A: The three “C’s” obviously: Companionship, Culture and Competition! (Does Maccabi still use this messaging? I remember it from 1997!) As I get older, I definitely appreciate all three concepts more each time I attend the Maccabi Games. Competing as part of a team like I did in high school and then in college is a rare opportunity when you become an adult. The Maccabi Games make this possible and I am eternally thankful to Maccabi USA for allowing me to continue to experience the best times of my life over and over again!Q: How did you first become involved with Maccabi USA?
A: My dad (Russell Perlman) competed in the World Maccabiah Games in Israel in 1973 (Men’s Open Track & Field Team). He talked about the Games while I was growing up. After my freshman year of high school, I applied for the Juniors Track & Field Team and went to Israel for the first time that summer. As I continued to compete in high school and college, I always dreamed of returning to Israel with Team USA and when I had the chance in 2013 as a member of the Women’s Half Marathon team…I jumped at it!Q: What compels you to stay involved with Maccabi USA?
A: Maccabi is a wonderful organization and experience. Regardless of the age I have been when attending, the location (Israel or Europe) or the sport (Track or Half Marathon), I always seem to have a positive and rewarding experience. The people that manage and lead Team USA are always kind, professional and giving; and I always come home wanting more! These facts combined with the fact that I love talking about and sharing the Maccabi Games experience with friends, family, and others back at home…keeps me coming back for more (and hopefully will continue to)!
A: For me, every time I have been a part of the Maccabi Games (whether in Israel or Europe), the feeling post-competition is always the most poignant and emotional. After competing/racing, the endorphins are always on high-alert. Then you remember that you are wearing a Team USA uniform, competing your hardest on behalf of your country, representing all people of Jewish heritage, and standing for something much bigger than yourself…it’s all pretty powerful!
Q: What was your most memorable moment from the EMG?
A: There were so many wonderful moments in Berlin as part of EMG 2015…but if I had to choose one it would probably be racing in Olympic Park around the exact stadium where Hitler had stood and denied Jewish athletes from the USA and other parts of the world the opportunity to compete. Many of my teammates shared this similar experience of looking up to the sky and either internally or externally showing their pride for being Jewish as well as their disdain for Hitler and his policies/commands. So to have the opportunity to do something I love so much (racing), in a place with so much history was an indescribable moment for me. I think I said it best when talking to a media reporter from The Forward immediately following my half marathon race: “To come to Germany 70 years after the Holocaust and represent Jews and take a stand for something so much bigger than ourselves was an opportunity I could not turn down.”
A: The EMG Opening Ceremony was pretty inspirational, to say the least. My personal favorite part of the Ceremony was walking into the stadium alongside my teammates from the USA. Entering the stadium and seeing the thousands of athletes already seated, cheering and celebrating all around us was exciting, exhilarating and all-around AMAZING! In 1997, Team USA never had the opportunity to walk in the Opening Ceremony because of a terrible accident involving the Australian delegation (the bridge into the stadium collapsed and lives were lost); so in both 2013 in Israel and again in Berlin in 2015, I made sure to acknowledge and appreciate the moment.Q: Describe the relationships you developed with other Jewish athletes from around the world.
A: As a member of the Juniors’ Track & Field team at the 1997 Maccabiah Games, I remember spending most of time developing friendships with the Great Britain track, table tennis and netball teams, as well as my own teammates from the U.S. As a member of the Women’s Half Marathon team in 2013, I left Israel with new friends from Canada, Romania, France and lifelong friendships with teammates from Maine, Oregon, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and more! And following my most recent experience in Berlin as part of the European Maccabi Games (EMG), I am coming away with new friends from Germany, Switzerland, Great Britain, Israel, and of course the U.S.! Due to the intimate nature of the EMG – smaller teams, staying in one common hotel with all of the Open and Juniors/Youth athletes from around the world – I developed much stronger bonds with athletes and management from other countries. As a result, I had the opportunity to train and race with a fellow half marathon runner from Germany; spend meals and evenings out with athletes from Germany, Great Britain, Romania and Israel; and develop bonds with some pretty amazing and talented people.
A: As I have said in the past, go…go…go!!! If you have the opportunity to compete on behalf of your country in the most amazing locations around the world (Israel, Europe, South America, etc.), you have to jump at it and don’t delay! For me, I have made many sacrifices (financially, professionally, personally, time, etc.) in order to attend the Maccabi Games and I would do it over and over again! Each and every time the experience has been worth it! If my physical training continues to progress and I still have the opportunity to take the time away from “regular life” in future years, I would love to continue to go to each and every Maccabi Games going forward! I see the Masters athletes competing into their 70s and 80s and I would be honored and lucky to do the same! On top of that, I think part of our responsibility as Maccabi athletes is to tell the world what we are doing and the importance of it. As my dad did for me growing up, I continue to share my positive experiences via photos, interviews, conversations, etc. with the people in my life – including the high school athletes I coach, the individuals I run with and the community/friends I surround myself with. As a result, I have been lucky enough to be able to attend the past two Games with some pretty amazing people from my at-home life, including Coach Rick Rothman, Juniors athlete Jordana Kimelman, and Open athlete Stephanie Musinsky. I look forward to continuing to spread the positive message going forward!
A: I would just like to add that as my first European event, I was really pleased with the experience. I didn’t know what to expect having only been a part of the World Maccabiah Games in Israel prior. With plans to tour Europe with my dad immediately following the games, I figured that the 10 days in Berlin would be a part of my overall summer experience abroad. However, I quickly realized how wrong I was…while very different from Israel, the EMG experience was unique and very special and stands alone as a highlight. Thank you to Maccabi Germany, Maccabi USA and all of the volunteers/management/athletes, etc. that made the experience so wonderful!