Multiple medals for St. Louis’ Maccabiah Games athletes


Jordan Palmer, Chief Digital Content Officer

Three Jewish teens are back home in St. Louis with much-deserved medals after representing Team USA at the 2022 World Maccabiah Games in Israel.

Joie Sandler, 14, who will be a freshman at Ladue Horton Watkins High School in the fall, is coming home with two medals after competing as a member of the USA U16 Girls’ Gymnastics Team. Joie is bringing home a silver team medal and bronze for the balance beam.

“We are so proud of her,” said her mom, Angela Sandler. “To have this amazing experience to represent your home country is priceless. I’m proud of her every day- -but today to see her smiling and persevering after scrapes, blisters, cuts and injuries- is super special.”

Jake Brown, 17, who will be a senior this fall at John Burroughs School, is now a Maccabiah Games Silver Medalist after competing on the U18 Boys’ Hockey team. Team USA played itself into the gold medal game against Team Canada, but fell in overtime 5-4.


Fellow teammate and goalie, Branson Appelman, 16, who will be a junior this fall at Kirkwood High School, says the entire experience was one of connection.

“Connection with Israel, connection with the sport of hockey, with Jewish athletes from around the world and my Judaism,” said Branson. “The connection with Israel is built with bonding with both the people and the country. Connection with my sport comes from playing at an international level, along with playing with and against Jewish people.”

And that is really the point of the games. Also known as the “Jewish Olympics,” its main goals are to bring young Jewish athletes from all over the world to Israel while maintaining the highest levels of the sport. The games also aspire to strengthen the connection of the participants to the state of Israel and the Jewish people.

“While in Israel I bought a Star of David, which I will wear with pride knowing that it’s not just me wearing it, it’s 10,000 athletes, it’s 7 million Israeli Jews wearing it, and it’s millions around the world wearing it with me,” said Branson.

Mazel tov to Joie, Jake and Branson for making everyone at home so proud of you all.