6th 400 Medley Relay
4th 50 Breast
5th 400 Free Relay
5th 400 Medley Relay
5th 50 Back
5th 100 Breast
5th 100 Breast
5th 200 Free Relay
6th 100 Fly
6th 200 Medley Relay
All swimmers competed in 12 events and achieved personal bests in many of their races. There were 65 swimmers total in this year's competition and by the second day they were all bonding into one large group. Our swimmers could be found cheering for those they just met. They enjoyed the competition but even more trading for items at the pool. International items were of highest interest.
The swimmers participated in interactive activities learning about what it might be like to live with special needs. Volunteers from the Friendship Circle led the athletes through various activities simulating different impairments followed by a question and answer session.
Jason Caspert ( North Caldwell), Mitch Cohen (Sparta), Wyatt Kalb (Caldwell) Andrew Katzeff (Livingston), Ben Kizel (Short Hills), Tyler Storch (Montville), Alex Tarowsky (Montville) and Jesse Warech (Montville) were the members of the 16U basketball team that represented the MetroWest JCC in the 2011 Maccabi Games. The team was led by coaches Gary Warech and Lonny Tarowsky. The Games took place in Philadelphia this past August with over 1500 athletes from around the world. Six of the players were on the 2010 team that won the 14u gold medal so it was a young group with a tough draw but they competed in every game and earned a gold medal in the consolation bracket. One of the highlights for the MetroWest team came near the end of the competition when they exchanged jerseys with the team from Israel. In the spirit of the Maccabi Games, the two teams bonded and the MetroWest players proudly wore their Israeli jerseys in their final game and during the gold medal ceremony.
On Sunday, August 14, 2011, the MetroWest delegation set off for the 2011 JCC Maccabi Games in Philadelphia. The defending bronze medalist U16 baseball team, composed of 13 players, went with high hope of returning with no less than a gold medal. With 6 players returning from last year and the addition of 7 strong newcomers, Manager Eric Katz and Coach Jim McCauley worked hard to prepare the team for the intense week to come.
The trip started out with tremendous rain during the day which did little to dampen the spirits of the team. Settled in with their host families, the team gathered at Villanova for the opening ceremonies. By the late afternoon, the rain had stopped but the damage to the fields was done.
Monday came and despite the best efforts of the Philadelphia host delegation to ready the municipal fields, no baseball games could be played. Already the schedule was behind though hopes were high for Tuesday. The team did their day of caring and sharing, enjoying the day of service.
Each team was limited to one game on Tuesday. MetroWest faced Orange County, a team from the Los Angeles area. The starting line-up was Alex Walton, center, batting lead-off and providing speed on the bases. Leo Poggie, left field, a strong contact hitter, followed Walton. Tyler Benson, short stop, batted third, giving the top of the line-up another contact hitter. Jared Berman, 1st base, batted cleanup with a powerful bat and the potential to break games open with his swing. Zachary Buchholz, 2nd base, is another power hitter and helped anchor the middle of the lineup. Dylan McCauley, catcher, had the tough job behind the plate and provided additional hitting prowess. Cole McCollum, the starting pitcher, batted seventh, and took command of the mound for the first game, with Poggie in relief. Joey Walter, an outfielder, was the extra hitter this game, making the bottom of the lineup a potent force. Mo Pasternak, third base and playing in his 4th Maccabi games, batted 8th. Jason Sedell, right field, rounded out the lineup. On the bench to substitute were Josh Katz, Matt Timpone, and Avi Kessler.
MetroWest won the first game 15 - 6, in a game shortened to 4innings due to time limitations. The lineup put up a barrage of 13 hits in 25 at bats. With 7 walks and only 3strikeouts, the team left only 6 men on base. Of particular note at the plate was Walter going 3-3, Berman batting 2-2 with 2 walks, Poggie 2-3 with 1 walk, and Pasternak 2-3. After a slow 1st inning, the team batted through the order in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th innings. McCullom had 6 K's, and the "Killer B" infield turned a double play (Benson-Buchholz-Berman) to end the 4th.
