Denver Attorney Goes for the Gold
by Mindy Marks
Talk of Israel’s disengagement from the Gaza Strip topped the United States’ news headlines in late July, but a far more joyous event was filling Israel’s headlines.
The 17th Maccabiah Games were uniting Jews from all over the world in almost two weeks of sporting events.
"It’s so important to Israelis and the Jewish people around the world to be able to share in the common bonds of sports and Israel," said Jerry Malman, personal injury attorney from Denver. "Because Israel has been going through so much turmoil, these games are a highlight."
The Maccabiah Games are Olympic-style games that take place in Israel every four years and attract more than 7,000 Jewish athletes from 65 countries. The events include everything from baseball and bowling to squash and judo. Similar to the Olympics, the games begin with an elaborate opening ceremony where the athletes file in, fans cheer them on, music plays and a torch is lit.
Malman began playing tennis at the age of seven in Cincinnati, where his father was the city tennis champion. He continued to play tennis throughout high school and college, but never competed at the Maccabiah Games.
Malman qualified for the U.S. Tennis Team last December in Miami, Fla. and then began training so he could withstand Israel’s hot and humid summer weather.
"It was an honor and thrill to be competing for the United States," said Malman, who played against athletes from China, Great Britain and Israel.
Malman competed in singles and doubles in the master’s division for men ages 55–59. He didn’t meet his doubles partner until the qualifying tournament. While he didn’t place, he did finish with a total of four wins and only two losses.
While at the Maccabiah Games, Jerry Malman learned what the phrase — "It’s a small world," truly means.
He was staying in a hotel in Tel Aviv, Israel when he heard a husband and wife joking around in the elevator. Malman, a wise guy, chimed into their conversation.
Instead of continuing with his jokes, the man turned to him and responded, "Are you a Malman?"
Pinales was not the only relationship Malman rekindled on his visit. It had been nearly 40 years since Malman’s first trip to Israel, so during his free time he reunited with Israeli family members.
"I’m much more enthused about Israel," said Malman. "I’m impressed with how well they’re doing (economically) and the importance they place on sports."
Malman enjoyed the first-hand perspective his relatives were able to give him on political events.
"If Israel had peace it would be like heaven on earth," said Malman emphasizing the beauty of the country and strength of the education and economy. "It would be like Colorado, but with an ocean."
During his trip, Malman was able to watch other events and travel with his cousin Lior to Petra, Jordan (often referred to as the eighth wonder of the ancient world).
Since his trip, Malman has been invited to join the Maccabi USA Board and will serve from September 2005 until December 2006. The board aims to promote and continue to keep the games strong. Malman plans on attending the national conference in December and hopes to bring in more local participation.
"The games are very competitive," said Malman. "My goal is to try to educate the youth about participating in the games."
Malman currently serves on the Denver Tennis Club’s Board of Directors and enjoys playing in local competitions. Like the Olympics, the Maccabiah Games also have Pan Am Maccabi Games in the year preceding them. The next Pan Am Maccabi Games will take place in Argentina.
"I hope to qualify for the Pan Am along with my wife and kids so we can travel as a family and meet other Jewish athletes," said Malman.