Teens, other athletes ready to compete at world Maccabiah

Beth Ellinport, right, 17, will compete internationally for the first time this year when she plays soccer at the 20th Maccabiah.
Photo courtesy of Jeanne Ellinport

Beth Ellinport has been playing soccer since she was 4 years old, and started competing in a league during first grade.

Now 17, the Gaithersburg athlete will fly to Israel next week to join 17 other American girls who will form a soccer team for what Beth called “the biggest games” of her life — the Maccabiah, often referred to as the Jewish Olympics.

“I’m very nervous,” Beth said Monday. “But probably more excited than nervous.”

The 20th Maccabiah will bring together 10,000 athletes and 22,000 fans from 80 countries to compete in 45 events ranging from baseball and gymnastics to karate and golf. This year Maryland, the District of Columbia and Virginia will send 65 athletes to compete.


This year’s Maccabiah, a quadrennial sporting event in Israel that began in 1932, will run from July 4 to 17. It is organized by Maccabi World Union, “a Zionist organization that utilizes sports as a means to bring Jewish people of all ages closer to Judaism and Israel,” according to its website.

Beth, a rising senior at Quince Orchard High School in Gaithersburg, has competed in the Jewish Community Center Maccabi Games that take place in the United States, but this will be her first time competing internationally.

She is excited to “experience both aspects of my life [soccer and Judaism] at one time” and play   “against people who have the same passion and dedication I have for sports and religion.”

Locally, she plays soccer for Quince Orchard and at the Bethesda Soccer Club, and attends Shaare Torah in Gaitherburg.

She will compete in the junior division with girls ages 15 to 18 from around the United States. She has less than two weeks to train with her newly assembled team before their first match. It will be July 7 against Sweden. Her second match will be on July 10 against Australia.

Hours after her second match ends, Potomac resident Reuben Winston, 18, will be lining up to run a half-marathon in Jerusalem.

A recent graduate of the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School, Winston has competed in the JCC Maccabi Games.

Reuben Winston, 18, will run the half-marathon at this year’s Maccabiah, following in the footsteps of his coach, Jason Belinkie.
Photo by Susie Shaffer

“Other than [winning] a medal, I just want to meet a lot of people from around the world who have a passion for running, Israel and sports in general,” he said.

Winston started running during sixth grade, prompted by his sister’s success at it. He focused on the one-mile and two-mile run during high school but chose to enter the half-marathon in the Maccabiah because “the training is not as brutal.”

The half-marathon is “not as much strain on your body because you’re not training as hard. It is about keeping your pace. With the mile, some people would say you’re sprinting the whole time.”

Because of Maccabiah age rules, he can’t compete in the junior division; instead, he’ll be one of the youngest runners in the open division, which includes men up to age 39.

Winston was prompted to apply for the Maccabiah by his high school coach, Jason Belinkie, who ran the half-marathon in Israel in 2013. Belinkie’s team brought home a silver medal that year.

Athletics are going to be a key part of both teens’ futures. Beth has signed up to play soccer for George Washington University while pursuing a degree in engineering. Winston will be running for Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa., which he will attend in the fall.

Winston, who also heads for Israel next week, said of the Maccabiah: “If it is half as awesome as [Belinkie] said it was, I’m sure I’ll have an amazing time.”

This is the first of two stories about Washington-area competitors preparing for the Maccabiah.

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Local delegation to the 2017 Maccabiah Games

This year’s Maccabiah will bring 10,000
athletes to the Jewish state. The American delegation
includes 65 teens and adults from Maryland,
Washington and Virginia.

Eric Abel, Owings Mills
Kylie Albertsen, Woodstock, Md.
Linda April, Rockville
Michael April, Rockville
Abby Benson-McCarthy, Centreville, Va.
Mitchell Berliner, Potomac
Veronica Binstock, Severna Park, Md.
Lawrence Block, Boyds
Crystal Bridge, North Potomac
Joseph Burkinshaw, Germantown
Zachary Burkinshaw, Germantown
Eliana Cowen, Rockville
Natasha Dabrowski, Washington
Kayla Devlin, Annapolis
Jessica Eig, Clarksburg
Ilana Eisenstein, Washington
Beth Ellinport, Gaithersburg
Nathan Engel, Annapolis
Leya Essex, California, Md.
Matthew Feldman, Rockville
Aaron Franco, College Park
Martin Freeman, Silver Spring
Isaac Frumkin, Washington
Stuart Goldberg, Silver Spring
Kaitlin Goodman, North Potomac
Eliana Gottdenker, Bethesda
Beth Hagler, Silver Spring
Amit Hanadari-Levy, North Bethesda
Erica Hjelle, Sandy Spring
Naomi Jaffe, McLean
Aaron Kaplan, Fulton
Liana Keesing, McLean
Nava Kiss, Fairfax
Bryan Knapp, Washington
Brad Levin, Cockeysville
William Lewis, Bethesda
Douglas Markoff, Germantown
Michael Morgenstern, Rockville
Jack Mutchnik, Washington
David Ostroff, Arlington
Nicole Piercy, Newport News
Robinson Prebish, Richmond
Aaron Rabinowitz, Washington
Julia Reicin, Potomac
Joseph Reuben, Frederick
Brooke Richman,Potomac
Leon Roday, Henrico, Va.
Shayna Rose, Baltimore
Josh Rosemore, Pikesville
Jake Rozhansky, Takoma Park
Anna Salasky, Virginia Beach
Rachel Salasky, Virginia Beach
Neil Schechter, Washington
Rachel Sharkey, Bowie
Rebecca Silberman, Silver Spring
Jessica Singer, Washington
Casey Skvorc, Rockville
David Snyder, Baltimore
Sarah Solomon, Rockville
Maxwell Spiritos, Olney
Taylor Stone, Herndon
Aaron Struminger, Elkton
Julie Tucker, Columbia
Reuben Winston, Potomac
Andrew Zuckerman, Potomac

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