The Maccabiah Games Are Here!
The Maccabiah Games brings together 10,000 Jewish athletes from 80 countries, participating in 43 different sports, which will take place July 4-18, 2017 in Israel.
The ITC would like to congratulate our board members and donors who are participating in the Maccabiah games this year:
In addition to the names above, the ITC always wishes to add the Jurick family and highlight their story as well as Larry Greenspoon’s as they compete in Israel this month.
Larry Greenspon, the founder, and CEO of L.D.R Industries and longtime resident of Longboat Key, FL, is taking up his tennis racket once more as he competes in the men’s tennis 65-and-up division in the Maccabiah Games, aka “the Jewish Olympics,” starting on July 17th in Israel.
This will be Larry’s fourth time competing in the Maccabiah Games, with several medals already under his belt: two silver medals in doubles and one bronze in singles. It was at his first game back in 2001 that he was first introduced to the Israel Tennis Centers (ITC) when he competed on the courts at the Tel Aviv Center.
Even though it was Greenspon’s first trip to Israel, he felt an immediate connection with the ITC and what it strives to do for the children of Israel. It was through the universal game of tennis that Greenspon was connected to the children as he was reminded of his own childhood. “I know what tennis did for me as a young man. I wasn’t the greatest student but had it not been for tennis; I wouldn’t have survived. Tennis was the perfect vehicle for me to learn about life, how to take care of yourself, and I’ve learned about competition through the game. Through the mentorship and work, the professionals do every day; the kids turn out to be outstanding citizens.”
Larry is a past international chairman of the Israel Tennis Centers and loves the philanthropic aspects of the organization, and looks forward to helping the children develop the same life-long love for the game of tennis that he has during the upcoming games where Jews from over 80 countries including Cuba will be competing. The sheer size of the games blows Greenspon away, “It’s an opportunity while we’re there to do more for the ITC and get the word out. It’s an excellent opportunity for Jewish players to find out what we do in Israel, and that the amazing work the ITC does for underprivileged kids.”
Larry has been preparing for the Maccabiah Games by training daily at the Longboat Key Club & Resort, near his home with hopes of bringing home a gold this time.
For the first time, Team USA will have three generations of athletes competing in the same sport at this year’s games. The Jurick/Woidislawsky family will represent multiple divisions in the tennis competition: Jonah Jurick, 17, as a Juniors Athlete, Michael Jurick, 49, as a Masters Athlete, and Avram Woidislawsky, 77, as a Grand-Masters Athlete. Though they will be competing separately on the court, they will march in the Opening Ceremony as a family.
Avram, the family patriarch, originally from Russia, moved to Israel as a child, and immigrated to the United States as an adult after serving in the Israeli military. He fell in love with tennis when he began playing in his early 40’s and was captain of a local chapter of Philadelphia’s USTA 40 and Over Men’s Team for many years. Avram’s son-in-law, Michael was a USTA championship high school and collegiate tennis player. Michael passed down his love of tennis to his son Jonah who he said was “born with a racquet in his hand.”
“I’m imaging myself in the moment, marching with my son and father-in-law, and thousands of other Jews, and just beaming with pride,” Michael said. “These games will be the culmination of years of hard work, practice and dedication.”
The three men still play competitive tennis regularly, but their favorite moments on the court are when they are playing friendly matches against each other and pushing each other to be better.
One of their fondest memories was in the summer of 2016 when their entire family went to Israel for vacation.While there, Jonah represented the U.S in the Israeli National Championship and won first place for the Boys 16U competition. Michael played his son to victory by training Jonah every morning before the matches at the Israel Tennis Center in Ramat HaSharon. Fresh off his win in Israel, Jonah was encouraged to try out for the US Maccabi team in New York and was selected as one of six juniors to represent the USA. Jonah is excited to go to Israel for the 9th time with his mother, Gal, his younger sister, Eden, grandmothers, and aunt, and compete alongside his father and grandfather on the same team. He thinks this will be a very meaningful experience for him and is looking forward to using it for his college application essay.
Jonah states that his goal is “to win. And come back home with a gold medal even though there will be stiff competition.”
Avram Woidislawsky could not be more proud of his grandson, saying “I remember waiting for the day that my grandson would beat me in a game of tennis. When Jonah turned 12, the magic happened. At the same time, my son-in-law, Michael was crushing me on the court – like father, like son. Now at the age of 17, Jonah still gives me the honor of playing with him. I am thrilled to share the experience of tennis in Israel with them both.”
While the family is eager to win in each of their categories, they are even more excited to travel to Israel together, meet fellow players from around the world, and compete as a family – all while making history doing so. No matter what happens on the court, this Maccabiah Games will be a life- defining event for the Jurick/Woidislawsky family.
Empowering Israel’s Children…Beyond Tennis and Beyond Borders
Founded in 1976, the Israel Tennis Centers (ITC) is one of the largest social service organizations for children in Israel, serving over 20,000 Israeli children every year. The ITC’s 14 centers stretch from Kiryat Shmona in the North to Beer Sheva in the South. Many of these centers are in underprivileged neighborhoods, providing disadvantaged children with a safe, structured and nurturing environment.
The ITC offers uniquely designed programs to meet the specific needs of its children:
- Social Impact: assisting youth at risk, those with special needs such as Down Syndrome and autism and children of new immigrants from Russia and Ethiopia
- Coexistence: bringing together Israeli Jews, Arabs, Bedouins and Druze to play and learn
- High Performance: training Israeli children to excel as tennis players.
All of these programs are open to all children living in Israel, regardless of background, religious affiliation or economic circumstance. No child is ever turned away.