Original Article Published On The JNS

Israel will be thrust into the international limelight when it hosts the final round of the inaugural UCI Track Champions League in December.

While Israelis were rushing for shelter in mid-May as thousands of rockets were raining down on them from Hamas in Gaza, Canadian-Israeli businessman and philanthropist Sylvan Adams was in Paris at a press conference featuring international biking-race organizers. He was helping promote and unveil plans to bring elite male and female riders to Tel Aviv at the end of the year for a new indoor cycling competition showcasing the world’s top track cyclists.

The Sylvan Adams Velodrome in Tel Aviv will serve as host to the final round of the inaugural UCI Track Champions League on Dec. 11. The other events will take place at velodromes in Spain, France, Lithuania and England between Nov. 6 and Dec. 4.

Adams, who made aliyah five years ago from Montreal, has been at the forefront of presenting Israel in a positive light in front of international audiences. In addition to bringing the UCI event to the Sylvan Adams National Velodrome, which will also host the 2022 UCI Junior Track Cycling World Championships, he has brought the prestigious Giro d’Italia bike race to Israel in 2018 and is also co-owner of the Israel Start-Up Nation cycling team. He brought soccer superstar Lionel Messi, and the national teams of Argentina and Uruguay, to Israel in November 2019, in addition to legendary singer Madonna to the Eurovision Song Contest in 2019.

Sylvan Adams. Credit: Courtesy.

Details of the innovative new bike-racing series were announced via a live digital event streamed from Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines near Paris and Bath in the United Kingdom. Discussing the details of the upcoming competition were president of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI)—cycling’s world governing body—David Lappartient; Eurosport & Discovery Global Sports Rights & Sports Marketing Solutions president Andrew Georgiou; and François Ribeiro, the head of Eurosport Events. They were joined by ambassadors and track-cycling legends Kristina Vogel and Sir Chris Hoy MBE, plus key figures including businessman and, of course, Adams.

Adams praised his cycling colleagues from England, noting that “we are taking a page from Britain to become a preeminent cycling country.” He says he is hoping to use the indoor velodrome event “to offer an opportunity to bridge from the road-cycling experience.”

The 62-year-old billionaire then turned his attention to Israel, saying: “I am glad the Grand Finale will be in Tel Aviv; it is a very rich opportunity. I think of Israelis as winners. We win with anything we put our minds to.”

‘We already have developed some real track talents’

The elite competition will feature many of the world’s highest-profile riders. Many will be participating in the event only a few months after competing in the Tokyo Summer Olympic Games. The event is designed to build the global profile of track cycling beyond the four-year Olympic cycle.

The 36 male and 36 female riders vying for victory in the League’s Sprint and Endurance categories will be motivated by prizes totaling more than €500,000 (nearly $615,000).

Lappartient reports that “the launch of the UCI Track Champions League marks an important milestone in the history of track cycling—one of cycling’s historic disciplines and one that has been part of the Olympic Games since the first modern Games in 1896. I am very much looking forward to seeing this inaugural edition of the UCI Track Champions League take place in these iconic venues revealed today and to seeing the first four men’s and women’s winners of the 2021 UCI Track Champions League, celebrated in December in Israel.”

Adams notes that “our velodrome—the first such facility in the Middle East—is just over a year old, and we already have developed some real track talents, both men and women, who will get the opportunity to race against the world’s best on their home track. In a way, this will be our coming-out party to the rest of the track-cycling world, which will get to see our world-class facility, as the event is going to be beamed into living-room TVs around the globe by Eurosport.”

He topped his enthusiasm with a resounding message: “Looking forward to welcoming everyone to the great, exciting city of Tel Aviv.”

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Original Article on The OKClarity

Passover is known in our tradition as the holiday of freedom and liberation. Yet, the Pesach season is often muddled with anxiety and family stress. This time of year is especially difficult for individuals and families dealing with mental health and substance abuse issues, and in today’s world who isn’t dealing with something?

“The Jewish holidays and Pesach in particular can be festive and meaningful,” observes Rabbi Elie Weinstock of Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. “But Pesach can be very stressful, especially for those with mental health issues. Whether it be the obsessive cleaning or the ingathering of family, the Pesach infrastructure tends to increase family stress and anxiety.”

Additionally, students are on break from their studies. This means a long period of time with little structure. Structure tends to be a positive thing for most people. The lack of structure during the Passover season tends to increase anxiety and create more space for individual & family stress to surface.

Veteran therapists working with the Orthodox Jewish community offer insights and suggestions for better managing this pre-Passover and Passover stress and anxiety. The first step is always understanding what Pesach represents and brings up for each of us as we prepare to be with nuclear and extend families.

