For Ian M. Grusd, this past summer was the time he fulfilled the words he’d said so often at the seder table: “Next year in Jerusalem.”
Grusd of Colts Neck spent 15 days in Israel, competing and capturing a bronze medal as a member of the United States men’s masters soccer team at the 19th Maccabiah World Games in Jerusalem.
To get there, Grusd, 47, a principal and real estate executive with GFT Investments of Tinton Falls, had to endure 18 months of personal training, including tryouts on both the East Coast and West Coast and five team training camps.
“My motivation and inspiration was watching my 17-year-old son Hunter play for the USA Juniors national team that won a silver medal at the Pan American Games in Sao Paulo in 2012,” Grusd told NJJN in an e-mail. “I wanted to feel the emotion and connection he and his teammates felt as they represented their country.”
Grusd, who was born in Cape Town, South Africa, said that as “thrilling” as the Maccabiah soccer matches were, the opportunity to meet scores of Jewish soccer players from other nations was just as exciting. “We were competitors on the field, but we lived in the same hotel and shared Shabbat dinners together as brothers.”
Highlights of the trip included “the emotion of seeing the Western Wall for the first time, visits to Yad Vashem, The Israel Museum, and Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit,” he said.
“On one amazing day,” Grusd said, “we climbed Masada at 6 a.m. to lay tefillin as the sun rose, then went for a dip in the Dead Sea and hiked to the top of the waterfalls at Ein Gedi.”
Grusd also told of traveling by bus and recognizing an uneasiness that Israelis have to live with every day in light of the history of terror attacks.
He added a culinary highlight: “One more memory that will stay with me forever is eating countless falafels and shwarma at Jerusalem’s Machane Yehuda market.”