ASHKELON, ISRAEL – The Israel Lacrosse Association has honored Jim Gottlieb and Nancy Berkowitz, naming them the winners of the Mort and Judi Beroza Award for Man and Woman of the Year in recognition of their outstanding individual contributions to the development of lacrosse in Israel in 2016.
In a short time, Gottlieb has made a strong impact on Israel Lacrosse. After hosting visiting players and coaches from Israel during their stay in Florida for the Maccabi Games in the summer of 2015, Jim committed to getting more directly involved. He served as the General Manager and led all recruiting and operations for the Israel U-13 team that made their first appearance at the World Series of Youth Lacrosse, garnering significant attention for the Israel Lacrosse organization and mission. Gottlieb recruited a stellar staff for the tournament that applauded his efforts and commitment. Following his success with the U-13 team, Jim served as team manager for the Israel Men’s National Team which competed at the U-19 FIL World Championships in Vancouver, during which he was essential in navigating logistical challenges for the team. In addition to these efforts, he again opened his home to young Israelis who traveled to the United States as part of the Daniel and Wendy Kraft Lacrosse Scholarship program. He also made his second trip to Israel this year as a chaperone on the Israel Lacrosse Winter Service Trip. His myriad selfless contributions to the game of lacrosse and State of Israel earned him this accolade.
“He is truly dedicated to growing Israel Lacrosse and loves being a part of the entire process,” said Casey Cittadino, Head Coach of the U-13 squad. “Jim was truly instrumental in planning out all of the details for our first appearance at the World Series of Youth Lacrosse.”
Berkowitz and her family have been actively involved with the Israel Lacrosse program since 2015, hosting visiting teenage Israeli players to the US for the first time in summer of 2015. From there, Nancy’s dedication to Israel Lacrosse took root and expanded tremendously. Team Israel’s training camp prior to the FIL Men’s U-19 World Championship in New Jersey was largely powered by Berkowitz, who worked behind the scenes to ensure the team was well-housed, well-rested, well-fed, and prepared for the grueling training camp and tournament ahead. She graciously worked to ensure that all aspects of training camp ran efficiently – leading organizational efforts for host families, meals and practice fields. Additionally, by organizing local fundraisers and involving the community, Nancy supported the team in every way imaginable.
“We had an amazing journey from Israel to Vancouver for the U-19 World Championships and many people helped along the way but Nancy was our MVP,” said Seth Mahler, Head Coach of the U-19 team. “For training camp in New Jersey, she organized housing for the entire team with the local community including taking six team members under her own room. She arranged our practice fields, team meals, Shabbat dinner and travel logistics. Our journey would not have gone as smoothly without her.”
The Israel Lacrosse Man and Woman of the Year Award is named for the late Mort and Judi Beroza, whose contributions to the sport, their family, and their community in Hempstead and Long Island as a whole are immeasurable. The parents of Bill Beroza, who has served as head coach of Israel’s World Team since 2012, Mort and Judi have been a mainstay for Long Island Lacrosse Club for over 34 years, attending every game, scrimmage and practice in support of the team and history of the club. Mort, a WWII Veteran who was awarded the Purple Heart, as well as The Legion of Honor Award by the Chapel of the Four Chaplains, has been involved in the sport on Long Island since 1978. His and Judi’s support for the Long Island Lacrosse Club — financially, emotionally and physically — extended well beyond the norm, as Judi was well known for helping sew and repair uniforms, launder clothes as well as chauffer and host athletes at their home for meals before and after games.
The Beroza family support and generosity extended to create a pair of scholarships for students at Hofstra University, which still exist in perpetuity, as well as the LI Metropolitan Lacrosse Hall of Fame Dinner, the Greenport Shootout, New York Saints games, and many other regional lacrosse initiatives. Mort was serving as the Baldwin-Hempstead Post 312 Commander of the Jewish War Veterans of the USA, as well as the Nassau-Suffolk District Council Deputy Chaplain at the time of his death. Judi previously served as National President of the Ladies Auxiliary of the Jewish War Veterans of the USA.
Mort and Judi, who were active members of Hempstead’s Temple Beth Israel for over 60 years, exemplify the passion for the sport of lacrosse, as well as the commitment to service, family, and community – values on which the Israel Lacrosse Association is based.