JJ Modell and his wife, Liz, enjoy their time in Israel at the Maccabiah Games with their children (from left) Skylar, 19, Nathan, 17, Ruby, 23, and Lacey, 22.
JJ Modell and his wife, Liz, enjoy their time in Israel at the Maccabiah Games with their children (from left) Skylar, 19, Nathan, 17, Ruby, 23, and Lacey, 22.

It’s Been a Hole-in-One Year for Golfer JJ Modell

This has been quite a year for JJ Modell.

The Bloomfield Hills resident was on the five-member U.S. men’s masters (age 50 and older) golf team that won a gold medal this summer at the 21st Maccabiah Games in Israel.

Modell also finished eighth individually on a course in the Mediterranean coastal town of Caesarea among about 45 golfers. Better yet, his entire family was in Israel at the “Jewish Olympics” to watch him play.

“Playing for the U.S. was an honor, winning the gold medal is something I will never forget, and I met some amazing people from all over the world. But traveling to Israel with my family for the first time and having them with me was definitely the highlight of the experience,” he said.

There’s more to this story. Modell will be among five people inducted into the Michigan Jewish Sports Hall of Fame on Oct. 24 as the induction dinner, canceled for two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic, returns to Congregation Shaarey Zedek in Southfield, its original venue.

Modell was a golf star at Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood High School and Brown University before continuing his career as one of the state’s top amateur golfers.

He advanced to the quarterfinals of the Michigan Amateur in 2003 and has won nine club championships at Franklin Hills Country Club, winning in the 1990s, 2000s and 2010s, the last time in 2016.

“Now that I’ve turned 50, I have aspirations of becoming a good senior golfer,” he said.

‘He Was Crazy, Crazy, Crazy About Baseball’

 

Deby Lebow with Police Athletic League officials and Howard Weingarten Memorial Award winners and family members.
Deby Lebow with Police Athletic League officials and Howard Weingarten Memorial Award winners and family members.

The fourth annual Howard Weingarten Memorial Baseball Outing on Sept. 18 was a home run.

About 40 participants played baseball on the Willie Horton Field of Dreams at The Corner Ballpark, located in the footprint of Tiger Stadium, enjoyed popcorn, peanuts and Cracker Jacks and ate lunch.

Eli’sha Stevens, Jason Johnson Jr. and Jimmie Jones of the Police Athletic League’s Diamond Sports’ Tiny Tots baseball program for youths ages 4-8 received a Howard Weingarten Memorial Award for teamwork, responsibility and leadership, respectively. They were nominated for the awards by their coaches.

Norm Cohen and Ilene Litt Cohen spend time with their grandson Izaac Cohen at the Howard Weingarten Memorial Baseball Outing
Norm Cohen and Ilene Litt Cohen spend time with their grandson Izaac Cohen at the Howard Weingarten Memorial Baseball Outing

Outing founder and organizer Deby Lebow presented the awards along with PAL CEO Fred Hunter and David Greenwood, PAL director of programs and operations.

This was the third year for the awards program.

Weingarten, a Bloomfield Hills resident who loved baseball and the Detroit Tigers, died in a car accident in 2018 at age 65. Lebow was his longtime significant other.

Donations from outing participants go annually to the Diamond Sports Program. This year, about $2,800 was raised.

“I’m so happy I started this event. I wanted to do something in Howard’s memory that I know he would love,” Lebow said.

“He was crazy, crazy, crazy about baseball. He went to the Tigers’ fantasy camp four times, he went to the Tigers’ spring training in Florida almost every year of the 13 years I knew him, and he had a huge baseball memorabilia collection.”

Wanted: New Home for Hall of Fame

The Michigan Jewish Sports Hall of Fame needs a new home.

The Hall of Fame plaques are on display in the former health club at the Jewish Community Center of Metropolitan Detroit in West Bloomfield, but they’re no longer accessible to the public because the JCC closed the health club in 2020.

Michigan Jewish Sports Hall of Fame plaques hang on a wall at the Jewish Community Center of Metropolitan Detroit in this 2020 photo.
Michigan Jewish Sports Hall of Fame plaques hang on a wall at the Jewish Community Center of Metropolitan Detroit in this 2020 photo.

The Michigan Jewish Sports Foundation oversees the Hall of Fame. Foundation executive director Don Rudick, who was named to that post late last year, said alternatives for temporary and permanent homes for the Hall of Fame are being explored.

The search is personal for 2010 Hall of Fame inductee and foundation vice president Larry Sherman.

“I can’t speak for all the Hall of Fame inductees, of course, but I don’t want my plaque hanging in my garage or living room,” he said. “The Hall of Fame needs a new home so the inductees can be remembered.”

Names in the News

Jewish athletes are making news:

— Josh Nodler got off to a great start with his new college hockey team. The University of Massachusetts senior forward from Oak Park scored the No. 13-ranked Minutemen’s first goal of the season Oct. 8 in a 2-2 tie vs. American International. With UMass down 2-0 in the third period of its opener, Nodler took a feed in the slot and scored at 12:52. The goal came in the Michigan State transfer’s 100th collegiate hockey game. Nodler was selected in the fifth round of the 2019 NHL draft by the Calgary Flames. This is his final season as Flames’ property.

Josh Nodler
Josh Nodler

— Yale University junior forward Elle Hartje from Bloomfield Hills is a candidate for the Patty Kazmaier Award, presented annually to the nation’s best Division 1 women’s hockey player. Hartje had a breakout season for Yale last year as the Bulldogs played in the NCAA Frozen Four for the first time in team history. Hartje’s 35 assists set a team season record, and her 51 points were the second-most in a season in team history. She also led Yale in blocked shots (46) and led ECAC Hockey by scoring 1.42 points per game. Hartje was named to the ECAC Hockey pre-season all-league team just before the start of this season.

— Elon University junior soccer player Ben Rosenblatt from Huntington Woods missed his team’s first 11 games this season because of an injury. He returned to action Oct. 8 and had the only shot on goal of the game in Elon’s scoreless tie against Colonial Athletic Association opponent William & Mary. Rosenblatt was alone against the William & Mary goalie in the game’s 54th minute when his shot from near the top right corner of the 6-yard box was kicked away. It was the eighth shutout of the season for North Carolina-based Elon (7-3-2, 4-1-1).

— Former Bloomfield Hills resident Jason Boschan, whose Run4Papa campaign to raise money for research and awareness for Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementia has taken him to all seven continents to run a marathon, is on a quest to run a half-marathon in all 50 states. The Charlotte, North Carolina, resident ran recently in the Amica Newport Half-Marathon in Rhode Island and received a $1,000 award, one of 10 presented annually to randomly chosen Amica Newport runners who are running to support a charity. All of Boschan’s Run4Papa runs are self-funded. All donations go to Northwestern University’s Mesulam Center for Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease. Papa is pediatrician Dr. Louis Heyman of Bloomfield Hills, Boschan’s late grandfather, who died in 2013 at age 88 from dementia.

— Senior offensive lineman Mica Gelb from Washington, D.C., the lone practicing Jew on the University of Michigan football team, played a career-high nine snaps in the Wolverines’ 59-0 win over UConn on Sept. 17 at Michigan Stadium. Gelb’s mother, Betsy Shapiro, was a tennis star at Bloomfield Hills Andover High School and U-M.

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