FROM GOLD RING TO GOLD MEDAL
By Jordan Schilit
It’s rare to have a day line up perfectly, on the biggest stage, surrounded by people who love you. I was fortunate enough to get engaged to my best friend (Ericka Rahman) in front of thousands of Jewish people, and then about 30 minutes later I won a gold medal at the 21st Maccabiah.
I am so incredibly lucky that my fiancé was able to travel to Israel so that we could share that moment together in Jerusalem. I’m so thankful that the Maccabi USA track & field team and race directors helped organize that evening, and make an epic proposal a reality. Judaism and Israel are both very important to Ericka and me, so it was quite fitting that we decided to get engaged on this trip. We wanted to remember a trip that allowed us to celebrate our Jewish identity and pride to the fullest and it was even more special having so many people rooting for us and our future together. My family was even able to watch it on live video. Thank you Leon Lifschutz! Israel has always been a meaningful place for us, where we have been able to capture lifelong memories.
As an athlete, I had a goal of winning a gold medal at the Maccabiah for nearly two decades. This was my 7th time visiting Israel and 4th World Maccabiah trip. Close to 20 years ago, I met one of my cousins from Australia (Matt Szylit) who introduced me to the Maccabiah. He competed in Israel twice (1965 and 1969), and told me that making the track & field team should be on my bucket list with my running endeavors. I started out with pretty modest abilities, but improved substantially over the years. I graduated from Haverford College in 2013, where I was a 6-time NCAA All-American, 2-time NCAA Runner-Up, and 7-Time Centennial Conference Champion. My personal bests are 3:45 (1500m), 4:03 (mile), and 13:45 (5K). I even competed professionally for the Nike Oregon Track Club Elite. However, over the years I battled sickness and injury during pretty unideal timing for the Games. I even got diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, and took several years away from competing in order to get healthy. But gradually, I was able to make a comeback and get back to peak fitness. And 2022 is when everything aligned perfectly in Israel, on the perfect evening.
I would like to thank all of my friends and family over the years who helped make the Maccabiah a reality for me (on several occasions). Thank you to everyone who supported me during both the highs and lows of my journey and thank you to Ericka for being there by my side everyday. As I told her that evening in Jerusalem, “Whatever happens during the race, I know I’ve already won my gold medal.”