2013 JCC Maccabi Games

Maccabi Games

The JCC Maccabi Games are a cultural as well as athletic event for Jewish teenagers. The Games highlight and strengthen one's personal connection to his or her own Judaism thus continuing the historic sports tradition passed on from generation to generation.

Interested in becoming a part of this year's delegation? Contact Sherri Feldscher, CJ, 973-530-3425,

Want to see what the national movement is doing? Go to Check out the JCC Maccabi Israel website

MetroWest Maccabi Soccer-Austin 2013

The MetroWest U16 Boys’ Soccer team capped off an incredible tournament by earning the Bronze Medal in the 2013 JCC Maccabi Games in Austin, Texas.  Without ever competing as a team and after only a few practices prior to Austin, the team’s performance in the tournament certainly exceeded all expectations.

Team MetroWest, comprised of players from all over Northern New Jersey, included: Ross Baron (Scotch Plains), Garrett Meinhardt (Livingston), Colin Morrissey (Basking Ridge), Noah Nazmiyal (Montville), Max Ramsfelder (Morristown), Jake Samuels (Livingston), Ethan Tuckman (Towaco), Jack Wasserman (Livingston), and Kevin Zeligson (West Orange).

The soccer tournament began early Monday morning for MetroWest with a match against a mixed team based out of Fort Lauderdale.  This was a good chance for the MetroWest players to get a feel for each other on the field and it all came together nicely as the team cruised to a 7-2 victory.  Kevin Zeligson, Noah Nazmiyal, and Jack Wasserman recorded two goals apiece.  This game helped build confidence among the MetroWest squad which they would need as they progressed in the tournament and faced tougher opponents.

The team’s second game on Monday came against one of those tougher opponents in the team from Edmonton.  Throughout the tournament, MetroWest only had two substitutes (all other teams had 3 or more) but with Ethan Tuckman sidelined at Medical, the squad had the tough challenge of playing in 100 degree heat with only one sub.  Edmonton got on the scoreboard first with a first half goal, one of only a couple times MetroWest would ever trail in the entire tournament.  While it would have been easy for the team to fold after conceding, the team continued to give it their all and was rewarded with a penalty kick late in the first half.  Max Ramsfelder confidently stepped up to the spot and buried the shot past the keeper with no hesitation.  The teams would go into the half tied 1-1 and that is how the score remained despite some good opportunities from both teams.  This game showed the grit and mental toughness of the MetroWest team.

After coming out a little flat Tuesday morning against an inferior Dallas side (0-0 at halftime), MetroWest found their form in the second half, finding the back of the net five times while recording the team’s first clean sheet of the tournament.  In Tuesday’s second game, MetroWest found another strong opponent in Boca Raton.  Learning from earlier in the day, MetroWest came out ready to play from the opening whistle and found themselves up 1-0 on an early goal from Kevin Zeligson.  Max Ramsfelder added a second goal a few minutes later and the 2-0 lead was all MetroWest would need in this one.  A team defense mind set was the key in this win against Boca.  While Boca had a couple chances, MetroWest dominated the play in this game.  Exceptional play from goalies Garrett Meinhardt and Ross Baron and the defensive core of Colin Morrissey and Jake Samuels led to the team’s second consecutive shutout.

Strong play and a 3-0-1 record in the preliminary round earned MetroWest the #1 seed in the medal round of the tournament and a match against #8 seed Chicago/LA on Wednesday morning.  While the #1 seed gave MetroWest a favorable matchup in the first game of the medal round, the other two teams in the bracket were Boca and Edmonton, ensuring a tough draw for MetroWest should they reach the semifinals.  Chicago/LA, another mixed team, did not provide much competition for MetroWest who went on to win 7-1 behind 4 goals from Kevin Zeligson.  The win put MetroWest into the semifinals on Thursday, a rematch against Boca Raton.

