For the past few weeks, I have had the privilege of working alongside the Maccabi USA team at their headquarters in Philadelphia. I was tasked with “helping Maccabi USA improve its Marketing Communications platform by focusing on Digital Media.” The people I was surrounded with everyday created such a warm and welcoming atmosphere, and I am so grateful for their willingness to include me in their work environment. So – thank you Maccabi USA for the amazing externship experience you gave me!
As I stepped into the stadium for the Opening Ceremony of the 2015 Pan American Maccabi Games carrying the USA banner, I felt an enormous amount of pride. I heard “USA” announced on the loudspeaker and watched as the Americans in the stands cheered us on. I looked around and saw teams from Brazil, Cuba, and Uruguay…. So many people, how could they all be Jewish? After all the teams were called, the Opening Ceremony fittingly began with the Israeli National Anthem. I was dressed in stars and stripes, my neighbor in yellow and green, but there we were, together, singing the same words of Hatikvah.
(Ellie is holding the left most banner and is third from the left)
That is the beauty of Maccabi; while my life is vastly different from the defender marking me on the field, we do share significant similarities. Nationality and language aside, we both love to play soccer and embrace our Jewish background.
Despite our similarities, I still had much to learn from these other Maccabi athletes.
My team faced Brazil in the finals. And while Brazil was our competition, they represented a type of sportsmanship I had never before experienced.
As the final whistle blew, I ran to my teammates with excitement. We had just won the gold! But amid our celebrations, I failed to notice what was happening on the sideline.
The Brazilian captain had approached the referee and asked to present Team USA with their gold medals.
And suddenly, each member of Brazil’s team was hanging a medal around our necks. These girls were so encouraging and excited for us, clapping and celebrating; I doubt I will ever again encounter sportsmanship similar that exhibited by Brazil’s team.
Having experienced the 2013 World Maccabiah Games in Israel, I was tentative about traveling to Santiago for Pan Am. I had such an incredible experience in Tel Aviv, I could not imagine anything could compare. But I was wrong. Chile and Israel were each such unique, amazing Games, complete with different teammates and different experiences, but both with the same underlying concept: Building Jewish Pride Through Sports.
I applied for the 2017 Maccabiah games for the same reason I traveled to Chile this past December – the experiences Maccabi USA has given to me and the memories made while at these competitions are so unique, so fun, and so meaningful. I have made some of my best friends through Maccabi, and I hope that I can represent the USA next summer in Israel!
Maccabi USA is currently seeking qualified Jewish Soccer players to represent Team USA at the 20th World Maccabiah Games in the following divisions: Juniors Girls (Born 1999-2002) & Boys (Born 2001-2002), Youth Men (Born 1999-2000), Open Men & Women (Ages 18-35) and Masters Men (Ages 35+ & Ages 45+). To apply, click HERE! For more information, please contact Shane Carr, Program Director, at 215.561.6900 x. 4147 or firstname.lastname@example.org.