Lou Moyerman (Center)
A legend in the sport of judo not only in the world of Jewish athletes but respected amongst his peers in the judo world at large for his passion and dedication to the sport as an athlete, coach, team manager and team leader. Lou has been a pillar and advocate for Maccabi USA’s mission of building Jewish pride through sport over the last forty years. He has the kindest heart, though don’t cross him; he could hip throw you flat on your back before you could say “Oy vey!”
When and why did you get involved with Maccabi USA?
Well, my first Maccabiah was in 1981. I wanted to get involved and be a part of the Maccabi USA Judo team because competing in Israel was a lifetime goal of mine. To march into opening ceremony, seeing my close Israeli judo friends and thinking about all the new Jewish friends I was going to make from around the world got me hooked. I felt so proud to be a Jew. After that, it was a done deal; I decided that I wanted to be a part of building the future of these Games so that others could have the same experience if not a better experience than I had.
After competing as an athlete, what other roles did have you in the organization?
I’ve taken on various roles in the delegation from coaching, to being a part of the management team getting deeper involved with Maccabi USA. I started attending the Maccabiah planning meetings in Israel, joined committees as a volunteer, and ultimately becoming a board member of the Maccabi USA Interim Executive Committee. I served as the head team manager for the 2013 and 2017 Maccabiah, and for the Pan American Games in 2019 and have had the honor to serve as the general chair for the Pan Am Games in Chile in 2015 and now for the 21st Maccabiah. I am also a proud officer of the Maccabi USA board.
It sounds like your passion for Maccabi USA runs very deep. Tell us a bit more about that.
Let me put it this way, I have traveled all over the world with USA Judo over the years to very prestigious tournaments and events. I was even the USA Judo team manager at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. Those experiences are very special to me. But my roots run very deep with Maccabi USA. Being a volunteer has brought opportunities into my life and why I continued to stay involved. Because of my involvement I have met Jews from all over the world, have made lifelong friends from all different countries, many who would be mad with me if I didn’t tell them I was coming into town.
What are your favorite memories over the past 40 years with Maccabi?
Well besides having the opportunity to be a part of the delegation with all four of my children at one point or another, I would say two really stick out. The first would have to be at the 2007 European Games in Rome. I was the head team manager for the Games and was asked by the general chair if I wanted to go with him to see the Pope. Well, being that this was last minute and me having no idea regarding etiquette when one has an audience with the Pope, I had no idea that you had to dress formally. People were running around trying to find a me a shirt, jacket and tie because all I had was Maccabi USA apparel. Boy it was a balagan (crazy mess)! The Pope met with a large group of us in an auditorium in the Vatican and during his speech switched languages at least four times. He talked about how the Games were taking place in Rome (as there were other people there not associated with the Games) and even blessed the Games at the end of his speech. It was very cool and truly meaningful.
The other was when I got to meet Shimon Peres when I went to Israel as a part of the advanced team a few Games back. President Peres was at the K’far Maccabiah (Maccabi World Union headquarters) where we were staying and someone from Maccabi World Union asked me and a few others if we wanted to meet him? So of course, we said yes and before we went in his security briefed us and said we can’t take pictures with him. When we walked in, he was sitting far in the back and four of his entourage walked out and waved us in. He was very nice, asked questions about the USA delegation and as we got ready to leave President Peres says, “don’t you want to take pictures with me?”
You mentioned your experiences with you four children at the Games as part of your favorite memories, talk about that a bit.
Each of my four children have participated in one game or more as athletes, coaches and managers. I realized that as my own family grew, I wanted them to be involved as well. My oldest son Sam has participated in the Pan Am Games and in the Maccabiah as a judo coach, a volleyball athlete and volleyball coach. My daughter Tina was a manager with me, and my other daughter Stephanie competed and coached judo in the Maccabiah and Pan Am Games. Then there is my youngest son Adam who has not missed a Maccabiah since 2001 as a judo athlete. He has also participated in two Pan Am Games. Next summer, he will coach in the Maccabiah for the first time. I have to also add though that the 2013 Maccabiah holds a very special place in my heart. Adam and I were both competing, and it was the first time ever a father/son duo won medals in judo. It was awesome.
It has brought me great joy to see my kids involved and experience the Games alongside them. I hope that their experiences instilled in them as it did in me the three reasons why Maccabi USA and all the Games are important: Family, sports and being Jewish. Next, I hope to see my five grandchildren participate some day!
What is your wish for the 21st Maccabiah?
I wish for good health over the next eight months leading up the Maccabiah so our fellow Maccabi territorial organizations can come to Israel and participate. We are all here for the same reason, to have great competitions and walk away with new friends. For the Maccabi USA delegation specifically, I of course wish we win a lot of medals, but more importantly, I wish for great sportsmanship and for our team members to take home memories that last a lifetime.