The semifinal match against Boca was a tough learning experience for MetroWest.  The match was pretty even throughout although MetroWest actually controlled a lot of the possession and had a number of goal scoring opportunities, three of which hit the post, and a bunch more which just missed the net.  The score remained 0-0 through halftime and well into the second half.  With about 10 minutes left to play, a Boca player rifled a shot from about 35 yards out that found the top corner of the net, a perfectly placed shot out of the reach of the keeper.  While this was a crushing blow, MetroWest would not give up so easily and battled hard for the last few minutes of the game, creating some more goal scoring opportunities.  As a result of MetroWest’s increased pressure pushing forward, Boca was able to score a second, lucky goal, a defensive clear that went over the head of the MetroWest goalie.  The 0-2 loss was an unlucky result and a tough one to swallow for a team that felt like they had controlled the game.

Sometimes a loss can teach us much more about ourselves than a win.  This was the case here.  MetroWest was down but not out and had to somehow put the disappointment behind them and find the passion they exhibited all tournament for the bronze medal game just an hour later.  A tough task, but MetroWest was up to the challenge.

The bronze medal game was played against #2 seed and hosts, Austin.  Although MetroWest was considered the “home team” for this game, the crowd was obviously in support of Austin.  This would not be any easy match evidenced by a 1-1 tie at halftime.  The second half however belonged to MetroWest, adding three goals and going on to the 4-1 victory and the Bronze Medal!  Three of the four goals were scored by the MetroWest goalies during their time in the field, two from Garrett Meinhardt and another from Ross Baron.

MetroWest finished the tournament with an impressive 5-1-1 record, scoring 26 goals while conceding only seven.  Kevin Zeligson lead the team in goals with eight while Jack Wasserman (six goals, seven assists) and Noah Nazmiyal (four goals, nine assists) lead the team in total points with 13.  Also scoring goals for MetroWest were Max Ramsfelder (3), Garrett Meinhardt (2), Ross Baron (2), and Ethan Tuckman (1).  Jake Samuels was self-credited with by far the most “hockey assists” on the team.  As a team, led by goalies Garrett Meinhardt and Ross Baron and the defensive duo of Colin Morrissey and Jake Samuels, MetroWest recorded two complete game shutouts.  Individually, Meinhardt and Baron each recorded four shutout halves in the goal and excellent .428 and .571 goals against averages respectively.  Many players on the team were asked to play in positions that they were unfamiliar with and not only excelled in those positions, but never once had a grip about it.  In particular, Max Ramsfelder and Ethan Tuckman were asked to play numerous positions over the course of the tournament, with Ramsfelder finding time in midfield, forward, and defense and Tuckman moving around to all three midfield positions as needed.  It was this “team first” attitude that contributed to MetroWest’s success.

What a great week it turned out to be for the MetroWest Boys’ Soccer Team.  The young men left the Maccabi Games with the respect and admiration of everyone they encountered; opponents, coaches, referees, and parents.  They should be proud of the way they conducted themselves both on and off the field and how they represented their communities, their families, and most importantly themselves.  The team hopes to return many of these players next year and build upon their success in Austin at the 2014 Maccabi Games next summer!                                                

U16 Boys Basketball

The temperature wasn’t the only thing heating up in Austin as the week went on during the JCC Maccabi Games.  Despite being undersized, and eventually undermanned (due to injury), the Metrowest U16 basketball team showed they had two critical elements necessary for success: 1) heart; and 2) the ability to shoot the three. 

It was a disappointing first day.  Metrowest began with a first game loss to a very good Phoenix team.  Although Metro lost by 20 points, the loss seemed less devastating by the end of the tournament once Phoenix ended up winning the gold medal in the A tournament with a 20 point win over Ft. Lauderdale (who, yes, had a 7’ center who is nationally ranked).  Phoenix was a very good team and Metro gave them a good run.  More importantly, guard Andrew Katzoff (Livingston) had a 13 point fourth quarter that ended up setting the stage for his offensive dominance throughout the rest of the tournament.  This is most impressive considering Andrew had not played basketball for 6 weeks due to a hand injury sustained during a Maccabi scrimmage.  The second game of the day was a tough loss to a scrappy Tuscan team.  It came down to the wire and Metro nearly got the win, but the shots just weren’t falling.  Unfortunately, the loss left Metro with  an 0-2 record at the end of day one.  The state of Arizona had Metro’s number that day.