Your expectations and their connection to Pesach anxiety and family stress

Michelle Halle, a licensed clinical social worker in Lakewood, New Jersey, acknowledges that Passover stress “has a lot to do with expectations and self-care.” She reports, “A lot of people don’t think about giving themselves what they need.” We tend to swamp ourselves with the needs, wants, and expectations of others and ignore the most vital person, ourselves.

She goes further to highlight how “Passover often serves as a measuring stick,” which only increases pre-Passover stress and anxiety. People often have expectations of where they will be by the time Pesach rolls around. They hoped they would be married, have a child, or find a dream job before the upcoming Passover. “When these things didn’t happen, they get down, blame themselves, and add to the anxiety and family stress that already exists.”

What can we do to reduce Passover anxiety and family stress?

1- Identify expectations, feelings, and practice sitting with discomfort

Halle encourages her clients to spend time working to understand what is contributing to Passover anxiety and family stress.

Acknowledge the sadness and disappointment. Sit with the thoughts and acknowledge them.

Halle notes that, “People aren’t in the habit of doing this. However, once they develop this important life skill, they can use it all year long. Ultimately, we need replace self-judgment with compassion and add meaning to our lives so we feel empowered instead of disappointed and discouraged.”

2- Avoid regressing along with family members

Halle encourages her clients to be aware of possible triggers and regressive pulls which are often at play when people get together with families of origin. She notes a common phenomenon, during the holidays people often regress to the family dynamics of an earlier stage in life. Staying mindful of this tendency ensures you respond verses react to sudden changes in family dynamics. This of course will diffuse much family stress and tension.

3- Take advantage of support groups

Rabbi Weinstock notes an additional area of family stress and anxiety. “The seder is a reminder of who is NOT around the table.”

He has noticed a preponderance of support groups for bereaved individuals before holidays – especially Rosh Hashanah, Chanukah, and Pesach. He encourages people to take advantage of these supports so they are reminded they are not alone in their pain and loss.

4- Watch out for obsessive tendencies

“Mitzvah observance has the potential to increase obsessive tendencies”, observes Rabbi Weinstock. This is not necessarily a bad thing if done in moderation. However, when it spirals out of control, it is very unhealthy and extra stressful.”

Since there are so many Mitzvos associated with Pesach, those who are prone to obsessive tendencies need to watch that they don’t spiral out of control. Keep your therapist and Rabbi close by!

5- Be proactive and communicative

Menachem Kiwak, LMHC and adjunct professor in the clinical mental health counselor program of Touro College, observes increased stress levels in nearly all of his private clients in the weeks leading up to Passover. “The time before Pesach is literally crazy. People expect so much from themselves!”

Kiwak suggests using communication in the pre-Passover time to effectively reduce family stress, tension, and anxiety. When spouses and families sit down together to jointly devise a plan which may include “where family members can help, when to have a cleaning lady, and where we can settle,” the holiday will be more relaxing and joyous. If you can’t do this with your spouse, do it with a trusted friend, relative, therapist, or mentor.

6- Avoid going to extremes in your Pesach preparation

Kiwak feels that many in his practice “tend to go overboard” with their Passover expectations and preparations. Remember the distinction between what is required by Halacha (Jewish law), and extra strictures individuals place on themselves.

Kiwak recommends that people remember to make a distinction between Pesach cleaning and spring cleaning. “Be realistic and honest with yourself about what you want to do, and what you need to do, and what you cando.”

Kiwak observes the wisdom of the rabbis who came up with a formula for nullifying chametz—as a way of assuring we don’t go to extremes. “If we have this formula, why not use it?” Halacha is giving us permission to not go overboard.

7- Remember the goal is Simchas Yom Tov, not Passover anxiety and family stress

Kiwak further reminds clients, “Simchas yom tov  – the joy of the holiday – is also a mitzvah!” He tells his clients, “Don’t be so hard on yourself–and don’t compare yourselves to others.”

Passover preparation and the seders can induce anxiety and family stress. However, careful preparation and honest conversations will maximize your chances for a joyous Yom Tov.

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Original Article in The JNS:

Ronald S. Lauder’s distinguished career includes many diverse roles, including business leader, philanthropist, art collector and U.S. Ambassador to Austria. He currently serves as president of the World Jewish Congress. By his own admission, sports fan or supporter is nowhere on the list.

“In my entire life, I have never said these four words: wide world of sports!” he quips. That may change very soon. Lauder is thinking a lot about soccer these days. He has been meeting with Roman Abramovich, owner of Chelsea FC (Football Club), the top English soccer team. He even attended a Chelsea game, noting, “They yell a lot!”

But Lauder’s interest in soccer may have more to do with his interest in combatting anti-Semitism than with the sport itself.

At an exclusive VIP cocktail reception on Sept. 17 at Lauder’s New York City home—attendees included diplomats from more than 40 countries, as well as representatives of the World Jewish Congress and its CEO, Robert Singer; senior Chelsea FC officials; members of the media; and other distinguished guests—Lauder unveiled an innovative idea to use worldwide interest in soccer to combat anti-Semitism.

