Written By Alex Burstein
In 1977, when Marilyn Glaser first heard about the Maccabiah, she was hooked.
Working as a nurse, one of the Jewish doctors at her workplace was a team doctor for the Maccabiah. Glaser heard stories of his times at the games, leading her to ask how she could become a nurse at The Games.
There was one problem though.
“I said ‘Do you need a nurse?’ And [the doctor] said ‘Well, we never took a nurse before.’ I said ‘It’s high time you did,’” Glaser said.
Maccabi USA was on the same page. After the new nurse position was announced, Glaser put in her application and received the letter she had been waiting for: “Congratulations, you’ve made the team.”
More than four decades later, the nurse position is gone as Maccabi USA now brings other positions, like doctors, physical therapists, sports medicine professionals and athletic trainers. But one thing has remained: Glaser.
Entering her eleventh games, Glaser, who was honored at the US Delegation send off on Tuesday, July 11 send off on Tuesday, now serves as a manager. She is believed to be one of the most experienced members of Maccabi USA, if not the most experienced.
While Glaser may hold the lead in number of games worked, some actual athletes are starting their own streaks of Maccabiah appearances.
For Andrew Fogel, a Masters 35+ basketball player, his journey started after being recognized at his local Maccabi Games around the age of twelve.
“I went to the USA tryout and I made the team,” Fogel said. “The rest of [my Maccabiah] history from that.”
That history includes two gold medals, one in Junior and one in Open, a bronze Open medal and a Junior MVP award at the Maccabiah. Now, entering his fourth games, Fogel is looking to complete the gold trifecta: Juniors, Open and Masters.
“I mean I want a gold in the masters,” Fogel said. “I think that would be kind of the full circle to get a gold in the masters competition. It’d be kind of completing the ring I guess I’d say.”
While the competitive drive is certainly part of the desire to return for some, it’s often just one part of the experience.
“[The Games are] kind of like this cultural melting pot that we have just meeting so many new people and making so many new connections and just knowing that there are Jews living in different parts of the world that you can connect with, that you can talk to, that you have some connection with,” Fogel said.
As Fogel sees the similarities in the cultural melting pot every time he attends the Maccabiah, many parts of The Games stay the same as athletes go from one Maccabiah to the next, according to six-time Judo athlete Adam Moyerman, the son of Maccabi USA Executive Committee Vice President Lou Moyers.
“It probably feels more familiar every time,” Moyerman said. “It’s interesting when you compete, certain countries are always having the same people. You don’t see them except for every four years.”
Many of these athletes have pursued small switches, keeping the Maccabiah experience fresh, despite the similarities from one games to another.
For Moyerman, this means starting to coach judo.
“The main focus is coaching,” Moyerman said. “So I want to make sure the rest of the group are prepared, they’re the younger ones that I want to make sure they do well.”
But, while coaching may be the central focus, Moyerman isn’t quite ready to close out his competitive career.
“I might be fighting in the open and the Masters because I can,” Moyerman said. “So we’ll see, [my goal is to] just survive and make sure the team is prepared and has a good day as also being a coach too.”
Like Moyerman, Glaser also still returns to her roots every time she returns to The Games.
“Even though I’m not the nurse, I’m still looking forward to keeping everybody healthy, happy and wanting to make things go smoothly.”
Alex Burstein is a rising senior at Lane Tech High School in Chicago,. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram @alex_burstein
Alex Burstein 0:02
So, first off, you said this is your 11th games. That’s correct. And what kinds of roles have you served in during those 11 games?
I started in 1981 and I was the first team nurse that was ever taken and I played played the role of nurse for nine Maccabiot. These last two, I’ve been one of the team managers.
Alex Burstein 0:30
And what may you change from nurse to manager
I don’t think you want to print this but, The head of the medical team would change from games to games. And the first eight I guess the first nine were very supportive of nursing. And the role. The next one next manager didn’t want any nurses. He only wanted athletic trainers and sports medicine guys and Physical therapists and doctors. So I lost my job. So I called the office and I said, Well, what else can I do? I’m not ready to give this up. So They said well, we know you w know what, what you can do and you’ve always been helpful outside of nursing doing anything we wanted. How about a manager? Sounds good to me. So that’s how I became a manager for the next two games.
Alex Burstein 1:33
And what do you do in your management job now?
