Israel bids farewell to thousands of Jewish athletes: Los Altos swimmer grabs seven medals

The 18th Maccabiah Games were brought to a close on July 23 in Israel with a dazzling display of music and dancing, cascading waterfalls and bright lights.

During 11 days of competition among 7,000 athletes representing 54 countries, 1,247 medals were given out to participants from 31 countries.

Israel was on top, claiming more than 50 percent of the total hardware awarded with 628 medals — 239 gold, 216 silver and 173 bronze.

Finishing in a very distant second was the United States, which took home 84 gold, 92 silver and 79 bronze medals for a total of 255. Australia rounded out the top three with a total of 60 medals.

Individually, Jacqueline Levere of Los Altos had a huge haul in 13- to 16-year-old girls swimming, bringing home seven medals.

Levere, who will be a junior this fall at St. Francis High School in Mountain View, won gold medals in the 100- and 200-meter breaststroke, and also nabbed five silvers (200 and 400 freestyle, 400 individual medley, and 400 and 800 freestyle relay). She just missed out on another medal, taking fourth in the 200 IM.

Also on the local front, the Platshon brothers — Aaron, Kevin and Scott from Menlo Park — were all members of the U.S. water polo team that won a silver medal, falling 10-8 to Israel in the final after beating its first three opponents by a combined 49-21 score.

The 18th Maccabiah Games in Israel open with fanfare and fireworks in front of 25,000 at the National Stadium in Ramat Gan on July 12. photo/maccabi usa/jordan polevy

All the Platshon brothers were stars at Menlo School in Atherton; Kevin (U.C. Berkeley) and Aaron (Bucknell University) have already finished collegiate careers, and Scott, the U.S. goalie at the Maccabiah Games, is headed to Stanford in the fall.

Many other Bay Area athletes brought home medals, including:

Gold: Jeremiah Kreisberg, Berkeley, junior basketball; Noah Springwater, San Francisco, junior basketball.

Silver: Joseph Grand, San Francisco, open men’s cycling (ages 30-39 time trial); Alexander Wolf-Root, Santa Rosa, open men’s track and field (half marathon team); Ilana Gordon, San Carlos, junior gymnastics (vault); Sarah Williams, Los Gatos, and Jessica Fields, San Francisco, junior track and field (4×100, 4×400 relays); Callie Klein, Danville, junior swimming (4×100 free); Sophia Lieberman, San Francisco, junior volleyball; Daniel Winnick, Walnut Creek, open men’s softball; Bradley Roslyn, San Francisco, open men’s water polo.

Bronze: Ross Biestman, Diablo, open men’s rugby; Adam Mayer, San Jose, open men’s rugby; Laura Lauder, Atherton, open women’s cycling (ages 30-49 time trial); David Levine, Berkeley, open men’s triathlon (ages 18-19 sprint).

At the closing ceremony July 23, held at a packed 10,000-seat Latrun Amphitheater, Israeli President Shimon Peres was escorted by U.S. swimmer Jason Lezak, who won two gold medals in Israel after deciding to skip the FINA world championships in Italy that started July 19. Lezak was honored as one of the Games’ two outstanding players, along with chess grandmaster Judit Polgar, 33, of Canada.

The next Games will be in four years.


The Jerusalem Post and JTA contributed to this report.