Team USA at the 13th Pan American Maccabi games piled on the medals during the weeklong competition in Chile.
Events in Santiago began with an opening ceremony that honored members of the Israeli Olympic team who were murdered in 1972 in Munich, Germany, and those killed in the 1992 attack on the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The games, which began Dec. 28 and ended Monday, included camaraderie among Jews from 22 countries, plenty of team jersey trading, several tzedakah projects, and gold medals for the U.S. women’s beach volleyball team and youth men’s basketball. At press time, the women’s soccer team had defeated Chile and advanced to the gold-medal round.
Among the 2,500 competitors were 37 athletes and coaches from the Washington metropolitan area.
Having a particularly successful run was Potomac’s Mitchell Berliner, who at the age of 67 decided to join the games more as an adventure than anything else. Berliner was accepted into the masters division without trying out and ended up on the podium five times.
He placed second overall and first for swimmers aged 65 to 70 years in the 400-meter freestyle, a race he didn’t know he was entering until a short time before it started. He swam the required eight lengths of the pool in 8 minutes, 24 seconds.
Altogether, Berliner amassed five medals, four gold and one silver.
Besides performing in their individual sports, members of Team USA also raised money to help bring a Cuban Jewish delegation to the games and supply 1,000 Chilean children with glasses.