Whenever is needed for the kids. We communicate with coaches so that the head person doesn’t have to get to all of them, that it’s split up among us. We sit on the buses and work with the kids. the minutia of details is incredible. And we help leadership get that done. We will help with Checkout and when we get there we’ll give out room keys and there’s just details and details and details that have to be taken care of by someone and the managers do that.
Alex Burstein 2:22
Are you for a certain sport or just general for manager?
I was responsible for chess and chess and tennis during IC but once we get to Haifa, my role will be my my official role will be to be at the hub every day and see that things are going right that there are no problems. Take care of anything that comes up. And also to make sure that every birthday that we have while we’re here is properly celebrated as a kid is away from home. Even if the kid is 79 like me, is the way from home and has his birthday acknowledged it’s really important.
Alex Burstein 3:19
And how have you seen the game kind of change throughout the 11 times you’ve come here?
I guess the most noticeable change is the size. We were a small intimate team. We were all houses in Pharmacopeia. Everybody knew everybody the it was closer, but it’s still close wherever you are as close but when I run into someone that I’ve known from years ago, like last night at the bar mitzvah. I stood next to my roommate in 1985. And she wasn’t married at the time. Didn’t even have a boyfriend. And next to her was her daughter standing like this above me. That was amazing. I guess if you’re around long enough you make lifetime friends. But if not you make friends for the time being and that’s good too. The other thing that’s changed is Israel. It was was still a desert, a small place, no skyscrapers and then gradually over the years, you’ve seen Israel grow and that’s been very gratifying to me. I I love going to Israel so much from the first. I didn’t, I had made one visit before the Maccabiah. from the beginning I just loved Israel So much. in 19 No sorry 2005 I had an opportunity to make Aliyah and I did and I lived here for six years in a town called tokoa which is when when I tell that to Israelis, They go Wow. Because takoa is in the occupied territory. Not the safest place to live. But it was a wonderful place. And I enjoyed my stay there very much but after six years, it was time to go back to the States.
Alex Burstein 5:41
And what’s the difference between the experience as a nurse and now the experience in management?
Believe it or not, I enjoy management better. Being a nurse was good but I was the only one I had no team. The Docs were often their own things and we might get together once in a while for a team thing but not really and I more was hanging out with the coaches and the kids and but being a manager these last few times, We have a team and that that’s really good for me. The work is the same it never ends. I enjoy being a manager better I really do.
Alex Burstein 6:28
And then how did you first hear about the macabiah before your first one
in 1977 One of the orthopedic doctors that I work with at the hospital came as a physician on the team. I had I don’t know how he got involved. He never came again. But when he came back to work, I was the only Jewish nurse at the hospital. He would come to my office every day to talk about Maccabiah and what he had experienced. And I said do you need a nurse. And he said well, we never took a nurse before. I said it’s high time you did. So we kept talking for three more years and he walked into my office one day and said if you really want to go as a nurse, now’s the time to call and get an application. So I did and lo and behold I got a letter back. Congratulations, you’ve made the team. That was it.
Alex Burstein 7:26
And what has kept you up keep coming back for all these years.
Because this is the most amazing experience. The what’s now three weeks it started out just being two weeks. Being here in Israel, with the athletes that they’re so committed to what they’re doing and trying to achieve and in the name of their country. The thrill of walking into whichever stadium we’re having opening ceremony and representing the USA Oh my god. That’s a wonderful thing that not many Americans get to do that in the same way. That’s very special. But the camaraderie the just the closeness of everybody when they’re together. It’s a wonderful experience and for me because I’ve always been an adult I’ve never been a kid here. I’ve been a kid, but not here. Not at the Maccabiah. I made friends with the upper level of management. And then that’s been rewarding and interesting in a way that when people ask questions, I have answers that I wouldn’t have had If I didn’t have that level of involvement.
Alex Burstein 8:50
And I know this year the games got delayed. There’s a lot of stuff up in the air. Did you ever have any doubt about being able to come back for 11
I really did. I really did. Not because of any changes in the world. But just if at the age of 79 I could do this again. That that was my conflict and I was a sedentary 79 And I knew it and I know how physically challenging This is. My partner who I met through the maccabiah is even more elderly he’s 89 and he was had been a Masters tennis player for a while and he really, really wanted to go. But he’s 89 What can I say? And he has Parkinson’s disease and he tried and practices at home mean he’s I hit the ball just as hard as I ever did. But it doesn’t go very far. So he finally decided that and I was supposed to accompany him to take care of him without an official role. But he decided not to go and all of a sudden I said but I want to go. So I called and said do You still have room for a manager. They said well, we had some cancellations. We really do. Put me down. And so just a month ago, the decision to come was made
Alex Burstein 10:25
and what has been your favorite memory through the first 10 experiences here.
