Cody Blumenthal brought home a gold medal from his participation on the age 18 and under Team USA basketball team at the 14th Pan American Maccabi Games in Mexico City, July 5-15. “Winning gold with my new best friends was the best feeling in the world,” he says.
Every four years, Maccabi World Union organizes the Pan American Maccabi Games in South America. The games aim to perpetuate and preserve the Pan American Jewish community through athletic competition. They are an opportunity to share the spirit of an international Maccabi competition with Jewish athletes from North, Central and South America, Great Britain, Australia, Israel and other countries throughout the Diaspora.
Blumenthal spent four days in Dallas, Texas, before the games practicing and bonding. “Everyone on my team clicked right away, it was amazing,” he says.
In Mexico, “we played Australia, Israel, Mexico, and Columbia. Every game we won by somewhere between 40-70 points,” says Blumenthal.
“Since we won all of our games, that put us straight into the gold medal game,” he says. “We played Israel in the championship game. At the beginning of the game, Team Israel started hot. They went up 12 points on us in the first quarter. My team did not fold, though. We fought through and ended up winning by 20 points.”
As part of the event, the athletes participated in community service activities. “We helped poor community members find glasses that suit their vision and played with the kids. It was a great experience for everyone,” Blumenthal says. “For Shabbat, my team put on our own service at the hotel, led by a few of the players. And, two of us, who had never been bar mitzvahed became a bar mitzvah! It was awesome.
“This Maccabi trip was the best two weeks of my life. Winning gold with my new friends and meeting a bunch of people are two things I wouldn’t trade the world for.”