Laurence Kaye’s whole mishpocheh, from all over the United States and his native South Africa, will be heading to Israel for the Maccabiah Games this July — not necessarily to watch him compete in the Men’s Open Squash tournament, although that’s a bonus, but to be on hand as the Maccabiah organization honors his uncle, Mervyn Tankelowitz of Johannesburg, for decades of service. Four generations of the family will come together in Israel, he says, and some family members will compete in other sports.
Kaye, 52, a local ophthalmologist, began playing squash when he was 14 in South Africa and currently plays in tournaments at the Tucson Jewish Community Center. While he expects to do OK at the Games, which have been likened to a Jewish Olympics, for him it’s not about the competition but the camaraderie. “It’s cool to interact with the players from all around the world. There’s 65 countries going,” says Kaye, who may even meet some former teammates from his school days in South Africa.
Kaye, who’ll be returning to Israel for his first visit since he was a teen, is one of three Tucson athletes participating in the Maccabiah Games, which will be held July 17-30.
Joseph Schwartz, 28, also will be carrying on a family tradition. His father played softball with Maccabi USA since 1985, the year Schwartz was born. “I used to bat boy for him, when I was a little guy,” he says, noting that his father competed in Israel several times and also played on national championship teams around the country.
Schwartz, who umpires baseball for local high schools and other leagues, played baseball up until college and has been playing softball with Maccabi USA for the last five years. “We go around the country playing in tournaments against regular teams,” he explains. He’ll compete on the Open Men’s Softball team in Israel. He’s played many different positions, including catcher, but expects to play a lot of second base in Israel.
This will be Schwartz’s first trip to Israel. Along with the competition and the camaraderie, “I’m excited to be staying by the beach in Tel Aviv,” he says.
Rachel Meyer, who competes in Taekwondo, will turn 17 during the games in Israel, making her one of the youngest members of Team USA. Meyer, who was profiled in the AJP in September (see http://azjewishpost.com/2012/local-taekwondo-champ-to-go-to-maccabiah-games/), has been training hard and recently won gold at three competitions: the Copa Sonora in Hermosillo on May 26, the Texas Round Robin in El Paso on June 1 and the Arizona Open in Phoenix on June 8.
“I love traveling for competitions. I’ve met amazing people while doing it,” Meyer told the AJP in September.
Check the AJP in August for an update on the Tucson competitors.