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Indy teens earn medals in Maccabi Games

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Two North Central High School students took advantage of a once-in-a-lifetime experience when they competed in the Maccabi Games in Israel.

“Last year, I found out some kids went to San Diego, so I go to the Glick JCC to play basketball, and I know how to get kicked out of the gym because they are practicing there. That sounds like a cool thing to go to a completely different state to play basketball,” said Sammy Bernstein, who won a silver medal in basketball.

The Maccabi Games take place every four years in Israel. It features hundreds of Jewish athletes from several different countries. The athletes get to chose one of fifteen different sports to compete in.

“We didn’t have to try out because our delegation is so small. I have a friend who lives in LA and he says there were week long tryouts for the basketball team, so all we had to do is prove we are Jewish and we got into the Maccabi Games,” said Bernstein.

Bernstein’s friend and classmate at North Central, Cole Bush, won a gold in soccer. They are the only two athletes from Indianapolis competing in the Maccabi Games.

“It’s fun to see all these other kids, but it gets competitive. You want to win right? You want to take home that gold, and you’re playing kids who look like they’re a lot older than they really are,” said Bernstein.

The games are more than just about competing. The event offers Jewish athletes a chance to build friendships through sportsmanship.

“Beautiful country. Everyone here is really nice. Every Israeli athlete that I’ve met has been welcoming us with open arms, playing us their music, and teaching us about Israel,” said Bush.

Bernstein and Bush are visiting the rest of Israel before heading back to the states. They want to return to the Maccabi Games in the future as coaches.