Our state sent three competitors and one coach to the Maccabiah games in Israel last month. Since reporting two issues ago that tennis player Bill Cohon came home with two medals, I learned that both our state’s other athletes medaled, too.
Half-marathoner Terry Robinson, profiled in the Aug. 27, 2012 issue of JTNews, alerted us that he was “ecstatic to return with a silver medal…from competing in the World Maccabiah Games in the Half Marathon!”
He calls the race one of the toughest he’d ever run, due to the humidity. (I never knew Israel was humid in the summer.) Two of his teammates required brief hospitalization for IV fluids after the race and, in retrospect, Terry says he should have done the same.
“I did spend a week in Scottsdale training,” in 110 degree heat, he said, “but it’s a different type of heat, it’s a dryer heat.”
Competitors and spectators reported that the humidity increased as the race went on. Still, Terry finished in just over 1:20 and came home with his medal.
The last time Terry was in Israel was for his Bar Mitzvah 27 years ago, and he was thrilled to be back. The opening ceremonies were a distinct highlight, entering Teddy Stadium with the 1,100 other Americans and 7,000 athletes from around the world — including some, like Cuba and Mongolia, bringing delegations for the first time.
“To fill up a stadium of all Jewish people not only [puts] tingles down my spine but tears in my eyes,” he says. The Jerusalem stadium holds 34,000 and the games, the third largest Olympic-style competition in the world, are hugely popular in Israel.
A Seattle native and member of Sephardic Bikur Holim, Terry is an alumnus of Seattle Hebrew Academy, Mercer Island High School and University of Washington. His parents were very active in, and worked in, the Jewish community, which he says inspired him. He spoke at Camp Solomon Schechter last year about his preparations, and hopes he’ll get to go back next year to relate his experiences.
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David and Joseph Munden with their Maccabiah team medals. (Photo by Avi Azoulay)
Buckley’s David Munden, head coach of the karate team, expressed a common sentiment among our state’s competitors. “Aside from the competition, the trip itself was amazing,” he told me. “We got to see and do some amazing stuff, and learn a lot of history.”
This was the first trip to Israel for both David and his son Joseph, 16, a member of the team. The U.S. karate team came away with 18 medals and Joseph earned two: A bronze in sparring and a silver in team kata — a “series of pre-set movements,” explains David, that mimic a fight. And witnessing his son earning the silver medal was also “amazing.”
Among the trip’s many highlights — too numerous to recount — was that David and Joseph became Bar Mitzvah together. In a tradition that dates to the 1989 games, the U.S. delegation arranged for two large groups of athletes who had never experienced the Bar or Bat Mitzvah ritual to enter adulthood.
David singled out Yad Vashem as a significant moment in his visit, but even more important is that his son loved Israel and wants to go back. Then there are the national and international friendships that were made.
“I saw what [those connections] did for the kids, seeing the kind of bonding and friendships that went on,” he said. “Hopefully they’ll stay involved.”
Both David and Terry said transportation logistics were the biggest problem they encountered. Buses were generally late, and sometimes they were early. They didn’t let that spoil things, though. “We had to realize…if we were going to enjoy ourselves we couldn’t let that get to us,” says Terry.
David hopes to return for the 2017 games and hopes to see more west coast representation in our country’s delegation. “With the exception of California, there’s very little participation,” he observed.
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Cookbook author Leora Bloom, featured in the last issue, wrote to clarify some errors in my piece. She only writes a couple of design articles for the Seattle Times each year, rather than being their main design writer (apologies to the Times, too), and says they have “a staff and two amazing writers” who cover most of the design features. Also, each recipe featured in her book, Washington Food Artisans, was tested by Leora four to five times, plus “at least two friends” made the recipes, too, to ensure consistent results. Apologies for the errors.