I always remember my first bat mitzvah here because it was my first bat mitzvah and there was the 13th Maccabi so it was the bar mitzvah Maccabiah and it wasn’t planned. Like it is now it had never happened before. It was very spur of the moment. This is the 13th maccabiah if you want to be Bar or bat Mitzvahed, when we go up to Masada we’ll have a ceremony in the old synagogue there and one of the coaches happen dto be a rabbi also. So he led the service. We didn’t have a Torah, but it was a Wednesday we didn’t take the Torah out anyway. But there were about 50 of us and we sat on the stone seats in the old synagogue up there. And we had, we wore white and it was very lovely and very meaningful. And then that was that was my Bat Mitzvah that was very special in my life. I hadn’t had that opportunity before and so I always go back to see the synagogue and I that sat right there at my bat mitzvah. And I didn’t make it this year, which I’m kind of sad about but I have pictures and I know it in my heart. So that’s all right, but that that was that was really special, then last, It was last maccabiah or maybe the one before I did it again. And We got these as a bat mitzvah gift and then so there was no question this time I was going to do it for the third time it is very special to me. So I think that’s my most, most fondest memory aside from the wonderful people that I’ve kept in touch with and then it made me want to make Aliyah, which I did and all the great things in my life came out of this.
Alex Burstein 12:45
So you did last night too.
Yeah, I was in the third group.
Alex Burstein 12:49
And then finally, just as the games are starting to kick off, what do you most looking forward to these next two weeks?
You know, even though I’m not the nurse, I’m still looking forward to keeping everybody healthy, happy and wanting to make things go smoothly. But everybody said that they will have good memories too.
Alex Burstein 13:16
Perfect. Well, thank you so much. It’s been super helpful and
Alex Burstein 0:00
How many have you competed?
So this will be my fourth one.
Alex Burstein 0:06
You’ve competed as a junior and open before?
Yeah, Junior once open twice and then now will be the masters.
Alex Burstein 0:18
And how has the experience changed for you from one game to another?
You know, it’s interesting because like, from the first games until I mean, I’m not speaking On this one because I haven’t been there yet. But from the first games to the ones that I’ve been in the experience has been kind of the same, you know, because it’s, it’s always had the same like foundations, right? You want to get like Jews from all over the world to meet and all these different cultures and just to know, that we’re such a, like, diverse and beautiful culture, relation, right? So, in that sense, like, it hasn’t really changed. Like every time you go, you know, you still get that same experience. It’s still like the same same feeling. And it’s just, it’s really neat, right? It’s like a really neat effect. So in that sense, like, it hasn’t really changed. the competition, the competition wise. It’s been good. It’s been good every time I’ve went. I think that’s also a big part of what keeps me going back is because it’s always like a competitive atmosphere and you have just these all these different cool dynamics playing into each other. So yeah. That’s what I would say to that.
Alex Burstein 1:39
And other than that competitive atmosphere, what else keeps you coming back every four years.
Like I said, like I said, kind of like this cultural melting pot that we have just meeting so many new people and making so many new connections and and just knowing that there are Jews living in different parts of the world, you know, that you can connect with right that you can talk to that you have some connection with. But, like for me, I’m in California, but there might be somebody who’s, who was in the middle of Europe somewhere or or Africa or something like that, you know, that can can relate to to what I know and understand as well.
Alex Burstein 2:21
And how did you first hear about the Maccabi Games
it was a tryout. so I actually played in the local JCC Basketball League, and I was told that they were having a tryout for the Maccabi team and this was for like the local games. So I did that when I was, I want to say 12 years old right around my bar mitzvah time. And I made the team and then once we went to the local games, we then won the local games like tournament and there were a couple guys there I guess from the USA delegation, they told me that they were having a USA Tryout. I said, Oh, this is awesome. It just keeps getting like bigger and bigger, you know? So I went to like the USA tryout and I made the team. the rest of this history from that.
Alex Burstein 3:12
And then, fast forwarding to now you know, these games got pushed back a year. There’s a lot of stuff up in the air. Did you ever have any doubt of playing the games for fourth time this year?
No, there was never a doubt. Like, the first time I went you know, things were a bit like tumultuous in the region. And that didn’t stop me. My dad’s Israeli. So you know, it was never really like an option for me like not to go like, just in my mind as well, you know. And having the games liked push back, didn’t do that as well. It was always like I got the opportunity to go. I would do it because it’s such a special thing to be a part of.
