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The quadrennial Maccabiah Games held in Israel are the third largest sporting event in the world, attracting 9,000 athletes from 78 countries. The event brings together male and female Jewish athletes from around the globe.
The games are named after Judah Maccabee who defeated King Antiochus in a successful revolt (167-160 BCE), which included restoring Hebrew worship to the Temple in Jerusalem. This milestone is commemorated as the festival of Hanukkah.
At the 15th Games held in 1997, the USA Maccabiah Men’s Rugby team won their first gold medal, narrowly defeating South Africa. The USA squad had previously won bronze and silver. In the tournament, the USA went a perfect 5-0, recording wins over Great Britain (29-18), Australia (18-10), Argentina (39-16), Israel (24-13) and, the final victory against South Africa 23-22. Pere Berkowitiz was named Man of the Match.
The team was captained by Shawn Lipman and coached by Jeff Simon and Jim Calmas.