JCC gymnasts find friendship in Mexico City
Photo: JCC The Aaron Family JCC’s Gems gymnastics team poses with other competitors at the Mexico City meet.

Staff report

The Aaron Family JCC recently took 17 gymnasts, parents, siblings and staff south of the border for a friendship exchange in Mexico City.
But it wasn’t all about the competition; the group had a great time sight-seeing and forming bonds.
The Mexico City CDI (their version of the JCC) hosted the event.
“This has been one of the most monumental and amazing things we have ever done in JCC Gems gymnastics history,” Director Debbie Weinstein wrote in an email.
The group saw the sights of Mexico, trained with other gymnasts and celebrated Shabbat with another culture.
The idea came about during this year’s Maccabi Games in Dallas.
“We have been trying for the past few years to create opportunities to explore Jewish connections through gymnastics,” Weinstein wrote. I worked with Fenia Grynberg to plan a weekend filled with history, culture and gymnastics.”
The girls did well in every discipline, but the Level 4 athletes really shined. In age group B, Leah Peaslee (vault), Abby Blackwell (bars) and Debbie Klein (beam, floor) all won gold, while Klein (silver in vault, bronze in all-around), Eleanor Patel (bronze on bars), Peaslee (bronze on beam, silver on floor, silver in all-around) and Hannah Gaswirth (bronze on floor) all made the podium.
In Level 4 age group D, Hannah Peaslee earned gold on bars and beam.
Other medal winners are:

  • Level 3: Rachel Rosenfeld (silver on bars, tied for bronze in all-around); Jordan Newman (silver on beam, floors, tied for bronze in all-around)
  • Level 6: Toni Buskin (silver on vault, silver on beam, gold in all-around); Isabell Kronick (gold on beam, bronze in all-around) and Lillian Klein (bronze on beam)

The group visited Teotihuacan, took trajineras (canoes) down the Xochimilko canals and celebrated Shabbat with the Mexican gymnasts.
The language barrier was a tough hurdle, Weinstein said, but quickly overcame it.
“At the meet, the CDI girls taught our girls a cheer and proceeded to cheer when our girls won,” she said.
Weinstein hopes that the bonds formed last month will continue. If the texts and snapchats already sent are any indication, it appears the connection stuck.
Weinstein is hopeful that some gymnasts will be able to train in Mexico City this summer, and the CDI might even bring their crew north for a meet next year.

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