At the beginning of the second day Metro was in a tough predicament.  Another loss would be difficult to bounce back from; a win would put Metro in the right direction.  The opponent was not a city, or a state, but rather, a country – Israel.  It was a great opportunity to come to the JCC Maccabi games and have a chance to play Israel.  Metro came out strong with big offense from Katzoff and three-point shooting specialists Justin Berger (Solesbury) and Josh Kleinberg (Livingston).   The game was close throughout and Metro won.  The next game was against a strong Philadelphia team.  The offensive firepower continued, and along with the strong play of Noah Eagle (West Essex) and Justin Miklacki (Montville), Metro upset Philadelphia.  At the end of day two, Metro sat at 2-2 and was awarded the top seed in the B tournament.  What a difference a day made.

The tournament began with Metro facing San Francisco, who had a 6’5” center who could also shoot.  This was going to be a tough matchup for a Metro team that did not have any play over 6’ tall.  Nevertheless, Metro came out shooting and was hitting the three point shots from everywhere.  Kleinberg’s range began as soon as he walked into the gym and he was unstoppable throughout the game.  Metro had a 13 point lead in the third quarter and things were looking good.  Unfortunately, as the old adage goes, “you live by the three, you die by the three.”  And when the shots stopped falling for Metro, and the other team had a 6’5” center putting in 2 foot shots on every rebound, the mix was not good.  The lead evaporated and with it, Metro’s hope for moving on to the medal rounds.  Metro lost a tough one to a good San Francisco team that went on to win the silver medal in the B tournament. Despite losing the game, the team enjoyed the remainder of the games (watching the playoffs, other activities, social events).  Metro enjoyed the reputation of being a very good team that got the most out of every one of its players.  We were not big, and we were not strong, but we had the most heart.  We had success and we had fun.  It was a great week.

MetroWest Swim Team 2013

Girls Metrowest Swimming came to the Maccabi Games determined and driven to win. Before the competition began, as a team we made the goal to win over 20 medals, with 10 of them being Gold Medals. By the end of the week, we walked away with 26 medals, 9 of them Gold, 11 Silver and 6 Bronze. As a team we were ecstatic! Not only did we reach our goals, the girls also achieved some of their personal best times.

On day 1, we were ready to compete. The girls found motivation when they saw on the pool’s record board all the amazing Olympic swimmers that swam in this pool. In this beautiful pool, on the first day the girls won 3 Golds and 1 Silver. In the first race of the Maccabi Games, Katy Shepard won the Gold in the 50 Free with the time of 27.55! Following her, the girls dominated the 13-14 and 15-16 200 Breast where Rachel won the Gold in the 13-14 200 Breast (249.11) and Tabitha Hickman won the Gold in the 15-16 200 Breast (244.63). Right after she won the Gold, Tabitha Hickman won the Silver in the 100 Fly (104.87).

After the excitement of day 1, we came out even stronger on day 2 with 7 Medals. The girls were eager to get into the water and race. Tabitha Hickman got our first Gold of the day in the 200 Back with the time of 2:22.17. Tabitha also won Silver in the 50 Fly (28.93) and Medley Relay. Katy Shepard won 2 Silvers in the 200 Back (236.27) and 100 Free (100.64) and Bronze in the 50 Fly (31.28). Rachel Keselman won a bronze in the 200 Back (239.95).

After 2 long days of swimming, 100 degree weather and ongoing sport and night activities; the girls we still upbeat and ready to go for day 3 of competition. On this day they won 8 medals! Rachel Keselman started off the day with Gold in the 50 Breast with a time of 37.59. Tabitha dominated with Gold in 100 Back (106.55), Silver in the 200 Free (211.02) and Silver in the 400 IM. Katy Shepard swam great, winning Bronze in the 200 Free (2:14.67) and Bronze in the 100 Back (1:11.37). With Metro working as a team with the other delegations, we won both the Silver and Bronze in the 400 Free Relay.

On the last day, we wanted to leave with a bang. The girls didn’t hold anything back and earned another 7 medals! Tabitha got the Gold in the 50 Back (30.74) and 100 Breast (116.55) and Silver in the 200 IM (2:25.29). Rachel got the Gold in the 100 Breast (119.36) and 200 Free Relay, and Bronze in the 200 IM (2:41.79). Katy Shepard got the Silver in the 50 Back (33.03).

