And so, The Maccabiah, The Maccabi Games, The Big Mac, The Jewish Olympics, the 3rd largest international sporting event behind the non-Jewish Olympics and the Pan-Am Games, THE GREAT CELEBRATION OF JEWISH SPORTSMANSHIP AND PAGEANTRY TO BE CELEBRATED IN ISRAEL ON THE 3RD MOON OF JULY EVERY 4TH YEAR– whatever you want to call it, is over. That’s right, Ladies and Goose Bumps, it’s really over. We did what we said we’d do, we, Team Jew.S.A., won gold, and are, for now, the Supreme Rulers of Jewish Baseball. And as proof, we were awarded the Tiny Golden Engraving of Ultimate Beauty and Greatness.
But before we end, let me take you back, back to the beginning, OPENING CEREMONIES, where no civilian hath ever been before, in the tunnel with Team USA just moments before we proudly marched into the stadium.
The Maccabi Games are, after all, where the best mediocre Jewish athletes from around the world to come together to compete and compare the strength of their particular brand of Jewish Magic. Whether it’s judo, futsol, underwater cup stacking, or coloring, it is, no doubt, a marvelous utopia of Jewish Excellence and Togetherness! Children arrive, fresh faced, after months of training, eager to compete. This is their chance! The Maccabi Games. The Olympics, kind of, it feels like the Olympics, at least, sometimes. A once in a lifetime chance to be treated like a World Class Athlete.
But I will have you know, faithful reader, in reality, more than the perfect, sporty Jewish world of your imagining, the Games resemble a civil-war ravaged refugee camp, Jew fighting Jew, warring militias battling for control of the schedule, the laundry, the busses, the flow, or lack of, information. At one point, I stopped speaking, stopped answering questions, PTSD, the thousand question stare. I did not have the answers anyways. Are there towels? Why have we been sleeping on the side of the road waiting for a bus for 2 hours?
Each day, the guards woke us up at 5:30am, fed us fake muffins, and put us on busses to go battle in the heat of the day, hundreds at a time, to practice, Masada, more muffins, sleep when you can, but don’t let them see you, they yell. We’d return at midnight, 1am, 2:30 am, together, if we were lucky, count the men. Did everyone make it? Before bed, on a good night, we’d split an extra tuna sandwich 16-ways Holtzy smuggled in his underwear off the bus. 3 hours later, awake again, a game, a movie about Israeli Military Technology, a surprise coaches meeting, another orientation, wait, change everything, the projector isn’t working, we’re going to Egypt, no busses for 45 minutes, get the team together, we need a trainer! – Leo fell down the well. Cohen lost his credentials. The baseballs are gone. What time are closing ceremonies over? Laundry will be ready at 3am, team meeting at 3:30 to review what color socks we’re wearing tomorrow. Where’s Biller? Oh yeah, Biller is in surgery. Volleyball is stuck in Tel Aviv. Where the hell is Clayton?
But, naturally, we, the GREATEST ALL JEWISH 18-AND-UNDER BASEBALL TEAM OF ALL TIME, overcame. For if the Maccabi Games teach young athletes anything, it is how to overcome adversity, and how to control the mind with confusion, of course. And, in the end, like all situations of a particular intensity, it brought us closer together. We lived together. Slept together, on one another at times. We won. We lost. We bounced back. We loved each other, hated each other, however briefly, and now, we are one, forever, united, one team, under god, or Harold, or whoever is in charge that day, indivisible– nay, invincible, with gold!
I officially began my job. Everyone left for airport to fly home, and I took a taxi to my new apartment in Jaffa which, as you should by now know, I will tell you all about, when the time is right. My new life as an israeli, as National Director of the IAB, with an inbox to prove it, and, of course, dutifully, continually, eternally, for there is no other, as King of All Jewish Baseball….