Pittsburghers competing at 19th Maccabiah Games in Israel

Pittsburghers competing at 19th Maccabiah Games in Israel

Medals from the 2009 Maccabiah Games
Medals from the 2009 Maccabiah Games

With five Pittsburgh athletes participating, the 19th Maccabiah Games kicked-off in Israel last week and will continue to July 30.

 Sometimes referred to as the “Jewish Olympics,” the Games are held every four years in Israel and are the third largest sporting event in the world after the Olympics and World Cup Soccer.

About 9,000 Jewish athletes from more than 70 countries will compete in open, masters, juniors and disabled


The five Pittsburgh athletes participating are Destin Groff (open swimming), Lily Feldman (open soccer), Daniella Rabin (junior gymnastics), Keaton Baum (junior ice hockey) and Jesse Goleman (futsal).

• • •

Goleman is the goalie for the U.S.

futsal team in the Maccabiah Games.  Futsal is soccer played on a smaller field and usually indoors.  The U.S. team had a 1-1 record as of Tuesday with a 3-1 win against Cuba and a 10-2 loss to


“I’ve just been almost in shock at how unbelievable this has been so far,” Goleman said via email from the Games.  “Beyond all of the competition, the friends I’ve made, the things I’ve seen, there’s just nothing to compare. This experience has been once in a lifetime for me and I hope in the next four years I can do it all over again.”

Goleman began playing futsal for a league in Monroeville when he was in ninth grade.  He previously played in the Pan American Maccabi Games in Brazil in 2011, but said that the competition in Israel is twice as good.

• • •

Feldman is a center-defender on the U.S. women’s soccer team in the open

division of the Maccabiah Games.  The team began with a 3-0-1 record, defeating Australia 8-0, Israel 1-0 and Argentina 10-1.  The team also tied Canada 1-1.

• • •

Baum is a forward on the U.S. junior ice hockey team, which held a 1-1 record in the games as of Tuesday, falling in its first matchup to team Canada 4-0, but defeating Israel in a landslide, 10-2.

Baum scored the first goal of the game in the win against Israel and went on to compile two goals and three assists for five points for the U.S. team.

Baum has played ice hockey since he learned how to skate at the age of three or four.  He currently plays ice hockey at Shadyside Academy where he will go into his senior year this coming fall.

• • •

Rabin is on the U.S. junior gymnastics team with three other girls at the Maccabiah Games. Her 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.

Rabin began tumbling at the age of two, and has competed at the regional, state and national levels.  She will be going into ninth grade this fall.

• • •

Groff is on the U.S. women’s open swim team.  Groff graduated from high school this spring and will continue to swim competitively on the Amherst College swim team in the fall.

Groff’s father, Yram Groff, played on the U.S. basketball team in the 13th Maccabiah Games in 1989.

The Chronicle is following the Pittsburgh athletes at the Games and will post updates to its website, thejewishchronicle.net, as they become


(Andrew Goldstein can be reached at andrewg@thejewishchronicle.net.)