Two games were played on Wednesday. In game one, MetroWest faced their rival, and eventual gold medal winner LA Milken. Using the same lineup, MetroWest batted 9 batters instead of 10, with Avi Kessler playing right field and batting in the 9 spot for Jason Sedell. Dylan McCauley got the call on the mound, Pasternak went behind the dish and McCollum played 3rd. The Los Angeles pitching was very stingy - MetroWest managed only 5 hits in 21 at bats but the hitters were tough in the batters' box, running up the pitch count and spreading out 6 K's in 6 innings. With only 3 walks given up by LA, base runners were hard to come by and deft fielding by LA kept runners from reaching base. Dylan had excellent defense behind him - Walton made 2 catches in center, Buchholz was busy at 2nd with 3 assists and 2 more put-outs. Kessler and Poggie in the outfield each pulled in fly ball outs. LA managed to put together some hits for runs to win the game, 6-1.
Wednesday's second game was against the eventual silver medalist Chicago. Jared Berman took the mound against a tough lineup, putting up 5 K's through 4 innings. This was the most intense games played in the tournament. Chicago, the home team, struck first, putting up 2 runs in the first inning. In the 2nd, Chicago threatened with a runner on 2nd. The next batter hit a huge shot to center. Walton, getting a fantastic read of the hit off the bat, made a diving, off the ground amazing catch to get the out and keep the runner from scoring. Poggie pulled in the next fly ball to left and Berman stuck out the next batter to hold Chicago to a scoreless inning. It was an inning that propelled Metro to get on the board in the top of the 3rd with 3 runs, with the middle of the lineup doing what they do best. Chicago, not to be out-done, answered with another 3 runs in the bottom of the 3rd, making the score 5-3.
In the 4th, Metro added a base runner and Berman hit a triple to drive in another run, closing the gap to 5-4. Metro's defense was formidable, holding Chicago to a scoreless innings in the 4th inning and erasing a threat with a perfect 6-4-3 double play. In the 5th, Metro added put together two hits - a double by McCollum and a single by Pasternak to tie the game, 5-5. Chicago went down 1-2-3 in the 5th on a K, a 5-3 play in the infield and a fly ball to center. Metro went quietly in the top of the 6th and prepared for the bottom of the inning. With Walton coming in in relief in the 6th, Chicago scratched together a run in before Metro stopped them with another 6-4-3 double play. Hoping to get another chance at the plate with the 4-5-6 hitters due up, the game was called for time and Chicago prevailed 6-5.
The rain then began again, and the tournament was called after no games could be played on Thursday except medal games. While Metro was in the winner's bracket, they were not given a chance to play due to an unfavorable scheduling decision by the host community. But this Metro team had a lot to be proud of. Every player made a contribution in some way. For two of the youngest team members, 13 year olds Josh Katz and Matt Timpone, it was an amazing experience as they saw what it was like to play on a competitive, high school level team. While they did not have as much playing time as the others, they will bring their experience to next year's efforts. For the players who played in their last Maccabi games, Mo Pasternak, Leo Poggie, Alex Walton, Dylan McCauley, Avi Kessler, Joey Walter, Jared Berman, Zach Buccholz and Cole McCollum, it was a bittersweet end to what they hoped would be a gold medal year but one with good memories nonetheless. The rest of the team can look forward to avenging this year and carrying the banner for MetroWest Baseball in 2012. Thank you to our manager and coaches, Eric Katz, Jim McCauley, Mike Timpone and Anita Walton. They all worked tirelessly to get the team ready and to put forth the best possible effort in an intense, competitive week. Our boys have made some wonderful friends and played a game they love.
Infield made 12 plays, and 3 double plays, 2 in one game.
2 baserunners were caught stealing
Outfield caught 11 fly balls.
13 K's by the pitching staff
25 hits in 73 at bats (.342 team batting average)