MACCABI USA ANNOUNCES THE OPEN EQUESTRIAN TEAM FOR THE 20TH WORLD MACCABIAH GAMES

Philadelphia, PA, February 28, 2017 – The Maccabi USA Equestrian Co-Chairs, Sandra Cohen and Anna Sylvan-Jaffe are pleased to announce the Open Equestrian Team for the 20th World Maccabiah Games. The Games will take place July 4-18, 2017 in Israel. Team USA will bring four jumping riders and four dressage riders.

The Team USA Jumping Team members are: Andrea Glazer of Louisville, KY; Cloe Hymowitz of New York, NY; Haley Schaufeld of Wellington, FL; Sydney Shulman of Greenwich, CT.

The Team USA Dressage Team members are Hope Cooper of Concord, MA; E. Rebecca Cord of Cochranville, PA; Leah Johnson Marks of Ellenwood, GA; Anna Sylvan-Jaffe of Fitchburg, MA.

Team selection for dressage was organized by Jessica Rattner and Oded Shimoni, Kate Levy and Neal Shapiro selected the jumping team. Kate will serve as the Head Coach for Team USA.

This will be the second time that the Equestrian competition will be part of the World Maccabiah Games.  Equestrians will be part of the overall 1,100+ member Team USA at the 2017 World Maccabiah Games, comprised of 10,000 athletes, from 80 countries, participating in 43 sports.

Maccabi USA builds Jewish pride through sports, generating the emotional intensity, high ideals, and powerful camaraderie of competition.  We connect athletes, volunteers, and supporters with the global Jewish community.  Our athletic, educational, and cultural experiences build Jewish identity, perpetuate Jewish continuity worldwide, and strengthen support for the State of Israel.

For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact Sandra Cohen, Equestrian Sport Chair at maccabiusaequestrian@gmail.com or Shane Carr, Maccabi USA Program Director at 215-561-6900 or by email at scarr@maccabiusa.com.

About the organization:

Maccabi USA (MUSA) is a federally-recognized not-for-profit 501(c)(3) Organization with an extensive history of enriching Jewish lives through athletic, cultural and educational programs.  The Organization is the official sponsor of the United States Team to the World Maccabiah Games, and the Pan American and European Maccabi Games, as well as a sponsor of the JCC Maccabi Games for teens in North America.  As the official Maccabi representative in the U.S., Maccabi USA supports Jewish athletic endeavors, enhanced by cultural and educational activities in the United States, Israel and throughout the Diaspora.

MUSA develops, promotes and supports international, national and regional athletic-based activities and facilities. It strives to provide Jewish athletes all over the world the opportunity to share their heritage and customs in competitive athletic settings. MUSA supports programs that embody the Maccabi ideals of Jewish Continuity, Zionism and Excellence in Sport.  Maccabi USA Builds Jewish Pride Through Sports.

Maccabi USA has been selected by the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) as a Multi-Sport Organization (MSO). The nonprofit Organization becomes one of 35 MSOs nationwide to be recognized by the USOC for its ability to cultivate a national interest in sport and increase opportunities for participation internationally, nationally and at the grassroots level.

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We recently spoke to two phenomenal female athletes and World Maccabiah Games medal winners—Rebecca Weissbard (above) and Charlotte Gerstenfeld (below)—about their experience with Maccabi USA’s Equestrian team at the World Maccabiah Games. Read below to find out about their preparation for the Games, their most memorable moments during their trip to Israel to compete, and much more.

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On Getting Involved with Maccabi USA…

Rebecca: My grandfather has been a part of Maccabi USA for many years. He spoke with my mom on many occasions over the years about it, so when she heard that the Maccabiah was going to have Equestrian she was very excited for me to get involved.

Charlotte: As a grand-daughter of a Rabbi I have always wanted to go to Israel. Due to the never ending unrest, my parents were always afraid to encourage or allow my sister or me to travel there. But with the chance to compete in the Maccabiah Games, how could they refuse? Also, they knew I did not want to pass up the opportunity to train with a true horseman and rider, Neal Shapiro. He not only won two Olympic medals in 1972 but he was also the first American to win Aachen two times in Berlin in 1966 and 1971 on two different horses. And he’s a Jew to boot!!! What an opportunity!!!!

On Pre-Maccabiah Games Training…

Charlotte: To get myself ready for competition I reorganized my personal training program. I started riding a lot more “catch rides” which is when one jumps and competes a horse he/she does not know. And I started learning about Israel.

Rebecca: Because I had very little experience at 1.30 meters, I needed to get ready very quickly.  I was fortunate enough to get a position at Redfield Farm with Emil Spadone. He had many talented warmbloods that he imported from Europe and was very generous in allowing me to ride and show these horses at HITS Ocala.  Upon completing my time with Redfield, I went to work for the coach of the jumping team Neal Shapiro at Hay Fever Farm. With the help of Neal and his wife Elisa they pushed me forward and made me ready for the Maccabiah.

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On the Maccabiah Games Social Experience…

Rebecca: There were lots of events that gave us the opportunity to meet people on Team USA. And I really enjoyed meeting all of the people from the other countries. They were so interesting, and on the Jumping team there were so many great riders. It was amazing just to be around them and watch them ride.

Charlotte: Our team and the other teams from other countries started to become friends, and we all met each others families and friends. When the crowd cheered, they cheered for us all not just their country.

What made this trip to Israel different than any other trip was the people. What I learned from our amazing unbiased Maccabiah tour guide is that Israel is what it is because of the people.  The people are filled with a wonderful light, hope, energy, and positive attitudes.

On Sightseeing in Israel…

Charlotte: Touring Israel and seeing the Wailing Wall, and Tel Aviv, and all the other visually tantalizing sites one reads about in all the tour books did not leave me disappointed. They were all amazing and beautiful to see.

Rebecca: My favorite places were the Dead Sea and Masada.

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On Personal Highlights from the Maccabiah Games…

Rebecca: My favorite part about the Maccabiah was the first and last classes I competed in out of the five. The first one because I knew that the horse I rode—Duvel—was a horse of a lifetime. I knew he had my back, and he gave me such confidence I felt like I could do anything on him. During the last and final class, there were two of us that had four clear rounds, and I was going last. There was one man who went before me who ended up having five clear rounds, so I knew I had to go fast. As I was approaching the first jump I was so nervous. But after that I remembered I was here to compete. We galloped around the course to the last jump. I saw it in the distance and went for it! I heard the screams and I knew we won so I cantered over to where my family was sitting and gave my dad a high five.

Charlotte: The moments from my time in Israel, meeting the people of the land and then competing as a proud American Jew, has changed me forever. I have come home a stronger Jew both culturally and spiritually, not because of my individual bronze medal or our team silver, and not because I finally received the Bat Mitzvah I always yearned to have. It is because I saw Israel from the inside and I competed for them.

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A Recommendation for Future Maccabiah Games Participants…

Charlotte: This experience allowed me to understand more of who I am. I am special to have been born a Jew because being Jewish is not just a religion, it is a culture. Traveling to Israel as a Jew competing for America is an experience that I will pass on to my children, and I highly recommend it to all Jewish athletes who have never participated in the Maccabiah Games.

Rebecca: I would recommend the Maccabiah Games to anyone who has a dream of competing for their country. Even if you’re the underdog, anything can happen.

Previously:

Maccabi Memories with Lenny Krayzelburg
Maccabi Memories with Rachel Magerman
Maccabi Memories with Noah Springwater
Maccabi Memories with Stuart Weitzman

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