Alex Burstein 4:02
And then playing three games already. Do You feel like you’ve kind of accomplish all your goals within the games
I’m getting there. let’s see I won a gold as a junior and I got the MVP and then we won a gold in the open and a bronze in the open like in two previous ones and I mean I want a gold in the masters like that, I think that would be like kind of the full full circle to get a gold in the masters competing. Look, itd be kind of completing the ring I guess I’d say.
Alex Burstein 4:37
So you say your goal heading into this competition is just to bring gold back gold?
Yeah, competitive wise. Absolutely. But on the other side, it’s also just to meet new and interesting Jewish people from all over the world. Just to enjoy the festivities and the events and all the different sports there’s so many different sports its so much fun to go look at other things other than basketball, because that’s such a big part of my life. So to get the experience of seeing other things is just amazing
Alex Burstein 5:11
and what has been your favorite memory with the Maccabi after your first couple of experiences.
All the friends I’ve made no doubt. on this master’s team, I have one buddy. One. It was actually two friends that I had met in the junior games. They played with me on the junior usa teams and I mean we’ve been friends the whole time. And just the guys that I’ve met even when I was with the open I still keep in touch with a lot of those guys and lots of people that I met that didn’t play basketball so for me it’s absolutely the camaraderie and friendships that you make and build because this sticks with you. And These guys have stuck with me like my whole life I’ve known so absolutely that.
Alex Burstein 6:00
Who is the teammates that you played with? Back then now still
So on the team with me now is Eric barvin. He played on the junior team with me and Sean Weinstein who was on our own our masters team but had to drop out at the last second but yeah, I know these guys, they’re all wonderful, like people. So yeah, those two
Alex Burstein 6:26
and then finally just what are you most looking forward to for your experiences here?
I think, I keep coming Back like what I’m most looking forward to it’s just building connections with people that I meet. Traveling to Israel is great. And I love it. I mean, I lived there for seven years. I played big there, like Israel helped me but the people that you meet, that’s like a very special part of the Maccabiah. Right. The competition is great. It’ll take care of itself, but the people you meet, I think it’s a very special, special part of it.
Alex Burstein 7:10
Did you play in Israel besides the maccaviah.
Yah, yah I played professionally there for seven years, and I was in Europe, playing professionally for 13 years. So I’ve been gone from the States for a while. And I just I just moved back to the States. I just retired last season. So Yeah, now I’m just back in the States now, starting my new ventures.
Alex Burstein 7:43
Is the goal to play more games after this? Or maybe your final one
who knows? I’m not gonna say it’s my final one. I wont do that. who knows what the future holds. You know, it’s a special one because, like I said, getting a gold here would kind of complete like a gold in every division. But I definitely wont say it will be my last one, If whoever was making the team would have me back.
Alex Burstein 8:14
Perfect. Well, I think those are all my questions. Thanks so much. It’s been super helpful.
Alex Burstein 0:00
So first off, you said this is your sixth game?
Correct. Been since Oh 2001 2005 9 13 17 And this one
Alex Burstein 0:11
and what had been the biggest changes throughout the games have you as you’ve gone from one to another?
There’s been a lot of evolution of this Israel Connect program. It used to be called pre camp I think the first one I did, honestly, and just the size of the team and how much stuff that is trying to expand past like the games themselves with events and different things. Also, when competitions done I think Maccabi weld union has done a really good job of now trying to organize different events and things that are occurring and getting that information out to people.
Alex Burstein 0:44
And then overall, though, does like competing and stuff mainly feel the same from competition to competition
actually it probably feels more familiar every time. it’s interesting when you compete like certain countries are always having the same people. You just you don’t see them like them except for every four years or maybe if there was a Pan Am one that you go to or something some of them but it gets more and more comfortable I would say doing this as I’ve done more.
Alex Burstein 1:12
And what keeps you coming back for more and more of the competition’s
the experience itself I would say. mostly like Israel connect as a long week. You know, it’s going to be a long, well I know it’s going to be a long week. Not everybody does. Because people doing it for the first time, you just kind of go with it, understand what they’re trying to get through. And then the games themselves are awesome in terms of being housed with the other countries and everything and getting to meet people from all over not just like the US people with this but the the actual competition, opening ceremonies is an experience in itself and always is awesome.
