Maccabi Games Attract Westchester Teen Athletes to the Shames JCC

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Westchester team that won gold medal in last year’s Maccabi Games.

Recruited by the Shames Jewish Community Center on the Hudson, they have won the gold, the silver and the bronze. Last year they competed against other Jewish athletes from all over the United States in Alabama, Florida and New York.  They excel in basketball, soccer and baseball. They are participants in the Maccabi Games, an Olympic – style sporting event for Jewish teens 13-16 years old.

For the 2017 games, the Shames JCC fielded 47 young athletes who came home with honors. For the 2018 games, to be held in California, the JCC wants to recruit 60 boys and girls.  All those interested should attend the informational meeting at the JCC on Monday, January 8th at 7 p.m. The California Games are in Orange County and run August 5-10th.

Since 1982, the JCC Maccabi Games have offered over 130,000 Jewish teens a unique cultural, social and life-shaping experience. The games also serve a larger purpose than athletic competition; they promote teamwork, community involvement and pride in being Jewish.

“We have had great kids who have tried out and played,” said Shames JCC Maccabi Director Steve Weisbrot. One super athlete is Zeke Blauner, a senior at Ardsley High School.  “Not only has Zeke won gold medals for us in basketball for 4 years, but last year, he was one of 12 players nationwide who made the U.S. team in Israel’s Maccabiah games.”

The team won the gold.

“It was thrilling to represent my country in the games,” said Blauner. “The competition was very good but my teammates were amazing, and in the end we achieved our goal—and won the gold.”

Weisbrot said he remembers another Maccabi team member.  “Ali Marpet played basketball for us in 2009.  At the time he was a football and basketball star at Hastings High School.  Today he’s the starting center for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. “

“One thing I’ve found,” said Weisbrot, “is that these games connect kids with others from all over the country who share similar backgrounds. The energy and excitement generated never cease to amaze me—and my delegation. It makes for an unforgettable experience for every participant.”

The Shames JCC is not only the recruiting agency for Westchester athletes, but for Manhattan as well. And this year, they are branching out to get Long Island teens involved. While the gold medal in basketball went to the all 16u Westchester team, and the silver medal for soccer went to another all Westchester team, an all Manhattan team won the gold in the 14u age group.

The Shames JCC is hoping to get more girl athletes involved. “We have spots for girls aged 13 to 16 in volleyball, softball, and lacrosse,” Weisbrot said, “and we’d really like to see them come out.”

The first step in the process is for all interested to come to the informational meeting at the Shames JCC, 371 S. Broadway in Tarrytown. Registration is on Thursday, January 18 at 7:30, and tryouts for soccer, basketball, and baseball start in January.

Those who cannot make the meeting should call Steve Weisbrot at 914-645-5978. Additional information and tryout schedule can be found on the J’s website:

The Shames Jewish Community Center on the Hudson is a rapidly growing, 75,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility at the epicenter of Jewish life in Westchester’s Rivertowns and beyond. Its 1700 current members of all faiths and backgrounds enjoy programs ranging from early childhood to adult learning, from health and fitness to Jewish culture. Its purpose is to create an environment where people can connect with one another for lasting relationships to enhance their lives and benefit the community.

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