As he observes, “We have seen anti-Semitism on the right and left, on college campuses, in Europe and in the Middle East, and even in soccer stadiums. Soccer stadiums are no place for Nazi salutes or slurs against Muslim or black players!”

According to the World Jewish Congress, soccer, especially in Europe, has been plagued by instances of anti-Semitism and racism for years. Fans have led anti-Semitic chants, including making hissing noises to evoke the Nazi gas chambers, and targeted African and black players with monkey sounds, among other offensive actions. Ultra-nationalists and neo-Nazis have also played roles in supporter groups for various teams. Lauder says “sports are supposed to be for fun, excellence and competition.”

‘It needs to be pushed out’

The WJC and Chelsea FC therefore announced an ambitious new initiative, “Red Card for Hate,” which aims to promote a global dialogue to combat all forms of hatred in sports. The initiative will include three projects: “Pitch for Hope,” a video project and an international forum—all geared towards encouraging supporters, government officials and the public to treat hate phenomena more seriously and to engage in discourse for effective action.

“Pitch for Hope” invites young adults in the United States, the United Kingdom and Israel to submit proposals for projects that “harness the spirit of comradery in sports to build bridges between people of all backgrounds, faiths and walks of life.” Finalist will be invited to present their proposals at Chelsea FC’s Stamford Bridge Stadium in London; the winners from each country will receive a $10,000 grant to develop and implement their pilot project.

As part of stage two, the WJC and Chelsea FC will produce a series of videos to raise awareness about the effects of anti-Semitism and discrimination. They will address such issues as mutual respect between fans and players and fans of differing backgrounds, and will be rolled out over the course of the 2018-19 football (soccer) season.

In the third stage of the initiative, WJC and Chelsea will host a forum bringing together national football associations, football clubs, players, government officials and others to share best practices, to create a forum for discussion and collaboration, and to create a network of people and organizations to enhance the fight against anti-Semitism in sports.

Lauder notes the potential for success given the number of people who watch sports. “Sports events are seen by billions, not millions.”

He adds, “Our goal is to wipe out anti-Semitism in sports. It doesn’t go away by itself. It needs to be pushed out. To see the Nazi salute … it shouldn’t happen!”

‘Take it to the next level’

The kick-off event in Lauder’s home included short remarks by Singer and such guests as Eugene Tenenbaum, director of the Chelsea Football Club; Consul General of France in New York Anne-Claire Legendre; Gary Bettman, commissioner of the National Hockey League; and Lee Igel, clinical associate professor in the New York University Tisch Institute for Global Sport.

Tenenbaum described an increase of anti-Semitic events in England from 100 a year before Brexit, to about 100 a month at present. He and his colleagues have carefully considered ways to address it. “When we saw the anti-Semitic chants of fans, we decided not to kick them out, but to educate them, and to show what it is that happens when we say it and mean it.”

He says the partnership with the WJC “let’s us take it to the next level.”

They have already organized meetings of Chelsea FC players with Holocaust survivors, and have brought 150 fans and players to the March of the Living in Poland.

Legendre called the work of the WJC and Chelsea FC “relevant and inspiring,” and noted that “France is not immune to anti-Semitism.” She added that “we will fight it to our utmost.”

Bettman spoke of the importance of sports for setting a tone and feels that sports “can be an incredible vehicle.”

He shared that in the NHL, “we don’t tolerate acts of hatred in our buildings or at our games. We host 1,300 events a year and want to make sure fans know the expectations and feel welcomed.” He drew a with Judaism to sports, playfully noting that “people come together, have ceremonial garb, a ceremonial chant and a common focus that is an emotional connection.”

Igel offered a powerful story about a 1938 soccer match between Germany and Austria right before the Anschluss (the annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany on 12 March 1938). He then spoke about the anti-Semitism and hatred that still exist in the world.

“That is why this work is so important; it is not just another nice program full of good intentions.” Igel referred to the three phases of the “Red Card for Hate” initiative, mentioning that it will include the convening of an international summit in Paris in 2019 to battle discrimination, racism and anti-Semitism in sports.

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Original Article in The Times Of Israel:

Despite a decade age gap, Julia and Lina Glushko are inseparable — on and off the court

When Julia Glushko began playing on the pro tennis tour in 2004, her sister Lina was a little girl of four. Fourteen years later, Lina is following in Julia’s footsteps — no mean feat, considering the trail her older sister is blazing.

On July 29, the elder Glushko won the $60,000 women’s singles title at the prestigious International Tennis Federation tournament in Granby, Canada. She upset top-seeded Arina Rodionova of Australia for the win.

Julia is currently ranked 196 in the world; Lina is 838.

