Pittsburgh area athletes qualify for 2013 Maccabiah Games

Pittsburgh area athletes qualify for 2013 Maccabiah Games

Daniella Rabin
Daniella Rabin

This coming summer, two young, local athletes will travel to Israel to participate in a worldwide sporting event.

Keaton Baum, of Fox Chapel, and Daniella Rabin, of Squirrel Hill, are headed to the 19th World Maccabiah Games held in Israel from July 17 to 30, 2013, to represent the United States.

The Maccabiah Games, sometimes referred to as the “Jewish Olympics,” are held in Israel the year following the Olympic Games. Every four years, the best Jewish athletes from throughout the world compete in Open, Masters, Juniors and Disabled competitions.

Baum, 16, is a junior at Shady Side Academy.  Rabin, 14, is in the eighth grade at Community Day School.

Baum will compete in ice hockey. He learned to skate at the age of 3 or 4 and has played hockey since then.  He won numerous tournaments as a youth player and currently plays for Shady Side Academy, where he mans the right-wing position.

“It’s going to be an experience like I’ve never had before in my life playing against different countries,” Baum said.  “It’s going to be amazing.”

When Baum’s hockey season ends, he puts down the hockey stick and picks up a golf club.  He enjoys golfing and is also on the golf team for Shady Side Academy.

Rabin is a gymnast who currently competes as a Level 10 gymnast on the X-Cel gymnastics team based in Cranberry Township. She began tumbling at the age of 2 and has competed at the regional, state and national levels. Becoming the 2010 Level 9 PA State Floor Champion and qualifying for the 2009 Level 9 Junior Olympics stand out as highlights among the many accomplishments in her career.

Rabin’s routines feature such skills as a Yurchenko Vault, a double back tumble on floor, a back handspring-back layout on beam, and shoot-up and shoot-over on bars.

After Rabin is done practicing and competing, she likes to spend time with her family and friends.  She is also a member of BBYO and participates in Friendship Circle.

Rabin’s successes have not come without diligence.

“I train Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday — around 25 hours a week,” she said.

Baum also carries a heavy workload playing hockey.  He practices with his teammates almost every day after school and he travels with his team on the weekends to play against different high schools around the country.  Last weekend he played in Boston, the weekend before that he was in Chicago.

Baum became interested in the Games when his father showed him an article about them.  He decided to try out for the hockey team, so he traveled to Philadelphia and tried out — successfully.

Rabin participated in the gymnastics qualifying trials against other gymnasts from around the country to make the gymnastics team that will represent the United States in Israel.    

Rabin is going to Israel for the second time in her life.  She last made the trip a few years ago for her cousin’s bat mitzva. She and her family plan to arrive in Israel a couple of weeks early.

Baum is making his first trip to Israel. Like Rabin, he will arrive with his family a couple of weeks before the competition begins.

The early arrival will give them a chance to meet with their teams and sightsee. They both said they are excited about touring around and meeting people from different countries.

The Maccabiah Games are the world’s third largest sporting competition, with more than 60 countries participating.  All of the 7,000-plus athletes who will be competing are Jewish.

(Andrew Goldstein can be reached at anbg3120@gmail.com.)