Alex Burstein 1:48
And I know this year’s games got delayed. Did you ever have any doubt about competing this year? Did you know you want to compete?
I had doubts that these would actually occur honestly. Different things that were going on with Israel with their rules and things like that at different times. I really didn’t think the games would happen but if they were going to I had always planned to be here.
Alex Burstein 2:11
And then I know you’ve been through many competitions you feel like you’ve accomplished all your goals at the maccabiah.
I’ve actually never won in all the times. I’ve taken a couple medals. Israel’s very good at judo. So it’s tougher and they put it in a lot of guys. It’d be nice to win one but if it doesn’t happen, like I think in the games themselves in terms of athletics and stuff, yes. And it’s, right, These are really past the athletics too, in terms of what you’re supposed to get out of it. So like all those other things that come into play, and that’s like I said one of the reasons I keep coming back.
Alex Burstein 2:45
And do you have a favorite memory from your six times here.
Oh, man, that’s a good question. I don’t know if I can think they’re all kind of been different in terms of like, my age, who is on the team With me, like I’ve walked into opening ceremonies one time with my father and my brother and my sister or here’s one time. This is a fun one might not be the best but was a fun one. There’s, I think this was the 09 games where somehow in a 30 second span my brother and my sister and I who were all here doing different things, found each other at opening ceremonies and all of us had traded for the ugliest Like shirt attire that you would ever seen. And like, we were like all of us were just pointing and laughing like you got one too, but like there’s little ones with each one of those. Obviously, because of like, a different dynamic in terms of my age my experience, who’s on the team and stuff like that.
Alex Burstein 3:41
And then what do you most looking forward to for this year’s games?
After I’m done weighing in is probably the thing that comes top of mind right now is I’m trying to make weight but I think just getting to do opening ceremonies after the Israel Connect program is always really awesome to experience walking into that stadium with it full and then seeing the other countries and everything coming
Alex Burstein 4:07
and do you have a specific goals for the competition
No, [no goals] in particular. I might be fighting in the open and the Masters because I can. So we’ll see, just survive and make sure like the team is prepped and has a good day as also being a coach too. But Yeah, just make sure everyone has fun and enjoys the competition.
Alex Burstein 4:29
How does the competition level change as you go from junior to open to master?
So I was the first time I came in 01 I was technically on the open team. It was the first time they did Junior judo. So they put me in that division because of my age. It was it’s been cool to see how it evolves because it’s me versus a bunch of Israelis. And They were like oh a farmer (?). So the guy from the weight class above came down. The guy from the weight class below came up and I was just fighting like they’re actual kids. And then the seniors it’s been interesting to see it evolve and it’s from a 19 year old fighting All the adults while I’m still like more of a kid still and Israel putting in some of their like, major players, like the guys on the Olympic team and stuff like that. And as you’ve seen Israeli Judo grow they don’t take this as serious but they’re still putting in like their their number twos and stuff. So it’s still very good competition and just it evolve from with different countries but still see a couple of other people that like were adults when I started as a kid and out there doing the masters for other countries, so they still recognize me, we still chat and stuff like that. So it’s, I’ve run the full gambit of like, being the young one on the team and then the past two even with 17 When I was like the 30 year old like and on my fifth one, explaining things to people and like that more getting others framework to prepare them for different things.
Alex Burstein 5:51
And what’s it like balancing the coaching and being an athlete now.
The main focus is coaching. So I want to make sure the rest of the group are prepared. they’re the younger ones that I want to make sure they do well. So for me, it’s trying to make sure I find ways to make weight right now with a smaller group too honestly but I’m trying to make sure that they’re prepared and whatever they need gets done more than anything else.
Alex Burstein 6:19
Do you feel like the competition gets harder for you as the competitions go on.
Well the open one will, I’m willing to bet because I’m going to be fighting with younger kids. I don’t know what the masters will be like I’ve never done one year. Just trying to have some fun with it. I might as well since I’m here and I can I figure at this point. Maybe made a realistic decision in my life instead of fighting 20 year olds, fight people my actual ageual age.
Alex Burstein 6:46
And then finally, is the goal to do another one after this or do you think six will be it
Uh no, there will probably be more I don’t know if it’ll be, if I do judo stuff. again, it’ll only be coaching. There will probably not be any more competition. But my father has been very involved with the organization. that’s how I got started and with being from Philly and having the headquarters there and knowing people on the staff, maybe doing a different role next time and just trying different things in terms of management or something like that.
Alex Burstein 7:14
Thank you so much.