The sisters recently added “doubles partners” to their impressive resumes, joining an elite club of professional tennis-playing siblings which includes the Bryan brothers, the Williams sisters, the McEnroe brothers and more.

At the April 2018 Fed Cup women’s tennis tournament in Athens, Greece, Israel’s team captain Tzipi Obziler and coach Sandra Wasserman decided to pair up the Glushko sisters in a doubles match.

“It was more than natural to let them play together,” said Obziler. “The combination of Julia, the experienced sister, together with Lina, who got her first chance to play matches in the Fed Cup, brought a very good high level doubles team,” said Obziler.

Wasserman agrees. “During practice sessions in the days before the competition, we saw that they were very motivated to play together. They played well and had good communication, so we gave it a chance,” she said.

The Glushko sisters became accustomed to each other on court during an intense four days of matches versus Norway, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Luxembourg and Denmark. After winning the first three deciding tie matches, they lost the semifinal 6-3, 6-4 to Emile Francati and Maria Jespersen of Denmark.

“The Danish girls were better the last day,” said Wasserman, their coach.

One love

Lina, who spoke with The Times of Israel by phone following her first week of basic training in the Israel Defense Forces, remembers the many years Julia — her “best friend” — was constantly on the road.

“I was a little girl, and she was in her 20s,” she said. “I don’t feel like she is 10 years older — we are more like twins. In the last two years or so, we talk 24/7 and we are very connected.”

When they’re in Israel, they practice together. “Now, I am no longer a little girl who doesn’t understand what is going on on the court,” Lina said.

Lina recently graduated from Ironi Gimel high school in Modiin, where she excelled in English (“It was really easy for me!”), her third language.

The Glushkos moved to Israel from the Ukraine in 1999, one year before Lina was born, and speak Russian at home. They are a true tennis family with both parents and 25-year-old brother, Alex, working as tennis coaches.

Alex has served as Lina’s coach for the past two years, taking over for their father, who had previously served the role.

“One match, my father wasn’t able to come, so Alex came instead. He made me feel so relaxed and good on court. I made it through to the finals, and we have been working together since then,” said Lina. “My dad was happy that I found my place with my brother.”

On the court

According to Lina, the Fed Cup pairing was not their actual debut as a doubles team.

“We played doubles for the first time in 2015 in Israel’s nationals,” she said, admitting that she “didn’t like to play doubles before.”

After that tournament, the Glushko sisters continued testing the waters as a doubles team.

“We played for fun in a tournament to see how it would go — we won first place. Then, we played in a [higher level] 15K tournament,” Lina said.

Representing Israel at the Fed Cup was memorable, though Lina didn’t learn she would be playing until 30 minutes before the Norway match.

“I was so nervous. My hand and racket were shaking. There was so much pressure. But I got used to it. I was so excited — to play with Israel on the back of my t-shirt and with my sister on court. The energy was so good. We played so good together,” she said.

Sibling doubles teams with Jewish roots include Brian and Larry Gottfried — and there are probably others, according to Sandra Harwitt, sportswriter and author of “The Greatest Jewish Tennis Players of All Time.”

“At just 18, Lina Glushko has the benefit of following in her big sister Julia’s sneakers onto the professional tennis scene. Being 10 years older, Julia has a great deal of tour insider information that can help Lina as she’s really just starting her journey in the game. Undoubtedly, this shared sister experience will make the Glushkos feel like a part of a special club in the game,” notes Harwitt.

Looking forward

Fed Cup captain Obziler believes “Lina has great potential,” noting Julia’s recent success on tour.

“Julia is in a great run in the last few months, and the sky is the limit for her,” Obziler said.

Julia recently began working with a new coach, former Israeli tennis player Amir Haddad. She has consistently advanced to the late rounds of recent tournaments in Asia and North America and has won tournaments in Singapore and Thailand.

In a phone interview from a tournament in Gatineau, Canada, Julia told The Times of Israel that the last year was “tough,” with “a lot going on.”

She took three months off, spent some time in Israel “to reflect on things” and changed her coaching staff. She is now “back on track” with her new coach and fitness trainer and feels more self-confident.

“There is lots of positive energy around me, and people who believe in me,” Julia said. “Of course, I train very hard, day in and day out. And I am enjoying my time on court.”

Based on Haddad’s advice, Julia is focusing on smaller tournaments and playing many matches. “I have a nice North American summer ahead of me. I am really excited,” she said.

As a sports mitztayenet (elite athlete) in the IDF, Lina will serve for the next two years with adequate time for tennis training. Her near-term goal is ambitious – finishing the year in the top 500.

And in the not-so-distant future?

“Of course, like everyone, my goal is to win a [Grand] Slam,” Lina said. “And to be #1 in world, kind of obviously.”

Filed under: Times of Israel (Source:
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