On August 22, 2013, I sent an email to the Maccabi USA leadership:
To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.comTo date, I have received no response. I know it was received because I received an automatic vacation message from one of the recipients. I will let readers draw their own conclusions from this, but I am personally drawing a very negative impression of Maccabi USA.
To Maccabi USA:
... I am a Jewish American actively competing in several shooting sports. I also operate a blog called Jewish Marksmanship, at http://jewishmarksmanship.blogspot.com. As you might imagine, I have become something of a "hub" for the social network of American Jews active in shooting sports.
As you know, no Americans participated in the shooting sports events at the recent Maccabiah Games in Israel. I submit to you that the primary reason for this absence was that many of us Jews in the shooting sports community were simply unaware that shooting events were being held. Some who competed at Maccabiah Games decades ago thought shooting sports had been eliminated, and did not bother to inquire this year. Others, like me, were disappointed to learn about the inclusion of shooting sports only after the fact.
Indeed, in communications I have recently had with Israeli national shooting team members, they were quite disappointed and surprised at the lack of American turnout. The Israeli shooters often travel to the US for international competitions, and were keen to build friendships. They wrongly assumed that perhaps few American Jews compete in Olympic-style shooting.
In fact, many young Jewish Americans have been recent Olympians in shooting sports, and compete on their college rifle or pistol teams. There are also many amateurs. Here is a sampling:
In the teen and "young adult" category:
Sandra Fong, Danielle Fong, Abigail Fong - With Sandra notably competing at the Olympic levels.
Hanna Black, Josh Black - Hanna competes at the collegiate level in Air Rifle, Josh at the junior nationals level in Air Rifle and Pistol.
Jessica Levine - Won national awards at Camp Perry a few years back in smallbore.
Laura Spector - Olympic biathlete.
Sharon Barazani - Up-and-coming international shooter (not sure, she may technically have been born in Israel...?).
Dmitriy Shteyman - International pistol disciplines.
Sloane Milstein - Air pistol.
The "Blackhawk Bagel Boys" - An entire 2011 team of Jews at the national championships in smallbore prone.
This list is by no means all inclusive, there are dozens of amateurs. I happen to know that many of these athletes have made pleasure-trips to Israel, and will do so again in the future. I cannot say to have spoken with all of them, but suspect that ignorance of shooting sports in the Maccabiah Games explains many of their absences.
I pose these questions because some of the Israeli shooting clubs have expressed an interest in building ties with American Jewish shooters, independently of the Maccabiah Games if necessary. Myself and a few others have resolved to better organize the Jewish American shooting sports community, and build greater ties with our Israeli brothers and sisters in the sport. The question is whether Maccabiah USA is the right vehicle for us.
It is against this background that I make several inquires of Maccabiah USA. Put simply:
1. Does Maccabiah USA welcome the shooting sports as Maccabiah Games events, and consider them equal to others? I have spoken with some who suspect (I hope without cause) that as an organization, Maccabiah USA would prefer to distance itself from all firearms sports. It would go a long way with me and others if you could state the organization's position.
2. What is the future of shooting sports in the Maccabiah Games?
3. What are the requirements to send a contingent of American shooters to the next games? (i.e. number of entrants, etc.)
Certainly, I for one have limited resources to make trips to Israel for the purpose of shooting competitions, and I'm sure others feel the same, as competitive shooting is already a financially expensive sport. That being said, can you make the case as to why American Jewish shooting sports competitors should coordinate through Maccabiah USA, instead of doing something directly with the Israeli shooting clubs?
I look forward to your response.
But kvetch not loyal readers, because the wheels are in motion for other options. A rough sketch of the idea is that every few years, one or more of the Israeli shooting clubs will host a tournament for world Jewry, independent of the Maccabi Games. If you would like to help be a part of the long term planning, please let me know.