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Jersey to Jerusalem: A journalist at the Jewish Olympics

Dylan Manfre covering a Rider women's basketball game. *(Andrew Xon/The Rider News, by permission)
Dylan Manfre covering a Rider women's basketball game. *(Andrew Xon/The Rider News, by permission)

Taps mic twice. *This thing on? Alright, cool. Let’s rock!”

Shalom, everybody! What an incredible opportunity and privilege it is to chronicle the 21st Maccabiah. My sports writing has been recognized by the New Jersey Press Foundation and the Society of Professional Journalists, however, I truly consider being a part of the inaugural Maccabi Media Program one of the biggest honors of my life.

I never thought the first time I’d go to Israel would be for the Jewish Olympics. I’m excited and nervous — but I promise it’s a good nervous. I cannot wait to share your stories, meet some of the best Jewish athletes from around the world and see what the Maccabiah has to offer.

I wanted to share a bit about myself first so you can get a sense of who I am as I’m getting to know you.

I’m a recent graduate of Rider University, a small liberal arts college in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, where I received my BA in Journalism in May 2022. Right after the 21st Maccabiah ends, I’ll begin pursuing my Master’s in Journalism at the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism.

Every minute of my undergraduate career has prepared me for the work we’ll be doing during the three-week journey: from being the sports editor of The Rider News to covering the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) basketball tournament (MAAC HOOPS STAND UP!!!) to working as an intern with The Trentonian. Journalism is my sport and, like the athletes competing, this event is the culmination of years of hard work and dedication to my craft.

I discovered my niche in writing long-form sports feature stories because I become enthralled with specific elements that really help illustrate a person’s story and make it compelling.

As my passion for sports writing grew, so did my curiosity about my religion and heritage. I always beamed with excitement when I discovered a professional athlete was Jewish. It was just recently I found out WNBA legend Sue Bird was Jewish. Imagine the jubilation when I learned the Maccabiah existed?

It was important to my parents that I become a Bar Mitzvah. For my dad, it has been his life’s dream for as long as I can remember to go to Israel. Now he, my mom and I will all be there at the same time. The trip will be twofold: first, learning more about my Jewish culture and history; second, working to tell the stories of those competing in the world’s second-largest sporting event.

As journalists, we never stop learning. We are always working toward finding the next story, angle or source. As a young Jewish adult, I am always finding new and exciting facts and customs about the religion and culture I was born into and am proud to represent. I think that is why the 21st Maccabiah will be an amazing experience for me and the other members of the Maccabi Media Program. It’s the perfect blend of Judaism and journalism.

Wherever you’re reading this from, I hope we cross paths in Israel! And if you have a story to tell, don’t be shy.

Dylan Manfre is a recent graduate of Rider University and an incoming graduate student at the University of Maryland. Follow him on Twitter (@Dylan_Manfre11) and on Instagram (@ByDylanManfre)

About the Author
Dylan Manfre has a BA in Journalism from Rider University and is pursuing a Master's degree at the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism. He enjoys long-form feature writing and sharing pieces that would otherwise go untold. He has won multiple awards for his sports writing at the state and regional levels and considers covering the Maccabiah one of his biggest accomplishments.
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