As the coach, I had the pleasure of swimming in the coaches’ relay on the last day. The girls motivated me, where I joined them for warm up and had the pleasure to swim by their sides. The coaches’ relay was filled with energy and support from our swimmers. By the end of the week, all the delegations came together where we all felt like teammates. I thank the relays for allowing the swimmers to get the chance to swim with swimmers from all over the world. The last race of the Maccabi Games was a T-shirt relay where swimmers and coaches were all included. Not only did the girls leave with pounds of medals around their necks, but they left with friends and memories from the Texas Maccabi Games that they will have for life.


Click here to see a gallery of the photos from the 2013 Maccabi Games.

MetroWest Girls 16U Soccer

The MetroWest Girls 16 and under Maccabi team came back from the Orange County CA 2013 games with the gold medal. The girls dominated their opponents with a record of 7 wins and 0 losses while scoring 45 goals and only allowing 6 goals. Lizzie Kinkler and Jenny Haskel led the scoring with strong midfield support from Maddie Temares, Rachel Sorkenn, and Randi Smith. Halle Fiedler and Sophie Brause were both very solid on defense while Alison Sorkenn and Lauren Krinsky did a great job in goal.  The girls really enjoyed playing with one another and it was an amazing experience both on and off the field. 

MetroWest Boys 16U Baseball

The 16u baseball team completed a bitter sweet tournament at this year’s games in Orange County.  Coming off of our surprising Bronze Medal at the 2012 games, we arrived in sunny California expecting to contend for Gold.  Playing on beautiful fields with panoramic mountain views we didn’t disappoint in the preliminary round.  We finished at 3-1, good enough for the fourth seed, and just missing out on the third seed by way of a tie-breaker.  Our victories were convincing ones over a Hartford/Las Vegas mixed team, St. Louis and South Jersey.  Our lone loss was a 2-1 classic against host Orange County.  Incredibly, our starting pitchers threw four complete games and we played stellar defense and hit the ball throughout the preliminary round.  Unfortunately, we then ran into a hot team from Baltimore and were eliminated in the quarter-finals.  We received outstanding contributions from every member of our roster of 15, including players we added from other delegations as part of a mixed team.  Now, with a veteran returning core, we look forward to picking up another medal at the 2014 games.
































U14 Boys Basketball

On August 4, 2013 the ten member Metrowest basketball team met at Newark Airport at 5 AM with the expectation of an unforgettable experience. The eight boys and two coaches were not disappointed from beginning to end. They arrived in Orange County and were transported to the phenomenal JCC facility where they were greeted by their host families. The entire team was split up between two very caring families and were treated like members of the family. The boys spent the afternoon with their hosts and were then transported to Santa Ana stadium for the nighttime opening ceremonies. This event was modeled after international Olympic opening ceremonies which included walking in with your team, entertainment, and capped off by a tribute to the fallen Israeli Olympic athletes. It was a fabulous evening for athletes and their families that won't be soon forgotten.

     The competition schedule was exhausting but the team rose to the occasion by winning five games in a row. They played two games on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday with a minimal amount of rest in between. The team was ranked 5th out of 24 teams after winning their first four games. They finally fell during game six when sheer exhaustion took over but they still played a respectable game. The team played with skill and class throughout the games. They handled themselves in a commendable and very sportsmanlike manner which is a testament to good coaching and high character.

     The boys experiences were not all on the court. Each boy worked with a special needs child on the basketball court to enable them to give something back to the host community.  The Maccabi Games also scheduled wonderful age appropriate activities for the teens. They experienced a beach party Monday night and a Game Center with mini golf, games, and rides on Tuesday. The host families entertained them Wednesday night and the games commenced with a closing ceremony party at the JCC that was described as "awesome" by many of the boys.

     The Maccabi experience was an unforgettable one for the participants and the families as well. The athletes experienced rigorous competition, community service, independence, and a wonderful social experience. They met over 2,000 teens from around the US and other countries.  They traded pins, shirts and uniforms. Friendships were forged and pride in their heritage was cultivated. The parents got to see their adolescent compete, navigate on their own and be entertained as well. The 2013 Orange County Maccabi Games were unforgettable and hugely successful. Many athletes and families felt it was an experience that would never be forgotten and will always be treasured.

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