By Janis Fontaine
Melissa Perlman of Delray Beach has represented the United States at the quadrennial Maccabiah Games in Israel several times, but this year was special. Perlman was asked to use her experience to recruit and lead a team of athletes as the commissioner of endurance sports.
She grew up hearing about the games from her father, who competed in 1973. She first attended the games as a junior, running track on the 1997 team. She won four bronze medals.
Years later, in 2013, Perlman felt compelled to make supporting the games her passion project and she returned to Israel to represent the USA for the second time.
“I understood the true meaning of the games and the importance of thousands of Jews from all over the world coming together to show our strength, our resilience and our pride,” she said.
Perlman’s athletes won a bevy of medals in July 2022, competing in the half-marathon, cycling, track and field, and the Maccabi man/woman, which consists of four events that test running, cycling and swimming endurance.
Perlman, 40, won a gold medal in the half-marathon in the masters division. But more important, she and the other athletes “made new lifelong friends, and left with a better understanding of Israel and our Jewish history,” she said.
The Maccabiah Games, conceived in 1912, were first played in 1932. Sometimes called the Jewish Olympics, the games are open to all residents of Israel and all Jews, no matter where they live. Every four years, athletes from more than 60 countries compete in more than 40 sports. The Maccabiah Games are the third-largest sporting event in the world; only the Olympics and soccer’s World Cup are bigger.
For the first time in the history of the games, the United States president attended the opening ceremonies, and Perlman was part of a group of about 200 USA athletes chosen to attend a private meeting with President Joe Biden. Perlman said he told the crowd: “I am so darn proud of you. You have demonstrated to the world that we can do anything.”
Perlman, who owns the local PR company BlueIvy Communications, says the Maccabiah Games are “an opportunity to shout from the rooftops that I am proud to be Jewish, that I am an athlete and I am strong,” Perlman wrote in an article in the Jewish Journal. “I know that if the Maccabiah Games continue to thrive and grow, so will the Jewish people, and our resilience and strength in today’s ever-changing world.”
First Presbyterian Church of Delray Beach held a ’blessing of the backpacks’ during worship on Aug. 7. The elders helped to bless the backpacks and all the students were given luggage tags. Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star
A few local churches offered “a blessing of the backpacks,” but if you want to do your own, here’s a prayer from St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church in Boca Raton:
“Lord Jesus Christ, in whom all things are renewed, refreshed and refined, we pray that you will guide us into this new year, lighting our path with your love, truth and wisdom. We pray for all students, families, teachers and school officials for encouragement, joy and hope and we pray for each one’s safety and well-being. May each heart be open to receiving the blessings of learning and growing together in you. Amen.”
Forum discussion resumes
The Interfaith Café has resumed its in-person monthly meetings, with the next taking place from 7-9 p.m. Sept. 15. The title of the discussion is “Here we go again: How to begin another year with the right perspective,” and the speaker is Rabbi Boruch Shmuel Liberow. He co-directs the Chabad Student Center, which serves the college community at FAU, Lynn University and Palm Beach State College.
The rabbi, who is also a certified life coach and a chaplain, will speak along with his wife, Rivka. They’ve been active in the Boca Raton community since 1998.
The Interfaith Café meets at the South County Civic Center, 16700 Jog Road, Delray Beach. Each month features a presentation by a guest speaker and a discussion about notable topics. People of all faiths are welcomed.
For more information, call Linda Prior at 561-330-0245 or visit the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/DelrayBocaInterfaithCafe.
Music at St. Paul’s returns
Mark your calendar: Music at St. Paul’s 2022-2023 season begins at 3 p.m. Sept. 18 with the Trillium Piano Trio, featuring Ruby Berland, violin, Cornelia Brubeck, cello, and Yoko Sata Kothari, piano. The suggested donation is $20, but students younger than 18 get free admission. Tickets are available only at the door on the day of the concert. St. Paul’s is handicapped accessible. For more information, visit musicstpauls.org.
Here’s the rest of the lineup:
Con Brio Quartet — 3 p.m. Oct. 2, with Stojo Miserlioski, clarinet
Strings and Keys — 3 p.m. Oct. 30. Delray String Quartet with Marina Radiushina, guest pianist
John Rutter’s Requiem for All Saints — 3 p.m. Nov. 6. The Choir of St. Paul’s performs under the direction of Dr. David Macfarlane, director. The chamber ensemble performs.
German Romantics — 3 p.m. Nov. 27. Duo Beaux Arts: Catherine Lan and Tao Lin, pianists.
A Festival of Lessons and Carols for Christmas — 3 p.m. Dec. 11. The Choir of St. Paul’s performs under the direction of Macfarlane.
Bazaar donations needed
The ECW at St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church needs donations for its Fall Bazaar, scheduled for Oct. 29. Kitchen items, accessories, holiday decorations, artwork and jewelry in good condition are wanted.
The women also need baskets to fill with gourmet items like nuts and other snacks, coffee, tea and hot chocolate. Items can be delivered to the Thrift Store or church office at 100 NE Mizner Blvd, Boca Raton. Call 561-395-8285 or visit www.stgregorysepiscopal.org.
Send religion news to Janis Fontaine at email@example.com.