My ping pong coach started waxing poetic about the Maccabiah Games [which originally made it possible for Jews in pre-State Israel to compete in international athletic events], and mentioned that the next ones were in July 2022. That would give me nine months to get ready! I got so focused that when my triple-vaxxed husband tested positive for Covid on a Tuesday night in late November, I made him quarantine in our sons’ room so I could hit my ping pong lesson the next afternoon before he went to isolate himself.
The Maccabiah Games are particularly meaningful to my husband’s family because my husband’s Safta (his grandmother) left Belarus in 1932 at the age of 18 to attend the first Maccabiah Games—in Tel Aviv. She threw out her return ticket, never saw her family again, and made a life for herself in what would become Israel.
And that is where I’ll be going to compete. At a high school in Ra’anana, I will play my first international table tennis games. My competitive spirit, my wild enthusiasm at the table, and my joy, have returned full throttle. My sons now see their mommy as a phenom, and joyfully boast about my coach’s accolades. They will be in the stands when I compete in pursuit of medals. This has been a painful time period for so many, but ping pong has reminded me that hobbies, sports and passions can give us the lift we need to handle the rolling difficulties of life.
For some in the pandemic it’s been sourdough bread making, Pokémon collecting or reading the full Bible. But for me, it’s ping pong. I can think of nothing more exciting than, at 45, in a place that I consider my home away from home, to be reborn as a serious table tennis competitor.
From the Lilith Blog, April 2022. Read the full article here.
Art Credit: Laura’s son, Milo.