Hannah Gold was ‘MVP’ for her team – the Mequon contestant’s first trip to Israel was for the Maccabiah Games

“It kind of fell into my lap one day,” said 22-year-old Wisconsinite Hannah Gold, describing the opportunity to represent the United States in women’s ice hockey at Israel’s Maccabiah Games, the one of the greatest sporting competitions in the world.

From July 14 to 28, 2022, the Games welcomed 10,000 athletes from 60 countries to Jerusalem. The games are sometimes referred to as the “Jewish Olympics” and are a multi-sport event open to Jewish athletes worldwide and to all Israeli citizens, regardless of religion.

Gold grew up in Mequon and has been skating since she was 3 years old. “I’ve played with boys since high school, so it helped me stay tough,” Gold said. In high school, Gold played hockey at Milwaukee University School and trained for three years at the Harry and Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center in Whitefish Bay. “It was good to have this community here.”

Asked to recruit Jewish female hockey players to US teams, Gold’s coach at the University of Augsburg sent her an email telling her that she had been selected to play. Since this was Gold’s first time in Israel and she had other Jews on her team, it would be a meaningful experience.

“Our team had a very good bond. We all wanted great things to come out of the trip, so I think that really helped,” Gold said.

While at the University of Augsburg in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where Gold played hockey for the past four years, she was the only Jew on her team. Then in Israel, she was surrounded by Jews from everywhere, from Turkey to Brazil. Most exciting, however, was the fact that no Jewish athlete celebrated in the same way. “It was cool to see everyone’s different take on everything and how there are different ways to be Jewish.”

Gold said Shabbat was a way to examine these differences. Even just going around the challah, Gold and his teammates were able to connect the many cults present in the room.

American athletes spent the week leading up to the Games learning about some of Israel’s cultural pillars. They visited Masada, the Western Wall, the Dead Sea, listened to a Holocaust survivor speak and went to Yad Vashem.

The programming coordinators even threw a party for the American athletes. “It was in an amphitheater outside, everyone was wearing white…the energy was really cool there. Everyone was dancing,” Gold said.

From 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day, Gold and his mates stayed busy practicing, getting to know each other, and playing.

“It’s important that women’s hockey be part of the games because people have been trying to get it for years. I’m so grateful he was able to be there,” Gold shared.

The women’s ice hockey category hosted three teams: the United States, Israel and Canada. After a double round robin, Gold’s team won silver. For the entire tournament, Gold herself won the title of the team’s most valuable player.

When asked how her Jewish identity played a role in her hockey career, Gold replied, “It’s always part of your identity, never separated. »

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